Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I like the idea of spaghetti.

I almost broke a rule today. A young man who was in my cabin at camp a couple years ago posted the following verse in his Facebook status:

Isaiah 57:15 For this is what the high and lofty One says— he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the... lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.

I almost responded with this phrase. "Zephaniah, chapter 1, verses 7-18 . Be comforted." (a fellow blogger, The Unwelcome Guest posted this on his blog recently, I recommend going there and reading it if you are unfamiliar with the passage.)

I detest people who use scripture as a method of lifting themselves out of their self-hatred. There is insufficient evidence in the Bible to suggest that we should trust the will of God. Which side am I on? The Israelites, or the enemy? I don't know - by the miracle of birth this reality is chosen for me. I could be slaughtered tomorrow by a fleet of people that God prefers. I doubt it, but scripture tells me it has happened once already, and there is no promise of a rainbow to prevent it from happening again.

My unwritten rule is this - I cannot step into anybody else's spiritual life, particularly those of youth, when my idea is likely going to be harmful to their worldview. Despite all desire to be harmful to that worldview. The rule becomes even more strictly adhered to particularly when it reveals me, a person who has been of spiritual guidance in that person's life, to be a man with a desperate lacking of faith.

But the reality is that I don't believe in a flying spaghetti monster in the sky. I cannot prove his nonexistence. It could be there, shaking its starch-based arms around and searching the universe for a meatball to mate with. But I don't believe in it. And I don't believe in this God, either.

Kind of.

I am undeniably Christian.

But let me explain this idea a bit, because to many the belief in God is central to being a Christian.

I can't get rid of God, despite my attempts. Because somehow I manage to think of God as a good thing - somehow I manage to think that the idea of God is a good thing - and, particularly, somehow I think the social contract that can potentially develop out of God is a good thing.

When I think of God, I think of how puny I am. How entirely unimportant I am. I don't imagine how he could have envisioned the creation of the world, or how he knit me in my mother's womb, or how he allowed the United States to become one of the most successful military businesses in history. Because God doesn't exist. He didn't do all of these things.

But I don't think bad things come out of the idea that I am puny, expendable, and, ultimately, not of specific import. Because this allows me to realize that the world will go on without me. And also humbles me - God is bigger than me, even if he is just an idea. And being humbled is a good thing - because it places me on equal grounding with the rest of the world, makes me more aware of my excesses and pride, and forces me to invest in my community because it is necessary for the things in life that are most important for others. Because, as a result of the idea of God, I am their equal.

God isn't about grandeur, or glory, or providing a hurt person compassion. God isn't devoted to me as a human being, and if he is, then he is no more devoted to me than to anybody else. God is about being tiny and expendable, and about being equal with everybody else.

But ultimately, God doesn't exist, but the idea of God is enormously powerful and ultimately valuable.

So long as one doesn't start talking on his behalf.
Because he is just an idea - he has no behalf for which one can speak.

My brother, who presented to me the satire of the flying spaghetti monster, doesn't believe in God because he can rationalize his nonexistence.

I can do the same.

Kind of.

But my belief in God is not because I can rationalize his existence, but because I see that the idea of God - the admission that there is something bigger than me out there - is probably actually good. Because I see being humble as being good.

And I know that I am anything but that which is good.

And thus, I am undeniably Christian.

Now come, let me wash your feet before we worship a spaghetti monster searching for a mate.


  1. thanks for the blog-linkage.

    so, I'm confused (no big surprise there), how is that you call yourself undeniably Christian again?

    Because, I think by definition, a Christian is someone who identifies Jesus as God, thus having a belief in God.

  2. "Because, I think by definition, a Christian is someone who identifies Jesus as God, thus having a belief in God."

    That is definitely the standard fundamentalist evangelical way of defining 'Christian'. Many others feel that to be Christian is to be "like Christ". In that sense, the Muslim street vendor could be exponentially more Christian than the Baptist pastor.

  3. wow.
    we're not pulling many punches these days, are we?

    you see, by identifying Jesus as God, it 'should' naturally follow that I become like Christ.

    how could I not follow his words, if I identify him as God?

    though, I'll be the first to admit there are many who this does not naturally follow for.

  4. Perhaps I offer myself too much credit by calling myself undeniably Christian, because I won't deny that I find the very idea of a Christ very concerning.

    And I won't deny that, despite claiming to undeniably Christian, I have managed to deny the mention of Christ.

    But maybe I haven't any interest in Christ. Maybe I only have interest in Jesus, who I have long considered to be a mere human.

    I wouldn't mind being "like Christ" - but I have no capacity to be like him. And I actually think I would mind being like Christ.

    Somehow, when he speaks, people assume he is speaking for God. Somehow, when he acts, people assume he is acting for God. I don't want that pressure, that expectation.

    Though I do like the idea of speaking and acting for others, who are equally and perhaps more important than myself - which is a development of the idea of God.

    The unfortunate development of this blog is that it sounds more concrete than it actually is, and even then, it doesn't sound particularly concrete. This is an idea that I am trying to clarify myself.

  5. Anthem -- my comment was not meant to be a personal shot at you, though in retrospect, it probably seems that way. Chalk it up to a stressful day at work. My sincere apologies.

  6. no worries. I actually laughed pretty hard and you have valid points.

    canadianhumility, I'm looking forward to actually walking and talking.

  7. "I am undeniably Christian.

    But let me explain this idea a bit, because to many the belief in God is central to being a Christian."

    Perhaps you are 'Christian' in the sense that you follow the and emulate the life of the man called Jesus.

    I do not necessarily connect that to the 'God' of his time- that bipolar deity created by that wandering nomadic tribe. I'll bet that Jesus was often confused by the 'words' of that god.

    Love one another.

    That's enough 'theology' for me to handle.