Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don't like christianity   by Roger Wolsey

published January, 11 2011

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Chapter 3

God: Big Guy in the Sky?


Share all your thoughts about God (paraphrased)- Counting Blue Cars - Dishwalla


Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:12


Every child has known God-Not the God of names-Not the God of don'ts-Not the God who never does anything weird-But the God who knows only four words and keeps repeating them, saying:  "Come Dance with Me."  Hafiz


"You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do."  Anne Lamott


God is love.  Lenny Kravitz, Marvin Gaye & 1 John 4:8


            My earliest memory of God is when I was laying in bed saying my nightly prayers.[1]

            “Thank you God for my mom and my dad and for Carole (my twin sister) and for Grandmom and Granddad and Annemomma and Andaddy (my pet names for my mother’s parents).  And thank you for Aunt Margaret and Uncle George, and Uncle Les and Aunt Pat, and for Uncle Red and Aunt Margaret and for my cousins, and for Aunt Carrie, Uncle Linwood, Aunt Beth and Uncle Harold, Aunt Bessie and Uncle Chandler.  And thank you for my friends, and my school and for our church, and for our house, and for our food, and for all of the people in the world.  And thank you for all the animals too.  Amen!”  

            I’d then break out into song, singing kiddie praises to God - Jesus Loves Me This I know!;  Deep and Wide; Away in a Manger, etc.  I’d also sing patriotic songs like America, and, since it had “God” in the title, and I’d especially sing God Bless America.[2]  Those bedtime moments were like little recitals I’d perform before God.  It was quality time between Creator and creature, between “Father” God and one of “His” little children.  It was truly precious, special, wondrous, innocent, and magical.

            My childhood notions about God were pretty typical.  I viewed God as a giant, elderly white man with a white beard in the sky who loves us very much. He knows all that we do and He is someone we can reach out to for help when we’re scared or in need.  I was given an illustrated children’s Bible.  Through learning those stories and looking at the pictures, I acquired a sense that God is serious and sometimes gets really angry and that maybe people should be afraid of Him.  Some might refer to that as coming to a healthy and right place of “fearing the Lord,”[3] yet I found it troubling.  It didn’t really connect with the intimate warmth and unconditional love from my nighttime experiences with God.  I had an intuitive sense that the Bible was written by a lot of different people over many years and that they didn’t all think alike.  I knew that some of the other kids in my neighborhood were being raised in Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Jewish families, and I came to an early awareness that not everyone understands God in the same way.

            There’s a parable from India which describes five blind men feeling different parts of an elephant – a strange creature that none of them knows about.  One of the men has his hands on the animal’s thick side and declares, “This creature is a wall.”  The second man has his hands on one of the sharp, smooth tusks and declares, “No, it is a spear!”  The third man has a hold of the creature’s squirming trunk and says, “No, it is a giant snake!”  The fourth man is feeling one of the beast’s thick, sturdy legs and says, “Not at all!  This is a tree!”  The fifth man has his hands running along the elephant’s wide ear and says “Nope. It’s a fan!”  And the sixth man has his hands around the animal’s rough tail and says, “You’re all wrong, this clearly is a rope!”  While each of the men was keenly familiar with the part that they were feeling, none of them had a full or accurate insight about the whole of the creature that they were describing.  So it is with theology. ........

[1] My earliest experiences with God were when I was a very young child.  The Wesleyan in me would say that God’s “prevenient grace” (how God loves us even before we’re aware there is a God or that we need God in our lives) was actively involved in my life from the moment I drew my first breath out of the womb and that all of the hugs and kisses my parents and family members showered upon me were subtle, yet tangible, ways that God was conveying His/Her love for me even before I was aware that there is a God or that I need God in my life.

[2] This shows how insidious Civil religion is in our culture and how readily it weaves itself into and waters-down authentic Christianity.  See Appendix IV


[3] Proverbs 1:7 says that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” The Hebrew word here really means “respect/honor/revere.”  The Old English word fear used to mean those very things. 

Fear has come to be associated with that which is “scary” and we should be “afraid” of.   It is unfortunate that many contemporary Bibles still employ the old English word here.

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