A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why God Is Not Dead For Me

The above title is a bit of false advertising.  I am not going to discuss the movie, “God's Not Dead.”  I haven’t seen it.  I can’t bear to see it.  I too often find “Christian” movies, books, music, etc. to be so full of sappy sentimentality, simplistic reasoning, and self-congratulatory nonsense, they actually make me nauseous.  I know, I know, you’re all thinking “Don’t hold back, Sheri, tell us how you really feel.”  But, I can’t.   I haven’t seen the movie and I don’t plan on it. 

Instead, I am shamelessly using the hubbub around that movie to draw attention to my blog.  For shame, I know. 

What I really want to talk about is exactly what the title says, why I have not given up on the idea of God.  And here it is, in picture form:

A tulip is the basis for my faith?  Not a tulip per se but rather what the tulip represents.  Beauty.  Soul-stirring, logic defying, hope imparting beauty.  There is that in this world which stirs us, which awakens something within us, which compels us toward life and hope beyond what the sum of its parts should do.  Such leads me to suspect there might be more to life than meets the eye. 

I am also a bit suspicious of thinking which says “the universe does not owe us justice.  Life is what it is.”  To accept such thinking seems almost elitist.  It is well and good to say “it is what it is” when life is full of mundane problems and struggles.  I just can’t quite fathom how I could look in the face of someone living in a place of violence, ravished by disease, or whose daily existence is an excruciating struggle to survive and say, “It is what it is.  The universe doesn’t owe you justice.”  Maybe it is true but it does not feel true to me.  Truth is more often beautiful at some level or at least freeing. 

Of course, whether it is true or not, whether you believe in some form of God or not, I hope we could look into the face of such suffering and join together in saying, “As long as we have power to stop it, such suffering should not exist in any world.  We will do what we can to help here and now.” 

The glimpses of beauty I see in this world feel like potential to me, like a taste of things to come.  I hope so anyway.  Such astonishing beauty exists in nature, in love, in art, in music, in hope and yet such horror exists as well.  It seems the potential for beauty to grow and horror to recede is so great it would be a shame not to fulfill it in some world.  

Yet, still, staring into the abyss of the possibility “this is it and then you die” makes more sense to me than turning one’s back on the abyss and whistling a happy tune or trying to weave a safety net out of a particular set of beliefs and a narrow definition of morality.

Yep, from what I’ve heard, I’m pretty sure I don’t want to see the movie.


Laurie said...

Are you saying you don'tbelieve in heaven?

Sheri Ellwood said...

I am saying I hope very much in something like heaven (though whatever we think heaven might be is so very limited by our human understanding) and am trying to express why I hold onto that hope despite the lack of direct evidence. I just think acknowledging the possibility we might be wrong makes more sense than pretending that possibility doesn't exist. If that makes sense. Thanks for the question, Laurie! What do you think?