Sunday, July 04, 2010


I saw this posted by one of my Facebook friends this past week:

I have to share how God comes through...unexpected ac repair, $210...unexpected refund check from mortgage company, $197. Thank you Lord for always providing.

Comment: HE is AMAZING!

Posts like these are by no means rare or unusual. I see something similar by a friend or family member just about every single day. They bother me quite a bit. I think I understand faith. I may not agree with it, but I think I understand it. But I have a hard time abiding hypocrisy and lack of consistency.

I once heard one of the Pythons defend Life of Brian by saying it was blasphemous but not profane. Meaning - they were not attacking faith but rather dogma. I'm not sure which I might be treading on here. I'm not trying to do either. I'm just trying to understand. Help me out.

Why would one presume that God would care if you could pay for a/c repair? And if you did assume that he intervenes in things so mundane and pedestrian, then why not in everything else? Why couldn't you assume that it was God that caused that little girl down the street to get hit by a car?

You can't have it both ways. If God is active in every little thing on the one hand, you can't say that he's non-participatory in the cases of war and famine and disaster, etc. on the other hand.

I can see the response right now - "God works in mysterious ways". How convenient.

"Blasphemy is an epithet bestowed by superstition upon common sense." -- Robert Green Ingersoll, American Statesman and Orator


CyberKitten said...

Ah, the wonders of magical thinking. Now that *does* work in mysterious ways!

It only makes sense (yeah, right) if you're on the *inside* of the God bubble.

wunelle said...

Yeah, my retort has always been that god works in ways so mysterious as to be useless as an explanatory device. To credit god for a car repair and not hold him responsible for the family next door who hasn't got enough to eat is flush rationality down the toilet.

"We can't understand god's ways," we're told.

Perhaps. But your car repair looks remarkably like it would if there were no god but your mortgage refund (which is presumably not mysterious in the least) came through as expected. Is that really amazing?

CyberKitten said...

People want to believe this sort of thing. It gives their lives and existence itself some kind of order. Without it they are afraid that *anything* could happen - which is of course true.

It's all driven by an overwhelmed fear.

CyberKitten said...

That would be *overwhelming* fear.


dbackdad said...

lol. I think "overwhelmed" might be fitting too.

Riddle me this: What would you call a situation where someone is quick to effusively praise and give credit for a good result? And then make excuses for and blame yourself for bad results (because you (we) feel you deserve punishment)? Answer: An abusive relationship.

Scott said...

Oy. Number one response from christian friends when our daughter got cancer: "God is in control!"

Really? Thanks. So I guess God wanted our daughter to get cancer. (Actually we did have one person tell us that God *did* want her to get cancer because I was a homosexual. But I digress.) I understand people don't know what to say when confronted with something they have no control over, but really sometimes the best thing to do is shut up.

Pastors will use similar stories as the one you posted to encourage tithing. Even Bill Hybels, whom I have quite a bit of respect for in terms of being fairly progressive and not focusing on wealth accumulation inside of the church, will use these stories to show how giving to the church will benefit you financially. "so and so gave 10% of their income all year and then some anonymous person paid off their house." Magic indeed.

This is a Calvinist view of God I guess, that he controls everything. I don't know. It's certainly prevalent in American culture where we (Christians) are taught that if we do X, where X is some sort of act (ie. tithing, self sacrificing acts, praying) that God will bestow upon us financial gifts. Of course out financial well being has nothing to do with chance occurrence of where we were born and all those Christian African mothers who watch their children starve to death just aren't trusting God, or something.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Any religion can explain any human crisis, action, disaster just by saying "God has a plan."

That, of course, is no explanation at all, but a cement headed cop-out.

If god has a plan, then why do religions say humans have free will?

dbackdad said...

Scott -- Great comments. I appreciate having a more Christian take on this.

Kids getting sick and kids dying are the things I have the hardest time reconciling with an all-powerful God. When our son was born early and we were visiting the NICU every day, there weren't many days that passed where a tiny baby didn't pass away. Were those parents being punished? Were we being rewarded? Both of those assumptions are obviously ridiculous.

Stuff happens. It's how we react to life that defines us. Whether there is a God or not, how your family has handled your daughter's illness is the very definition of grace.

Laura said...

OK, I can sort of see praying for major life events, real tragedy and real suffering (God, please help me get through chemo or please help the victims of the Haiti earthquake) - but stupid material shit? Who on earth believes that God gives two shits about your personal mortgage payments or whether the Bears win the Superbowl? And if God DID care about that stupid shit, would you really want it as your omnipotent, all powerful puppetmaster?

I also have a huge problem with pain & suffering. It's the "Pie in the sky" mentality that some people have bought into. Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the kingdom of God - OK, but between now and then, what? That's an argument for bend over and take whatever life dishes out at you without complaint and you'll get rewarded in the afterlife. You know what that is? A way to socially and economically control the poor and powerless in society to brainwash them into thinking that they shouldn't fight for an equal piece of the pie because they'll get their rewards later. Bullshit.

dbackdad said...

lol. Laura, you are like the voice in my head. (or one of the many voice in my head).