"May Adonai bless you and protect you! May Adonai deal kindly and graciously with you! May Adonai lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace!" (Torah, Numbers 6:24-26) And Jesus said, "Allow the little children to come unto me. Forbid them not, for of such is the Kingdom of God. Truly, I say unto you, unless you receive the Kingdom of God as a little child does, you shall not enter therein." (New Testament, Mark 10:14-16)

Sojourning at an Oasis Paradise

My purpose for living this life, and for writing this blog, is to understand the faith that links us to God. I wish to explore and discuss the reality at the heart of all of the world's religions. This is an immense task, but I know that God also has faith in us, trusting that we do desire the truth, as well as freedom, love and wisdom. Thus, as always, He meets us halfway. Even as God has given us individual souls, so we must each of us trace out an individual pathway to God. Whether we reside in the cities of orthodox religion, or wend our solitary ways through the barren wastelands, God watches over us and offers us guidance and sustenance for the journey.

Most of what you will see here is the result of extensive personal study, combined with some careful speculation. Occasionally, I may simply offer some Scripture or an inspirational text. I am a wide reader, and the connection of some topics and ideas to matters of faith and religion may not seem immediately obvious, but perhaps I may spell it out in the end... or maybe, you will decide that it was just a tangent. Anyway, I hope that you will find my meanderings to be spiritually enlightening, intellectually stimulating, or at least somewhat entertaining.

In the coming weeks and months, I intend to transcribe a series of essays that I wrote about 20 years ago in the hope that I might get them published. They represent the nucleus of my spiritual life and the focal point around which my wanderings revolve like an electron in an atom. I hope that they might eventually serve as a springboard for discussions about the common spiritual heritage of humanity. May we come together and embrace each other in peace.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Sacred Questions: Is this your God?

True Religion begins with Sacred Questions.

Do you follow the One God who visits you in your own heart, who teaches us the ideals of Truth, Freedom, Love and Wisdom, and plants morality and conscience within us? Does He always value the trust, character and potential of each of us, and forgive our flaws as we forgive the flaws of others?

Does your God seek to build all of humanity into the best that we can become, so that we may eventually be transformed and welcomed into the company of angels? Does He promise to vindicate those who refuse to do harm, reserving the use of violence to the last possible resort and only to preserve lives and limit harm? It is only by loving even our enemies that we shall ever know peace.

Does He teach the value of an exemplary life and self-sacrifice for the greater good, ... and of empathy and compassion for the down-trodden and marginalized, to offer kindness and opportunities for growth so that all may flourish? Does He give credit for effort to those who try their best to do and be what they think they should?

Does your God stand for justice that requires less of stern punishment than reform, restitution, healing and reconciliation? Does He see that the burden of guilt and separation from fellowship, or service until the debt is paid is often hard enough punishment? Does He offer the choice between them, seeking to understand the discontent that led to such unacceptable behavior, so that it might be fixed?

Does your God feel responsible for us, recognizing that the universe exists because He asked it to be, and organized it? Didn't He use a spark of his own divine essence to create Life? We are the children of that universe who live from that request and creation, and who in return desire to know Him and all of the possibilities for good that He thus made.

Does He teach you to value and respect all life, for every creature has its place and all are woven together? Does He tell you to care for the earth's ecology, conserving and replenishing its fertility, to keep it in balance and not poison it with waste? We do not own the earth, but hold it in trust for generations to come, and we are accountable for it. The web of life of this world provides the foundations for our homes, and shall continue to do so even in the heavens. He gave us Nature as a sacred refuge, a place to find peace in our hearts.

Does your God refuse to play favorites among the peoples of the world, desiring only that all may come to meet Him, to ask for their needs and desires? Does He choose those willing to listen and follow, with hearts large enough to welcome a stranger, to carry his task and bear his message? And then does He care to know how they live, their joys and trials, thus to understand their hearts and know of their ultimate concerns? Does He then speak to each people of their own fears, needs and hopes offering to protect, to help and fulfill them, sending his messages forth so that all who share the same concerns may hear what they need to hear?

In each message, He reveals aspects of Himself that would be otherwise difficult for us to discern, thus showing how much He cares for us. No matter the details, can you imagine any better faith than one holding out for such a God? One definition of God is "that than which no greater can be conceived," so can you think of one who would be better? He believes in you.

If this God sets before you the choice between good and life, or evil and death, and begs you to choose life ... How can you do any less than to choose life, and allow others to do the same? And if your God is not this good, then your faith needs to grow, to listen more and learn how great He really is.

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