The Nature of God – Part 1
Oh no! Look at that title! Not a post about religion! Not another gag-inducing diatribe from somebody trying to shove their beliefs down my throat! I’m not gonna read it!
Relax. You don’t have to. You’re free to stop right here and go on your merry way. It’s called “free will”, and I’m all for it. Whenever I find something else that’s interesting to write about, those articles will be right here as always, posted scattershot as usual. This post is one piece of a lengthy series, each part of which will be added now and then.
But why would I even bother posting a series about my personal beliefs here on a travel blog, when the topic itself has selectively become a pariah in our culture, and merely sharing one’s faith is often now viewed the same as force-feeding? Even Dr. Francis Schaeffer, an influential 20th century theologian, noted, “Non-Christians don’t care what you believe.” I suspect that he’s right. After all, people come to this blog merely to find out how just one more ordinary guy is exploring a somewhat unconventional mobile lifestyle, and to find out what he’s seeing or discovering or thinking about along the way: information, quasi-adventures, mishaps, outlooks, and little victories. Why louse up a good thing?
The answer to that is easy. First, I won’t actually be rummaging through my beliefs as such, the doctrine and dogma of some denomination within the Christian church. That’s not what this series is for. What I personally find interesting are people’s stories – the why and what that happened in their lives to put them where they are now. When they share, I don’t necessarily want them to do nothing but recite the pithy points of their current outlook to me, but instead to describe the why of that outlook – what they observed and felt as each event unfolded and how their reaction to it shaped them. What were their thoughts, and what did they walk away with? Different people react differently to the same circumstantial blessings and hardships. It’s only then that I can properly understand any outlook that someone may present. What you’ll get in this series is as close to the “what happened” as I can muster, with my takeaways from those experiences – brilliant or faulty.
Second, the story that is behind what I believe has been shaped by my experiences, and this blog has from the start included those as well as my own reflections upon them. Just like the rest of it, this is part of what I’ve discovered along the way. After all, this hasn’t really been a single-track travel blog, has it? Have the entries all been limited to “Day 1,044 – Urea Nevada…photoshopped sunset and plant photos…and buy my e-book”? One of Strolling Amok’s several post categories is the catch-all “Navel Gazing” and, as you have seen, I’m not afraid to use it. Whether a reasonably wide range of my experiences and thoughts should or should not be posted here is hardly an issue. Like bad axle bearings and magnificent, Big Sky views, it is part of my life, so up it goes on my blog. What you do with it is your business, your decision.
Third, I’m as surprised and as challenged as anyone would be in my position. The story behind my beliefs is not at all what I would have expected, and it continues as such. It’s just possible that you might find it interesting, the same as you might react to hearing anyone share any part of their life story. Think of it as the old-timer at the campfire, recalling a few of the events of his life – in this case tales that sound anywhere from pretty unlikely to medication-is-indicated unlikely – but he swears by them. For that reason, if nothing else, you can perhaps at least enjoy the process of gauging my mental competency.
Lastly, I’m posting this series because each element of it tends to contradict mainstream perceptions and assumptions about God’s basic nature. We tend to gather these from men and women who have inserted their own natures into the mix, and when translated into action, the resulting products have steered away from what God recognizes as being His own. They have wound up recreating God in their own images, then reflecting that to those around them. For example, a hater casting insults from underneath the banner of Christ (or any other banner) remains just a hater furiously waving what he feels gives him the authority and justification to do what he does best: hate and insult. I believe that this kind of warpage, as well as our own individual tendencies to form expectations built upon mere popular thought, has led to great personal disappointment and rejection of the whole topic. We observe and then rightly decide “Well, if that’s who God is and what He’s like, I don’t want any part of it!”
But is that really who God is? We seem to be relegated to taking our own ideas and needs, and projecting them into the heavens, forming beliefs as best we can and piecing together a worldview that seems to make sense of it all. Even Science does this, hard as it may try to distance itself from other religions and philosophies. Then naturally, we work to make those the most popular or prevalent belief systems. After all, what else can we do?
What you may find in this series is occasional obnoxious enthusiasm, and for that I apologize, sort of. It’s hard not to get enthusiastic about something which has proven to be a literal lifesaver. What you’ll find a minimum of is proselytizing, as in “You are a sinner; Christ died for you; repent and believe in Him,” because it makes little sense without its context. It sounds condemning, a mysterious and unasked for favor is implied, and something sounding rather mystical is demanded, seems like. Well, like you, I’m no Hitler either, but I have found the hard way that there actually is a God, that He is not silent, that He does not conform to our expectations about what such a God should be like, and that He yearns for us to understand both Him and our place with Him in this world. But, unlike many believe, He is not like us, and those differences in character are to the good, much as we may try to paint otherwise. He wants us to understand the reality of our situation within this world gone awry. The worldview that God has revealed to us is not intended to be a popular social or political movement. It is intended to be a One-on-one spiritual relationship that restores and remolds individuals into better reflecting His true nature in this world. In a sense, it is intended to be subversive, yet in a positive way. When it becomes the status quo, it tends to wear only the shiny nameplate of Christianity without Christ, without the relationship or any of the operating basics, and without reflecting His true nature. It becomes a mere “religion” and in some cases, an excuse. Then, well, you know how that goes.
So, my purpose in writing this series is simply to relay to you the assortment of glimpses into His nature which He has demonstrated to me. You may see that what I assert here as events are not my subconscious projections of the God I wanted or expected, but to illustrate the core of what He is like, a core from which everything else about Him flows. How you yourself inwardly respond to my descriptions of those events is entirely up to you. I’ll present only what happened in my life, how I reacted, and what I considered. Much of that is unlikely to match your expectations, and that’s enough. It might not match what a lot of people who consider themselves to be Christians would expect either, but there you go. Or, you may instead find that you are busy disbelieving a very different God than the one that I believe in. Perhaps you may discover that God is not an intellectual exercise, a construction of how and what we logically consider to neatly fit together.
The only thing you can count on in regards to it is that whatever I post will accurately reflect my thoughts, and not be a mere manipulation edited to sucker in the most people and offend the least. I’m not fishing for a specific reaction from you, and not trolling for comments to this series of posts. There’s no sign-up clipboard here. Actually, I have not wanted to write this series at all. Being a pronounced introvert that lacks basic social skills doesn’t motivate me to write posts that go against the cultural current. But, if you had a debilitating, incurable ailment and gradually discovered something that got you through it and back on your feet, it would be a pretty sad thing to keep it to yourself. If you had any empathy at all, you’d want to present your situation and what got you healed and/or out of it, offering it as something that a few others in the same situation might wish to consider for themselves. It’s that simple.
Each post in the series is inherently incomplete, continuing the last post and waiting for the next. The piecemeal chapter-by-chapter presentation will work against continuity and you’ll probably wonder about something that is either back three posts or will be covered in a future one. But each individual post, long or stubby, represents a complete event, and hopefully will be presented as clearly as I can make it.
You have already read the title, and can hardly help but make assumptions. Let me knock one down now: this isn’t a pat apologetic for mainstream Christianity as it has been and seems to be practiced today, since I have long ago stumbled over the same issues that most do when they look for something that they can place their faith or hope in. We all rest our lives on something. My own beliefs much more resemble meeting someone and discovering through interaction over the years – the good times and the bad times – what he or she is really like. This series is merely fodder for you to consider what I’ve lived through, come across, and reflected upon as you try to make your own ongoing sense of this world’s ways. In that way, I agree with the late American astronomer, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist and author Carl Sagan when he said, “It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” It’s just that, unlike Carl, I believe that this little sword of insight has two edges.