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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Deconstructing the God We Want

Sometimes I'm cynical (and nobody gasped, ever).  So...  When I start talking about deconstruction, people squirm a little bit.  I love deconstruction.  In fact, I love it so much that the moment when I got so upset during a synchronous chat that I turned my microphone off and typed angrily for the rest of the time, because I was appalled that we would enter into a phase of reconstruction, has become something of a running joke among the members of my spiritual formation cohort.  Cut me a little bit of slack.  It was early in the program, and I have learned much since that night.  I also completely promise that I will not do that again in my upcoming class with the same fabulous professor, about which I am very excited.  But I still love to deconstruct.

It's important to distinguish right away that deconstruction is not the same thing as destruction.  I mean, it does involve taking everything you have ever believed to be true and basically blowing it up, but it's OK.  Stay with me.

We want to know who God is.  That's good, but in our desire to know God, we have often, instead, built a box for God that ends up looking much more like what we want than what is true.  A lot of people don't want to hear that, because their god is safe and comfortable... unless we're talking about how that god interacts with other people, you know, the ones who are different than they are.  Then their god is all business and hell and stuff.  Where did we get these convoluted ideas?  They have to go.  This is why deconstruction is necessary.  It weeds out the lies we have adopted as foundational.

Interestingly, God doesn't seem particularly interested in giving us a handle on God.  This is probably most apparent in God's interaction with Moses in Exodus 3.  Moses, when faced with a daunting task essentially asks God, "Who are you?"  and God responds with, "I am who I am" (v.14).  At this point I should admit that it's a very good thing that this interaction took place between God and Moses as opposed to God and me, because I likely would have responded with, "Very helpful, God," and an eye roll, and then maybe I would have been consumed by the burning bush.  Moses, however, although he still had some doubts and things to work through, at least stopped to listen.

So, what if we began by accepting that everything we think we know about God might be wrong.  I'm not saying it is, but what if we went with, "it might be"?  In Moses' case, that leaves just a couple of things that God says.  God is who God is.  God will be with us.  Maybe we need to listen to just that for awhile before we start building again.


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