People want to be told what to do. This is a fact, despite our protestations to the contrary. Many of us crave leadership, reassurance, a direction.
But when when we get this, we resent the fact that we still have to do the work to get where we want to be.
Otherwise, we resent that we’re being led by the nose and micromanaged.
We’re a fickle species, aren’t we? Especially when it comes to the King of All Topics to Be Avoided: religion.
Me, I’m not a very good listener.
I had an interesting conversation the other night with two co-workers, one who is a Catholic and the other who had actually studied and trained to be a Catholic priest, but ended up not taking his vows.
The discussion was far-ranging, covering things like the nature of belief, why rituals and rites are important, where morality comes from, and the vital role played by tradition and study versus personal interpretations of Scripture.
But what I started thinking about after this conversation really got my mind abuzz.
One attack used by opponents of religion (though their ire strangely always seems focused only on Christianity…) is the idea that, if God were real, why would He allow any suffering on Earth? “Show us a sign, losers!” they demand, as though God is a puppet to dispense blessings, or a slot-machine that just the right prayer worded just the right way can force to give a winning spin.
Such a deity would be a puppet master, treating humanity the way that lots of pagan gods, from the Greeks to the Norse to the Egyptians did.
He would be telling us what to do…and make us do it.
Instead, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph, of Jesus and John, Peter and Mary and Paul lets us figure things out on our own. He may give leadership and guidance, but instead of fastening us with a leash, He opens the door and let’s us make our own ways through the wilds of the world.
Why is that?
I think a lot about how our interactions with others mirror God’s interactions with his creation. Even the Deists viewed him as a “Watchmaker,” so to speak, setting the machine in motion and hiding behind the scenes.
Think of God as a Father: The way He relates to us, his “children,” if you will, is a model of how we should relate to our own children as parents. Particularly the example of Jesus (“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”)
A good parent isn’t one who coddles their children. This ensures that the child will grow up to be a fearful and risk-averse adult, always appealing to authority for help, unable to make anything resembling an adult decision.
But what about being a teacher? It sounds kind of similar, doesn’t it?