In my first letter to you I said we were going to have a little revolution, start a little heresy and generally use our talent for free thought to allow God to reveal god stuff to us.
Still on board?
So, I got to thinking some more and I began to think that perhaps, just maybe, it was with the beginning of the formulation of religion that people began to lose sight of God. They began to cease to listen for and expect to hear God. That, given a prescription for correct behaviour that would enable us, supposedly, to live in a manner that would please God we became more focus on the method than the end.
Remember my man, C.S.Lewis? The letter Listen to the Lion?
Well, there I made mention of the Last Battle, the book concluding the Narnia Chronicles. Can I get one more illustration from there, just the one? Please?
Good. There’s a scene there when the opposing force are drawn up in their camps and in the Narnia camp is a group of dwarfs. The dwarfs sit in a circle facing inwards refusing to engage with the rest of the camp and when approached declare “the dwarfs are for the dwarfs”, that is, we are the holders of the truth and as such, are hunkering down and refusing to allow the world in or to engage.
Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.”
That’s it isn’t it. The religious have a set of rules and stories that define their pathway to God. It’s declared sacred and often beyond question. It is exclusive and it is a death knoll to free thought. For many it is also the end of the road to any meaningful spiritual experience and prohibits God being God and engaging with us in any of the myriad ways God can and would delight to do so. It even is so bold as to tell God that He is male. I was so pleased when in the novel ‘The Shack’ the writer, William P Young, portrayed God as a large afro-Caribbean woman. I was also equally appalled by the reaction of certain religious group as they showed the narrowness of their thoughts. I’m sure, 400 years ago, the author would have ended up being burnt as a heretic. The fact that he lived to write again indicates we’ve made some progress.
One of the main functions of organized religion is to protect people against a direct experience of God.
So here’s the thing. Do we abandon the books that instruct on how to have a relationship with God? I believe for some the answer is yes because they have found God through their own personal spirituality. They don’t need to be told how to get there or how to behave. Power to those people!
For the rest, we remind them that the books, whatever they are called, are a guide and not an end in themselves. We remind them that God, if God is who we wish to believe She is (just thought I slip that in to allow God a little freedom of choice), is infinitely bigger, more diverse, than anything people can present in words. We remind people that God communicates in many, many ways and our failure to hear may just be tied to our idea that the book is the be all and end all of divine conversation. Like God spoke this and then hung up. Believe me, God’s cool and can use an iPhone.
Last question. You think God needs the Bible, the Koran, the Gita or whatever to make God known to you? Please don’t become like the dwarfs. Please don’t let anyone tell you that you have to obey the rules in their manual to get there. If that’s how they get to their God, bless them, but I have to think, that’s one small god!
Aslam is not a tame Lion. He cannot be caged. Be it in a physical cage or the prescriptions and restrictions of a religious text.
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion”….”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Vive le Lion.
Yours, enjoying the journey,