Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pictures of God

W. C. Fields is quoted as saying, "I love mankind. It's people I can't stand." It's easy to be for something in principle but struggle to demonstrate it in individual, concrete encounters. Lots of people want to help the poor, but they wouldn't dare invite them into their homes. It can be difficult to reconcile the big picture with on the ground realities.

It strikes me that big picture notions of God don't always cohere with on the ground expectations of how God acts. It is common for people to speak of a loving God and then direct God's ire at those they don't approve of. And those who pride themselves on not denying God's love to anyone often don't expect that love actually to do anything. God's love is a nice concept, but we often seem to think it quite impotent.

What a contrast to the words of today's psalm. Young ravens cry, and God acts. I think that is a rather startling picture of God to a lot of people. Our images of God are often of a very removed and distant figure, not so different from the Deists' "watchmaker" god who designs and builds the universe, winds it up, and walks off. Such a god never says, "Oh look, a baby raven is hungry. Let me help."

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