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Calculating God

Calculating God

As more and more writers, filmmakers, managers, publishers, movie lovers, book lovers, and tv fans join the movement at SON, I have an awesome opportunity to see the common ground on which we stand regardless of religion (or lack thereof). It’s so cool! It also raises questions I haven’t focused on for a while. What makes an atheist choose the moral high ground? What spurs a Jewish woman to work with a roomful of Jesus lovers? How did the God Christians worship today come to the world’s collective awareness in the first place? What motivates all of us to make the world a better place?

When I was 16, my dad took me aside and asked why I subscribed to the Christian faith. I don’t remember my answer, but it was probably the textbook Southern Baptist one as that is the only denomination or way of belief I knew at that point. Daddy and Mom raised all of us kids in Baptist churches. Whatever I said that day, I remember Daddy shaking his head at me. “Your faith isn’t yours if it’s part mine or your mom’s. You need to figure out what you believe and why you believe it.” He set me off on a course of reading about the world’s religions.

The questions I explored then arise again as SON expands. Why am I here? Why do storytellers exist? Why does almost every human respond to a story? Did someone put us here? Is there a higher being in charge? Can I interact with that being? How did that being come into being? How is existence supposed to work? Does it work that way? Can we make it work that way? What is the story behind all that has been, is, and will be? Is there a story?

These kinds of questions and more are masterfully woven into an incredible novel I finished this past weekend: Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer. While there are a few places in which the arguments for answers overtake the storyline, I remained fascinated throughout. The story premise is that an alien (Hollus) comes to Earth with the news that Hollus’s planet, another planet with live beings, and Earth have all experienced five cataclysmic events that altered the evolution of life on that planet. Hollus says this is proof that there is a God and that God is manipulating the formation and evolution of life. The big question is: why? Hollus studies life’s history on this planet while holding provocative conversations with the Canadian paleontologist helping him research.

If that were all this book was, it would be well-worth the read.

But the ending of this story is…well…it’s…astounding.

If you’ve ever wondered how God could have come into being…

If you’ve ever thought that maybe there is a being in charge, but it might not be the God of your knowledge base…

If you’ve ever wondered why horrors like cancer could possibly be allowed to exist…

Heck, if you’re just tired of figuring out the ending of a book when you’re barely halfway through it…

You’ve got to get this novel.

 

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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Media Reviews, The Misc Bucket

 

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Language, people!

“Evil.”

“Liar.”

“Ugly.”

“Stupid.”

“Moron.”

“Terrorist.”

“Traitor.”

That’s a small sampling of the descriptive words I’ve seen used by people who describe themselves as Jesus-loving folks. When did it become okay to be so mean? To be clear, I’m aware that there’s always been meanness – I’m asking when did it become socially acceptable? Specifically, when did it become acceptable for Christians?

Does the anonymity of a screen really give us the right to go there?

Y’all, Jesus loves Barack Obama. He died for Barack Obama. And Hilary Clinton. And Bernie Sanders. And Donald Trump. Just what do you think God thinks of us – of me, of you – when we speak of people He loves as if they are evil themselves? Unworthy? Do you feel high and holy when you feel hate for these people? When you feel better than them? Smarter than them? Somehow more sanctified or more loved by God than them?

You aren’t.

God doesn’t love you more than He loves Barack Obama.

Yeah, Obama is making some decisions that are hurtful and harmful to people – decisions like creating an atmosphere easily taken advantage of by sexual predators. Please note I’m not saying people whose brains don’t jive with the physical reality of their bodies are predators. I’m saying a predator will pretend to be one of those people and can achieve his/her hurtful aim because of the situation created by Obama’s public school bathroom decree.  And Brian Cornell, the CEO of Target is in the same boat, sure.

But God loves Barack Obama. And Barack Obama has said, more than once, that He is a Christian. So has Hilary Clinton. I don’t know if Brian Cornell has, but…

…maybe we can start with just loving the people who say they love Jesus and are His followers. Maybe if we decided to act like we love people – the way our God loves them – we could be known for the ONLY thing the Bible says we are to be known for: how we love each other. (John 13:34-35)

Please sit in that truth, y’all. Please. The Bible gives us ONE THING to be known for in the world: how we love other people who say they love Him, too. “Love one another,” was said BY JESUS to John as a COMMANDMENT.

…(34) A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. (35) By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Now, I know a lot of us are motivated by love when we moan and groan about the bathroom thing. We love people, we see a very real opportunity for people to be harmed, and we want to do something about it. At least, I do. I’m a sex abuse survivor. You bet your balloons I’m fired up about that situation. The very idea that my precious little boy or girl could be harmed by a predator taking advantage of an opportunity created – well, my heart speeds up and I get all mad just considering it.

But Barack Obama isn’t trying to hurt people. Target is not trying to hurt people. The irony is that they’re trying to NOT hurt people – the people whose brains don’t agree with their physical bodies. Can we acknowledge that? Can we recognize that someone whose actions we vehemently disagree with can still be motivated from a good place?

Because, when we do that – when we act like the loving people we are supposed to be – then an opportunity for discussion blooms. Hackles lower. No one is “evil” or “stupid” or whatever. Everyone comes in the room wanting the best thing, the kindest thing, for everybody.

That’s how we roll, y’all. Those of us who love Jesus, anyway. That’s how we roll. We see someone as worthy of us dying for. Every someone. Someones named Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump or Brian Cornell. And we say, “Okay, look, I think I may understand what you’re trying to do here. Let’s see if we can come up with a way to do that, but not cause the unintended consequence of giving predators opportunities to take advantage…”

Because the checker on the frontlines at Target is probably a Jesus-lover, too. (There are millions of us, so chances are pretty good.) Or maybe the checker knows nothing of Jesus other than His folks are boycotting Target. And she is just trying to make enough money to buy groceries and enough kibble for the little Yorkie back at the apartment. Or he’s just scraping together enough to take a girl out on a date this weekend and not have the car run out of gas in the process. THOSE are the unintended consequences of your decision to boycott. You hurt them. And surely nobody involved in that boycott signed it because they want to hurt people. They signed it because they’re scared people in bathrooms will get hurt.

We’re all trying to do something good – how about we stand on that common ground, be kind to each other, and figure out a way to achieve both ends?

How about we see people as God does – worthy of dying for – and speak to them and about them from that place?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2016 in The Misc Bucket

 

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