I've got Burning on the brain again. With Burning Man's emphasis on belief and the nature of sacredness this year, there are a lot of words and thoughts flying through my head, mainly juxtaposing my concept of a God who made man in His image with that of so many of my Burning Man friends who will freely admit that they made their own god up for their specific purposes. Their position reflects the skyrocketing trend towards self-styled spirituality, with people mining the major world religions to form their own Theological Greatest Hits - they grab the dedication required by islam, the freedom of christianity, the ancient-appeal of hinduism, the self-centeredness of buddhism, etc, to build their Jacob's Ladder.

This morning, I was struck by the words of the Seer, Isaiah - chapter 44, verse 10:
Who shapes a god and cast and idol, which can profit him nothing?

I think there's a double meaning here...yes, it's a rhetorical question about who has the nerve to make his own god...but I think there's another layer of question that's really a statement: When people fashion their own god, they fashion him for their private purposes. I think of those I know who would admit that their spirituality is their own creation - in every case, it appears to scratch a specific itch for them. Perhaps it gives them freedom to participate in things conventional religion would have not, or it even encourages over-indulgence in various activities that could never be described as healthy were they not being shrouded in a belief system. I have yet to find a person who's built their own god that hasn't built it for themselves...which strikes me as an odd basis of relationship between a mortal and a deity.

I'm just not ready to concede that my God would so quickly drop his agenda and adopt mine. I guess I just want a deity who runs the show, rather than one who I can use to make excuses for myself.

No comments: