God vs Evil Monsters
Since the beginning of time people have been constructing evil monsters in their minds and calling them ‘God’. One of the most evil of the monsters is said to have deliberately created billions of human souls destined for an eternity of unimaginable torment, and there is nothing these poor souls can do about it. Lesser monsters ‘will’ that all their human creations live forever in bliss, but alas, cannot prevent most of them from suffering forever, as the humans are so weak-willed. So, knowing this beforehand, as any respectable ‘God’ does, he still creates them. The medieval and Byzantine version, as evidenced in iconography, imagined about half of humanity going to the dark, the others in bliss, the mark of, if not an evil creator, at least an incompetent redeemer. A lot of people who do not believe in the evil or inept monster they have been taught is ‘God’ think they are atheists. They are not, and in fact are closer to the Kingdom of God than the devotees of the evil monsters.
Religion for Assholes
Yes, I have been addressing Calvinism and other deformed religions here a lot lately. I have mentioned before how every one of my ancestors, insofar as I can tell, were Calvinists: Irish and Scots Presbyterians and New England Puritans, for the most part, with a Huguenot and a Dutch Calvinist thrown in as the only forbears not from the British Isles. They all went Wesleyan, God bless them, by the 19th century, and one, my maternal grandmother, Catholic in the 20th, when her widowed father married one Edith O’Connor, daughter of Patrick O’Connor. But as Irish Catholicism is heavily influenced by Jansensism, that hardly was a cure. The after effects of this religion are not negligible in my family, whether they called themselves Presbyterians or Methodists or Catholics, and they are not negligible in our culture. One of the touchstones of our history, present in every anthology, was Jonathan Edwards’ sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. Even in the antinomian reaction, Jean Calvin continues to make his nasty presence felt in American culture. And Calvinism is experiencing a revival among evangelicalism, which cannot be a good thing.
And even if a religion is rooted in revealed truth, when God is revealed to a violent anal retentive, God will be described by the recipient of the revelation as a violent anal retentive, every time. Man may be created in the image of God, but he remakes God in his own image most of the time.
A religion that is based on the belief that you are among a chosen few plucked from inevitable destruction is a religion for assholes, the anti-solidarity religion, which worships one of the worst evil monsters ever devised, instead of the True God, the incomprehensible Being that Christ defined as “Love”.
A Universalist* Faith
For if God is good and loves mankind, as the Divine Liturgy proclaims, he is no cruel despot. He did not create most of his human creatures, his children, made in his image, for destruction. The only kind of Father who would punish his children with an eternity of torment is an abusive father, of a cosmic scale.
Does saying this make me a universalist?
Yes, it does.
But I am a universalist with an asterisk:
*With the caveat that humans are free, even to be assholes for eternity.
I am also an apophatist with an asterisk. In this case the * leads to this:
* While I may believe that any human construct obscures more than it reveals about the Holy Mystery we call “God”, we may, and must, believe one thing: God is good and loves humanity. Amen.
(Painting by Paul Serusier)