Tuesday, 22 November 2011

God the Parent

I can see the force those arguments that God is not an entity 'in' the world, one amongst many existing things -- that instead He is the ground of existence itself. But I don't see why it follows that existing things (like us) should therefore orient our lives in His direction; like the colours and dabs of paint in a Monet painting devoting their lives to the canvas, rather than the people in the gallery.

Or, another analogy: parents give their children life. Some parents may then expect their offspring to orient their existences entirely around them, to all-but-worship them -- we would call such people 'bad parents'. Good parents want their kids to outgrow them, to make their own way in the world. The perfect parent would want their kids wholly to forget them (as their grandkids may, their great-grandkids probably will and their descendants a hundred generations hence certain will). But, as religious discourse rightly stresses, human beings are not perfect. I am a parent, and I hope that when my kids are fully grown and able to look after themselves they'll still stay in touch, think of me -- occasionally -- with love. But I also hope that the main thrust of their lives is oriented not towards me, but towards their own joys and challenges (and, eventually, their own kids). So with God.

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