Abandoning Spiritual Magical Thinking

We all know what it is. We stayed up all night in college drinking and the next morning prayed to God to do well on a test we didn’t study for. When the grade comes back, some people think they failed because God was punishing them for drinking rather than studying. While I would readily agree that failing a test is a consequence of staying up drinking all night, God didn’t bail you out because that’s not how God works – but you would be amazed to discover how many people disagree with me on that point.

You had sex with your boyfriend and were too lazy, horny, or both to worry about a condom. You prayed to God that you don’t get pregnant and you don’t, so you give God the credit. Later, after marrying your boyfriend you find out he has a sperm count of six. Guess it wasn’t God after all.

The priest says particular, written prayers as she consecrates Communion. If one week she accidentally says “or” where she was supposed to say “and,” is the Communion not valid? Does the Spirit say, “Hold on, sister, you screwed up the incantation so I am most definitely NOT going to descend on these elements and make them the body and blood of Christ! Better luck next week!” Really?

If I read the pre-printed prayers in the Catholic Family Prayer Book, will God be more likely to respond to my requests because the language is more pleasing, or is it better to use the Evangelical form, stuffing one hand in my pocket to jingle my change and my right testicle while saying, “Father I just wanna…” and then babbling on forever?

If two or more of us agree in Jesus’ name that a bright new red Ferrari will appear in my driveway tomorrow morning, why doesn’t that car ever show up? I mean, Jesus said if two or three of us agree on anything in his name it will be given to us. Where’s my Thomas Magnum car, Jesus?

Sooner or later, some of us wake up to the reality that no matter how much we wish that we could manipulate reality with magical God-thought, it just doesn’t work that way. Of course, others are so delusional and so committed to their puppet God that they will twist and distort reality until it appears that things work the way they say they do, as long as you don’t look too closely.

Those of us who do see the light are left with a bit of a problem. We have become aware that we have been misled by religion, and we can’t help but wonder what else they lied about. The truth, however, isn’t so much that we have been lied to as it is we have outgrown the kind of literal religious perspectives that we need when we are younger and not capable of abstract thought. In fact, since scientists now believe that some people will never be capable of abstract thought, there are some people who will always need their simplistic, magical religion.

The rest of us, those who are allowed to eat with metal utensils, need something more – a mature, adult faith. We need to be allowed to explore our spirituality with freedom. Unfortunately, many inside institutional religion are threatened by such freedom and seek to get us back on the farm. I can’t help but wonder if that is because more than a few clergy within the institution are concrete thinkers themselves and too proud to ask us to avoid polysyllabic words. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how much the powers that be, Papal and Protestant, attempt to tighten the reigns, once people have seen the light and evolved beyond a puppet-God, there’s no getting them back on the farm. What’s true of eggs is true of people: once they’ve been laid, it’s hard to keep them on the farm.

The problem, as I see it, is that there are precious few people talking or writing about a more evolved view of God. Maybe that’s because they are busy selling their souls to the Christian bookstores, writing titles like “Six Biblical Passages to Treat Nocturnal Emissions,” and the like. Whatever the case, I am going to be talking about an evolving God for the next several weeks on the Wednesday show of the BishopCraig podcast, available on Itunes for free. This week’s Wednesday show will upload a day late – today, so be sure to check it out.

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