Just like with music, when you compress something as rich as the story of Jesus, you lose so much of the meaning that it becomes a weak and anemic version of its former self. For a lot of people, this story might work. It’s short, pithy, to the point. But it’s a pretty crappy version of the live performance. It feels simple. It’s small and uninspiring.
Richard Rohr was the first person I heard say that, “Literal truth is the lowest form of meaning.” It is an incredibly profound lesson and is something that I encourage everyone to incorporate into their own lives….There is a lot more meaning than just what is on the surface. This is why I believe God is a cartoon.
Yes, it’s a gamble. It might mean that they’re damned to hell for all eternity. But, it’s a life of unencumbered generosity, of limitless human compassion, and a sense that there is something bigger than all of us – all of us – holding it together. Whatever that is, it’s good and it’s worth trying to connect with.
It was a promising premise. Our social networks were going to be such a great way to stay in touch with people from every nook and cranny of our lives. We could stay in contact with them all, effortlessly and all in one place. Even when it seemed weird that they were sharing photos of how well their food was plated at the Mexican restaurant down the street, we at least loved the transparency and the feeling of being connected. We craved it. We added friends to our lists like they were BOGO microwave dinners at the grocery store.
As a rule, we generally think of ourselves as nice people. We think of ourselves as being as being above average on friendliness and politeness. By all practical accounts people should like us. Our perspectives are rational and make sense to us; most people see the world from our point of view.
From a faith perspective, I grew up following the Jesus tradition and, in that pursuit, I learned about something called The Golden Rule. You know it: Do to others what you would want them to do to you. And, to be fair, it’s not like Jesus had the market cornered on this – He was just paraphrasing something that came from Judaism hundreds of years before, and they had likely picked it from some other group. As it turns out, there are versions of this idea that surface in just about every major religious practice throughout history, from Confucianism to Native American Spirituality. There might not be a more universal truth.
That is a high-definition relationship. That is intimacy. Not only can we know what their favorite food is and what they studied in college, but we can also start to understand how they felt when their dad worked too long or their sister made fun of them whenever they were in public. We can understand more than just the facts. We can start to understand their experiences too.
A god who does not intervene will not come to the rescue if we just pray harder. This god won’t choose between a football game and a cancer patient. But such a god much be just the source of energy that we need to continue fighting like hell.
When you know someone intimately, you understand that they are beautiful, complex human beings. You understand that their responses come from a place that is not entirely contained in their bodies. They have histories and experiences that have formed them. They have circuitry in their brain that respond even faster than they can think.