The first Tweet I spotted in this morning’s time line was: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It was a Marcel Proust quote shared by @LouKavar. It made me think: In a world where an increasing number of us are declaring ourselves “spiritual, not religious,” aren’t we really describing the eyes through which we see the eternal God, our Father?

In a thought-provoking Huffington Post blog this week, columnist Jay Michaelson reflected on “A Better Way to Believe in God.” Among other things, he looked at religionists’ insistence upon believing scriptures that clearly reflect the limited knowledge of the ancient scribes, discarding empirical evidence proving these declarations inaccurate:

“Here in America, hundreds of millions of people believe in Intelligent Design, in life beginning at conception, and in a notion of a retributive God. Why? Not because of science, truthseeking, or logical inquiry. They “believe in” these things (notice the locution) because they think religion is at the core of their lives.”

By contrast, the “new eyes” of spirituality see a God that is more accessible, more responsive, more loving, compassionate and forgiving. Our Father is someone whom we invite and delight in having as a companion and active participant in our daily lives, decisions and actions.

“New eyes” can’t envision God as a male being who lives beyond the stars, visits Earth only to destroy every living thing, and hasn’t told all of His kids how to return home. No, “new eyes” have captured Jesus’s vision of God as a Father who provides His prodigal kids a safe, reliable and embracing place to turn when we need guidance, shelter, or have made mistakes. And there’s a feast and new clothes, to boot!

This is not the God we met in church: the God whose brutally torturous and deadly punishments consistently exceed all crimes—the “smack-down God,” as the Rev. Gaylon McDowell aptly characterizes Him—a Father whose behavior is frequently more human, and sadly, more inhumane than divine.

Perhaps we are increasingly seeing God with “new eyes” because while religion has encouraged us to build a personal relationship with threatening and fearsome God who uses deadly force, spirituality has helped us to build a stronger relationship that was, is, and always will be based on unconditional love. With unconditional love comes freedom—the freedom to choose how we see each other, how we see ourselves, and how we see our Father.

For those with “new eyes,” no one is outside of the Father’s Love. Every house is Father’s House. And every day is Father’s Day.

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9 Responses to Father Everyday

  1. Janet says:

    Thank you for sharing your insight. As I passed obvious fathers with children today, I wished them tidings. They seemed shocked but pleased. I offered greetings to my son’s father. And then late in the day I vocalised “Happy Father’s Day” to all. That included my own father who passed on a long time ago. Not a day passes that I do not muse on his goodness and thank God for him. Much of what I am I owe to him and my mother, and God as well.
    May we remember to give thanks everyday, not only on special occassions, for the Spirit within that guides and sustains us no matter the name.
    Thank you, again, for you.
    Love,
    Janet

  2. altonwoods says:

    Hello! Interesting post, I was reminded of this quote,

    Religion is for people who are afraid of going to hell, Spirituality is for people who have already been there.

    This also made me think…

    “They “believe in” these things (notice the locution) because they think religion is at the core of their lives.”

    I guess I don’t follow the necessity of that being the case, those conclusions could’ve been a result of many factors, couldn’t they?

    “With unconditional love comes freedom—the freedom to choose how we see each other, how we see ourselves, and how we see our Father.”

    That is so very true, but our choices also must therefore come with consequences, that’s life lesson #1! I wouldn’t expect eternity to be in conflict with this great truth.

    and lastly,

    “visits Earth only to destroy every living thing, and hasn’t told all of His kids how to return home.”

    I assume that you’re referring to the flood? If so I think you’ve overstated and mis-characterized it. God did tell His children how to return home, through Christ!

    • Regarding the Michaelson quote, I agree: The conclusions could have resulted from many factors–this being only one.

      And, I couldn’t agree more: every choice we make has a corresponding consequence. This is a reap what you sow world. If we were more mindful of the consequences (or more realistic about them), we might make wiser choices.

      and lastly,
      “visits Earth only to destroy every living thing, and hasn’t told all of His kids how to return home.”

      No, I wasn’t referring to the genocidal flood–a story that is replete with contradictions and casts the Omniscient God as solving problems by heinously killing every living thing. In that story, God did not tell His children how to return home, through Christ.

      What I was saying is that since the beginning of time, humans have come onto this earth and have left it without even hearing about the Christ. Billions of people. If there’s only one way home (assuming that God is not Omnipresent), shouldn’t EVERYBODY have access to this critical information?

  3. Saint says:

    Pat,
    Good idea to streamline. Especially during the Summer months. Your article brings to mind something that I have been noticing for years and which I think has major impact on our own self perception. That is the thought of GOD as The Father. In all of creation there is both the male and the female principles at work. Yet we still refer to GOD as male. Why is that? I believe it harkens back to our male dominated religionists. Even in Genesis it proclaims that GOD created man, Male and Female . I also believe that this conception has negative effects on the female self image . How can women really value themselves when they think GOD is male? GOD is ALL. Male, Female, and Holy Spirit. Good to have you back. Peace and Love, Saint

    • Funny you should mention that, Saint. In my books and posts, I have taken issue with assigning gender to Spirit, not because of the implications it has for women but because I see gender as a purely physical, biological trait necessary for procreation. I think that gender–whether male or female–places limits on the Omni Spirit that we know as God.

      Last year, however, I wrote a couple of posts–and at the end of each, a one-act play poured through. I’d never written a play before, so I was quite stunned. The plays, which I have now incorporated into my Drama Queen Workshops, portray God as a lovable, compassionate, instructive “Daddy”. My post readers had an instant connection and a comfort level with that image of God. Watching the play absolutely excites my workshop participants.

      Replacing the image of “male” as domineering, controlling and vindictive with an unconditionally loving, patient, forgiving and oh-so-lovable one has significantly mitigated my objection to referring to God as “He.”

  4. Rev. Bobby says:

    I used to send your posts to a minister/author friend of mine in NYC. She loved your work but felt as if she just ran a marathon reading them. 🙂 Great read.

  5. Hey, Rev. Bobby!
    You’ve been MIA, Dude. Good to hear from you. Tell your friend that the streamlined LMIB will now be a walk to the corner store.

  6. Great piece. I love the shorter post and you managed to touch me with a great article reference and thoughtful commentary. B’Shalom

  7. Danie says:

    I had a conversation with a gentleman many years ago who said his wife was insulted by the image of God as a male. She had experienced a woeful childhood at the hands of her father. I explained that God didn’t have a gender. He doesn’t need any physical parts to create life. However for me a father figure is a replacement, a welcomed figure, for the lack of loving, kind and understanding male figure I felt as a child. For each of us God is personal, available and good.

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