The God you and I believe in. Is He one that punishes and demands retribution for our sins and others sins? Will all the mistakes or man-made religious rules we break according to the faith we were born in, or adopted, be held accountable and demand recompense?
Or does our God cradle us in His Love, having created us from His love; for His Love and His Love’s purpose? My own experience and knowing and truth mirrors St Julian of Norwich. She says, “I desired in many ways to know what was our Lord’s meaning. And fifteen years after and more, I was answered in spiritual understanding, and it was said: What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same. But you will never know different, without end.”
If you eat meat on a fish day, or remarry in a religion that does not approve of remarriage, will your God consider you have sinned against Him? If you do not fast on a fasting day or avoid confession at prescribed times do you become less worthy or more human in His eyes? Will you be loved more; or less? Or just the same? And what does your God think of those who were born into or follow another religious faith to your own? Are they also God’s beloved children? Or are they ‘infidels’…to be converted if they stand any hope of redemption in your Gods eyes? Does God have a long long list of sins to hand, angels poised with pens to tick off one by one as you live your life…in your innocent vulnerability? Is your God a ‘jealous’ God of the Old Testament variety? Or the Loving ‘Our Father’ of the New? Schizophrenic yet? Does God ban women priests and bishops? Or does man?… Or are we created for love’s sake, What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same. But you will never know different, without end.”
These things matter. They matter because of events like we witnessed in the UK on our streets in Woolwich the other day, when a young soldier, off duty, wearing a Help For Heroes T shirt, was run over and then hacked to death in broad daylight in front of men, women and children. The attackers stood around for 20 minutes or so with blood dripping off their hands, waving their torture implements around casually-waiting for the police to come and pick them up. During this time, they stated how this was happening to their people in foreign lands every day and encouraged people to take photos of them. [They were British born] so what they meant by “their people” is those who adhere to the Muslim faith, wherever they originate and live in the world.
Since then, mosques have been attacked, EDL [English Defence League] marches have been undertaken, and anger and violence have erupted whilst religious and political leaders call for calm. Tempers flare, petty prejudice morphs into full-scale xenophobia and jingoism is chanted by another bloodthirsty mob. Divide and Conquer. My God is better than your God. My Dad’s bigger than your Dad. My God is better than your God…although of course we all believe in just the one God…don’t we? We are all Abrahams children in the Abrahamic Faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam… aren’t we? Yet it would seem that some are more favoured children than others. In the Middle East and around the globe, Sunni now battles Shiite, Catholics and Protestants have been at each others throats for centuries imposing bloody carnage on each other…and Judaism has lots of different versions all claiming to be the best, the nearest to the truth…
And so it seems that a type of mental illness pervades the Abrahamic religions, coursing through the veins of some of its adherents. It enables some of its followers to justify killing each other. Fundamentalism abides, lurking in dark hidden corners, fundamentalism that can justify the breaking of the sixth Mosaic Law…Thou Shalt Not Kill. Remind me again…what was that? Oh yes…the number six rule given by God…Thou Shalt Not Kill. Thou Shalt Not Kill…[what I have given life to, I feel like adding here.] How can any child of God justify killing another? Regardless of the country of their origin, or their religious faith? Where is the peace in retribution? If one is killed, must we then kill back in order to extract man-made justice? An eye for an eye…or do we “turn the other cheek”? Do we kill for the sake of, in the name of, the young soldier brutally murdered on our streets and set all our streets on fire with our fury? Do we demand retribution in foreign lands for others killed and set their streets on fire instead, thus killing endless thousands ourselves? Is this justice? Does this make us happy? Peaceful? For how many deaths does it take to feel that we have justice? One? A Hundred? A Thousand? A Million? How many have been and will be slaughtered in Afghanistan? Iraq? Libya? Syria? In virtually all countries, all nations…religious and political wars are ongoing, wars on ‘terror’, wars for ‘peace’, wars for ‘freedom and do we have any more global peace or freedom for it? Do any of us have the feeling that retribution and/or justice have been served in any way whatsoever? Will our soldiers death be somehow made better for our killing more people in revenge? Personally I know the answer to that is a resounding NO. Not in my name. Would the billions and billions, probably trillions in currencies pumped into war be better spent in a multitude of different ways which are life enhancing instead of life destroying? Of course.
Can we let go of our hatred? Can we accept that God has created all of us from His own Love? That He loves the other exactly the same as He loves us? Because truly if we cannot…humanity will physically destroy itself and it is no good crying “Where is God in all this?” “Why does He allow this to happen?” If we as humans are determined to kill and violate and murder each other for the sake of differences we should be celebrating instead of fighting over…do not expect God to join in. He will sorrow with us, He will cradle us in His Love…all of us…but He will not choose between us nor favour one above the other. Like all good parents. “What, do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love. Why does he reveal it to you? For love. Remain in this, and you will know more of the same. But you will never know different, without end.”