Essay donated by James B. Gray, a visitor to this site
A post-season meditation:
Is God our cosmic bellhop or our king?
Those who ask of others (e.g., political candidates), "Do you believe in God?,"
rarely are asking what they seem to be. What they are really asking, usually,
is: "Is your brand of Christianity as much of a sham as mine is"? For
Christianity, as one finds it in the United States, every bit mocks Jesus as
much as the Roman soldiers are said to have done prior to performing their
Despite their protestations to the contrary, the values of most Americans bear
little relationship to the values attributed to Jesus in the
For whereas our primary values are greed, materialism, and selfishness (as the
recent holiday season of Christmas makes clear), Jesus's values, rather, stemmed from two
laws: Love God, and love the neighbor. Not only did the Jesus of the canonical
gospels preach those commands, he practiced them.
God plays a role in Christianity, of course, but the God of Christianity bears
little resemblance to the God of Jesus. The God of Christianity is a Being "out
there" somewhere who functions to act on our behalf (particularly if we "believe
in" him and Jesus, and petition him for his favor)-an idea embedded in our "In
God We Trust" motto. The God of Christianity is said (albeit more so by some
Christians than other ones) to be a loving God; it's no wonder, then, that we
have made a "cosmic bellhop" of God-i.e., treated God as our (mere) servant.
True, the requests we make of God are not orders; but the idea that lies behind
them is the God's function is to serve us humans ("believers" in particular).
The dominant concept of God associated with the Jesus of the canonical gospels
is that God is our King, with a right thereby to rule our lives. Given this, our
role as God's subjects is to love God (as Jesus stated). How does one do this?
By following-as best one can-his commands. What is God's central command? Love
the neighbor. And given that God realizes that a given person will not find it
as self-evident, in a given situation, to know how to put that command into
practice, God invites us to ask him (via prayer, e.g.,) for guidance regarding
how to act-and react-appropriately in specific situations.
This "God as King" concept of God does not sit well with most American
Christians, especially those in the upper classes. That is, those Americans who
make the basic decisions that affect our lives-including the propaganda that
they have created and spread by the "right wing" foundations that they control.
Yet it would not serve our leaders' purposes to denounce God, and so they have
"converted" (!) the "God is King" God of Jesus into a very different sort of
God-one more compatible with their interests and needs. Hoping, of course, that
no one will notice their sleight of hand-because of their continuation of the
use of "God language."
Our leaders are fully justified in their hope that nobody would notice their
killing of the "God as King" concept of God, for that concept is virtually dead
in our society: the fact, for example, that virtually nobody notices that the
"In God We Trust" motto embodies the idea that God is our servant-not our
master-serves as proof of my assertion here. As does the question-"Do you
believe in God?"-that is so popular in our society-a question that is diabolical
in that belief in God as one's servant (which is implied in the question) has a
meaning which is the virtual opposite of belief in God as one's master.
What further proof can be offered for the assertion that the "God is King"
concept of God is not thriving in this society? One answer comes from the
recently-observed holiday of Christmas. Let us ask the (rhetorical) questions:
Would a follower of Jesus spend large sums of money decorating his home/yard or,
rather, would he use that money to help those in need (see Matthew 25 for the
answer-if you don't already know)? Does not the former use of one's money amount
to adding more nails into Jesus's (already-dead) body? (Is it really necessary
to continue the crucifixion of Jesus? Indeed, is it seemly for Christians to be
involved in this exercise?)
Second, if the "God is King" concept were truly alive and well in this society,
the society would be very different (again, as the "plan of
Matthew 25 makes evident): no one would go without food, shelter, or (ill-)
health care; everyone would be employed, and in meaningful work; everyone would
be treated with kindness and respect (regardless of race, sexual orientation,
beliefs, income, education, etc.); our raping of the environment would be a
thing of the past; crime would have no causes for occurring; our policies toward
other countries would lose their imperialistic tinge; etc. Our elite could
choose to adopt the "God is King" concept of God, but they have not done so; and
the reason is not that doing so would be contrary to "human nature," but that
they have chosen their path.
By choice, then, our society's elite is guided by greed, materialism, and
selfishness-and has spread those values to the rest of the society. Not that it
has been able to infect all members of the society with its values. But the
"holdouts" lack the power and resources effectively to combat these evil
people-just as Jesus eventually was overcome by the ruling authorities of his
society-and, later, by Christianity itself! True, it is said that Jesus was
resurrected. The truth of the matter, however, is that Jesus was resurrected by
Christianity, and in the process made into a different person entirely. A person
with which orthodoxy, rather than orthopraxy, was associated.
Perhaps this is as it must be. Perhaps those are right who argue that Gaia
"decided" long ago that it had erred in allowing humans to appear on the scene,
and began then to bring about various developments-including Christianity-that
would eventuate in humans destroying themselves (along with numerous innocent
species, unfortunately)-all the while being convinced that they were
"progressing." Let us hope that these people are wrong-and that
begins to flourish. So that not only can the values of Jesus and the prophets
flourish, but humankind be "saved" from an ecocatastrophe that may destroy our
species (along with numerous others).