Not Your Childhood “God”
By: Rev. Lydia Ferrante-Roseberry
In response to the statement “I don’t believe in God,” the late Rev. Forrest Church would reply “Tell me about the god you don’t believe in, as I probably don’t believe in that god either.” Church was an avowed theist, but one whose beliefs evolved from his Christian upbringing through his career as one of the most eloquent Unitarian Universalist ministers of our time.
Now, I know, for some of you, even the mention of the word “God” makes you bristle. You locked that God out of your bedroom when your grandmother died even after you prayed for weeks and weeks on your knees, by your bed. You rejected that God when you could no longer abide unscientific miracles your childhood tradition required you to believe. You condemned that God when mere mortals described Him as a homophobe.
But “God” has really changed since we were kids. Gone from seminary theology books is the image of the old guy with the beard—that “you-better-watch-out” Santa-like all-knowing, judging God of my post-Vatican II childhood. In his place is a genderless, mystical image of immanent love that permeates life.
“‘God’ is not God’s name,” Rev. Church often told his congregation in New York City. “‘God’ is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in each.”
As we explore the theme of “transcendence” this month, I invite you to reflect upon your own “embedded” theology—the god of your childhood that you still carry around with you, whether you rejected that image whole-heartedly or not. How does that image of god impact your life, your current beliefs, and your feelings about those who believe differently from you?
Explore for yourself not only what you don’t believe, but also what you DO believe. Join me and others in opportunities to “think outside the box” about your beliefs. Come to Playshop and dance them. Come to “Deepening the Conversation: Poetry” and write about them. Come. Whoever you are. Come. Explore.
For this is the true gift of our free religious faith.