I recently read that the newest edition of the enormously popular New International Version Bible has drawn criticism from several conservative religious groups. They are opposed to the removal of much of the male-oriented language found in the original Greek text. The new version renders some words previously translated as “he,” “him,” “brother,” and so on, in gender-nuetral terms. “Sons of God” becomes “children of God,” the passage beginning, “What is man…?” now reads “What are mere mortals…?” What I find most interesting in the controversy is that all references to God remain masculine. This is, of course, consistent with the prevailing belief that God is male. If asked, most Christians would agree that God is indeed a masculine deity, and in fact, would find it offensive to even suggest that God could be of the feminine gender. Is it possible that we “mere mortals” have it all wrong when we assign either form or gender to the awesome power responsible for the wondrous mystery of life? Have we created a god in our own image and likeness? Voltaire wrote, “To believe in God is impossible, not to believe in God is absurd.” If one seriously reflects on the splendor, the naked raw power of our existence, it is not difficult to concur with Voltaire's words – how can we possibly imagine for a moment what has brought our world into existence? Have we, and do we continue, to trivialize the miracle of our existence by reducing its Creator to the mental icon of some super human entity? That image serves only to mask the wonder and beauty of our own individual divinity. When we seek to answer the question of God's existence we generally consider two possibilities: there is a God, (or whatever we choose to call that divine essence), there is not a God. Voltaire offers a third choice: perhaps, due to our human frailties and limitations, we find it impossible to perceive, to even imagine, the authentic presence of God. In other words, there is a God, but we have smothered that Divine Presence with our antiquated rites and rituals. This is what Nietzsche was trying say in his book, The Joyful Wisdom, when he proclaimed, “God Is Dead.” The popular interpretation of that statement is, “there is no God.” However, Nietzsche was simply attempting to convey the notion that all our organized rites and rituals do not bring us closer to God, but actually keep us from realizing God's living, loving, eternal, radiant, Devine Presence. As I write my cat is perched on the warmth of my dot matrix printer. When I look into her soft eyes and touch her smooth fur, I cannot help but believe, no, I cannot help but know, that this beautiful creature is touched by the same divine hand, the same miracle of life, that has created me. In Genesis God says, “Let the earth bring forth the living creatures.” Hence, “the firmament, the waters under the heaven, the earth, grass, the herb, the fruit, fowl, the beasts, and man, male and female, and every living thing that moves upon the earth,” are all living testaments to the truth of God's divinity in all that exists. When his apostles asked where to find him, Christ, the Son of God replied, “Split a piece of wood: I am there. Lift up a stone, and you will find me there.” Albert Einstein, in his genius, put it this way: “The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical …He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer be wrapped in awe, is as good as dead. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe forms my idea of God.” If we choose to experience God, “revealed in the incomprehensible universe,” there is no form, there is no gender. Viewed in this way, there cannot be one god, there cannot be many gods, there can only be God. God, then, does not see every sparrow that falls, God is every sparrow that falls. John Lee is the former Vice President and Public Relations Chairman of Compassion in Dying of Washington. He has taught courses in Conscious Living in colleges throughout the Pacific Northwest. His Estate Planning Sessions have been sponsored by the Boeing Company, the University of Washington and other business and professional organizations. He is retired and lives in Bellingham, Washington with his wife Camilla. He is now a freelance writer, teacher and lecturer.
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