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02 May 2012

Amen And I Know You Are But What Am I?

Karen Spears Zacharias at CNN's My Faith blog tries to answer, "What does God sound like?"
Theologians who study this sort of thing say that our image of God is formed by our relationships with our fathers. That image is formed in part by how our fathers speak to us. If they bark orders at us all the time, we might hear God as a crank. But if our fathers speak to us in instructive, encouraging tones, we may hear God as our best coach.
By "theologians," I think she means Freud, but whatever. Here are list of some of the voices Karen included in the piece:
  • Garrison Keillor
  • Mr. Spock
  • James Earl Jones
  • Jeff "The Dude" Bridges
  • Yoda
  • Pee-Wee Herman
  • one's mother
This is the height of sociology here. If our image of God is formed by our relationships with our fathers, it's only our fathers because we live in a patriarchal society that elevates fathers to higher statuses than other social roles, like mother or unknown neighbor. We worship the reflection of our own groups and personify that deity because as human animals we're more comfortable interacting with things that look--and sound--more human than an abstract conception. When we lived in matriarchal societies, God was more likely Goddess and, even more likely, she was "Mom" instead of "Dad." God is society, and if personified, God resembles whomever we value most in our society.

I can imagine a teaching exercise in which I would play clips of several people--some famous actors, other unknown every-persons--and then ask the class which most closely approximates their notion of the voice of God and what that says about them.

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