Are humans ready to outgrow their local deities in favor of something more cosmic and inclusive?
It isn’t hard to accidentally overhear other people’s conversations at a gym. Everyone tends to speak loudly to compensate for the din. That said, I admit to deliberately listening in on the following exchange between a client and his fitness trainer.
“You know why we lost Afghanistan to the Taliban?”
“Nope. God. Just as we abandoned the Afghans, so God abandoned us. The Bible tells us ‘The Lord will fight for you’ (Exodus 14:14) and ‘the Lord your God is the one who fights for you against your enemies’ (Deuteronomy 20:4) and that when God fights for us every one of our soldiers can defeat a thousand of our enemy’s soldiers (Joshua 23:10). Yet we lost and the only reason we lost is that God stopped fighting for us. It’s that simple.”*
“You guess? There’s no guessing about it. Bible says God is a man of war (Exodus 15:3). God gave up on us and God just surrendered!”
This is the point in the conversation when I am desperate to jump in. What drives me isn’t my desire to engage in some lofty theological debate, but my compulsion to correct the trainer’s grammar: “To whom” not “to who.” I restrained myself.
“To who [whom]? To Allah, that’s who. Allah is the God of the Muslims. The Muslims won because their God Allah won. Our God lost. You wanna know why our God lost?”
“Our God lost because we stopped believing in Him. We stopped being true Christians. We might go to church and pray to Him, but we aren’t willing to go to war and fight for Him. Jesus died for us so that we might fight for Him. We used to evangelize the heathen, now we hold inter-faith dialogues with them. We used to be clear that our God—the Christian God—is the one true God. Now we are like the ancient Greeks with a whole collection of Gods: the Jewish God, the Muslim God, the thousands of Hindu Gods. We have turned our backs on our God, the one true God, and put our faith in the CDC and Critical Race Theory and liberal politicians who worship at the altar of the New Secular Order established by George Soros and advertised on our dollar bills to get us to abandon God for socialism.”**
Clearly this fellow’s trainer didn’t want to engage him regarding any of this. But I did. Yet, I kept my thoughts to myself, finished my workout, and left the gym.
Why? Because arguing with this fellow would be like arguing with a Holocaust denier, or a climate change skeptic, or with a Flat Earther, or a 9/11 Truther. Feelings rather than facts matter in these “discussions,” and I tend to focus on facts. So, I said nothing. Yet I kept running this conversation over in my mind as I walked from the gym back to my house.
One would hope that after centuries of tribal gods battling for supremacy at the cost of the lives of millions, we humans would have outgrown our local deities in favor of something more cosmic and inclusive. Sadly, few of us have done so.
[Read: “Spirituality and Donuts.”]
Outgrowing our gods would require us to grow into a larger view of reality. Not necessarily one without God, but one whose God isn’t a tribal warrior. We just aren’t ready for this. Indeed, if past is prologue, we may never be. It may just take a bit of personal (spiritual?) training to get there.
*I added the biblical references for the sake of clarity.
**The Latin phrase on the dollar bill is novus ordo seclorum, “a new order of the ages,” and points to the notion that the United States heralds something new in the world. Seclorum doesn’t mean “secular” but “age.” George Soros had nothing to do with any of this.
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