Wednesday, September 17, 2008

God, the Problem

Friends often ask -- how can anyone be Christian? They are usually referring to the Bush-Christians. I find it hard to believe, too. How can anyone be a Bush-Christian? A Palin Christian? But I like to think about things, whether I agree with them or not.

As a former student of religion and philosophy, I still look up some of the great theologians of our time. I want to see what they have or had to say. One such man is Gordon Kaufman who gave a talk on his book, God, the Problem, at my college when I was 20. He talked then of how religions can become truly inhumane --the more fundamentalist usually = the less humanitarian. Below is an excerpt of him writing about the environment.

"So it is not really evident that God (as Christians have traditionally understood God) provides a solution to what is a major problem for men and women today: the ecological crisis.

This is a different kind of issue than Christians (or any other humans) have ever faced; and continuing to worship and serve this traditionally conceived God may even get in the way of our seeing clearly the depths and importance of this crisis. For now it is not a matter of finding a way to live with or overcome despair or meaninglessness or guilt or sinfulness, or other human suffering -- those profound problems of human subjectivity. It is a matter of the objective conditions that make life possible: we are destroying them, and it is we who must find a way to set them right.

This is not, of course, a specifically Christian or theistic problem: it is a problem in which all humans are implicated, and we are all called to do our part in its solution. So the central religious issue today confronting humankind is of a different order than ever before. And we may no longer claim that Christians have a corner on the solution to it; nor do Buddhists, or Jews, or the adherents of any other religion. What is now required is a reordering of the whole of human life around the globe in an ecologically responsible manner -- something heretofore never contemplated by any of our great religious traditions. All of humankind must learn to work together on this issue, or it will simply not be taken care of. We may not, of course, be able to solve this problem at all; we may already be past the point of no return."


Dan Ehrman said...


America is full of irresponsible christians, many who fall under the paltry pandering of vote sucking politicians dropping little quips about god, prayer and anti-abortionism. Its ironic so much of this post is agreeable to me having lived my whole life as, God forbid, an evangelical.

Somehow well-intentioned people have elevated values of the rights of the unborn and warmongering above the quality of life for the world. The Bible directs people to live at peace with one another. Further, Adam & Eve were told by God to steward the garden of eden.

In the chaotic state of Christianity today, I would hate to see the Church or any religion, for that matter, attempt to oversee our collective fight to restore the planet.

Returning to the ideas of fundamentalism...ultimately I suppose a responsible christian would seek to hold in tension faith and reason. Leaving this tension leaves one in either mindless passion or lifeless self-reliance. Both end in apathy and even hate for anyone in disagreement...and we all know where that could lead us...

Nin Andrews said...

Thanks Dan for this really thoughtful and helpful comment.