How you correct your mistakes will define your character and commitment to a higher power. — Shannon L. Alder
I’m noticing recently that there seems to be a surge in the number of people who claim to have a word from a higher power justifying what they do. Daesh claims their higher power orders them to rid the world of infidels. A group of silly old white men in Oregon claim their higher power told them to take over a bird sanctuary. A handful of televangelists are quite certain god told each of them to buy a private jet. What’s especially interesting is that at least two of the current candidates running for the office of President claim that their higher power told them to run, which might seem to be a conflict of interest on the part of the deity they share.
My late father, the preacher, was always wary when someone claimed to have a word from god, and in his line of work he encountered such statements rather often. People have, for ages, used the alleged command of their deity to justify their own action. After all, who has the authority to challenge the word of a god? There would seem to be no higher power. The fact that, in the greater majority of cases, that word was used as an excuse to exterminate, enslave, or otherwise harm large groups of people never seemed to bother anyone other than those who were being exterminated, enslaved, or harmed.
Poppa’s response was always to ask them how their “word” lined up with scripture because god wouldn’t contradict himself. More often than not, the conversation ended right there. The same applies across any religion. When one claims to have a word from a higher power, the first thing everyone else should do is compare that “word” with the teachings of that deity. Deities don’t have a great track record for changing their mind, and in the latter three cases mentioned above, one has to wonder exactly how the deity would be interested in the first place. I really wonder for whom god plans to vote in the primaries.
I make no claims toward being a theological scholar. While my religious training was rather extensive, there remain volumes that I don’t know, don’t really care to know, and have no need to know. Nonetheless, I can say with relative certainty that, regardless of what one’s spiritual leanings might be, none of the established deities across any of the world’s major religions are going to require someone to do any of the following:
- Kill someone in cold blood
- Start or participate in an unjustified war (and at this point they’re all unjustified)
- Take something that is not yours
- Any action that might put innocent lives in danger
- Any action that makes the deity look stupid
Inversely, should a higher power decide that they simply have no other choice in all the universe than to speak privately, without the benefit of independent witnesses, to one select individual or group at the exclusion of that deity’s other followers, one can largely expect that such a declaration is going to fall somewhere within the following guidelines:
- Love one another
- Help people; ALL people
- Give without expecting anything in return, even from the deity
- Make peace with those who disagree with you
- Hate no one
Across every major religion in the world, and most the minor ones, those tenets are universal. Every higher power has them, and considering how diverse some of the other teachings are, the commonality of those five things probably means that, more than anything else, those are the things we should be doing!
Of course, there are plenty of people who don’t believe any higher power exists and I can respect that point of view. What I find interesting, though, is that among the most devout atheist I have encountered, every last one of them lived according to those same five principles. They didn’t need a deity to tell them what was the right thing to do. Imagine that.
Every time I hear the words, “God told me …” I cannot help but roll my eyes and immediately discount anything that comes after. Believe what you want, but I am fairly certain that when one uses a higher power as a justification for their own actions and/or desires, they’re almost always making shit up. Religion isn’t a blank card for getting what you want.
And no, none of this has anything to do with today’s picture. I was gently reminded yesterday that I had yet to post a nude this year. We have now rectified that issue. Be sure, though, it was no deity that instructed me to do so.