I think that God that we have created and allowed to shape our culture through, essentially Christian theology is a pretty villainous creature. I think that one of the things that male patriarchal figure has done is, allowed under it’s, his church, his wing, all kinds of corruptions and villainies to grow and fester. In the name of that God terrible wars have been waged, in the name of that God terrible sexism has been allowed to spread. There are children being born all across this world that don’t have enough food to eat because that God, at least his church, tells the mothers and fathers that they must procreate at all costs, and to prevent procreation with a condom is in contravention with his laws. Now, I don’t believe that God exists. I think that God is creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand in fact, is that that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort.
I do not believe that God has given us this trial to not purpose. I know that the day will come when we will clearly understand why this persecution with all it's sufferings has been bestowed upon us -- for everything that Our Lord does is for our good. And yet, even as I write these words I feel the oppressive weight in my heart of those last stammering words of Kichijiro in the morning of his departure: "Why has Deus Sama imposed this suffering on us?" and then the resentment in those eyes that he turned upon me. "Father", he had said "what evil have we done?"I suppose I should simply cast from my mind these meaningless words of the coward; yet why does his plaintive voice pierce my breast with tall the pain of a sharp needle? Why has Our Lord imposed this torture and this persecution on poor Japanese peasants? No, Kichijiro was trying to express something different, something even more sickening. The silence of God. Already twenty years have passed since the persecution broke out; the black soil of Japan has been filled with the lament of so many Christians; the red blood of priests has flowed profusely; the walls of churches have fallen down; and in the face of this terrible and merciless sacrifice offered up to Him, God has remained silent.
...What I have denied and what my reason compels me to deny, is the existence of a Being throned above us as a god, directing our mundane affairs in detail, regarding us as individuals, punishing us, rewarding us as human judges might.When the churches learn to take this rational view of things, when they become true schools of ethics and stop teaching fables, they will be more effective than they are to-day... If they would turn all that ability to teaching this one thing – the fact that honesty is best, that selfishness and lies of any sort must surely fail to produce happiness – they would accomplish actual things. Religious faiths and creeds have greatly hampered our development. They have absorbed and wasted some fine intellects. That creeds are getting to be less and less important to the average mind with every passing year is a good sign, I think, although I do not wish to talk about what is commonly called theology.The criticisms which have been hurled at me have not worried me. A man cannot control his beliefs. If he is honest in his frank expression of them, that is all that can in justice be required of him. Professor Thomson and a thousand others do not in the least agree with me. His criticism of me, as I read it, charged that because I doubted the soul’s immortality, or ‘personality,’ as he called it, my mind must be abnormal, ‘pathological,’ in other, words, diseased... I try to say exactly what I honestly believe to be the truth, and more than that no man can do. I honestly believe that creedists have built up a mighty structure of inaccuracy, based, curiously, on those fundamental truths which I, with every honest man, must not alone admit but earnestly acclaim.I have been working on the same lines for many years. I have tried to go as far as possible toward the bottom of each subject I have studied. I have not reached my conclusions through study of traditions; I have reached them through the study of hard fact. I cannot see that unproved theories or sentiment should be permitted to have influence in the building of conviction upon matters so important. Science proves its theories or it rejects them. I have never seen the slightest scientific proof of the religious theories of heaven and hell, of future life for individuals, or of a personal God. I earnestly believe that I am right; I cannot help believing as I do... I cannot accept as final any theory which is not provable. The theories of the theologians cannot be proved. Proof, proof! That is what I always have been after; that is what my mind requires before it can accept a theory as fact. Some things are provable, some things disprovable, some things are doubtful. All the problems which perplex us, now, will, soon or late, be solved, and solved beyond a question through scientific investigation. The thing which most impresses me about theology is that it does not seem to be investigating. It seems to be asserting, merely, without actual study....Moral teaching is the thing we need most in this world, and many of these men could be great moral teachers if they would but give their whole time to it, and to scientific search for the rock-bottom truth, instead of wasting it upon expounding theories of theology which are not in the first place firmly based. What we need is search for fundamentals, not reiteration of traditions born in days when men knew even less than we do now.[Columbian Magazine interview]
How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves - thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Ephesians 4, 14). Having a clear Faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and 'swept along by every wind of teaching', looks like the only attitude acceptable to today's standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires. However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an 'Adult' means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today's fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth.
Since my visit to the Hermitage, I had become more aware of the four figures, two women and two men, who stood around the luminous space where the father welcomed his returning son. Their way of looking leaves you wondering how they think or feel about what they are watching. These bystanders, or observers, allow for all sorts of interpretations. As I reflect on my own journey, I become more and more aware of how long I have played the role of observer. For years I had instructed students on the different aspects of the spiritual life, trying to help them see the importance of living it. But had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God? The simple fact of being able to express an opinion, to set up an argument, to defend a position, and to clarify a vision has given me, and gives me still, a sense of control. And, generally, I feel much safer in experiencing a sense of control over an undefinable situation than in taking the risk of letting that situation control me. Certainly there were many hours of prayer, many days and months of retreat, and countless conversations with spiritual directors, but I had never fully given up the role of bystander. Even though there has been in me a lifelong desire to be an insider looking out, I nevertheless kept choosing over and over again the position of the outsider looking in. Sometimes this looking-in was a curious looking-in, sometimes a jealous looking-in, sometimes an anxious looking-in, and, once in a while, even a loving looking-in. But giving up the somewhat safe position of the critical observer seemed like a great leap into totally unknown territory. I so much wanted to keep some control over my spiritual journey, to be able to predict at least a part of the outcome, that relinquishing the security of the observer for the vulnerability of the returning son seemed close to impossible. Teaching students, passing on the many explanations given over the centuries to the words and actions of Jesus, and showing them the many spiritual journeys that people have chosen in the past seemed very much like taking the position of one of the four figures surrounding the divine embrace. The two women standing behind the father at different distances the seated man staring into space and looking at no one in particular, and the tall man standing erect and looking critically at the event on the platform in front of him--they all represent different ways of not getting involved. There is indifference, curiosity, daydreaming, and attentive observation; there is staring, gazing, watching, and looking; there is standing in the background, leaning against an arch, sitting with arms crossed, and standing with hands gripping each other. Every one of these inner and outward postures are all too familiar with me. Some are more comfortable than others, but all of them are ways of not getting directly involved," (pp. 12-13).
Now, I don't believe that a god exists. I think that gods are creation of men, by men, and for men. What has happened over the many centuries now, the better part of two thousand in fact, is that God has been slowly and steadily accruing power. His church has been accruing power, and the men who run that church, and they are all men, are not about to give it up. If they give it up, they give up luxury, they give up comfort.
I see no reason why church services have to be standard. I've discussed this with the man who used to be a pastor here at the Methodist Church in Sebastopol. I told him I saw no reason why, on a certain Sunday morning, if a minister has felt during the week the burden of a topic upon his heart and he knows that it is going to take more than the standard twenty minutes to discuss this thing, why he can't rise at the beginning of the service and say 'I have something of special importance this morning so let's sing just one song, and if you'll forgive me, I think I'm going to need about an hour to explain it to you.' I think the congregation would appreciate his candor and give him their attention. If, on the other hand, he does not feel that a definite message has been given him, why not admit it from the pulpit and say, 'This morning, I'm not going to try to make up something to fill the time. We'll sing a few extra hymns and go home!' Why do the services have to begin and end at the same time, and why does everything have to be so rigid?
We have often done well knowing the mind of God in our churches today. We have not done as well knowing His heart. We have largely become a church that pursues insights, principles, and theological concepts. No other church in history has had sounder theology or has known as much about God as many of our churches do today. However, we seem to know so little about His heart. Maybe this has troubled you, too. With all our insight, all our knowledge, all our information, and all our depth of theology, we seem to have so much difficulty functioning in the most basic Christian things, like personal holiness and loving people more than things. In our churches we are so easily hurt, and we hold on to those hurts for so long. We easily walk away from one another and quickly leave our churches when we experience disappointments and failures. There is often much judging and little compassion. Too many people remain alone in their pain.God desires to reveal His heart to us and to build His heart into us as we seek His face. Insight alone does not transform us; only the things that flow from the heart of God transform the lives of people. As God opens His heart to be known by us and as He builds His heart into us, His love will flow through us to those who are in desperate need of His forgiveness, His compassion, His healing, and His life.
We might have expected, we may think we should have preferred, an unrefracted light giving us ultimate truth in systematic form--something we could have tabulated and memorised and relied on like the multiplication table. One can respect, and at moments envy, both the Fundamentalists view of the Bible and the Roman Catholics view of the Church. But there is one argument which we should beware of using for either position: God must have done what is best, this is best, therefore God has done this. For we are mortals and do not know what is best for us, and it is dangerous to prescribe what God must have done--especially when we cannot, for the life of us, see that He has after all done it.We may observe that the teaching of Our Lord Himself, in which there is no imperfection, is not given us in that cut-and-dried, fool-proof, systematic fashion we might have expected or desired. He wrote no book. We have only reported sayings, most of them uttered in answer to questions, shaped in some degree by their context. And when we have collected them all we cannot reduce them to a system. He preaches but He does not lecture. He uses paradox, proverb, exaggeration, parable, irony; even (I mean no irreverence) the 'wise-crack'. He utters maxims which, like popular proverbs, if rigorously taken, may seem to contradict one another. His teaching therefore cannot be grasped by the intellect alone, cannot be 'got up' as if it were a 'subject'. If we try to do that with it, we shall find Him the most elusive of teachers. He hardly ever gave a straight answer to a straight question. He will not be, in the way we want, 'pinned down'. The attempt is (again, I mean no irreverence) like trying to bottle a sunbeam.