I was absentmindedly watching the flight information screen as we ascended toward Istanbul from Cairo, and noticed a little factoid that had previously escaped me: The outside temperature. It was plummeting by the second. Before I switched screens to scroll through my movie choices, it was -98°F out there—almost 200° cooler than the Sahara.
I peered out the window. Why does anyone in the 21st century still believe that God lives above the clouds? I wondered. And why would anyone human want to, especially since we also believe our physical bodies are going to reconstitute for the ascension? What earthly bodies can sustain themselves up here?
Isn’t it interesting how we get so firmly entrenched in other people’s stories that they take on a life of their own (and ours)? The ancients, who hadn’t traveled above the clouds or to other planets, offered us their beliefs. We should thank them and catalog their beliefs for archival purposes, a reference point.
Instead, we revere their vision of a huge man-clone who lives in the frigid sky. We hold that caricature, with all his violent and sociopathic personality traits, close to our bosoms. And how is that working for us?
Humans fear the uncontrollable. That’s why we’ve confined God to a box: a religion box, a denomination box, and a place in the sky box. But how do we build a relationship with this sky-dwelling god of the ancients’ vivid imaginations? How do we feel secure when God is heaven knows how far away? How do we convince ourselves that this condescending god who can’t forgive us without torturing someone to death really loves us? How do we love someone so diabolical and distant—and who considers us so vile? Or do we simply feign love because we’re afraid to claim otherwise?
On this or any Sunday, did we find God in the places we looked? Or have we simply found it safer to keep the God we met at church as far away from us as we can?