Dare to Think?

“Mankind must evolve, for all human conflict, a method that rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is Love.” The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My route to the office passes a large orange sign in a window of the McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum on the Mag Mile that screams: “WE DARE YOU TO THINK”. That sign always makes me giggle.

Thinking is often discouraged or forbidden in this Land of the Free, especially when it comes to religion. Typically, we are scared to think, rather than dared to think.

Suppose you have a friend who makes you feel lucky to have him in your world. In fact, everyone who knows this guy speaks of him with admiration. What a cool dude: kind, generous, trustworthy, always lending a helping hand to others. He’s a source of comfort and solace. You’ve never seen him angry or heard him utter a discouraging word.

Then one morning you pick up the newspaper and see his picture beneath a headline that screams “CHARGED!” He’s walking with his head bowed, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, hands behind his back and surrounded by a gaggle of police and TV cameras.

Your knees buckle as you read details of the crimes your dear friend is accused of committing: rape, murder and child abuse. Investigators say they also found evidence that he is involved in a terrorist plot to kill a great number of people.

Your head is spinning. Do you believe what you read—or trust what you know? That is our challenge when we read certain accounts about God: believe what we read or trust what we know.

If, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. suggests, mankind must evolve beyond a barbaric level of conflict resolution, surely God is light years ahead. And if we share Dr. King’s belief that we evolve to a higher level of conflict resolution through love, and we believe that God is Love, is it possible to believe that God resolves conflict with revenge, aggression and retaliation?

We are dared to think.

When I was nine or ten years old, I recall leaving Sunday school a bit dazed. I couldn’t quite wrap my child’s brain around what I’d just read in class. I comprehended the God is Love part; but the book lost me when it claimed that God had done cruel and unusual things that Love absolutely positively would not do, under any circumstances.

We are dared to think.

I’ve been told that God is everywhere, knows everything, and is all-powerful. If that’s true, how are we also supposed to believe that God has a rival? A rival can only be taken seriously if it is an equal. God has no equal.

We are dared to think.

One thought always seems to lead to others: For example, if jealousy is such an undesirable human trait, how can we believe that God has claimed to be jealous? And pray tell, what exists in the Universe that would invoke jealousy from a God who is everywhere, knows everything, and is all-powerful?

We are dared to think.

It is claimed that Love had a fit of rage so intense that it killed everyone and everything in Creation, with a few exceptions. And they want us to believe that Love has threatened to do it again.

Anybody dare to reflect on that “revelationary” method of resolving conflict?