Why Do We Believe It?

I’m always in awe of people who can quote scripture. I’m equally intrigued when they insist that it is the Word of God. My latest book delves into our beliefs a bit. I am convinced that many of us haven’t the slightest idea what we believe, what our beliefs really mean or why we believe them.

Is it important to understand what you believe? Well, since our beliefs motivate our actions, I think so–and so does retired Episcopalian Bishop John Shelby Spong*, renowned expert on the Bible, best-selling author and former fundamentalist from the Bible belt.

A minister at my church, who knows I am a big fan of Bishop Spong’s, sent me this illuminating speech. I thought I’d share. When you have 83 minutes to spare, it will be time well-spent: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZM3FXlLMug

Enjoy the enlightenment!

*Disclaimer: Bishop Spong endorsed my first book.

In Violent Dramas, What’s God’s Role?

A few days ago, I theorized in this space that violent behavior stems from our beliefs about what God is and what God does. If we believe ancient stories that tell us that God solves problems by killing people, we’re more likely to view violence as a logical and acceptable way to solve our problems.
Within 24 hours of posting that essay, a Kirkwood, Missouri man left home saying, “To God be the glory!” Moments later, he shot six and killed five people that, he believed, were causing him a problem.
These horrific murders caused me to examine my theory more closely. What I found was scientific evidence that I might be on the right track. I posted those findings in today’s edition of The Daily Voice, where I serve as the spirituality editor.

Time for a “Shift”?

I stopped watching the evening news and switched to online newspapers. Not only was I was burned out, after 20 years in TV news, I typically felt emotionally drained at the end of the newscast, a bit overwhelmed by man’s inhumanity to man.

Now that watching is no longer a job requirement, I choose not. If a headline is screaming bad news, I can instantly dash to another part of the page; I don’t have to sit through the bloody details or watch the crime scene video.

I swear, if one more anchor reported a “senseless” murder, I was going to scream. Are there any murders that make sense? Let’s see: Five women slain in a clothing store, man opens fire in a shopping mall, a Boy Scout kills his parents, women suicide bombers wreak havoc. Which of these made sense?

The acts are becoming more and more bizarre, more and more inhumane. I could be wrong, but I’ve theorized that the way we solve problems is directly related to our beliefs about God.

We can be as punitive and unforgiving as the God who kicked Adam and Eve to kingdom come. We can be as outraged and brutal as the God who commits filicide or genocide. We believe that Our Father solves problems by killing His own, torturing His own, threatening His own. He favors some over others. Human life is expendable.

We were taught this as children. It’s deeply seeded in our psyches: this is the way to solve problems. This is the way we treat others.

In that context, murders make perfect sense, and they will continue until we shift our perceptions about what God is and what God does, until we decide to believe that God behaves more divinely.

It’s an option. I’m not sure if we can do it; we are so attached to the sadistic model of God. In fact, we believe that God will torture us eternally, if we believe otherwise. Fascinating stuff.

At times, it seems hopeless to think that we can grasp how heinous we believe God is. Only a Pollyanna would believe that we can challenge these reports of Godly misconduct by asking, “Would LOVE do that?”

There is hope. Today, I am filled with it, after receiving an email today from the Rev. Shaheerah Stephens, a New Thought minister in Detroit. Maybe you’d like some hope, too: The Shift Movie