Need a hint? Well, according to the originator of the e-mail, this image was captured by NASA. You know the Loud Mouth in the Balcony had a lifetime as a journalist, so I had to fact-check.
Lo and behold, it was true! NASA is the image’s source; I think you’ll agree that it’s a highly credible source.
Now what do you think the e-mail said that NASA called this image? Take a wild guess.
Uh huh. The Eye of God. Now if we believe that, all we have to do is figure out whether God is winking at us, which explains why we can’t see the other eye, or if “He” (pardon my limiting masculine pronoun) is the mythical one-eyed Cyclops. Oh yeah, and where is God hiding the rest of “His” face and body?
Obviously, the sleuths at snopes.com had wondered the same thing. This is what they discovered:
“This is a real photograph of the Helix Nebula, although it’s technically not a single photograph but rather a composite image formed from several photographs taken by NASA’s orbiting Hubble Space Telescope and a land-based telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.
“This image was NASA’s “Astronomy Picture of the Day” for 10 May 2003. The tinting of the image is artificial; the Helix Nebula does not naturally appear with the colors shown above. The picture’s ‘Eye of God’ appellation is a title coined by an admirer of the photo due to the nebula’s resemblance to a human eye, not something designated by NASA. The nebula is also visible all the time, not merely ‘once in 3000 years’.”
Of course, the e-mail didn’t mention any of these critical details. Instead, it added that un-Christlike Biblical quotation that always accompanies these types of manipulative messages:
Jesus said, “If you are ashamed of me, I will be ashamed of you before my Father.” (Mark 8:38, Matthew 10:33, Luke 9:26 & 12:9)
Considering that 1) Luke and Matthew copied most of their text from Mark, 2) none of them knew or heard Jesus personally, 3) they were were quoting him decades after his crucifixion–without the benefit of tape recorders, transcription machines or even shorthand, and 4) these words seem hypocritical, coming from the mouth of a man who believed in forgiving 70 times 7, I’m wondering why its veracity hasn’t been vigorously challenged by those who call themselves Christians. If I remember correctly, Jesus was also quoted as saying, “Condemn not.” The “I will be ashamed of you before my Father” verse certainly is a condemnation. Would Jesus really say something so un-Christlike?
Other Bible verses claim that issuing threats of this type was not part of the Prince of Peace’s nature. If people didn’t believe his teachings, Jesus was also quoted as telling his disciples to “wipe the dust” from their feet and keep it moving. He didn’t say, “Stand there and badger, belittle, and threaten the people until they embraced my Truth as theirs!” Instead, he believed that those who have ears would hear.
Things haven’t changed much. Even today, most are more willing to embrace the concept of “fearing God” than to embrace the emancipating and joyful message that God is Love, God is within, and God forgives 70 times 7. I think we’ve noticed that every verse in the Bible doesn’t agree with the others, as they would if the book was written by one author, rather than the collected works of different authors with different philosophies, different politics, written at different times for different reasons. (Hint: Each chapter is “The Book of ______”)
Bible scholars value the text for the insight it provides into the thoughts and beliefs of ancient peoples. They not only know that many of the facts are inaccurate, they know that many of the facts, as written, weren’t intended to be accurate. Bible historians also know that the original texts have been transcribed and translated so many times that it’s impossible to know what was really written. And laity logic tells us that if God is timeless, so would be “His” word. It wouldn’t need to be interpreted or updated. Frankly, it reminds me of what a book would look like if the works of Rev. Jerry Falwell, Deepak Chopra, Neile Donald Walsch and the Rev. Billy Graham were represented in one volume, each sharing his own perception of what God is and what God does. Some parts of the book would resonate with some of us; other parts would not.
And so it is today: We ignore the parts of the Bible we don’t agree with. For example, most of us will not kill our children for being flippant, our spouses for cheating, or strangers for passing our temples, even if the Bible directs us to do so. Others might. In fact, many like to find and focus on the scary words in the Bible, the threatening passages, the manipulative verses that “put the fear of God” in others–as if Love kills, tortures, condemns, judges, is ashamed of us, or will not let us return home.
What most of us think about God is utterly fascinating. That’s why I wasn’t at all surprised to receive another “photo” by e-mail of a teary-eyed God, peering at Earth, with a face almost as big as the planet itself. You’ve seen that one, right? If we are to interpret this photo literally–and if we are to believe that God is human rather than Divine– it would make sense that “He” would be saddened by man’s attempt to distort Jesus’ beautiful lessons into utter meaninglessness. And, I could see where “He” might be even more disturbed to see that man has made God in his physical image, rather than acknowledging that we were created in the image of God. According to scripture, that means we are omnipresent Spirit–like God, not that God has a body, like us.
Luckily, God is so all-knowing that nothing we do surprises or saddens “Him”. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and “He” loves and forgives us, despite our shortcomings, short-sightedness and limited vision of what Omnipresent Loving Spirit looks like and how it perceives its human creation.
I’m telling ya, that kind of Love will absolutely bring a tear to your eye, no matter how big your head is.