The first Tweet I spotted in this morning’s time line was: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” It was a Marcel Proust quote shared by @LouKavar. It made me think: In a world where an increasing number of us are declaring ourselves “spiritual, not religious,” aren’t we really describing the eyes through which we see the eternal God, our Father?
In a thought-provoking Huffington Post blog this week, columnist Jay Michaelson reflected on “A Better Way to Believe in God.” Among other things, he looked at religionists’ insistence upon believing scriptures that clearly reflect the limited knowledge of the ancient scribes, discarding empirical evidence proving these declarations inaccurate:
“Here in America, hundreds of millions of people believe in Intelligent Design, in life beginning at conception, and in a notion of a retributive God. Why? Not because of science, truthseeking, or logical inquiry. They “believe in” these things (notice the locution) because they think religion is at the core of their lives.”
By contrast, the “new eyes” of spirituality see a God that is more accessible, more responsive, more loving, compassionate and forgiving. Our Father is someone whom we invite and delight in having as a companion and active participant in our daily lives, decisions and actions.
“New eyes” can’t envision God as a male being who lives beyond the stars, visits Earth only to destroy every living thing, and hasn’t told all of His kids how to return home. No, “new eyes” have captured Jesus’s vision of God as a Father who provides His prodigal kids a safe, reliable and embracing place to turn when we need guidance, shelter, or have made mistakes. And there’s a feast and new clothes, to boot!
This is not the God we met in church: the God whose brutally torturous and deadly punishments consistently exceed all crimes—the “smack-down God,” as the Rev. Gaylon McDowell aptly characterizes Him—a Father whose behavior is frequently more human, and sadly, more inhumane than divine.
Perhaps we are increasingly seeing God with “new eyes” because while religion has encouraged us to build a personal relationship with threatening and fearsome God who uses deadly force, spirituality has helped us to build a stronger relationship that was, is, and always will be based on unconditional love. With unconditional love comes freedom—the freedom to choose how we see each other, how we see ourselves, and how we see our Father.
For those with “new eyes,” no one is outside of the Father’s Love. Every house is Father’s House. And every day is Father’s Day.