Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Listening for God? Or just for us?

I was reading Harold Kushner's book "Living a Life that Matters", when I came across a section about Jeremiah and listening to God.  He wrote:

My question to Jeremiah would be: What did you mean when you said 'The word of the Lord came to me...' How does God speak to people? How can you be sure that it is God's voice and not your own wishful thinking? Of the many voices that come into our minds, how do we recognize which is the authentic voice of God?"

That question resonated with me, especially in this election season when so many claim to know exactly what God wants us to do. Too many candidates are all too willing to tell everyone whom God loves and whom God hates.  They, as ordinary human beings, say they know what behaviors and what attitudes God approves of, and which He/She/It condemns.

So how do they know?   What tools do they have to separate the divine voice from their own biases and prejudices?  Sure, some of them can quote scripture or commentary to support their view.  But then again, others can quote from the same sources and have a totally different result. So which, if anyone, is really hearing God's voice? Which is God's message and which is our own?

The question is nothing new.  The Rabbis who wrote the Talmud claimed to be writing the will of God, and yet even amid their very closed group, there was more argument and disagreement than agreement.  Surely if they had heard the word of God, there would be no room for debate!

And any student of history knows that the greatest horrors in our world's history came from different views of what God wants, what God says.

The founders of this country understood this dilemma, too. They tried to put into place protection from a state view of religion, and Jefferson wrote extensively about the need to separate religion and government, knowing that our very human issues often cloud the real message.

So why, knowing this reality, do we still, as a country, accept candidates who claim to speak from their own religious point of view?  Why do we not tell them to leave the religious message at the door to their synagogue or mosque or church?

Why if we cannot know how to hear God's voice above our own, do we still accept the words of other humans who claim that they are immune?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting documentary just out on this exact subject.

It's called: The Voice

What do you guys think of this guy?
Is he for real?