In biblical studies through college and seminary I learned that the primary image of God was Jesus. As I read deeper into “Liberation Theology” I began to see that Jesus could be ANYONE! He could even appear as a beggar in the street. He could be any race. He could even be an animal; and He could be SHE, if S/he wanted. Why not? After all, he was God taking the form of whatever he chose to look like. Our challenge was to really “see” him, to not miss him, and to do what was right while he was right there in front of us! Remember Matthew 25: “I was hungry and you fed Me. . . .”
This was a guiding thought and principle throughout my years as an Interfaith Chaplain. I tried always to view the people I was assisting as “God in the flesh.” I thought that was the best way to “honor and respect” them. Then. . .as I outgrew faith. . .I realized what I was doing. I was not fully valuing the person before me as I was too busy trying to “see God in them.” (Teresa of Calcutta said she saw the poor as “God in distressing disguise”–now, I find that distressing). I had been spiritualizing the human person, looking through them, beyond them, for my chosen deity. It was really all about MY faith, MY service, pleasing MY god. This was not “self-less” at all. I meant well, but I had my own agenda of faith. I came to see that ultimately “seeing my god in others” was not helpful, and even greatly disrespectful.
All these years later I’m struck with something: Gods are Us. This is what we call “anthropomorphism”: making other things look like or act like human beings. Psychologically we could simply say, We See What We Want to See. In other words, we humans will see our Gods (or imagine them) in any way our imaginations will take us. But they pretty much always come out looking a lot like us. Surprise!
So, I was wondering what would happen. . .if we held a contest to see who could draw or paint or sculpt (or photograph!) the best image of their favorite divinity. Of course, who could judge the “best” one?!
It could be a fascinating thing to see!
We all know what Christians and Hindus do with paintings and statues of their Divine Ones. We see how Buddhists portray The Buddha, Kwan Yin and many other forms of “buddha nature.” We see Pagan depictions of divine personalities, spirits, gods and goddesses, in myriad shapes and sizes.
What would YOU draw? How would YOU show us the One you believe in? (Because, seriously folks, if someone cannot show the rest of us the BIG PERSON they serve, Religion has nothing to talk about, does it? All we can do is imagine).
Maybe I’m joking. . .or maybe I’m not.
I’ll leave that to your. . .