Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Men Behaving Badly

I have been reading John Goldingay’s ‘Men Behaving Badly’ (Paternoster, 2000) in which he explores the male characters in 1 and 2 Samuel.  The third chapter talks about the Philistines and their god Dagon (1 Samuel 5 – 7).  It points out that politics and religion often get mixed together.  In particular, Goldingay comments on our many attempts to pin God down, trying to enforce a conformity to what we want.  But God is always beyond.  God is not to be bound by our restrictions.  As Goldingay puts it with reference to the desire to restrict God to God’s house: “The nature of a house is to be in a fixed location.  Yahweh liked being flexible, being on the move, able to go off and do new things.  Human beings prefer God to be predictable.  If you can get God to settle down, then you know where you are with God.  ……  When a human being like David wants to build God a house, that implicitly reverses the relationship between God and human beings.  It turns that relationship into one whereby you look after God instead of God looking after you.  It is another aspect of control, of the human desire to domesticate God.” (p. 41/2)
We might think that our understanding has moved on from such ideas – but is that really so?  Are we not still just as inclined to want God to do things our way?  So how can we break out of that kind of thinking?

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