God Is Culture—God’s Self-Aware Expression Of Freedom

Mike Conversation Concluded
July, ‘82

According to the way I perceive God, human culture is a product of God’s freedom.
It is through culture that God acts out the self-aware expression of
freedom. This higher-level freedom is two levels removed from God’s
least free expression—or the physical forces that govern the universe.
This higher freedom brings with it an `empty box,’ a box of negation—a
box attached to consciousness—the box opening up self-consciousness.
Other animals are boxless. Consciousnesses–self-consciousness—uses this box to see what’s not, and ask `why?’ With the good comes the bad, however. This box also
permits ruthless people to value greed over knowledge, violence over
peace, and vengeance over beauty. Without this box though, agreements
for the purpose of securing peace and preserving beauty would not be
possible. Morality and value judgments would not be possible.
Creative self-expression would cease to exist, and without human
ingenuity civilization would be condemned to a foraging existence.
In fact, the history of civilization is the history of this box, the
history that records the struggles for liberty and the freedom to
overcome that which prohibits freedom. Seeking the origin of this
freedom births religion.”

“You think religion can save the world!” responded Mike. You think if
only people believed as you do, they would act differently? How
ignorant! How pretentious! Who is shortsighted and stubborn now?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “Actually, I try not to think of it in those
terms. It’s too scary. After searching all these years, it’s enough to
have a security blanket that works for me.”

“You deserve an `at-a-boy’ for that,” Mike replied. “Everybody’s
entitled to their beliefs; that is, as long their beliefs do not deny
the beliefs of others. Even if you wanted to change the world, in my
opinion, you couldn’t, not with what I just heard. The truth is I
don’t understand a thing you just said. But, if it’s any consolation,
I did enjoy hearing it. I don’t know why; but how about another beer?”

“Sounds like a winner,” I replied, “but indulge me for just a little
bit longer. I will be specific.”

“If you must,” Mike replied, “Waitress, two more beers pa’ lease.”

“First, God is the inescapable depth and center of all there is. The
immanence of God is what I call freedom and this immanence is present
as nature. When freedom achieves self-consciousness it is able to name
and create truth and beauty. In fact, it calls us forward into life,
love, and wholeness. The biblical Jesus was, most likely, so
completely transformed by his awareness of the divine that his
thoughts, words, and deeds were recognized as divine. Not
surprisingly, the gospel writers saw him as the Son of God, and
translated his story into the Passion Play that it was, — it is. My
religion has nothing to do with `revealed truths,’ and it is not about
heavenly rewards or punishments. Rather, it is simply a way to
perceive and process the God experience, the experience that pulses in
every human being. As far as proselytizing goes, all I want to do is
open people’s minds to the idea that `terra firma’ is hallowed ground.
I mean that both literally and figuratively. In our relationship with
others we share that ground, and that ground becomes sacred or profane
depending on how it is shared. That is what I believe, and that is
really the end. Now I’m finished.”

“I’ll drink to that,” replied Mike, “in fact, we’ll both drink to that!”

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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2 Responses to God Is Culture—God’s Self-Aware Expression Of Freedom

  1. eof737 says:

    Yes indeed, God is culture and all that implies… ;-) Great photos too.

  2. bwinwnbwi says:

    We tend to think of thoughts and feelings as purely one of personal experience; however, our personal experience is part of the “we of divinity” story. On the evening news, when reports of incidents of suffering, injustice, and cruelty are documented, one is tempted to think that right and
    wrong doesn’t matter, that good behavior is just somebody’s idea of a joke, i.e., a carrot dangling in front of one’s nose. But, given the “we of divinity story,” it follows that the price of freedom, in terms of choosing justice over injustice, compassion over cruelty or generosity over greed, that you and I share the price of freedom with God/divinity! God suffers because (human beings) choose injustice over justice, cruelty over compassion, greed over generosity, (and) God rejoices when we (human beings) do the opposite—and it is in this light that we, as active
    agents of transformation, should come to understand our responsibility to work toward a happier, healthier, humanity. The telling factor behind this whole process comes with the knowledge that the “I” of God and the “I” of you and me are one and the same.

    So, what personal insight into our own nature can we claim? Last night I took another look at Stigmata, one of my favorite movies. Just before the end credits ran, these words appeared on the screen: “The kingdom of God is within you and all around you and not in buildings of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood and I am there, lift a stone and I am there.” These words, words taken from the gospel of Thomas, were recorded in the Aramaic language—the language of Jesus–some nineteen hundred years ago. The next words that appeared on the screen were these: “Whoever discovers the meaning of these sayings will not taste death.”
    Jesus said: “Split wood, I am there. Lift up a rock, you will find me there.” Gospel of Thomas saying 77b.

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