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Tony Grist

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Citizen God [Mar. 10th, 2005|12:10 pm]
Tony Grist
This is prompted by something qos was saying.

Religious language is always conservative. We live in a age of democracies but we're still using monarchist language about God.

Why, when I don't want to be ruled by a King in real life, should I want to acknowledge one in my spiritual life?

I don't like Kings (or Queens or Princes.) If I got an invitation to Buckingham Palace I would (politely) decline. I'm a Republican in the European sense of the word. Ah ca ira, ca ira, ca ira and all that. I think Prince Charles is a national embarrassment.

But if I go to Church (which I don't, but if I did) it's all "crown him with many crowns, the lamb upon the throne."

No thanks.

Where are the rights of Man in all this? Why is Heaven still stuck in the feudal middle Ages?

"He hath put down the mighty from their seat". Does he exclude only himself from the levelling process?

The myth of the incarnation suggests otherwise. God becomes Jesus, becomes an ordinary Joe, becomes a citizen.

Citizen God- why not?

My God is immanent- a sister, a brother, a comrade- or I don't want to know.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: karenkay
2005-03-10 04:41 am (UTC)
I agree with the spirit of your post. But I wouldn't turn down an invitation to Buckingham Palace. I'd be curious to know if these people are at all like their public images. And, of course, I've never been to Buckingham Palace, so that alone would be cool.

I think the important thing is to keep it all about you, not all about them.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 05:34 am (UTC)
I want to see the back of them- and so I'm determined not to do anything to offer them any encouragement.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-10 04:54 am (UTC)
Yes: "God is immanent." That's the only meaning of God I can relate to or understand.

I heard on the news this morning a small but instructive remark from a hiker: he and his friends were up in the Smokies and they came upon a group of shivering college kids who got caught in the snow and weren't prepared. One of them was hyperthermic.

"His human life was as valuable as mine," said the hiker to the reporter. "I stayed behind to help while my friends went for rescuers."

I've been thinking about this: he is exactly correct. There's no hierarchy here on earth. We're equally valuable. We can worship movie stars and Prince Charles all we want.

Kate tells me dogs have an urgent need to establish themselves in the pack by determining where they are placed in the hierarchy. Maybe our need to crown some people and ignore others is a vestige of our past.


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 05:52 am (UTC)
Celebrity culture is so strange. It seems to be less and less the case that the people we "worship" need to have any talent.

There's a woman called Jordan who used to be a topless model. She's now one of Britain's top celebs. I was watching her "sing" the other day. She has a weak voice, she was out of tune and her "dancing" was feeble. The poor thing looked terribly uncomfortable about being up there on stage.

There's a cruelty about it. People like Prince Charles and Jordan receive as much mockery as adulation.



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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-10 04:55 am (UTC)
I meant, we can worship movie stars and Prince Charles, but it is silly.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-10 04:59 am (UTC)
And one more thing before I go brush my teeth for thirty minutes (I'll trade you your needle fear for my fear of flying. Deal?):

There's a deep prejudice in us that people who are beautiful and rich are more valuable and better than those who are ugly and poor.

Which is why we think the Queen (and she seems to agree) is a higher form of being than us.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 06:38 am (UTC)
I've always been disappointed in the Queen. I find her dull. She's been delivering speeches for 60-70 years now and she still does it in a characterless drone.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-03-10 05:00 am (UTC)
Sorry, I am feeling jittery this morning and am not completing my thoughts:

By "we" I do not mean myself or you or anyone else reading LJ.

I am totally without prejudice. If I weren't so modest, I would be proud of this achievement.
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[User Picture]From: dadi
2005-03-10 05:05 am (UTC)
My god is immaterial. Always has been. And has resisted every effort from my, or others', side to morph him into forms, oriental or occidental, no matter.

And I actually have met Prince Charles. Who, surprise, surprise, turned out to be a superbly funny, witty and intelligent person. I think he'd rather NOT be the public personality he has to be.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 05:43 am (UTC)
In some ways I'm sorry for the Royals. Most of the publicity they get is negative and mocking. I think their job has become almost impossible and it would be a kindness to retire them.
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From: sunfell
2005-03-10 05:43 am (UTC)
I've also found the obsession with "King Jesus" in my country to be discomforting. I don't want a king or any royalty. But to hear the religious language around me, and the fervent hopes for the second coming, there are people who have no idea how horrifying an actual "king" would be.

But I've always felt uncomfortable with monotheists. Poly and pantheists are much more affable. A God/dess for everyone! Citizen deities!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 05:57 am (UTC)
And you guys should be setting the rest of us an example. After all you got rid of your king in 1776.

I don't think polytheism and monotheism are necessarily at odds. One of my favourite Wicca catchphrases is "All the Gods are One God and All the Goddesses are One Goddess."

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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2005-03-10 06:09 am (UTC)
Why is Heaven still stuck in the feudal middle Ages?

Probably due to mainstream Christianity's love affair with the KJV. Granted, that was 17th C and not the middle ages, but it's still heavily steeped in monarchical lingo. Here in the States, there is a sizeable number of Christians who refuse to accept any other translation (and I've even come across a few who genuinely believed that was Jesus' language and vernacular - scary).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 06:27 am (UTC)
Biblical fundamentalism ceased to be an intellectually tenable position about 150 years ago. But still the beast refuses to die.
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[User Picture]From: cataptromancer
2005-03-10 08:24 am (UTC)
"Why, when I don't want to be ruled by a King in real life, should I want to acknowledge one in my spiritual life?"

(this is one for mobetametta, I think)

My sentiments exactly, and perfectly stated. This whole 'submission to an all-powerful lord' thing just perpetuates a paradigm of hierarchy and domination. I remember some silly neopagan book (not silly BECAUSE neopagan, mind you, just a SILLY neopagan book) that I read when I was young -- a lot of it was nonsense about dragons, but there was one part that affected me a lot which said something like "Always stand when you talk to the gods, do not kneel. The gods do not want us to be weak."


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 11:04 am (UTC)
I'll drink to that!
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2005-03-10 08:47 am (UTC)
While I don't particularly cotton to the mainstream Christian notion of the Divine as some transcendant, omnipotent father figure who lords from on high and metes out reward and punishment, I have to ask - even in an panentheist rending shouldn't there be some level of heirarchy between the Divine and Creation? What's to make a god worthy of worship if he/she/it is no more than just an ordinary Joe? Although I realize I'm simplifying what you're getting at a bit.

I bring this up only as something of a reaction to much of the negativity some feel towards the worship of any deity (Christian or otherwise), which I feel stems less from a need to get one's neck out from under the Divine boot and more from hubris. When did humility as a spiritual or social practice fall out of favor? Something tells me it's linked at least tangentially to that cult of celebrity you find so strange.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 11:03 am (UTC)
I don't believe there's a distinction between creator and creation. The universe makes itself. Whatever exists is God and God is whatever exists. Since we are a part of universe we too are divine.
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From: ad_lumen
2005-03-10 09:13 am (UTC)
Ah, but "Citizen God" would have certain implications for the church hierarchy, wouldn't it? That's why it will never be an accepted concept to anyone other than Quakers and Congregationalists.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-10 11:06 am (UTC)
I've been a (lowly) member of an eccesiatical hierarchy and can testify that the power is sweet and (like all power) corrupting.
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From: saskia139
2005-03-10 12:46 pm (UTC)
I have a lot of problems with the hierarchical language of worship, too. I believe God is transcendant as well as immanent, but I think there must be other, better ways to express that transcendance than in monarchical metaphors. Certainly the doctrines of the Incarnation and of the equality of Persons within the Holy Trinity should make us think twice about it, but they don't. And I don't think it can be blamed on clinging to older translations of the Scriptures. When the early Christians proclaimed, "Jesus is Lord!" they were making a direct challenge to the lordship of the Emperor. Nowadays when we say the same thing, we seem to be supporting the lordship of George W. Bush and his cronies. No answers here, only glum agreement.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-11 03:59 am (UTC)
The Church sold out to the political establishment very early on. There have always been rebels- like Dietrich Bonheffer, the theologian implicated in the plot to kill Hitler- but by and large the churches have found it impossible to resist the seductions (and threats) of Caesar.
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[User Picture]From: kaysho
2005-03-11 04:54 pm (UTC)
Of course, this has been a problem for as long as there have been democracies. If your heavenly master and your earthly master are both monarchs, then there is no need for there to be conflict in the model of obedience ("dei gratia" and all that). But when the people can make their own laws, when we are our own earthly masters, who can resolve the conflict between man's law and God's law? How can a God-who-must-be-obeyed fit into a democratic model? I feel sorry for the scholars in Iran who have this unenviable government task.

But if you believe in a God who loves, rather than a God who must be obeyed, then it's much easier to reconcile this.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-03-11 11:31 pm (UTC)
A God who says- as Jesus did- "I am among you as one who serves."
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