Dear God, About ‘God’ | Part 1
I hope you’re not offended. I’ve been thinking about your name. Sort of like I thought about Mother’s name, and decided to go with something else. Not because she isn’t Mother to me. She’s the only Mother I’ll ever have. So yes, she deserves the capitalized version: Mother. Not just mother. And I’m not familiar enough to just call her Eileen. I know you understand. You had a Mother, too. At least Jesus did.
Anyway, as you already know, I decided to call her Mom. And I even explained why, not with a lot of heavy-duty reasons, but by listing the kinds of things Moms do. At least, that’s what I’d like to think they strive to do. Many of them. It’s certainly what I want to do as a Mom. Which is what my adult children call me—to my face, anyway! Just kidding.
But back to you. This really is about you. I don’t like what I hear out there or even in church sometimes about God. Not about you yourself, but what people think you are because you have the God name. It really isn’t a name, is it? Thou shalt call his (that’s another problem) name God for he (!) shall create, sustain, and redeem all people? You might as well know I’ve never liked the Creator, Sustainer, Redeemer language either. Too vast and impersonal. Even though I believe every one of them is true about you.
I’m not at all sure where I’m going with this. I just know it’s on my mind, so I decided to put my mind on paper and see what it looks and feels like. OK? Thanks.
Back to it. I really like the Hebrew resistance to naming you. Actually, it came from you, didn’t it? No name; just a kind of ‘Word’ that points to whoever you are. One of a kind. So the Hebrews did that. Why can’t we? Why shouldn’t we? If you really are too big to be ‘put in a box ‘ (I’m so tired of that I can’t believe I typed it), why do some people insist on putting the word God in a box—or you into the word God.
Like I said, I don’t have an answer or even a suggestion yet. But I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time. The word God doesn’t put me off. I am, however, put off by the way it gets used—by people who believe in you and people who don’t know whether they believe in you or not. Besides, it’s become so familiar as a semi-curse word that I’m never quite sure what it means when I hear it being thrown around in conversation as though it were an exclamation point or something bad like bad karma.
No, I’m not sure what I mean by that, either. So back to the main point. I’m thinking about how to point to you, not really about what to call you. Sometimes we can’t find the words. So all we can do is point.
Oh, I might point out right now that when you get reduced to Love, that’s even worse! It’s also a cheap word without a home. Yes, I use it. But not to name you. “God is Love?” If I say God loves me, I at least know what I’m talking about. But if I say God is Love—well, I suppose it’s OK if we use it just with reference to you. Because whatever we call love, it isn’t as big as you are. In fact, it seems pretty cheap these days.
So back to you. See, I’m rambling. Here’s what got me going. . . .
To be continued
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 6 January 2015