The God of Love’s Bad Week
Diana Butler Bass stated the problem clearly in an article entitled The God of Love had a really bad week.
But wait. It has come to my attention that many of you have not yet signed the Hibakusha Appeal. I keep asking you to join the Hibakusha Rebellion, but I have failed to make it clear that you do that by signing the Hibakusha Appeal. The Hibakusha Appeal is the heart and soul of the Hibakusha Rebellion, not so much because of its words but because the hibakusha are the heart and soul of the global effort to abolish nuclear weapons. So please, sign their appeal. We need millions of signatures to rise to the level of an actual rebellion.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. Bass pointed out that Christians worship, broadly divided, two different and logically or emotionally incompatible Gods. One is the Master God, the God of Power Who Must Be Obeyed. The other is the God of Love, the God of Jesus’ nonviolent love of family, friends and enemies. The subject of her article, which appears here, is how this distinction manifests in Christianity, in her church and in her own family.
But it’s not just Christians. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, atheists and even parents divide themselves this way—the God-as Master, strictly-by-the-bookers who are quick to punish wrong-doing and brook no opposition versus the unconditional lovers who are quick to forgive wrong-doing and consider the book and even the law to be suggestions to be followed where appropriate.
Of course, both types are necessary. We need the strict ones when we send a man to the moon. Close does not count in space travel. But we need the lovers to mediate conflict and prevent war. We will need the strict ones to design and implement carbon sequestration technology, but we will need the lovers to facilitate sufficient cooperation to implement that technology at scale.
Right now, we seem to be electing strict ones. Trump, Boris Johnson, Putin, Duterte, Bolsinaro, Hernandez, Orban, Duda, Rouhani, Salman, Kim and so many others represent the authoritarian Master God, the strong-leader-above-the-law approach to governance. We are increasingly dominated by warriors and the military. We are dominated by dominators, and it’s not surprising. We (Earthlings) have been governing ourselves this way since before we were human, we are under terrible stress, so we fall back on the tried and true. However, this tried-and-true approach will not solve global problems. We have been trying it for thousands of years. It always leads to war and/or catastrophic, dystopian disintegration and chaos. And now, we have nuclear weapons to fight with and global climate disruption to solve, and no Master God can do it.
If we (Earthlings) are to survive even to the end of this century, we have to develop a sustainable peace culture or, in Bass’ terms, we have to turn to the God of Love. This shift is what Jesus, Siddartha and hundreds of other religious leaders have been trying to tell us. The fact that their teachings have been perverted for political, authoritarian purposes does not change the fundamentals. Jesus told us to conquer death and evil through love. The Buddha discovered that we are all one, that we can’t hurt anyone without hurting ourselves. Until we get this, until we understand that the goal is not individual glorification but universal wellbeing with planetary health, until we see that our leaders must be mediators not warriors, we will continue to turn our blue-green Garden of Eden into the Inferno. The corrective shift toward peace, love and cooperation is what the Hibakusha Rebellion is all about, and we need to rebel, seriously, right now.