Short Essays About God

Let us bow our heads in thanksgiving: Never has the name of God been so frequently invoked, and never has this or any nation been so thoroughly and systematically blessed, as in the 1992 campaign.

Although we were told that Mr. Bush did not even read the Republican platform, and was thus unfamiliar with its no-abortion-under-any-circumstances plank, he did scrutinize the Democratic platform; the President shocked evangelicals with the revelation that it did not include "three simple letters: G,O,D."

Democrats cannot really complain about this G.O.P. enlistment of G,O,D because this generation's recruitment of the Deity in politics began with born-again Jimmy Carter's 1976 campaign. And in New York last month, Bill Clinton nine times evoked a religious image with his new "covenant," and concluded his acceptance address with "God bless you, and God bless America."

But the voter-viewer can ask: Why has "God bless you" become the universal, politically required sign-off? And by what ecclesiastical authority do politicians, in holy alliance, bestow God's blessing on us and our country?

The answer is that the name of the Lord is being used as a symbol for the other side's immorality, much as the American flag was used in previous campaigns as a symbol for the other side's lack of patriotism. A few years ago, Democrats answered the Nixonite flag lapel pin with heavy flag drapery; are Democrats now to counter Mr. Bush's wooing of the religious right with fervent protestations of morality, displaying red, white and blue crosses and stars?

I hope not. The more effective response is to challenge the religious propriety of any political organization's claim to having God on its side.

Lincoln addressed that in his Second Inaugural. The North, fighting against slavery, was certain it was doing God's will; why, the Emancipator wondered, did God let the terrible bloodshed go on and on?

Lincoln's conclusion was that God might not be on either side: "The Almighty has his own purposes." He later wrote to a political ally about that speech: ". . . I believe it is not immediately popular. Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them."

That Inaugural, with its "malice toward none" peroration, is now popular, but its troubling theological point is missed: God is not in moral bondage to Man. His design is not for us to discern. As the biblical Job learned, God does not have to do justice on earth -- nor need He explain the suffering of innocent babes in Somalia, Bosnia or Kurdistan.

Believers may properly refer to God with respect in every activity, including politics, but it is the height of presumption -- irreverence to the point of blasphemy -- for any political or religious leader to arrogate the right to cast God's vote. His is the most secret ballot of all.

Whose side is God on in the 1992 Presidential race? His side.

Thank you. God bless each and every reader of this column, even you lefties. And God bless America (which is not to say that God should not also bless the rest of the world).

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Where is God: A Short Essay by Peter Menkin

Your question: Where is God?

I assume yours is a religious question. There are two easy answers: Come and see, as in attend Church and there you will find God; God is present whether you know it or not, which is to say we are not always aware of God. BUt where you may be is where God is.
Should you gain some feeling and belief, you may find God in your heart, on your lips, and in your mind. Nonetheless, God is the other. "My ways are not your ways," says God, and he remains somewhat a mystery. Your question is a point of departure, and the beginning of a journey.

There are theologians who believe God is in heaven and that life of heaven is also present on earth. "Your kingdom come," is a familiar phrase in the Creeds, and one worth meditating on if for no other reason to gather oneself in quiet. God is found in the quiet. He is not in the lightning, as the phrase goes from Isaiah. "Be silent and know that I am God," is a well known phrase.

God is revealed and found in Jesus Christ, who points the way and is an entry way to God. God is goodness, and where goodness is found, there you have evidence of God. Creation is good. Most people find good in creation. "Thank you God for my creation," is a good prayer of praise and thanksgiving. It offers gratitude and evidences the same. That is an affirmative statement, and helps on the way.

There are so many answers to your question, Where is God, and it isn't the number of answers but the many facets of the Almighty: the way of Christ in his journey tells us what we need to do to get closer to God. The Bible tells us about God, and in both the Old and New Testament the works are illuminated. They are, "The word of God." Even the "Word" is a way of saying God for the "Word" is the wisdom that is Jesus Christ, and it is in wisdom literature and living that one finds a way to live with God. He is too great to grasp, too awesome to behold, too beyond mankind in conception to understand, he is the other; He is spirit.
"Seek and ye shall find." "Ask and it shall be given." There are so many ways to God in Christ, that the daily work and living is part of the God experience. "I am the vine, and you are the branches." Shortened as these readings may be, they are departure points for the inquirer and seeker. Without doubt, God is an ambiquity, and matter of wrestling with life and Him, of even giving up ones life to find God in Christ. A wise man told me, "Live the questions."
So to know how to find Christ is the answer, to find God and with the Holy Spirit's help, to seek and live in the unknowing and the knowing is where God can be found.

--Peter Menkin, Pentecost 2008 (August)

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