Malala Yousafzai, Girl Shot by Taliban, Makes Appeal at UN
Palestinian Women to be Tried for Non-Violent Demonstration
Pro-Marriage Equality Church Vandalized For Third Time
Buddhist Holy Site Bombed in India
--worldwide news headlines from the past month
I’ll ask my one big question right up front. I figure you’ve already got a lot going on, what with being the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and the Omega, the One who lit the fuse on the Big Bang. I imagine your responsibilities are infinite in overseeing life on earth, life everywhere, so I’ll get right to it.
When it comes to your love, is everybody in, every last soul on earth? Or is your love exceptional, exclusive, that is to say: do you limit your love and your full acceptance to just a select few? You know to a certain “chosen” people, a certain religious faith, a certain country, certain and specific spiritual beliefs?
Because down here on earth God, well, we are pretty confused about that question and have been for a long time, forever it seems. Since the first time a human being lifted her eyes to the heavens and acknowledged something beyond her was in charge of the universe, we’ve been arguing about you. The truth is we actually hurt each other, a lot, in conflicts over belief in you. We discriminate against each other in your name, hate one another and yes, sometimes we kill each other. It’s all there in the news, in black and white.
It’s kind of ugly. Being omnipresent, I know you already know this and I hope it’s not presumptuous to ask but…could you straighten it all out for us, once and for all time?
Who’s in? Who’s out? Is your love available to every last one of your children regardless of our man made labels or faiths? Or is your acceptance of us dependent upon taking an exclusive or narrow path, adhering to some fundamental dogma?
Lack of human religious belief isn’t the problem, God. Your world is a very religious place, with 59 percent of the world’s population claiming some kind of belief in you. That’s more than 4,000,000,000 of us. We have an amazingly diverse collection of religions. By one count there are twenty major distinct traditions down here: the biggest, my own, Christianity (2 billion followers), Islam(1.5 billion), Hinduism (950 million), and many others too: from Judaism to Zoroastrianism.
Most religious people claim to know your name: God, Yahweh, Allah, Elohim, Jehovah, Baha. Say they’ve come to know you through their sacred texts: the Bible, the Koran, the Tanakh, the Book of Mormon, the Tibetan Book of the Dead. We worship you too in amazing numbers. In my country alone there are more than 300,000 Christian churches!
But then there’s seem to be a perpetual disconnect, too much of the time, between what we say we believe about you and how we act upon this. So we argue…about who can speak on your behalf. In some religions, women, who make up half your world, are barred from leadership, even education. Is that really your way? We bicker about who’s getting into heaven, convinced our spiritual truth is the only road to salvation. Folks even take up arms against each other, presuming that you bless their actions. They say your name out loud as they pull the trigger, blow the bomb.
This isn’t how you imagined it all working out God, when you made us, is it? When you finished your creation, you declared it was all “very good”, all of it, every last creature. I don’t see any exceptions there, no “he’s in, but she’s out” declarations. I imagine when you look down upon the world you see just one planet: no boundaries, no borders, no divisions.
The sad thing is, God, that all this arguing amongst ourselves about you, can overshadow just how much good is done in your name. Religion gives hope to the hopeless, inspires the rich to help the poor, the well fed to feed the hungry, the powerful to lift up the powerless, and moves folks to put their lives on the line for peace and justice. Every single day billions of people of faith love one another, as you love them, and they do good, lots of good, because they really, really, really believe in you. I’d say these unsung, unheralded saints make up a majority of your followers in fact.
So here’s my prayer request God. Can you be in touch with the leaders of all our world religions and just set things straight, once and for all? Enlighten some minds? Open some hearts? Remind them and all of us that you made us all, each of us, for each other. For love. After all it is your world and right now we could use a little guidance.
Your world, our world, is a beautiful place. But as always, we need your help. Thanks for listening.