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Friday, December 30, 2011

Is God a Dictator?

At School of Community we are currently reading the last chapters of "The Religious Sense" by Monsignor Luigi Giussani, the founder of Communion and Liberation. I quote from the back cover: "This is a book for all faiths and no faith…Christians, Buddhists and Jews celebrated the spiritual and religious renewal that Luigi Giussani's work has inspired throughout the world (1997 United Nations Conference)".
I love all his books, and from now on I'll blog mostly about what I gather from these readings.

During our last meeting we talked about the freedom that can be experienced in the faith. As I anticipated last week, my son has started to read the Gospels and, having a problem with authority, he's taking them the wrong way.

Is God a dictator or a peace-maker? Is He someone who enslaves us or someone who sets us free? Apparently, it's a matter of opinion. Those who embrace Him find in Him unexpected, all-encompassing freedom. But others reject Him on the ground that not only His existence is not proven, but it's also undesirable.
Questioned about the possibility of the afterlife, Bertrand Russell said that, should he die and find himself before a Creator, he would tell Him: "Sir, you did not give me enough evidence".
Christopher Hitchens, author of "God is not Great", died a couple of weeks ago. He wrote:
"It would be horrible if it were true that we were designed and then created and then continuously supervised throughout all our lives…and then continue to be supervised after our deaths…It would be like living in a celestial North Korea. You can't defect from North Korea, but at least you can die. With monotheism they won't let you die and get away from them. Who wants that to be true?"


As a Christian, Hitchens' misconception seems to me huge, but understandable. God may be mistaken for a tyrant by anyone who doesn't experience His love. Converted at the age of fifty, I've found true freedom for the first time in my life in Jesus Christ. It is the kind of freedom that Buddhists strive for, achieving it, if they are diligent enough in their practices, after years of meditation. It is freedom from attachment, suffering and sin. It's nothing but peace.

We Christians believe that God chose not to impose His presence on the human race; that's why He doesn't offer us evidence of His existence. Jesus actually died to preserve our freedom of choice: We are free to believe, as were the people of His time, that He was a failed prophet crucified by the Romans or the Son of God raised from the dead. But atheists are angry at God precisely because He gave us the option of accepting Him or rejecting Him. And yet, our society has come to value freedom as the most important aspect of civilization. Why then is it so hard for them to appreciate it when it comes from God?
I have posed this question to my son, and the answer was that there is no freedom where there is punishment, even if punishment consists of being separated from a God they didn't love. It seems to me that, given these premises, God just can't win. For the atheist, the act of creation itself implies dictatorship, for whatever system of relationship with His creatures the Creator would choose, would be an imposition on them. Therefore they don't want a Creator, and they are ready to give up eternal life to eliminate God.

I want to conclude quoting Giussani: "To be conscious of oneself right to the core is to perceive, at the depths of the self, an Other".
Can being in contact with yourself right to the core enslave you? Of course not. It can only set you free.


At each School of Community meeting, the partecipants share their everyday experiences related to the reading. Would you like to do the same here? How do you experience freedom in God?  (Moving around my posts I've lost all your comments. ..I hope to get new ones!)

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