Hath we been smote?

Friend Daniel Clendenin, the theologian, kindly invited me to share some thoughts with him for the lectionary of October 3 for his web site. One of the readings made mention of those who had been smote by God, presumably for their inequity.

By bedtime I was burning with the question, “have I been smote by the lord?” (It is “smote”, no? Somehow “smitten” doesn’t sound right). Indeed Linda and I laughed ourselves to sleep wrestling with the issue.

From this, I guess it’s obvious that, as much as I love the Old Testament, I don’t believe in Abraham’s God, the petulant deity who intrudes, usually for the worse, in the lives of individuals, if not whole tribes, and who arbitrarily rewards, punishes and, occasionally wipes out his creations. That God seems to have a penchant for “smiting.”

A couple of correspondents – both secular and faithful – have recently lamented the seeming absence of God in all that Linda and I have endured these past few years. If God isn’t smiting us, then it would seem she’s not helping us either, at least from this humble earthly perspective. More on this anon…


About Chris Gulker

Chris Gulker, a self-described Infuential Blogger, lived in Menlo Park, California with spouse Linda. He passed away in late October 2010.
This entry was posted in All, My Brain, New Life, Taking Faith, The countdown. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Hath we been smote?

  1. Anonymous says:

    God has issues everywhere lately. Maybe the large hadron collider is to blame.

  2. Natalie says:

    Chris, I wholly agree: the Old Testament Jehovah with all his smiting is not my God either. In fact, I always wonder what the *real* nameless/genderless God thinks of the Bible, and of all sacred books for that matter. My gut feeling is that the actual Deity would make good use of the editorial blue pencil in proof-reading every word that’s ever been written about or in Their name.
    The question is: is God religious? If so, which religion does God practice? I rest my case.
    I am very sure that no smiting of you is licenced by Divine authority and that at every moment, waves of love are surrounding you.

  3. cg says:

    Hadron: actually, check the next post for info along those lines…

    Natalie: as a monk once advised, never confuse religion and faith… I have lots of problems with religion, many fewer with faith…

  4. Matthew D-G says:

    The real problem arises when the Bible is seen as a collection of facts (it is not, and was not intended to be). Closely related to this problem is the problem of viewing the Bible as written by God (it was not, and until relatively recently, was never seen to be). If we look at the Bible as the result of an encounter between particular people and the transcendent mystery we call God, then not only are a vast array of possibilities opened to us in terms of interpretation, but we also realize that our own religious/spiritual journey involves a dynamic, creative engagement with this set of texts. It seems to me that smiting is a theological category that should be dispensed with, and where it seems to appear in the Bible, I think we are dealing with human efforts to understand calamitous events and/or a human desire to enforce certain values and behaviors. Sadly, that has not disappeared in our time. Witness how certain so-called religious leaders interpreted the events of Sept. 11 or Hurricane Katrina. The Jewish tradition has a much healthier relationship with its texts, acknowledging that a multitude of interpretations are possible, and that new contexts call for new understandings. Christians have often wanted to find the one interpretation that is True, and will stand for all time. But that is not realistic nor desirable. A living tradition constantly reengages and reevaluates their texts and traditions and their meanings. Ok, getting down from soap box…… Oh, and as another monk said, the opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty…..

  5. This is a wonderful and thought provoking post. I agree with all of it and with Natalie and Matthew D-G.

    My own belief says, I dare not nor would I presume to be able to describe the Spirit that surrounds (and is inside) us. If I can describe It, it must not be all that great. If I dared to describe It, I would deserve smiting. I don’t want a god that I can describe or speak for. My God, Spirit, Creator (see I can’t even name it) cannot be described nor located nor held to a set of rules. But my Great Spirit/Creator is all-knowing and is everywhere. It, she, he (I need a new pronoun too) is so perfect and so real that I’m thrilled just to be permitted to Be and to Know.

    And now that I’ve written this, you can see how mere words are such failures.

  6. …and as to God being absent in your lives these last few years, well…. I see God in every word you write and in every lesson you share with us. Thank you for all you have learned and shared with us.

    I would love to see a collection or a book of your writings so I can keep it more securely that a page in a blog.

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