This evening the whole family are, as usual, off to midnight mass. For those unfamiliar with this strange event, it involves much incense, ringing of little bells, kneeling and genuflecting and culminates in a shaman figure summoning down the spirit of his god to come among us.
I have never doubted for a moment the existence of the Deity. The very fact that there are so many good people in the world doing kind things seems to be sufficient proof in itself of that particular proposition. As for virgin births and people coming back from the dead; this is another matter entirely, about which I am open minded. Some of my familiar subscribe to these beliefs, including my wife and one daughter; others do not. For my own part, it is largely an irrelevance. I know that God is real and loves me and all the rest of the matter seems to be to be a finer point of doctrine, like mediaeval theologians arguing about the number of angels who could dance on the point of a pin.
I can see why many people have been put off religion and avoid church like the plague. I think that some Christians both now and in the past are to blame for a lot of this. The emphasis on judgement and damnation, the idea of God as an angry force, constantly watching out for bad behaviour and ever ready to visit punishment upon those who displease Him. If I know anything at all of the nature of God, I know this. He is a loving parent, a father and mother rolled into one. He cares for each of us like his children. We feel a faint echo of this in the love that we ourselves feel for our children, but that feeling is only a feeble, weak imitation of the love that God feels. Just as we are sad if our children do something spiteful or sly; so to is God when we sin. We wouldn't want to torture our children for doing wrong; nor does God wish to do so. When we ignore God, he will not press his attentions upon us. Imagine if your child grew up, left home and then didn't bother to get in touch for years. You would be sad, but you couldn't force your child to telephone or visit. You wouldn't want to, you would hope that the kid would do so of her own accord. This sadness is a little like what God feels when we ignore him and don't turn to him in prayer.
The world has been made by God in such a way that breaking certain rules brings unpleasant consequences. I have never in all my life seen adultery end in anything but unhappiness, I have never met a cheerful and happy thief. This is simply the way that things are.
Those familiar with Mother Julian of Norwich will know that she had a vision in which all were saved, everything was alright in the end; 'All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well'. I too believe that ultimately, every human will be brought home to God . This must surely be the divine nature. Jesus taught us to address God not as a fierce king or angry warrior, but as 'Abba'. We translate this as 'father', as in 'Our father which art in heaven', but this is way to formal. On the beach in Tel Aviv today, you will here little children calling 'Abba' to their fathers. It is more like 'daddy'. This is how God wants us to approach him; as a loving parent who wants to share our lives and is happy when we do the right thing.
I hope that all readers have a good Christmas and I shall be back in a few days with more views and opinions on home education.