I’m sure you know people (good people) who have opted to leave organized religion or see the teachings of the Church as irrelevant. “I believe in God, just not all the things we read in the Bible or gets taught in church. Science is my guide to what’s real in the universe. God is a spiritual feeling no one can explain.”

Reflecting on God and science, it seems they describe two different worlds. The world of science and nature is the one that roots us in our daily lives. Religion on the other hand, is about a world we cannot see.

When discussing religion we often feel our knowledge of this world (astronomy for example) gets placed on the shelf. Religion describes a different world. For example, the Creed says Jesus “came down from heaven”, “he suffered death and was buried . . . and rose again”, then he “ascended into heaven”, and “is seated at the right hand of the Father.”

The words seem to indicate a heaven situated a few miles above us, from which he “came down” and then “ascended” back. It’s like a palace in the air with two chairs set side by side. One chair is for God the Father (he’s the older looking one with the silver hair); the other for the Son (who’s a youngish man (33) wearing sandals and a beard. This is Heaven.

Add to this Jesus saying, “in my Father’s house there are many mansions. . . I am going to prepare a place for you.” Jn. 14:2 and one can imagine a place not unlike Candyland. There’s the Candy Castle and there on his throne is King Candy.

I’m not trying to be a smart aleck here. This is what the words of the Bible can cause us to imagine about God and Jesus and heaven. And these imaginings can seem childish next to the hard and scary facts about the limitless cosmos. Many rightfully reject the Candy Castle Religion, see religion as irrelevant and trust their own instincts to show them the way.

What can we say to help here? I think the first thing to remember is the difference between believing and imagining. “I believe in God the Father Almighty maker of heaven and earth.” This is a statement of faith . . . there is one God, and all that is, comes from God.

But then we imagine. “What did making the earth look like?” Michelangelo tried his brilliant best in the Sistine Chapel. Remember that painting of God the Father on the cloud reaching out with his divine finger to touch the finger of the sleeping Adam? Did it really look like that? No. But does it convey a truth? Of course. God created us.

Or the story of Adam and Eve, the Serpent and the Apple. Did the “Fall of humanity” look like that? No. But is it true? Was there a moment, when, by the actions of the first human couple, we have become strangers to God and to ourselves? Absolutely true!! (Read St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans Ch. 7). Think about it the next time you feel life is some huge accident or you are anxious to lock your door at night.

*** The WHAT? . . . God the Eternal has come into our world from outside time and space to become one with the human race in the man Jesus.

. . . the Nativity scene or most any Christmas card.

The church wants us to know what is true; then artists and poets imagine the visuals. Some are helpful and inspiring. Some are silly and wrong.

There’s lots more to talk about here. Another time perhaps.

Bless your summer days.

Fr. Tim



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