Sunday, March 11, 2012

little gods

"But you are my witnesses," YHWH's Decree. "You're my handpicked servant. So that you'll come to know me and trust me, understand both that I am and who I am. Previous to me there was no such thing as a "god," nor will there be after me.

I, yes I, am YHWH. I am the only Savior there is. I spoke, I saved, I told you what existed long before these upstart gods appeared on the scene. And you know it, you're my witnesses, you're the evidence." YHWH's Decree. Yes, I am God. I've always been God and I will always be God. No one can take anything from me. I make; who can unmake it?"
Is. 43:10-13 The Message Bible)

At least once a week, I have a brother/sister date with my younger sibling. Our normal routine is to head over to Ikea for breakfast or lunch, and then go across the street to the Mall of America. While my sister always gets the chicken fingers at Ikea, I almost always get the Swedish meatballs. There is just something about meatballs that are good for the soul.

Neither of us have a lot of money to spare, so we have learned how to hunt for bargains if we feel the need to buy a T-shirt. We are the king & queen of the coupon. We are also good at people watching...which provides excellent low-cost entertainment.

For those unfamiliar with Ikea and the M.O.A., I shall educate you. Ikea is a giant box store from Sweden that provides a ton of strange furniture at low costs that you then put together yourself. (I feel worthwhile, reasonably manly and semi-productive when I am able to put something together that I can then sit upon.) Ikea also has a giant cafeteria which serves only a handful of food selections. Personally, I don't think you need much variety when you have Swedish meatballs available.

The Mall of America is the biggest Mall in the U.S. It is four stories high, and has an amusement park in the middle of it. It is also located across the highway from the airport. This makes it a handy spot for emergency landings upon the roof should such a need arise. It is also large enough to handle all manner of personality disorders that feel the need to venture out in public in whatever manner of dress & behavior they deem appropriate without the Bloomington police, Hennepin County Sheriff, or large men in white coats with straight jackets descending. It is good for people watching...which provides excellent low-cost entertainment.

So Friday, my sister and I headed over to the mall after lunch. We were not aware that the cast of the new movie, "The Hunger Games," was going to be there. The rotunda of the mall was encircled by teenagers all the way up to the 4th floor. The police were there and had shut down the escalators in that area. As I tried to maneuver through this mass of teen angst, I could feel a fresh wave of acne desiring to break out upon my face and the urge to say sentences that began with "Like" a lot. It was unsettling...but provided excellent low-cost entertainment.

(I rarely feel the need to carry a stink bomb or similar device with me anymore. This was a missed opportunity that I shall regret.)

That having been said, once you were safely away from the mass of anxious puberty you had the mall all to yourself.

BTW: I have noticed something about the newest generation of Hollywood gods. Before one can be put on a pedestal for worship, this generation apparently can only attain such a state if their names are Tyler, Taylor or Josh. Maybe that's just me...


I have a friend who is a Believer. He says he follows Jesus. I don't get to talk with him as much as I'd like anymore. When we do talk, he talks of politics a lot. He is very informed on his political opinions. He talks about how this country is doomed. He says that Ron Paul is the only one who can save this country. He seems to have this issue on his mind a great deal...a GREAT deal.

I have another friend who I think & hope is desiring to follow Jesus. He says he loves God, but seems to spend most of his time looking at conspiracy theory websites. He talks about how the government is hiding the truth about aliens from us. He talks about how Obama is out to get everyone who knows these dangerous little secrets, and that we live in a semi-dictatorship. (I recall hearing the same things when Bush was in office.) My friend needs a job, but he spends a lot of time researching secrets. My friend says he believes that God loves him, but he spends a lot of time worrying about conspiracies.

I have a lot of friends who talk about God-this and God-that, but then they talk more about the importance of sports, politics of various types, entertainment gossip, etc, etc, etc.

Many people call themselves Christians. But they often seem to concern themselves with things that Jesus didn't seem to care all that much about. People can talk a lot about "God," but I often wonder if they are really talking about "god."


When I am at the the giant mall and want to buy a new shirt, I go to Express. (I know how to milk the discounts.) Generally speaking, I feel that I resemble Shrek. I also know that I am a vacuum when it comes to taste or fashion sense. So I bring my sister with me for guidance. She keeps me from buying something that will cause wild birds to peck at me. I shop at Express not because I am "Cool," because I doubt that I am, but because with my looks I will not be much.

The M.O.A. has many stores that can cater to your tribal identification. If I did not like my parents, and existential angst had a sizable grip on my soul, I would shop at Hot Topix. I like my parents, have no piercings in my face, so I do not shop there.

If I were young, preppy/surfy, and desperately wanted strangers to tell me I am cool...AND were a semi-closeted, Bi-curious college student, I would shop at Hollister or Abercrombie. I do not have a 6-pack stomach, so I do not shop there.

If I were on the cutting edge of trends, could fit into skinny jeans and liked Bud Light, I would shop at Urban Outfitters. I do not wear stocking caps, so I do not shop there. (I did buy a T-shirt there recently, though. It was on sale.)

If I had the thighs for it, was truly starved for attention and didn't mind being pepper-sprayed, I would shop at Victoria's Secret. For various reasons, I do not shop there.

I like to watch and observe the people at the mall. If you keep your eyes open you can see many things when you do this. This includes the people who shop in these stores. It makes me feel old sometimes, so perhaps this is not always a good idea. However, when I watch these people I see other things as well. Each store sells a worldview, an identity...a religion. I will watch people go into these stores, make a sacrifice in the form of green pieces of paper or the swiping of a plastic card, and then come out with a new uniform that shows what god they belong to.

If I am hungry, there are many places at the mall I could go to. There are two different food courts which cater to any & all needs. You can actually buy healthy food in these courts. Most of them are not so healthy, but they taste good because of the extra salt that is added. There are also many, many restaurants on every level. If I needed a sugar rush, there is even a new Peeps store that sells nothing but Easter Candy. If Peeps tasted like salsa, I would shop there. They do not. I do not.

Sometimes your god gets hungry. Sometimes your god wants an Orange Julius or maybe some Peeps. Sometimes your god wants a new pair of pants. Your god gets lonely. Your god needs the approval of others.


About a week ago, there were tornados down south. People were injured. People were killed. Shortly after those tornados, Dr. John Piper preached that those tornados were the fingers of God. He did not elaborate on wether or not these fingers were God's judgment.

Last year there were tornados in north Minneapolis. Dr. Piper said that it was God's judgement on the Lutherans of the ELCA who were meeting that week to decide if "Gay is OK" for their denomination. (I have my opinions on this, but you can ask me some other time.) Piper's God is a lousy shot. Yes, he hit the convention center where the Lutherans were meeting and knocked things over. Unfortunately, he also hit the neighborhood, miles away, that I was working in that WAS home to the poorest of the poor in Minneapolis. It has been almost a year since the tornado. The homes have not been rebuilt. Many of the families are still homeless. I do not think many of those poor families were Lutherans.

A couple of years ago, the I35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed. This bridge is directly across the street from Bethlehem Baptist church...where John Piper preaches. Dr. Piper said it was God's will that the bridge collapsed. He did not say if it was his churches' fault.

When your concept of God's Sovereignty is such that nothing...nothing what so ever, happens without it being pre-ordained by God's will, you get some strange results. God wills tornados & earthquakes for what ever reason, and I believe he can do that and has the right. But this view believes that God wills ALL, and this includes all human actions. This includes all of MY actions. I brushed my teeth because God had preordained it. If I kill my neighbor, God has pre-ordained that too. (But it is still my fault.)

This God seems strange to me. He seems small in a way, because he can be reduced to a theological formula. He seems more like a computer algorithm. I don't think I could actually have a relationship with this god...unless he has programmed me to do so.

My old professor wrote down some great thoughts on this topic. You can read them here.


I am a "Second Class" Christian. I do not embrace Piper's type of Calvinism, so I am told that I walk with a spiritual limp. I do not speak in tongues, so I have been told that I am missing out by those who do. I have been told that since I am a Protestant, and have forsaken the true, Catholic church that I am in danger of the fires of hell. I have never been "Baptized in the Spirit," so I am told that I am being disobedient. I am a second class Christian.


Sometimes your god gets hungry. Sometimes your god wants an Orange Julius or maybe some Peeps. Sometimes your god wants a new pair of pants. Your god gets lonely. Your god needs the approval of others.

Sometimes your god wants you to elect him to office. Sometimes your god wants you to elect someone else. Sometimes your god wants you and many others to all run for the same political office at the same time. (Maybe that god likes to watch human pinatas.) Sometimes your god likes to sit in a dark room and watch poorly done conspiracy videos and silly lectures so you are too distracted to have a life.

Sometimes your god demands that you reduce him to a page in a book, or a formula on a piece of paper. Sometimes your god demands that you go through a physical ritual to make him smile. Sometimes your god wants you to make him so tiny that he can be reduced to some knowledge and correct theology in your head. Sometimes your god sits on the table and pouts that you do not "Get" him. He gets mad that you do not have the proper check list so as to be able to carry him in your pocket and point to the list when you need to correct others.

Sometimes your god gets so mad that you don't have the right shirt, pants, Peeps and doctrinal statement & confession that he will close his eyes and hold his breath until he turns blue and passes out. That will teach you!

Your god is very little.

"Little girls shouldn't treat
little boys they happen to meet
like little gods."

And neither should you.



1 comment:

  1. Yeah Joey! I loved it! You rock man! I have so much fun shopping with you. Besides I know fashion and fashion likes me and so I pass it onto you. You look great with the stuff I help you with. I love you Joe! Thanks for putting me in there! It felt great!
    Love you!
    Love your sister, Janis