Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Peter Rodger Asks "What is God?"

Film director Peter Rodger asks "What is God?" in 23 countries. The answers are not revolutionary. "God is that which is bigger than we are." "God is love." "God is the creator, preserver and destroyer." "God is the space between the words." "God is an ally who guides us to our proper path." "God is something greater that makes us humble to save us from ego." "God is the essence of nature."

Yet, there is a profound message that arises from this global face collection. Sensing God is a standard part of humanness. To find enough spiritually-challenged fuddy-duddies who demur, Peter has to weight the movie with an inordinate number of British celebrities, who come across like those who tell us love doesn't exist. Who wants your lame ass at the party anyway?

Rodger discovers that people around the world derive four benefits from faith. They get an explanation for their existence, they overcome the fear of death, they gain hope for a life hereafter, and they find more meaning in events. I would add to the list that they lose some of the need for control which drives many moderns to crazytown.

Peter regrettably decrees two fashionable (but nonsensical) ideas. He suggests people shouldn't rely heavily on scripture. This goes against his preference for individual experience and causes most religious wars in his view. I don't know about that. I've seen charismatics come close to bloodshed over their personal visions without much scripture provoking them. Plus, most sacred books claim to be communications from above. If they're frauds, we probably shouldn't rely on them at all, but if they're a note from management, ignoring them is more perilous than ignoring your honey when she's talking.

Rodger also says spiritual beliefs shouldn't be cross-culturally promoted. Wrong! When the Dalai Lama speaks or a yoga teacher instructs or a karate master trains, we don't resent such impositions of eastern spirituality on western society. We're thankful for them, because they offer value from other cultures in a respectful manner. Saying religious concepts should be shared in appropriate ways is fine. Deeming all missionary effort off-limits, because you've been knighted Sir Reginald Wedgy-Pants but you're too much of a pansy to tell some Mormons you're not interested, is pathetic. That said, this is a good film about stuff that matters.

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