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Month: March 2017

Giving God the Finger

Giving God the Finger

THE IMAGE OF GOD reaching out to Adam with his extended arm and finger, is one of the most recognizable in the world. Perhaps only eclipsed by da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in popularity, the so-called Creation of Adam was painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo in the early 1500’s.

There are a lot of things going on in this painting, but notice the body positions of both God and Adam. It looks like the Almighty is reaching out with all his might to touch his creation, while the creature, Adam, seems laid back and almost disinterested. He is leaning back in the opposite direction, barely lifting his arm and doing as little as possible to make contact with the Supreme.

This is no mistake; it was a deliberate and clear decision made by the artist to get his point across. But why? Why can’t an all-powerful God simply reach out and touch the being he made from clay? And why is he trying so hard? One would think that an omnipotent deity could do whatever he wants. But maybe He wants something else, something that requires Adam’s participation as well.

A common fallacy is that God has certain ‘chosen people’, those whom he deems worthy of His love and protection. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If the creator god created all that is, including all the human creatures, didn’t he choose every single one of them in the first place? And if He didn’t want any particular ones around anymore, would He not have the power to ‘un-choose’ or destroy them according to His will?

God’s ‘chosen people’ are the people who choose God.

Perhaps God is more interested in the Free Will that He gave to Adam and all the other humans. For it is true that God’s ‘chosen people’ are the people who choose God. And, if that is the case, then wouldn’t He want people to come to Him, to choose to be connected with the Supreme Being? And if God did all the work, wouldn’t that negate any notion of free will, the freedom to choose? According to the account in the Genesis text, didn’t Eve have the free will to choose to eat from the wrong tree, and Adam to partake, even though God strictly forbid it? There was no Divine Intervention in the Garden; He gave his children the ability to choose freely, to obey or disobey.

Therefore, I suggest that the artist was portraying Adam’s own power of free will, the choice of whether or not to reach out and touch God. And it looks like God wants this touch more than anything, but stops short of completing the connection Himself. What good is it if He choses for Adam? If you lift weights for someone, will they get strong? If you practice the piano for someone, will they learn the instrument? No, of course not.

Body language aside, a closer look at the two hands reveals even more. Adam (on the left) does not have to lean his body in further, nor does he have to stretch his arm to reach his creator. Literally, all he has to do is simply lift his left index finger up an inch, and contact will be made. This is probably the least amount of effort a person can make, lifting a finger. At this moment that the painting depicts, Adam has not yet done so, but is is abundantly clear that that is all he has to do…if he wants to.

So did he? Or, is this painting about us, and our free will, our choice to reach out to God and make the connection? Have we? Have you? And what about all the praying, fasting, scripture studying, incantations and meditations that many religious traditions ‘require’ to win God’s favor? Is any of that really necessary? Could it be that God has unlocked the door already, that He is right there waiting for the least amount of effort on His creation to move toward Him, to consciously choose God?

The answer seems clear, at least according to this writer’s opinion and interpretation of a 500 year old painting. But whether you agree or disagree is your choice, and yours alone.

~Chris

 

The Wonder Woman Archetype: Revealing the Power Within

The Wonder Woman Archetype: Revealing the Power Within

Comic book superheroes seem to be popular recently, to make an understatement. Clearly, we spend a lot of money on movies, merchandise and spin-offs. But why?

What is it about these super-powered caped crusaders and mysterious masked marvels that resonates so deeply within each of us? Maybe it’s the desire to be stronger and greater than we are, to save the day, or just fly around whenever we want. Maybe there’s something more.

She doesn’t put on a mask; she takes one off.

Most of these epic figures live two lives; one as a relatively normal person with everyday jobs and lives, and the other, their alter ego that they transform into by putting on a mask, hemet or suit, using various special tools and devices to defend the city or fight off their nemesis. They also conceal their ‘true identity’ behind these masks, as Batman is ‘really’ Bruce Wayne.

the real source of truth, beauty and power is within

Wonder Woman is completely different in a very important respect than almost all other superheroes. She doesn’t put on a mask; she takes one off. Her powers are within and her disguise is the everyday girl, Diana Prince. This is almost the complete opposite of the mostly male heroes who need technology and weapons to do their work.

Using mainly defensive tools, Wonder Woman deflects bullets instead of shooting them. Her main ‘weapon’ is the golden lasso that uses the truth – the criminal’s own truth – to conquer her enemies. Most importantly, her power is innate – it is not given to her from outside sources; the source of her powers is within her – it is her.

the Alchemist can see the gold inside the lead

This points to many ancient spiritual and metaphysical systems that believe liberation, or enlightenment, is achieved by stripping away what isn’t divine, rather than taking on holy vows and memorizing scriptures.

From the East, we learn that our Buddha-nature is within us and the task is to release ourselves from the desires and attachments that hold us back. The master teacher Jesus said that it was the father within him that doeth the works and Paul suggested it is the ‘Christ in you’ that is the Hope of Glory. And even the Alchemist can see the gold inside the lead that needs to be released.

Just as education means to ‘draw out’ and not pour in wisdom, maybe our superpowers come from deep within. We need teachers and guides to help us bring them out, but this is not something that we have to find out there or have it given to us.

these modern mythical superheroes are popular because they remind us of who we really are

We just have to claim the power that is already ours, but usually that’s the last place we look. Yet, in a mysterious way, this power transcends our limited selves; it’s not that is comes from us, rather, it comes through us.

We seem to have forgotten all this, and maybe these modern mythical superheroes are popular because they remind us of who we really are. Wonder Woman (and likewise, Superman) shows us that we don’t have to have fancy suits, use a disguise or have expensive equipment – all put on from the outside – to do amazing things.

Currently, in 2017. there are women’s groups marching for rights and equality. I fully support women in every way, but I wonder if they’re also looking for the outside to give them their power. I wonder if women have forgotten about the most super and powerful source that lives inside.

Protest to make your voices heard, change laws that need changed and march for better opportunities, yes. Remember, also, that the real source of truth, beauty and power is within; it is your birthright that no other can give to you or take away from you.

~Chris

Cover image © Adam Hughes AH!