Once upon a time there was a wonderful God sitting on his throne amidst a great light who's expression was of magnificent beauty, glory and power.
Around the throne were countless people enjoying his presence and worshipping him with songs and praise. But one of that number noticed that every now and again God gave him a wink.
At first he thought it must be an illusion but it happened again and again.
Finally, one day the crowd moved and drifted about in such a way that he came very close to God. Then again he saw the wink and the look straight at him, just him amongst all those others, and he heard a whisper: Hey, come round the back after that last show, if you can spare the time.
Well of course he did go. So after the last performance that night, round the back there was this God waiting.
Hallo, God said, come up here to my little hill overlooking the sea, I would like you to come and sit with me on my lawn and Daisy patch. We can have a cup of tea together and a pipe and look at the view.
I love to take my costume off at the end of the day and relax. Although I have all that worship and praise, there are times when I like to get away from it all and be quiet. I like to come here and look at the sea on a lovely day, with the mountains beyond and the feeling of this little garden up here on the hill.
For although I have so many beautiful children to look after and enjoy, and although they say such nice things about me and serve me in every sort of way... I get so lonely.
You see, I don't have many friends.
No one recognises me after the show when my make-up is off. I have to be like you saw me, for they all expect it of me; but I am more delighted than you can imagine that you have come here with me so that we can sit together and I can show you this small garden and the view from my heart.
From the Conclusion to A Geography of Consciousness by William Arkle (1974)
In these final words to his difficult and abstract book, Arkle provides this simple vignette to emphasise some of his key messages.
1. What God most wants from us and from all of creation, ultimately, is friendship - that is to say, mutuality in its highest and most creative form; but also in its humblest and most homely form.
2. God's motivation in this can be understood as loneliness, the lack of anyone like himself to be-with - or, more positively, as a deep and endless delight in companionship.
3. Therefore, creation is structured such that we can, over long stretches of time and with considerable effort (and only if we choose and want this) learn from experiences to become more-and-more like God until we are eventually on the same level.
4. Therefore, ultimately, God does not really care much for being praised and worshipped, especially when it gets in the way of developing a close and evenly-balanced relationship.
For more Arkle go to: http://williamarkle.blogspot.co.uk
On those occasions when the Spirit has been powerfully with me and I experience the joy and deep, abiding love of Our Father I find it very nearly impossible to not express praise and worship for Him. If this is the case at the rather distant remove from His presence in which I live how must it be when one lives right next to Him?
@Sean - I think it is a matter of the ultimate aim, the goal of it all. In the meantime praise and worship seem to be what many people want to give, and I imagine that God looks upon this benignly. But I don't suppose that is what God *most* wants; for God to be praised and worshipped is not the purpose of creation. God did not create everything so that it could praise and worship him.
Yes. Friendship and companionship based on delightful play, exploration and creativity; as well as a mutual admiration of shared values for truth, beauty and virtue (even perhaps with slight differences of opinion about these things between friends seems desirable otherwise how tedious would it be to have total agreement on everything, forever?).
When I contrast this picture with most of my lifelong contact with Chrisians: demanding obedience, threatening with hell and eternal damnation if I dont tow the line, telling me that I must be "God fearing," well who would want to be friends with a God like that? Christianity has an enormous amount of bridge building and corrective work to do if its going to make up for all of that kind of rubbish and present an attractive and desirable offer of spiritual growth and loving relationships that aspire towards friendship. I sometimes feel that you are a bit harsh on atheists that are just likr we once were, many of whom are currently handicapped by the damage done to them by other "Christians" who have filled their heads with biased narratives about a tyranical God who is out to ensure we tow the line...or else! I'm afraid this particular narrative for the Christian story is so deeply embedded, and largely due to the industrious effort of legions of self-labeling Christians, the notion of friendship being a central aspiration for deity would be considered totally blasphemous to many "Christians" who perversely enjoy the 'circus of fear' of the more tyranical or Old Testament, tribalistic interpretations of Christianity. Ironically, many an alienated atheist, including my former self, would have responded much more kindly towards the Christian message had I encountered the concepts and interpretations of the likes of Arkle a long time ago. It seems to me that there is a formidable enemy within that does a great deal to prevent a Christian revival and makes the work of leftist reaction against traditional Christian values. After all, its not hard to be repelled by a tyrant and whist God clearly is not one, a certain contingent of his followers have alienated (perhaps permanently) a large proportion of his children with vulgar distortions and frankly a very harmful abuse of the way heavenly father is conceptualised and understood as a deity. I just need to tune into a Christian radio station from certain parts of the states to find the "fire and brimstone" legalistic approach is alive and well, which naturally is distressing when other non-Christians assume that is exactly what I think and believe when I self-label as Christian. They therefore respond fearfully and mistrustingly towards me and I doubt (in fact I even know from personal experience) that their attitudes would be anywhere near as hostile if they knew that my world view were more like Arle; profoundly different to what people have been indoctrinated over their entire lifetimes to believe what a Christian actually is. The heavy lifting of making Christianity seem absurd has already been done for leftism before they even need to do anything to keep going in the wrong direction.
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