Monday, May 26, 2008

Yoots Aks Kweshuns

Don't we have some beautiful young people in our church? And they're smart, too. AND they ask questions about the Bible. They actually request more Bible study, not like the little heathens in your parish. They actually hold "Prayer Concerts" and put all of us to shame. They are strong Christians AND beautiful to boot!

So yesterday one of the youth says to me, "Padre, I have a hard question. We have been studying the Book of Genesis, and we have a question that we were unable to answer." I asked what the question was. "Well, it's a difficult question, Padre. Can God make a mistake?" Padre thinks: Oh no! Be careful with the answer. I'm gonna get burned at the stake!! but says: "Well, what do you mean by mistake? We can't always understand God's ways." Our Questioning Yoot continued: "We've been studying Genesis, and, you know the place in the story of Noe when God says that He will never send another flood to kill everyone again? It sounded to us as if God was, uhm, repenting for what He did. So we were wondering; did God think He had made a mistake?" I told them that I was proud of their question, because some young people would be a little nervous about presenting such an idea to the priest. I decided against telling them that the story of Noah was a re-write of a Babylonian myth and told them that I want to think about this question.

So, you all have lots of opinions and I've seen you all talking about serious stuff at other blogs. How would you answer the members of Luz de Mañana? Do you think God felt guilty for flooding the earth? Can God make a mistake (no George W. Bush jokes, please; that's just too easy!)? All kinds of questions arise when one reads the Noah story, and not just "how'd all them animals keep from eating each other, and what did they do with the "droppings?" You guys have opinions on everything. How do you answer this question?

The comments are open!


Jay Simser said...

Well Padre, God don't make no mistakes. And God didn't send the flood or the hurricanes or the Tornado or any other disaster. God created everything that was made and "Behold it was very good." Even me, even you.

Those disasters are Mortal Mind disasters. God is Love. That is all He knows. That is all He wants us to know. He sends unconditional love. Sin is just us missing the mark and not seeing what Divine Love has given us. When we realize that we experience the Love that is God. Now How do you like them apples?

FranIAm said...

This requires some thought and reflection, but I did want to say I think it is an amazing post.

Those kids are great. I love that.

Padre Mickey said...

Jay, I understand what you're saying, but I know these young people and I don't think they'd accept the "God is Love" answer in this case. We're still working on what the Bible is and isn't, and it will take some time to wean them from the "God's Holy Inerrant Word" idea. Sure, God said the creation was good, but according to the same book of the Bible God was angry at humans and wanted to destroy them. The text states that God was sorry that He had made humankind; so perhaps God thought that He had made a mistake. I think them apples is inadequate.

I already know what I'm going to say to them, but I am quite interested in other's opinions, including yours, and I thank you for being the first person to respond.

Jay Simser said...

Same book, Two stories. The first chapter is the divine - and everything is Good. Then we get the mist coming up (mist =mistake = error) and we get the HUMAN story. - some of don't accept that version as true. But we will never agree on this. j

Jane Ellen+ said...

Given the story as it stands, my fist (admittedly scattered) thoughts would sound something like this:

We can't know what God was thinking, of course, because we are not God. Sometimes the best we can do is guess, based on what else we know of God. That's what's called theology.

Here, for example-- this is just one story in the Bible, but we read many others, and one thing we are always being told over and over is how much God loves each and every one of us, regardless of how good or bad we are. So that would be true here, too. Despite what the story says about how evil the people were, God still loved them.

You know how much it hurts and saddens us to have people we love suffer? And God's love is much more powerful than ours. So is it possible that the flood would have been an incredibly tragic thing for God, beyond anything we could imagine? So tragic and heartbreaking that he would not care to repeat it.

Do you think perhaps that's part of why Jesus came to us-- because God would rather take the pain on himself? Or maybe because he wanted to show us another way to solve our problems than by killing one another?

Not wholly formed thoughts, but there's a start...

Matty Boy said...

An idea from a former believer, now current skeptic, who like They Might Be Giants may get a medal declaring me The Nicest Of The Damned.

Of course God makes mistakes, at least the God of the Bible. He made a contract, then sent His son down to rewrite it. Some will say that's man's fault, but that's a silly view. God made man, and should have known who He was talking to, right? If you believe that Mohammad or Joseph Smith talked to angels, there are more re-writes to the contract than just the one.

johnieb said...

I think the story of Jesus changing his mind when the SyroPhoenician woman challenges him may have some bearing. (Mark 7:24-30); at least it'll give them more to think about!

David |däˈvēd| said...

I do not envy you your assignment Padre. However, if they are just now studying the Flood, they will encounter many more stories were God changes God's mind. In fact, if memory serves me, the words used on occasion throughout the KJV Old Testament is "God repented." There are many occasions, as well, where folks bargain with God, trying to get God to change God's mind.

Are they studying on their own, or do they have a bible teacher? If they have a teacher, you also run the risk of your understanding running counter to that of the teacher.

Good luck.

John said...

Two comments, Padre. (When did I not have something to say?)

The first is that it seems to me you have a golden opportunity to discuss the human dimension of the Bible -- i.e., it reflects what people thought God was up to, not necessarily what God was really up to.

The 2nd thing is to remember a conversation with my godson when he was 12 years old and asked me if I believed literally in the story of Noah. I gulped and said no and then went on to say basically what I just said. About 15 years later we were talking about that conversation. He told me it had been something of a test, that he knew perfectly well that I didn't believe it was literally true and that if I had tried to persuade him that I did, he would never have believed antything I said in church again.

John said...

And one more thing....Do we get to hear what you're going to answer??

I See You!

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