A riff on my earlier note on Howard Thurman in Meditations of the Heart:
Thy shalt love:
Thy God – “I shall not waste any effort trying to reduce God to my particular logic.”
Thy neighbor – “I shall study how I may be tender without being soft; gracious without being ingratiating; kind without being sentimental and understanding without being judgmental.”
Thyself – “I must have no attitude toward myself that contributes to my own delinquency.”
“I shall not waste any effort trying to reduce God to my particular logic.” Boy, that’s the starting point of a lot of trouble, isn’t it – “reduc[ing] God to my particular logic.” Underlying that thought, of course, are two thoughts – 1) that I can in fact understand God, 2) that I can understand how you understand God. And those two conclusions somehow seem to lead to a third – having reduced God to my own logic and perceiving that I understand how you have reduced God to your own logic, I come (not surprisingly) to the conclusion that I am correct and you are wrong. Wars have been fought on this.
What comes to mind here is one of my favorite Anne Lamott quotes: “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” I do struggle a bit with the “waste of time” part. Much can be learned from that effort. But the problem is not in the effort so much as in the conclusion that I have in fact “cracked the nut” and have God all figured out. That’s when the trouble starts.