There is a God we hear of often, whose worshipers we meet often. It is not good. It is
- Perpetually Critical,
- Often Clueless.
The PETTY GOD is, I believe, Nearly Universal – Sort of Like the GOOD GOD.
But unlike the Good God, the Petty God is not self-existent, not an eternal spirit, not objectively superior to any or all of creation.
But it is available to any and all humans anywhere. Further, it is a very strongly attractive deity to humans; it exerts a very strong draw on many of us who are religious or religiously inclined.
It shows up everywhere geographically and socially, in every kind of formal or informal religion.
It well serves all those varied persons and institutions who are invested in the control of other persons or institutions. It is therefore a very prominent influence and spiritual presence among American Evangelicals these days (and many other groups) — very prominent, and deeply embedded in millions of psyches and of group structures and procedures.
Unlike the Good God, the Petty God is not ONE.
It exists via its human-created presence in billions of human minds and hearts (and therefore inevitably in human systems and organizations). Thus it has a vast variety of expression and development — and presumably of decay.
The Petty God is universal in being always and everywhere attractive to, even compulsively desired by and moved toward by, the vast majority of humans and of human social patterns formal and informal.
On the other hand there are many people,
though I am sure a minority (the “narrow way” of Jesus?), who do in particular activities or areas of thought effectively reject the Petty God — who yet behave much more in honor and even in imitation of the Good God. Hallelujah! And I think this includes conscious atheists, agnostics, non-deistic religionists, etc. They do. As Jesus said, “by their fruit you will know.” Alas they all, as do all of us, unfortunately find themselves serving the Petty God often enough.
The Petty God is very concerned about details – of any kind.
But especially of “theology” or “doctrine” or “politics.” The details can vary from place to place or even hour to hour — as long as the results are the desired ends:
- sense of superiority,
The Petty God is always watching to criticize every last action or thought.
It is watching to criticize each individual, internally or externally or both, about the quality or efficiency or moral character or deep motivation or any other aspect of every last action or thought. The Petty God criticizes and fusses about anything and everything. This is most obvious when it targets other persons; but it is also very damaging when turned inward against oneself.
The Petty God criticizes your praying.
Its frequency, focus, accuracy of thought, accuracy of expression, “faith” or lack thereof, terminology, “selfishness” — anything!
The Petty God criticizes strategies, all strategies.
Strategies of individuals and groups, for whatever purposes they exist, private, local, national or international. They aren’t good enough. There are always ways to criticize.The Petty God's goals include a sense of superiority, obsessiveness, pride, argumentativeness, exclusion-and-inclusion, guilt-feelings, control.Click To Tweet
Perhaps worst of all, the Petty God is joyless.
Paul calls the Good God “the God of all joy,” and teaches that a key fruit of the Spirit of the Good God is “joy.”
If, or when, I am free to choose, I opt away from The Petty God.
We have a much better alternative!
- Wear Your Diagnosis Lightly – It’s Not Really You
- 7 Signs of a Healthy, Christ-Following Faith
- Category: Brief Spiritual Check-Ups
- Category: Prayer and Meditation
- Two Types of Religion – Authority and Love
- If You Do Not Love Your Neighbor – Whom You CAN See – Can You Love God?
- Forgiveness Requires – A Quick Personal Check-up