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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 real God, the Good One (see post) , this cheap imitation 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 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, this Other 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.
However, there ARE many people who reject it.
Though I am sure they are a minority (the “narrow way” of Jesus?), many do in particular activities or areas of thought effectively reject the Petty God. They behave much more in honor and even in imitation of the Good God. Excellent! And I think this includes many 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,
It 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, through us, it targets other persons; but it is also very damaging when turned inward against us personally.
It eagerly criticizes your praying.
Its frequency, focus, accuracy of thought, accuracy of expression, “faith” or lack thereof, terminology, tone of voice, “selfishness” — anything!
This Sick, Sad 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 Real God “the God of all joy,” and teaches that a key fruit of the Spirit of this God is “joy.”
We have a much better alternative!
If, or when, I am free to choose, I opt away from The Petty God.
(See Stuart Murray’s “Post-Christendom” for descriptions of the Christendom which in fact has often been very petty and has often been worshipping The Petty God.)