Spirituality is not a Cop Out

Over the summer, I read a fantastic Justice League comic book and was amazed by the genuine interactions between Superman and Batman because when they spoke they spoke to each other as Clark and Bruce. They were witty and imaginative and personable and human. I knew I wanted to create my own interaction between the two heroes and cobbled together an idea based on a question of Batman’s religion.

I don’t see Batman as being religious. I cannot imagine Bruce Wayne following the structures and dogma that comes with religion. I do, however, see him as being spiritual. The premise of my story is that Clark calls on Bruce to go to dinner as friends, but interrupts Bruce when he was about to go pray. As the author I imagined Bruce lighting candles and praying that his parents went to a safe place and were happy in death.

I posted my story on fanfiction.net and one of the first reviews I got told me I had misinterpreted Bruce’s character because a man of Bruce’s intelligence could never deny the existence of God. In claiming Bruce was spiritual, I had copped out of a legitimate story.

Now, I understand that this is fanfiction, it’s about comic books, and all in all shouldn’t be so influential to my life. But I’m writing this post to explain why it has to be so influential. The reviewer touched upon a problem prevalent with religious understanding that has nothing to do with fiction. There is a strict dichotomy of Religion vs Atheism that is damaging to our understanding of God. If, as this reviewer claimed, spirituality is just taking the ‘easy way out’ from being religious then God is being put into a box.  Either one believes in God  and ties his or her faith to organized religion- and only to organized religion- or he or she does not believe in God at all. Where did this split come from?

God has become synonymous with religion. No other interpretation is allowed and any concept of a God that differs from the norm, leaves the believer ostracized between those who would call this belief heresy and those who would call any belief in God not worth consideration.

I do not mean to generalize about any groups of religious or atheistic thought, I only wish to point out that a person’s understanding of God should never be considered a cop out, even in fiction. Fiction is a window into the world of the times, and if spirituality is being critiqued as lazy, uneducated, and atheistic, it says something about how spirituality is treated in real life as well.

 

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The Gender of God

I understand I am getting into dangerous territory in bringing religion and spirituality into my post. I take full responsibility for anything that I say and I will try to be as unbiased as possible. For the purpose of this blog I am working from the established principle that God exists and I do not seek to prove or disprove any issue on this point.

Now as I introduce my question of God’s gender, I wish to point out that I am also in the middle of reading some gender criticisms. I know that the term gender is controversial and when I use the word gender in this blog I will be referring to masculine or feminine pronouns.

It has already been said, debated, and fought over that God has been portrayed as a man in art work and when speaking of God the terminology is always He or Him. This becomes a bit rocky when Christianity is involved and questions as Jesus was a man the masculine pronouns could have some legitimacy.  But if at all possible, take God out of religious context. There is no doctrine, no dogma, no congregations. There is you and there is your relationship to God. God can be whatever you believe God to be, in any shape, and in any form. The possibilities are yours to decide.

From this relationship with God it is possible you see God as a person, perhaps as a man, I know I do though I am trying to deconstruct this habit. Deconstruct with me.

God is depicted as a man because what do people know that will be recognizable except other humans? If God were depicted as a woman, God would be a new term, Goddess. We are limited to language and that is the greatest limitation. Because we do not know how to explain God universally we use the masculine word God and the masculine pronoun He. We bring the unexplainable to a level we can all understand: we use language. But here is where our language fails us.

Why do we think the earthly language we possess will be applicable to the Divine? Going off the notion that God is Divine and therefore wholly different from God’s creations then why do we fit God with the limiting ideas of masculinity? Does God have a gender? Would it make any difference in the overall belief in God if God were not enclosed in our language?

There is no reason for God to be a He. There is no reason for God to be a She. Both do an injustice to a Being that is, as far as we know, without sex. I know I am working from a lot of preconceived notions with this argument, but there is no easy way to bring about this discussion without presuppositions. I only hope they have not hindered my argument or lessened my credibility.