What if God is not angry at us at all? What if God is not as furious as we project onto God? What if it is we who are the angry ones – we humans? What if God is loving, gentle, kind, generous, compassionate, forgiving, understanding of failings. What if God is aware of how hard life can be – aware of how disappointing our mother or father or teacher or priest was? What if our fascination with sin is not a desire to be good for God but is little more than our own inability to forgive ourselves? What if our adoration of a perpetual virgin is just a way to renovate our maternal disappointments? What if the kinds of people who have wanted to lead the church for the last eight centuries are the kinds of people who are unloving, not gentle, unkind, selfish, lacking in the ability to be empathic, who are resentful, judging of failings and unaware of anything other than their own narcissism and our own lack of personal power? What if the problem with the church is that it is very unlike God? What if God’s greatest grief comes from the way the church deals with the people coming to it for real connection, comfort, love, gentleness, attention, compassion, kindness, presence-making, patience, and the ability to focus beyond our own needs to the needs of the people who come to church?
What if the sacrifice God made through Jesus in order to try to send a message that God not only loves us but actually likes us – what if that sacrifice was designed to wipe away every tear from our eyes? And what if, having done all that, we still kept the church infected with hierarchy, fetishizing shame and obeisance, and organizing around systems and liturgies of command and control simply because we had none in the rest of our lives or in our childhoods?
What if God wants us to get therapy more than He wants us to get holy? And what if God is less interested in what we give up and much more generously interested in what we take on? What if God has made this stunningly beautiful planet for our joy and not for our temptation? And what if the best way we can love God is to leave the gated sanctuary, find a person on the streets whose life is in pain, take them to a table and set before them -and us – a piece of butter-cream cake as big as their head, and a cup of strong tea; and have a real, vulnerable, honest conversation together about life?