Friday, January 8, 2010

Everything changes

Actress Marlene Dietrich was a popular film star in the 1930’s 40’s and 50’s. She made a movie in 1936 called The Garden of Allah. She had a favorite cameraman on the movie set that (she thought) seemed to take all her shots with just the right lighting, just the right angles to bring out her best features.

Some twenty years later on yet another movie set, she came across that same cameraman and insisted that the director allow him do all the film shots of her.

One afternoon after viewing the film of that day’s shooting, Ms Dietrich confided in the cameraman, “I don’t know,” she said, “they just don’t seem the same as they did before, they look different for some reason.”

To wit: the cameraman replied, quite discreetly… “Well you know Marlene darling, my camera is twenty years older..”

Whether the difference was the age of the camera or the age of the actress is immaterial… the point here is that everything changes over time.

If things did not change, we might still be communicating with our friends and relatives up North by use of the ‘pony express.’

If things did not change, we might exit our local mall some morning to find a parking lot full of horses and buggies…and perhaps an ample supply of fertilizer for our rose gardens.

Everything changes over time… even religion. If religion did not change over time, we might still be sacrificing our first born children to the gods on a blood soaked alter.

If religion did not change we might still believe that God resided just a few hundred feet up in the air, just beyond the blue canopy that hangs over the earth.

Even our concept of who or what god is… changes over time.

3500 years ago people believed in many gods, even a few goddesses as well… Each god or goddess had control over a particular element of nature.

3000 years ago the world went through what is called the First Axial Period, where some, perhaps most, religions began to combine the powers of all their gods and goddesses into one supreme God. This change, even in the relatively small Hebrew nation, took several hundred years to facilitate.

This new supreme God of the Hebrews had but one primary purpose… to watch over and protect the Hebrew nation. That supreme God – known by the name Yahweh – was the tribal God of the Hebrews… and the Hebrews only.

2000 years ago that concept of God changed again when the Christians made the God Yahweh into a personal God for all people, Jew and Gentile alike. A supernatural God residing ‘up there’ or ‘out there’ that is all powerful, all seeing, all knowing.

Today we are in the midst of yet another ecclesiastical change. One that began some 200-300 years ago. A change that moves the concept of God from that of a supernatural being, ‘up there’ or ‘out there’…. to a god ‘within.’… A change that moves the concept of God from the creator of life, to the essence of life itself.

Not all Christians comprehend or are in agreement with this concept, and so the struggle to understand goes on… perhaps for another 100 – 200 years. The hierarchy of the Church is aware of the change, but the reality of it has not yet ‘trickled down’ to the people-in-the-pews.

This is the nature of all religions, and all of life. For thousands of years, as humans have gained wisdom and knowledge, everything around us has changed.

That which does not change… becomes obsolete... irrelevant.

barry e