We watched The White Tiger yesterday on Netflix. If you haven’t done so, I recommend it. The imagery, the experience …
But I digress.
The main character makes a point about different faith traditions: he states that Muslims have one god, Christians have three, and Hindus have 64 million; he wonders which one to pray to.
I was fascinated by the idea that there are 64 million gods in the Hindu faith (as an aside, there is only one God in Christian tradition; here, God is triune: Father, Son, Holy Spirit — three parts of one Being. I’ll get back to that in a minute). I found this website and could have stayed there all day. I mean, just look! Fascinating.
But here’s the thing:
Many of the attributes, if you will, listed on that website are ‘ordinary’ or are more like morals or beliefs than idols or gods.
A tree from the forest is cut downJeremiah 10:2b-5 (ESV)
and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman.
4 They decorate it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so that it cannot move.
5 Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field,
and they cannot speak;
they have to be carried,
for they cannot walk.
Do not be afraid of them,
for they cannot do evil,
neither is it in them to do good.
There are other passages in the Bible that relate to idols or ‘made’ gods. Carved from inanimate things like wood, ivory, bone, stone, then covered in silver, bronze, or gold and jewels, these gods or idols do not move of themselves, speak of themselves, or even breathe or blink. The maker must tote them from place to place. Those who worship them might kiss their feet but get no response. They leave food for them but none is eaten (at least not by the ‘made’ god).
Allah is omniscient, benevolent, and all-merciful. Allah, a name most typically attributed to the Muslim faith, is used to reference the monotheistic God in other traditions as well. The difference here is that, like in Judaism, Gods mercy is granted because of a person’s actions. In this way, one must do something, follow a set of rules and regulations, to earn God’s favor.
I suppose the sacrifices, prayers, incense burning, and other elements serve the same purpose in Hindu faith.
That sounds hard, having to remember what to do, when to do it, and how to do it all the time.
I do appreciate certain aspects of all religions and find them quite beautiful. Hindu statuary is amazingly lovely. The calls to Islamic prayer inspire awe, as does the dedication a devout Muslim shows to their prayer life and scriptural study. Similarly, the dedication by devout Jews to prayer and study is something I can only hope to attain one day.
Yet, the faith I follow is easier than that. As the scriptures indicate, the burden is light. No matter how much I read or pray or do my best, I know it isn’t what’s required. Sure, it’s all important. But God’s got me. The Triune Creator made a way for my perfection, even in my brokenness through the sacrifice of The Son and the guidance of The Spirit.
If you want to think of it as the connection between body, mind, and soul, go ahead. I’m okay with that. I’m not on this planet to force you to see more than you care to.
Like the main character in White Tiger, I’ve always been interested in seeing more. Ever since I was a wee person, I’ve pushed the questions. I wanted to know. Like Morpheus suggested in The Matrix, I’ve tried to always taken the red pill, to see how deep the rabbit hole really goes. My blue pill moments were only when life was too painful and I already knew what was at the bottom of the rabbit hole anyway because I’d spent far too much time there.
For those who get so stuck on their piety or those who think there’s nothing else beyond what’s here and that beliefs don’t matter, I would suggest taking a moment: look up at the sky to see the birds, whirling on the breeze; look out at the snow and see the animals in their winter coats, doing what they must to survive; look down and see the blades of grass and the flowering heads of small plants that grow on their own. None of that is by accident. I can’t take a mud pie and turn it into a mouse. Despite all the science of humans, no one can take a mouse egg, fertilize it with some dude-juice from a bird, and make a bat.
It takes more than wishful thinking and a sprinkle of fairy powder to create all the diversity that we see, if we just open our eyes and look at the natural world.
There’s so much to see. Don’t be pushed to the edge before you become the White Tiger. Look up, look around. Chances are, you’re already there. The belief in something bigger than you is already there: something that moves, in and through you. Something you don’t need to carry but that carries you, moment by moment.
It’s there. Just open your eyes.