God as a metaphor

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Tom Haws
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Tom Haws » 05 Feb 2010, 23:23

Ray Degraw wrote:Metaphor doesn't have to be divorced from the real.
Good point!
Tom (aka Justin Martyr/Justin Morning/Jacob Marley/Kupord Maizzed)
Higley and Guadalupe
Gilbert, Arizona
----
Sure, any religion would do. But I'm LDS.
"There are no academic issues. Everything is emotional to somebody." Ray Degraw at www.StayLDS.com

Shadow of Doubt
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Shadow of Doubt » 05 Feb 2010, 23:42

Ray Degraw wrote:Metaphor doesn't have to be divorced from the real.
Please expound. My understanding of the word, is that a metaphor is "figurative".

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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Feb 2010, 07:55

"something used to represent something else; emblem; symbol."


Metaphors are used to represent something else, but the thing being represented by the metaphor often is "real". Thus, I don't see God as a metaphor; I see how we describe God as our best guess as to what God is like. Our descriptions, therefore, are emblematic and symbolic. They are metaphors.

If someone describes God as an authoritarian dictator who demands obedience and punishes every mistake, that description represents a desperate need for security and order. It is symbolic of what that person needs or wants most at that moment - or simply what that person was taught as a child and what was needed by the person who originally formulated that particular metaphor. Calvinism's extremity God of hardcore predestination is that metaphor on steroids - as it posits God as the great puppeteer and barbecue master. Yes, it's a metaphor (and, yes, I loathe that particular metaphor) - but it's grounded in Calvin's perception of reality.

If there really is a God, or if there really is godhood, or if there really is some type of higher consciousness and never-ending existence, the metaphors we use to talk of God are based in reality to some degree. The only way that our metaphors are not "real" in some extra-worldly way is if our existence ends when we die as mortals. That simply doesn't resonate with me AT ALL, so I choose to believe that our metaphors of God (the ways we construct our descriptions of the divine) are based on reality - even if they are drawn while looking through a glass, darkly.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Shadow of Doubt
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Shadow of Doubt » 06 Feb 2010, 09:33

Ray Degraw wrote:"something used to represent something else; emblem; symbol."

Metaphors are used to represent something else, but the thing being represented by the metaphor often is "real". Thus, I don't see God as a metaphor; I see how we describe God as our best guess as to what God is like. Our descriptions, therefore, are emblematic and symbolic. They are metaphors.

If someone describes God as an authoritarian dictator who demands obedience and punishes every mistake, that description represents a desperate need for security and order. It is symbolic of what that person needs or wants most at that moment - or simply what that person was taught as a child and what was needed by the person who originally formulated that particular metaphor. Calvinism's extremity God of hardcore predestination is that metaphor on steroids - as it posits God as the great puppeteer and barbecue master. Yes, it's a metaphor (and, yes, I loathe that particular metaphor) - but it's grounded in Calvin's perception of reality.

If there really is a God, or if there really is godhood, or if there really is some type of higher consciousness and never-ending existence, the metaphors we use to talk of God are based in reality to some degree. The only way that our metaphors are not "real" in some extra-worldly way is if our existence ends when we die as mortals. That simply doesn't resonate with me AT ALL, so I choose to believe that our metaphors of God (the ways we construct our descriptions of the divine) are based on reality - even if they are drawn while looking through a glass, darkly.
All good points and valid approaches. We are describing two different things though. You are using metaphors to describe God (perfectly good approach).

I am using God as a metaphor for other things (goodness, progress, charity, etc etc)
I am not at a point in my life where I can accept the reality of God, but I can accept the reality of the desire to become better than we are. By slapping the label God onto that desire, I can participate in religious paradigms easier...

Curt Sunshine
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Curt Sunshine » 06 Feb 2010, 10:09

I understand, SofD. (Seemed better than SOD :P ) I chose to look at one side in the way I answered; you are looking at the other side. The core conclusion, however, is the same.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Brian Johnston
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by Brian Johnston » 07 Feb 2010, 16:33

We explore various "reconciliation strategies" here SofD. Yours is just as good as anyone's. There are a lot of people who just don't have a sense of the reality of a God (and more specifically in Mormonism, the Church's general images of this being). That is totally ok. You are the way you are. I don't mean that in any negative way. There is nothing wrong with you. It just is.

So if you find positive ways of thinking of God as the collective good, or that the concept of God is a way of describing the best potential of humans, that works. What works is what works. There is no single right way on each of our highly personal journeys.
"It's strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone." -John O'Donohue, Anam Cara, speaking of experiencing life.

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just me
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Re: God as a metaphor

Post by just me » 07 Feb 2010, 19:59

This is a seriously AWESOME thread!!! I have devoured each comment. YUM!

Somehow, I believe that everyone can be "right" on this. Each interpretation serves the needs of the believer. I love that.

I believe that God is in and through all. I guess when it gets boiled down I believe each of us is a part of the God essence. God experiences all creation in this way.

I don't know. Words seem so inadequet. It's only natural that there are as many ways to describe God as there are people.

I believe in One. I believe we are all part of it, somehow. I don't really comprehend it.
Most of us, sooner or later, find that at critical points in our lives we must strike out on our own to make a path where none exists.~Elaine Pagels

Ultimately, you are the path-the path begins and ends with you.~Stephan Bodian

He who think he knows, doesn’t know: He who knows he doesn’t know, knows.~Sanskrit proverb

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