This is a guest post by Michael Towns.
Several weeks ago, I wrote a small treatment entitled “Yes, God is a Child-Sacrificing and Misogynist Bigot”. The ideas were largely based on concepts that were elucidated by Blake Ostler in his latest work, “Fire on the Mountain.” In it, Ostler discussed the Akedah (the Binding of Isaac in Jewish parlance) and the sacrifices involved with polygamy. The provocative title was chosen on purpose. Regrettably, some people simply read the title and then proceeding to build a case against me.
Ostler brought up, in my opinion, some truly deep and astounding points regarding the lengths that God will go to in order to reveal Himself. Exploring the notion further, not only does God wish His children to know Him personally, but He wants a deeply profound and intimate relationship. Ostler himself draws extensively from the work of Martin Buber, who was a prominent 20th century Jewish philosopher. Buber postulated the idea that in order to truly know a person, you have to leave certain preconceived conception behind. (I would heartily recommend that you pick up a copy of Oster’s book.)
By way of example: if I have a certain neighbor who happens to be an attorney, and that is the only way I ever view him, then I never see the reality of who he is: a divine child of God and future god. Instead, all I see is an attorney at law and all my interactions stay fused to that myopic coda.
However, if I do in fact see the divinity in my neighbor (perhaps the attorney analogy is misguided), then all my interactions with him change. The potential for true friendship and intimacy grows leaps and bounds. He and I can go on to greater heights of spirituality.
So it is with God. If the only way I view God is that he is an advanced hedge fund manager in the mode of George Soros, dispending funding to any number of progressive causes like subsidizing birth control pills, then is it not possible that I am missing something profound in His nature? The shoe fits on the other foot: surely God is not a caricature of Ronald Reagan, lowering taxes and bringing down Iron Curtains with the rod of his mouth. If that is how some conservatives view God, then they are missing profoundly important dimensions of who God is.
Here is my point: God will reveal Himself to us, and he will not be who we think he is. In a way, he plays a heavenly hijink on us. He desperately wants us to know Him, and to cast aside our preconceived ideas.
While perhaps I was a bit naive, I did not expect that my piece would evoke the level of hate and fulmination that it received. In fact, on Faith Promoting Rumor, not only was an entire post devoted to tarnishing my name, but J. Max, Bryce Haymond, and Jettboy were also lambasted and by extension, Millennial Star. In fact, the proprietor of Faith Promoting Rumor went so far as to call Millennial Star a racist and misogynist blog.
I attempted to explain what my essay was really about, since it was obvious in reading FPR that my piece wasn’t actually read closely. Despite my attempts at politeness and reason, I was banned from commenting on their site and the ban persists today. Thus I am unable to respond to specific allegations made about me.
One of the primary reasons I wanted to write YGIACSMB was to counter what I perceive to be a gross predilection of progressive Mormons to view God as the literal embodiment of ThinkProgress ideology. I wanted to showcase what I view as their most profound flaw: the self-regard that they are truly progressive, ie, they are on par with where God is with respect to any number of progressive litmuses or doctrines.
I believe in intellectual discourse. I believe that honest debate means that you challenge preconceived notions. I also believe that true intellectuals, which the vast majority of self-proclaimed progressives claim to be, don’t shy away from intellectual vigor and reasoned debate.
Everything that I saw at Faith Promoting Rumor, with respect to my essay, was the very opposite of reasoned debate. There was an incredible amount of slander, ad hominems, gross distortions of my position (as well as the positions of many of my fellow bloggers at M*). It was tantamount to a virtual lynching. It was borderline libel. I feel that I am due for an apology, but I am not holding my breath.
I want to make certain salient facts clear with respect to the piece I wrote. While it has a provocative title, it would be mistake to assume that the title is meant to be taken literally. There is a certain thing called “literary license”. There is also a certain thing, found in the realm of writing, called irony. Let us not forget the nymph “nuance”, she of the swift and cunning dance.
In short, I was not suggesting that our loving Heavenly Father is a misogynist. What I was suggesting is that progressive Mormons view the God of scripture and tradition as one.
I was not suggesting that God is, in fact, a child sacrificer. I was, however, suggesting that God occasionally does things that violate our precious moral conceits, particularly ones that are contemporary, fashionable, and involve tenure.
I was not suggesting that God is, in fact, a bigot. I was, however, suggesting that according to progressive dogma, God occasionally acts like one and so do His modern-day prophets.
Please do me a favor and disseminate this explanation. For the past six weeks, progressives who haven’t actually read the original essay have been clucking and chortling about how silly Millennial Star is, or how obviously stupid Michael Towns is for suggesting that God kills children, keeps blacks out of church, and hates women. The harsh truth is that the progressive blogosphere has a reading and logical comprehension problem.
Finally, speak allow me to testify what I absolutely know to be true: that we have a Heavenly Father who is literally the Father of our spirits; that He lives; that He loves us; and that He reveals himself in ways that take us out of our comfort zones, whatever they may be. Why? Because He wants us to truly know Him, and we can’t know Him if we refuse to accept the way He challenges us.