The Tangent

In the dialog below, OG gets into a discussion with a Jewish guy about the idea of fearing God. It’s a decent dialog in its own right, but in the middle of it he goes off on a long tangent. He is addressing the guy’s complaint about not getting explanations about things. It was a very unusual way to address the complaint, and the things he mentioned in it were related to things he was going through at the time. It’s almost as if he just used that guy’s complaint about not getting explanations to just say something that he himself needed to hear about concepts of faith and perception that had been plaguing him. Like, during this conversation about fearing God, OG took the opportunity to teach himself something about faith, perception, knowledge, and communication. As I see it, this is an indication that something was channeling OG in order to teach him something. It might not seem obvious to others, but to OG, it was a kind of a “what the hell did I just say?” moment. So I’ll let you have a read and see if you can identify that comment and if there is anything unusual about it to you.

OG: I haven’t listened to the link, but just curious, what’s wrong with the phrase “fear of God?

TA: I think it just seems to contrast with the idea that God is loving, and we should love God. Why would we fear someone we love? “Fear God,” I thought early on it meant “be afraid.” Now I think of it as “fear God” because he’s so powerful and gives us commandments to follow. But even then it still feels weird to say “fear.”

OG: Become a child again. Mom loves you. When you act up, you get grounded, have to do chores, maybe get a swat. When mom tells you to do things, it’s because she knows better and tells you what to do for your own good. She says not to play too close to the edge of the cliff. When you get to the edge of the cliff, you fear mom, and you get away from the edge. So I’ll rewrite the book of Proverbs for you: fear of mom is the beginning of wisdom. So, I ask you, is it okay to fear mom? If it’s okay to fear mom, why is it not okay to fear God?

TA: I think this is the exact point I’m getting at. A mom (usually) tells you why you should or should not do something, and communicates the importance of those actions. When you fear in your normal life, fear from dying, fear from getting hurt and fear from predators, etc., that isn’t you fearing your mother, or something you’re necessarily taught. Fearing bombs isn’t a fear that mom teaches you. Fearing pain isn’t either when you can’t control it. God does communicate the reason for some of his commandments, but the majority lack any reasoning. And when we’re told to fear him vastly more than say, respecting him, I think there is a large gap.

OG: Your shepherds let you down. They lost track of you and let you stray. They did not pull you from the jaws of the wolf. God is communicating with everyone all the time, but not many see much of any of it. He did, however, write a book. It’s as simple as he could possibly be. He did send his image down to a mountain in the desert to tell the deal. Nobody reads it. And those who do can’t figure it out. They call it stupid, antiquated, and gross, and they blow it off. Every day can’t be mount Sinai for everyone. If it were, we wouldn’t get anything else done. So that simple level of clarification you want for everything isn’t practical. If the book that was written at Sinai had all the clarification that everybody wanted about everything, it would be bigger than Mount Sinai, and if you started reading it at seven years old, you could die at a hundred and seven and you would only be half done. So you have what you have. It’s got some commandments in it. Some have explanations. Some don’t. The situation you are in is a big one. It’s called life. There are no other situations like it. This is just one of those times where you’re going to have to trust mom. She just doesn’t have time to explain everything right now. You just have to trust her on this one. She’s mom. She’s not gonna hurt you. Maybe it isn’t the perfect illustration. One of the most important people in my life can’t say that about her mother. The destroyer has destroyed so much. I hope you know what I mean, though. You say that we are taught to fear more than respect. But twice a day at shacharit and minha we say: love the Lord your God. Love and respect are synonyms. Setting a mountain on fire in front of a half a million people is the second most powerful way of communicating importance there is. The first one is what’s going to happen soon. When Messiah comes, somebody will actually sit with you all day every day and explain everything you want. But you are still going to have to trust them. This may shock you, but there will still be people who won’t trust an angel telling them the truth to their face. Sinai didn’t do it for a lot of people. Even the ones who were there. And when Messiah comes, there will still be people who don’t trust him. The Messianic kingdom logically has to be the most impressive display of divinity a human can conceive of. If it isn’t, there will still be something to wait for. And at some point the waiting has to be over. And then when we have it, those who still don’t trust it will go away. Where they went will be the mystery that no one will want solved. Everyone will know. They’ll just be gone. You live in between those times. Between Sinai and the kingdom. The kingdom is almost here. But for today, you just have to trust what you have. Like everyone always has and always will.

TA: Right but you still haven’t addressed my point. How do you love and fear someone, let alone God?

OG: Could it be that you are confusing fear with anxiety? We established that you love and fear your mom, but you came back with fear of mom is different than fear of bombs. What’s the difference? Well, you love mom, but not bombs. And you have an anxiety reaction when you see a bomb, but not when mom scolds you. But if she comes after you with a belt you might fear her the same way you fear a bomb, right? So what’s the essential difference?

TA: Fear definition is: “an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.” I don’t think God is a threat or is meant to be dangerous. We’re not meant to be upset by God, are we?

OG: That’s a modern definition of fear. It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t get to the essence of the concept. Fear is more the effort to avoid negative consequences. That often does manifest as an anxiety reaction, yes. But really what your definition is describing is an anxiety reaction. No, God is not dangerous. Only the lack of him is.

1 Comment

  1. For myself, fearing God is being impressed with his Power, his omnipotence. He’s fearsome, and I should pay attention.

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