“Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God’s decomposition? Gods too decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”
The quotation above is from a story of a madman told by Friedrich Nietzsche. Its purpose is to illustrate the notion that we have murdered God in our minds, that we no longer have a place or a need for God in our world.
This Good Friday I want to invite you to imagine something with me. Imagine a world where there is a God. That might even be a difficult first step for some of you reading this; but bear with me.
Imagine a world where there is a God – a God who is unseen yet seen, unheard yet heard, a God who cares about each individual person and loves them without condition. The kind of God you’d want to believe in.
Now I want you to imagine that God as a person. And that person living on this earth and showing others what it looks like to live in harmony with God and with the world around them.
Think about what it would be like to be around them. Perhaps you might even choose to learn from them, to follow their teaching, to subscribe to their news feed, to listen to their podcast, to read their news columns, to go to their events and even, if we were lucky, sit at the meal table with them and enjoy their company.
We know our politicians can’t bring us the hope we want; we don’t trust our religious institutions, we know corporations can’t help us and stuff can’t satisfy us. We know military might and space exploration give us purpose only short lived. We know that none of these things offer true hope of change, of a better world.
But this person – this godperson – they are making their mark and you’ve got this feeling you can’t explain. It’s that thing in your gut that says this, this is different. I can feel it. I believe in them.
How great would that be. To have that feeling. To know that person. How great would that be for you – and not just for you but for those who you know need them so more more than even you, in your darkest moments, do.
Now imagine that a bunch of people who the God-person pissed off had them killed. How much lesser a world? How much worse? How much less hopeful? How much less desirable than the alternative?
Yet this is what we choose to do in our hearts and minds each day. Nietzsche was right. God is dead, and God remains dead. To many of us, most of the time.
You’d expect at this point that I might try and wrap this story up with some kind of happy ending. But I won’t because actually, God is dead to us. And we killed him. We made him unnecessary, unimportant, redundant. And we’re okay with that and I want us to think about why we’re OK with it. And, well, the ending… that’s a story for another day. It’s important to sit in the midst of the darkness, and fully appreciate it.