A Tinkering God. 

People imagine their god intervening in the world to different degrees. Once, God is like a Watchmaker, Occasionally, God is a tinkerer for some but not for all. Constantly, well we are mere Marionettes!

The whole idea of a tinkering God suggests that God might have created one thing, later decided to change it, or begin anew, or scrap it all together – as if God is experimenting or needs to is rather trite and ridiculous. Obviously, there are many flaws to almost any analogy. The world isn’t even remotely comparable to a watch, for example, and in fact, Scottish philosopher David Hume pretty much demolished that teleological argument. But what if we push the idea that God, as a watchmaker doesn’t just create the watch, but also ‘tinkers’ with it randomly or to help some, but not others? How does that diminish God? 

We must remember that such ideas and theories are being speculated upon by how we think and what we believe that God can know and create or do; our perception is flawed and limited normally, let alone when it comes to the Creator of all! In all things God is unchangeable and all-knowing or God wouldn’t be God! These are why God is the Great “I Am.”

When I was a Trauma Chaplain, I excelled enough to begin to train new chaplains. I remember one younger chaplain who was very excited to get to the various hospital floors and meet with patients. We barely were introduced, and he was ready to go! We began to leave the office and I noted that he had his bible with him. I thought little of it at the time, but when we got up to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), he pulled it out as he went into a room. I listened quietly from outside the room and when he came out, we sat down to meet. It was sort of quick debriefing before we continued. I asked him how he thought he did, and he said that his self-evaluation was very positive. He used scripture and strong God concepts to ask for healing and he thought he connected with the family. I asked him what where he was planning on going next and he said to see the patient in the next room. Off he went. When he emerged again, we debriefed again, and his comments were like his first encounter. Then, I asked him this question: “What will happen to your God when the one young child survives but the other doesn’t?” In other words, if God chooses to save one, but not the other, how is that explained to the family in deep loss? Afterall, each family being next to one another and divided only by a glass partition overhead you in each room. You prayed and assured them that God would save them both. Now, if one or both don’t survive, then what? 

This is how I feel lately with the emergence of Christian Nationalism. The whole concept that God protects one presidential candidate or calls one and wants him to be president over the other or that God wants us all to be flag-waving-Christians (but only here in the United States and not the rest of the created world)! This is all such bad theology and yet it has legs right now. The images of one candidate with Jesus embracing him or protecting him are all over social media. It is a mockery. It is a sin. It certainly is not Christian. It divides a house against itself. 

We are warned in Mark’s Gospel, “… if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”  I wonder if we, as a nation, or as a people, will be able to stand? I wonder if we, as a Catholic, will be able to stand? I wonder how we reconcile our hateful posts and rhetoric or support of the morally reprehensible? I wonder how we will stand before God and explain why we rejected the weak, the marginalized, the foreigner, the migrant and the refugee all in support of a flag that has no power without the heart of a humble nation behind it? 

I wonder… if we will find our way to recognize that we are not ‘of this world’, but what we do here – and the harm we cause or the people we injure with impunity – will certainly determine eternity for us. 

Monsignor +Jim

Leave a Comment