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Eric’s Sunday Sermon; Anthropomorphism and Personification
It is beautiful because it is a tree.
Let the tree be a tree.
He just gave human characteristics and traits to God. Oh great now what do the rest of us do? Perhaps his mind just could not wrap itself around the concept that man is not the center of the universe. Maybe he thought that he was so great he would make God just like him. Well whatever his reasons any fool can see that it is just plain wrong to constrict a notion of God to human limitations. Let us move over to the blackboard for a moment and consider a very generic rudimentary explanation of the concepts involved here.
“Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human form or other characteristics to beings other than humans, particularly deities and animals. Personification is the related attribution of human form and characteristics to abstract concepts such as nations and natural forces likes seasons and the weather.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropomorphism -- a fair working explanation. And do not memorize those terms for the explanation is simply meant as a base for understanding and in no way as a set of rules. For instance water and dirt could fit into both concepts quite easily and some folks believe that weather is God. Rain gods etcetera.
Now we do not mean to belittle anyone here. But in fact some thinking is quite little. There are thousands of reasons not to abuse an animal or plant, but because they are human is not one of them. I remember crying as a child when we had to cut down a tree I dearly loved. But I had my head on straight. I loved the tree because it was a tree. Little boys need and love trees. I did not cry because the poor tree felt the pain of the saws, I felt it, but it did not. The tree was not human and did not even have nerve endings and a brain. It just did not.
I hope you have the time of your life.
Let us let God take human form if God so chooses, let us not do it for God.
A mystery of faith
Boy I used to just hate it when the wind transfigured a cloud that I had personified into a god, which I personified into a human form that in my mind looked a lot like old father time. And all that is fine as far as a young child daydreaming and letting his imagination run wild.
Here is one for you. Did you know that no small baby spiders miss their mommy when she crawls away and dies? Some trees are called “self pruners” which means that the lower branches that cease to serve a function because the higher branches get all the sun and rain, just fall off naturally. The trunk of the tree does not mourn the loss of a limb like I would. And we could go on and on with such matters.
Are we ready to move on to what is on all Christian minds as they read this? After all I do call this a sermon and most folks associate sermon with preachers of the Christian persuasion. And after all I am a preacherman who somehow has it in my head that Jesus is my best friend. Of course we all know that God made man in His image. It says so right in Genesis 1:27. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. How more clear can it be, man is made in the image of God. Indisputable scripture that says God looks just like man. In this we can imagine all sorts of concepts like; Each man is a God. God is only human. Or my favorite – God and I are equals standing in each other’s image. A sermon a piece would not do justice to the notions we can come up with from this short verse.
If we go too far, we begin to give ourselves God like characteristics
This kind of conundrum is the essence of being a preacherman. How wonderful it is to find such scripture. How impossible to come up with a “right” explanation. How easy to come up with one and try to convince others of your truth. There is just no human explanation on such matters. That is fantastic. I just love it when I come up against something that my mind and many, many others cannot explain. WHAT?! You exclaim. How can you possibly be happy to find something that you just cannot understand or explain? Well I like it because it is one of those constant gentle reminders that there is a difference between man and God. What is easy for God to comprehend may be impossible for man. And then that reminds me how lucky I am not to be God and to stop acting like I am He. So this brings us back to our egotistical self centered acts of anthropomorphism and personification. I reckon we have two choices when it comes to the unknowable. We can make out God to be like the Greek ones, with all human characteristics or we can just go on faith. Faith to me is sometimes like when I am in charge of planning a big event. All the things to do and make sure they are just right. But then I have my right hand gal. I can give her some of the things to do and just rest assured they will be done right and I can relax about that stuff. For me these things I cannot understand are just given to God to deal with, and I can relax about that stuff.
I have a friend here, who raises chickens, in fact I have two. Both men have wives they love and cherish as wives. And truth be told though they may not admit it, they both love their chickens as chickens. They are healthy well grounded men. They can and do love in appropriate fashion and measure. They do not love their wives like chickens and we assume not their chickens like wives. (get your crazy imaginations under control hihihi)
How are you doing?
Quick assessment, how do you feel today?
Take it easy, this is just to think about, not pass judgment about.
Now let us take this down to some applications. Around here we love to write and ponder about love. One thing that shines through all of it, even if it is not blatantly expressed, is that there are one million kinds of love and probably a billion. Greeks and Hebrews have great words for them as do Latin and so does every other language ever spoken. Our verbal and written expressions only scratch the surface of all the different loves we know of. Again a wonderment that we cannot explain or understand. But we can deal with our loves that we experience each day.
Should we or should we not love our spouse as our best friend? Should we love our God as though He is our best friend? Should we love and treat beings of nature as though they were human? It is our considered opinion that a judgment is not required here. What is important is recognizing what we are doing. I just think back to that old tree that got cut down. I knew full well it was a tree. But I still remember running out under it while crying and by golly that old tree heard my sobs and comforted me. I reckon I do the same thing with God. I know He is not my best buddy hanging out and shooting the breeze but I like to talk to Him that way and He is a good listener. Notice I did a anthropomorphism of “Him” and called God a He.
A cool thing about these anthromorphism and personification concepts is that I can pick and choose which characteristics to give the object or God. The bad thing is that sometimes I give him the characteristics of an angry abusive father. Oh well, I still have a long way to go. This really brings us right up to the subjects of “projecting”, empathy and sympathy. See you next time!