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Eric’s Sunday Sermon; Anthropomorphism and Personification

Updated on August 11, 2015

It is beautiful because it is a tree.

Some wonders are better left just as they are.
Some wonders are better left just as they are. | Source

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.

Do not let this sermon take away what is familiar and comfortable.
Do not let this sermon take away what is familiar and comfortable. | Source

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

Joy!

Go have a water fight today, it is just a blast.
Go have a water fight today, it is just a blast. | Source

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)

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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!

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    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Oh my gosh , you humble my meager words !

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ah Ed, that little guy just finished his first 3 mile hike near Sedona, caught his first two fish, is a rising star in his Dojo, loves the Psalm 23 and listens intently when I read him your poetry. His water fights are now with kayak paddles. They become 5 so fast. Maybe he will have poetry ooze from his soul like his big brother. Joy abounds in our home, thank you for adding to it.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 2 years ago

      Eric , You are something ' else ! I hadn't though about this much , leave it to you to leave me confused though ! No, seriously , Can I please join the water fight next time , That little guy looks like he knows how to have fun !............:-}

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Lawrence it is great to hear from you. I just love that when dogs look at us like we are crazy or something and they get it. Excellent point you make. Thank you

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Eric

      I think I stopped the anthropomorphisms with God when I realized i'd never understand him. But with Barney (our dog) thats a different story.

      Mind you with Barney his expressions are almost as if he understands our words.

      The reality is I need to let Barney be a dog. And let God be God, then they'll both let me be Human!

      Great. Hub

      Lawrence

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Patricia my dear friend, I pray in supplication for your uplifting through trying and sad times. It is my hope that you are able to face your difficulties with grace and faith. Please be good to yourself during this time. Please do me a favor and take the time to respect your own grief. It is hard when a loss is closer to one we love, to not get lost in their grief. Please be supportive to your sister and also to yourself.

      Love,

      Eric

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      This section really struck home.

      '. 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 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.'

      just cannot imagine where I would be without FAITH. So much happens in our lives and how thankful I am that He is there to handle what I may not want to or find I am thinking I am not able to ....most recently within the last two weeks, my sister lost her daughter suddenly ..just like she did her son 2 years and 2 months ago....I know God carried us through that time...and it was by FAITH that it was possible in part.

      This hub provides much food for thought...so I will be back to read and reread.

      Angels are once again headed your way, Eric. ps

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Happy Heatwaves my fellow coastal desert rat! Sure there is no water but what do we care we have 101 degree temperatures. Mel, I do not pass judgment for a very selfish reason -- If I already decided, then I might miss the fun of finding out. Who goes to a ball game where they already know the score and winner? Would you please write a hub on all the really cool stuff you guys find in mailboxes, I am still trying to get the goo out of my mind from your last one.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 2 years ago from San Diego California

      The angry abusive father personification is something that many Christians make the mistake of doing, when they pass judgement on particular people whose behavior they do not approve of. Yes we can disapprove of their behavior as people, but we cannot pass judgment for God because he is not human and we have no way of knowing his (another personification - but saying "its" sounds ugly) mind. I have never heard you pass judgment in your sermons, which means you are in tune with God, and not the arbitrary bigotry of people. Beautiful words for a Friday morning.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Ann. You hit what I try for right on the mark. That makes me happy that it comes across. It is my great pleasure to walk through matters of import with readers and friends, what a fine journey we are on.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 2 years ago from SW England

      You have a knack of explaining the complicated simply and I like the way you just submit it all for our contemplation, without judgement, without prejudice (there's that word again!).

      Great food for thought, Eric.

      Ann

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Jackie, truer words were never spoken. Thank you

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

      We must all know how we love our children no matter what they do that God is so much better and more forgiving than us so hopefully it gives us a glimpse of His love for us...even knowing we could never deserve it.

      ^+

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Frank. I respect your writing skills so much that a nice compliment from you carries an extra umph and I appreciate it much. I think you just motivated me.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      I just love your sermons.. the message, the clarity.. didnt know why I wasn't folllowing you.. but I corrected that this past week.. don't want to miss another sermon..bless you Eric :)

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Eric, good friends are hard to find... great friends, even harder. Thanks for being such a friend. whonu

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Whonu, there are so many problems that we have when we label things. I feel blessed here in our sermons to be able to avoid many of them. If we look for those lovely similarities it is comforting to find them. Thanks for being a friend.

    • whonunuwho profile image

      whonunuwho 2 years ago from United States

      Eric my friend I see that there are those of us human kind that have a like faith and belief in the creator. Thank you for this meaningful work. whonu

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Faith that is a wonderful testimony of love and faith. You ever remind us of the beauty and wonder of God and how He can fill us with His perfect love. Thank you for adding so much to this hub.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Dear Eric,

      Wonderful sermon here on this lovely Tuesday afternoon. I am so grateful that God is in control! I was just reading in God's Word about plants and such that they wither and fade and do not really die as we do. I was also listening to another preacher who did make the point of plants not being alive being they do not have blood coursing through their veins as we humans do. I had never really thought about that before. I love trees and all of His creation, and yes, it is a tree.

      Oh, the overwhelming love of God towards little ole me is just that, overwhelming, and fills me with such joy just knowing He does love me so much, and that there is nothing I can do in this life to shock him ...LOL. I mean, He's seen it all, the good, the bad and the ugly, and He still loves ...this I know.

      I have many times thought of how we are all created in His image, and what a wonderful image that is to try to even comprehend, although, we know it is impossible until that one day.

      God bless you and yours always

      I believe I have my mind made up on who to vote for on the Hubbie Awards under a certain category and will have to reread some of your hubs as I know there is one most beautiful : ) ...

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora, what a great world we live in. We live so far apart and yet we can share in each other's walks. I may be a few steps behind but I sure like the path you are choosing. Your most recent: https://hubpages.com/health/Reasons-to-Stand-Your-... is just awesome and I thank you for it.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, this sermon speaks to my mind/heart on so many levels. "For me these things I cannot understand are just given to God to deal with, and I can relax about that stuff." I like a writer who can express my thoughts better than I can. Thanks!

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Mary, I know you have been quite busy lately so I really appreciate you coming by and commenting. You remind me that many of us were taught who and what God was growing up and some strange folk thought they should make God like a punisher to keep us in line. I am much closer to your thoughts. One of my biggest concerns is just how familiar I get with God --- you know what they say "familiarity breeds contempt". Thank you for your support.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dana, I tend toward thinking God laughs at me and just shakes His head. I kind of need to work on that because it reflects some thoughts that I am not important enough to get upset with. Boy are we complicated! Thank you for coming by I enjoyed your thoughts.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 2 years ago from New York

      I voted this everything but funny because Eric, that's what it was, useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting, and more!

      So many people with so many ideas about God....He is there. He is our light and hope and the only way we can go on is to have faith that He is there for us. I've always liked to think of Him as a loving father, forgiving and understanding otherwise I'm in a pile of ..... you get my drift.

      Thanks for the spiritual moments my friend.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 2 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      I still have a long way to go too! I have to constantly remind myself that the bible says - God's ways are not the ways of man- Every time I mess up, I just know God is sitting up in heaven mad at me thinking " She messed up again!" Oh well, I'm still growing and constantly learning. Thanks for the sermon. voted up and useful.

    • Ericdierker profile image
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      Eric Dierker 2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill, ain't it great to just be relaxed in that peaceful easy state of mind. Everything is a big deal, yet nothing is a big deal.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I am a spiritual being having a human experience. I'm going to screw up on occasion...I'm going to get it right on occasion....and hopefully I'm going to learn constantly. I'm listening, Teacher!