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Ian Lawton has been growing God Pods for over 20 years now, helping people and organizations uncover the seed of divinity within and grow from the inside out. Or as he says in his Twitter profile, he is a "Spiritual teacher of inner wisdom, divine love, deeper consciousness, oneness, peace, and abundance."
Ian is an author and lectures internationally on contemporary spirituality, technology and change. He has been blogging and writing daily affirmations for several years and teaches regularly at C3 Exchange in West Michigan which is an independent, inclusive spiritual community.
Ian has also launched an online community with his wife Meg â€•Soulseedsâ€•that offers resources and services for people of all faiths and no faith.
In this course, we will take a look at all of the different ideas about God and sort out our own, probing deeply while having fun!
Let's check out some of our favorite Big Ideas from this week's class:
Big Idea #1: The Name of God
At some point in our lives, we all scream out the name of God. It might be when we're shocked, when we're elated. when we're scared, when we are giving birth or when we are having sex. At moments of great intensity, the name of God is on our lips. But what is God's name?
The Koran suggests that there are 99 names for God. That number is a symbol, meaning "many". There are as many names of God as there are tongues to speak them, as many faces of God as there are eyes to see them, as many portraits of God as there are people to draw them. Some see God in a newborn baby, others in a rainbow or a tree, for some He is in the sunset, for others She is in an act of kindness.
Where do you see God? Is God in the ocean? Is God in a tsunami? Is God in an act of love? An act of terror? Very often, it is difficult for us to imagine that God might be found in both the beautiful and the terrifying parts of life. Throughout this course, we're going to challenge each other to expand where we see the Divine.
Big Idea #2: Animism
Animism sees all of nature as God. The river is God and God is in the river.
Each element of nature then becomes a part of God's agenda and each event in nature is either a punishment or a reward. The laws of nature sometimes change in order for the Gods' will to be done. A burning bush might not burn, a man might walk on water or a donkey might speak with a human voice.
The beauty of this belief is that nothing is taken for granted and one can experience gratitude for every act of nature. The problem is that one lives in constant dread that nature will rise up and punish you for your sins.
We can be very grateful that we live in a modern culture, where we're not afraid that each mountain and tree might turn on us and destroy us. It is a gift to know that we are actually part of an incredible whole called nature. We can retain the wonder of the animist, and let go of the worry. We can experience oneness with the natural world, and let go of fear.
Big Idea #3: Polytheism and Henotheism
Polytheism is the belief that there are many Gods. They are often responsible for different aspects of existence.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition that is the backbone of Western culture, we are usually told that the Jews of the Old Testament were monotheistic, that they believed in only one God. But in fact, the Jews of that time were henotheists, they believed in the existence of many Gods, but offered special worship to their God.
This can be seen in the story where the prophet Elijah sets up a competition between Ba'al and the God of the Jews, Yahweh. Yahweh wins, but the very fact that this competition existed shows that the Jews acknowledged the existence of other Gods.
In modern times, we are trying to build tolerance for other religions, a similar kind of tolerance to that which existed in the Hebrew world. "Believe what you want to believe, but don't force me to believe it."
Other Cool Stuff:
Click here to join our community site where you can discuss the ideas you learn in this class with your classmates!
We hope you enjoyed and see you in Week 2!
-The en*theos Team