OLAFSON, Peter, "A deity in Touch With His Own Bad Self," New York Times, April 5, 2001

by Robert Brow   (www.brow.on.ca)

Olafson tried out one of the god games called Black and White (Published by Electronic Arts for Windows at $39.95). And he describes what it feels like to play God in his usually benign, but occasionally malevolent moments. He can answer his creatures' prayers, do them favors, and/or zap them when he chooses. Mercifully it is just a game, apparently designed for teenagers.

But what a great tool for teaching model theology! A seminary student could be given an assignment to run through the program as a god whose only interest was giving the experience of nirvana to his devotees. The others had to be transmigrated for another try.

Next week he could be a Taoist god whose delight was in getting people to live as close to the tao of nature as possible, and those who managed to do this would be happier than those who preferred to live like a snow goose in a golden cage.

The third week the student would have to be a Sadducee god who made his creatures to see how long they could survive by adroit political decisions. Longevity would depend on whether you voted for Chretien, Day, Joe Clark, the NDP, or the Green and Rhino parties. That would be great fun, but perhaps more suited to a course in Political Theory.

The fourth week the student would have be a Muslim Allah, who designed a set of rules to decide who should make it to heaven and the rest got sent to hell. What rules would the student choose? What if he chose the 613 rules of New Testament Pharisaism or some modern equivalent? And it would be easy to set the computer to do the grading on line.

Not so easy would be trying to be a god whose one aim was to get people to make a decision for the Jesus who died on a cross this Holy Week. And those who failed to hear about the decision, or to make it properly, would be rejected.

The final assignment would of course be trying to see what would be involved in being a Trinitarian Theistic God who made people in his image so that they could talk to and respond to him. The complexity would include being a Father who would be more loving than any human parents, a Son who kept coming to engage with humans, and finally came to take birth among us, absorb in himself the sin of that world, and go through death and come out the other side. And these would work in total oneness of purpose with an indwelling Spirit who had all it took to perfect the humans for the perfect love of the Creator.

Such a course would make it clear that every religion and ideology offers a quite different agenda, and only the God of what has been called Creative Love Theism loves us perfectly. And that is what Good Friday and Easter is all about.

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