Sunday, September 27, 2009

God, Life and Everything - “Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua”

I write a biweekly column called "God, Life, and Everything" for theHudson Valley News. The title reflects the broad scope I want to take. Everything in life falls under the eye of God, and if we watch carefully, we can catch a glimpse of God in it all.

How can you go wrong with a name like “The Virtual Church of the Blind Chihuahua?” When I first read about this website, I rolled my eyes. You could tell from the start that it was supposed to be a cutting edge, ironic and sassy site for the ultra-hip. Something like “The Onion” or “Ship of Fools.”

I could also tell it was put together by people significantly younger than I am because who else would come up with something so random as a blind chihuahua for a church figure?

But, because I found it on the stuffy Church of England’s website, I thought I would at least take a peek. There it was at, a chihuahua with dark shades panting at the viewer. Trendy, but was there anything to this Taco Bell wannabe?

First, the name of this decidedly religious website: It is called virtual because it is an entirely online community. The blind chihuahua (I’m trying to see how many times I can write that word - it’s a fun word to type) part came from a real chihuahua that had cataracts and tended to bark at people sideways because it couldn’t quite tell where its target stood.

The nameless (as far as I could tell) moderator concluded: “We humans relate to God in the same way, making a more or less joyful noise in God's general direction, and expecting a reward for doing so.”

So from the beginning, this website is dedicated to those who are not so sure they have got God right. It is intended to be for people of all or no faiths, for those who may be firm in their beliefs but also want a respectful and probing conversation with others who do not necessarily believe the same things.

That’s why I bookmarked it.

As a minister of the Gospel, I have a fairly firm grasp of what I believe and who God is. But only fairly firm. As a Baptist minister once pointed out, all that can be known is so much more vast than any one human can ever know, that none of us should be fool enough to claim we understand it all, let alone that we understand God.

I liked the tone of this website even if the chihuahua initially put me off. It’s of discovery and sharing. It’s of respect and acceptance of others for who they are. It’s a tone that says, “even if we do not see God the same, I will not try to convince you that you’re wrong but will see God at work in you in the way you love.”

One of the interesting prayers on this site takes portions (or the entirety) of prayers from the three Abrahamic traditions and melds them into one prayer. The Jewish lines sound very much like the Christian lines which sound very much like the Muslim lines. The point, of course, is that at our heart, we all seek to love God. At our cores, we are all God’s children.

It’s a serious religious community. In fact, I’d almost say too serious. It’s still a good website to visit, but I think they need to lighten up a bit. On the other hand, maybe the site’s moderators believe that, if you’re going to have a chihuahua for your mascot, you’d better have more bite than your bark might hint.