Diversity within the divine

Diversity within the divine

What would the world be like if we were all more alike?

This isn’t just a philosophical question. In many ways, we live as though we wished others were more like us. We spend time with those who are similar to us and share our viewpoint. We avoid those who seem to be different or challenge us.

But what about our diversity? Do we embrace it or do we merely tolerate it?

Over time, I’ve grown to appreciate the importance of our differentness. I’ve reached the point where I think of this incredible diversity — within our universe, within our human family — as one of our greatest blessings.

If there was no diversity and everyone was just like me, the world would be a very different place. We’d have a lot of stories being written, but they’d all be coming from one point of view, so they’d get stale and repetitive. But I’m not sure how any of the stories would get recorded or shared — I have no clue how to make a pen or paper, let alone a computer or the Internet?

And that’s not all. There would be no roads or cars, no airplanes or boats. No buildings, either. You wouldn’t want to step into any structure that I designed or constructed!

If everyone were like me, we’d have no music — sorry, not my gift.

There’d be no art — love it, but don‘t have a talent for it.

No science. No mathematics. No doctors to keep us healthy, no medicine to save our lives. You get the picture.

Of course, the benefits of our diversity go way beyond our creature comforts. Our thoughts are influenced and shaped by the thoughts of others, even those with whom we disagree. Different points of view challenge and reshape our thinking.

Relationships challenge us to grow and move outside of ourselves in so many ways, offering us the opportunity to see life through another‘s very different eyes. Our differences can expand us and complete us, if we let them.

Our experience of God also is grounded in diversity. Each of us experiences God in our own way, through our unique but limited perspective. We also experience and learn about God through each other. One verse says we get to know God through love, and that always involves another person who is, in many ways, very different from us.

There’s no getting away from it. So much of our religious tradition honours our diversity, even if so many of our religious institutions do not. Genesis describes a creator who loves diversity and thinks that the many, many differences in our world are very, very good.

In the story of Noah’s ark, the creator insists on a boat big enough to preserve all of that diversity. There are many stories of Jesus rejecting those who tried to limit God to their own narrow terms. The idea of the trinity emphasises that there is diversity within the divine. 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 tells us we are one body but have many parts, all working together – diversity within the Body of Christ.

We encounter divinity through our diversity. Although our diversity can be very challenging, it’s what makes everything possible.

Joe Kay
(First published on sojo.net, used with permission)

 

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