His Eye is on the Sparrow…?

Some of my heroes and heroines have shaken my religious beliefs to the core. Mythologist Joseph Campbell stated that he does not need faith; he has experience. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung grew up with an oppressive father whose religion colored much of his spirituality causing him to turn away from organized religion for numinous experience. Looking closely at art since the reformation, many religious painters planted satire and encrypted revolts against religion. Expert in scientific and artistic creativity Arthur Koestler had such a grim view of life and spirituality that he and his wife committed suicide. Pouring over quotations from Albert Einstein, I found the following: “The idea of a personal God is quite alien to me and seems even naïve.” In a book of essays about religion and science collected by Trippet, he states that while Einstein denied that he was an atheist, he was categorized as one who believes in predestination. In simpler terms, might one say that Einstein believed that God set the world in motion and is not involved with people on a personal level?

Clearly, Sigmund Freud believed that one’s religious beliefs were painted with the same brushstrokes as one’s parental figures during childhood. For example, experiencing difficulty in believing in grace/compassion would mirror a history of parental neglect just as an intrusive and punitive parent could cause one to fear and avoid God during adult years. Some of our modern heroes and heroines are somewhat asocial and cynical. Take the doctor on “House” and the British “Doc Martin” on TV for example or Lisbeth Salander in the best-selling Swedish Millennium trilogy books/movies. Quite the intellectuals, they border on exhibiting traits of Asperger’s syndrome. Some have hypothesized that Einstein was also an “Aspie”. The stereotype of a scientist lends itself to the idea of the loner who is a-religious if not agnostic or atheistic.

In 1905, Civilla D. Martin composed “His Eye is on the Sparrow” based on passages in Matthew and Mark. If I were to believe that God is not involved in my life and does not know me or care about me, know the number of hairs on my head etc., that song would not only be null and void (…”and I know He watches me”), it would seem to Einstein childlike. Prayer would be futile and useless if my script had been previously composed for me.  Freedom of choice in my life would go by the wayside.

My favorite theology comes from Calvin and Hobbs, the comic series by Bill Watterson. In The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbs, Calvin is listening to the Christmas song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” with the lyrics, “he sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows if you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” He turns off the radio and says, “Santa Claus: kindly old elf or CIA spook?” On the next page, Calvin addresses his pet tiger, Hobbs, ”This whole Santa Claus thing just doesn’t make sense. Why all the secrecy? Why all the mystery? If the guy exists, why doesn’t he ever show himself and prove it? And if he doesn’t exist, what’s the meaning of all this?” Hobbs replies, “I dunno… Isn’t this a religious holiday?” Calvin responds, “Yeah, but actually I’ve got the same questions about God.”