Taming God’s Aggression

Taming God’s Aggression: Our hope to find a loving God this Christmas.

Notes on the 2014 Christmas Day address by Dr Francis Macnab

Saturn Devouring His Son, Francisco Goya, 1823, oil on canvas, 83 x 146 cm


“Tame your God, and you will be tamed.”

In this Christmas Day address, rather than repeat the story of that notable birth in a lowly, nondescript manger some two thousand year ago, Dr Macnab proposed to talk about the birth and growth of the human spirit in our own age. He asked us to adopt two powerful, alternative “symbols” (alternatives to the symbols of violence and destructiveness that continue to absorb so much of our civilisation’s attention and resources) during this Christmas period and beyond, so that we might foster an evolution of our human spirit. He names these two symbols altruism and compassion.

Altruism and compassion bring out the best in us to help and serve others, calling us to discover the potential to bring out the best in the world.  Christmas Day is important for being that one day of the year when we can bring out the best, in ourselves and in others.

Perhaps the dominant theme of this address is the idea that the kind of god we revere, the god that we internalise, determines what kind of human being we will be. In the Bible, God is depicted as violent, angry, jealous, vindictive and capable of mass destruction and murder, from “the shocking massacre of those children in Egypt (Exodus) to the specific event of the death of Jesus of Nazareth by the most appalling torture of crucifixion.”

Dr Macnab asked, “What kind of god will you revere in your life? What kind of god will you respond to? How will you treat each other if you’ve got the wrong god inside?” For qualities worth internalising, Dr Macnab returns to the five factor model of personality, to which he has added two of his own. Dr Macnab’s seven prongs of the good, expansive personality spell the word OCEANIC:

O = Openness, Open-mindedness, Open-heartedness
C = Celebrating Compassion
E = Empathy, Evolving in your understanding
A = Affability, Aliveness, Altruism
N = just be Nice
I = Inspiration, internalising the real goodness of God and inspiring others with it
C = Collaboration in good Causes, being part of a good Casserole, full of nutrients

Inspired by Pope Francis, who recently delivered an address to his cardinals and bishops that contained 15 points for them to remember, Dr Macnab added seven more values for us to consider this Christmas. He called these the “seven glimpses of God”, all beginning with the letter G:  Goodness, Growth, Gratitude, Gentleness, Generosity, Grace, and a good God.

With the ingestion of these values, the angry God is tamed.

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