Monday, January 25, 2010

"God Created Man in His Image" wasn't Written by an American

This post started out with research for another blog. ("Space Aliens and Killer Monster Robots - From Outer Space; or Pittsburgh," Apathetic Lemming of the North (January 25, 2010)). Last year, an article at started this way:
"What Will Aliens Really Look Like?" (July 16, 2009)

"According to Genesis 1:27, 'God created man in His own image.' OK, but what about all the other intelligent, cosmic inhabitants? Well, Hollywood has taken care of that. It has created aliens in man's image.

"It's hardly a major revelation to point out that most movie aliens bear a strong likeness to humans...."
I've mentioned what I see as "the profound lack of appreciation for poetry and metaphor in contemporary western thought" before. (January 3, 2010) Someday, maybe, I'll do a post on that idea. Not today.

I think it's very probable that whoever wrote that article, judging from the style and assumptions, was an American. I like this country, and am glad to be an American. But my fellow-citizens, as a group, aren't particularly renowned for an appreciation of what can't be weighed, scanned, or caught on sensor arrays.

The article cited Genesis 1:27. I'll go back a verse, to get a little more of the context:
"...4Then God said: 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.' God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them."
(Genesis 1:26-27)
I've discussed that 'image of God' idea before, generally when writing about the vocation of marriage.

The footnote to verse 26 is important:
"Man is here presented as the climax of God's creative activity; he resembles God primarily because of the dominion God gives him over the rest of creation."
The very literal American mind, nearly devoid of poetry or metaphor, reads "God created man in his image" and thinks about photographs, MRI scans, and physical replicas.

Which would lead me to wonder if God was five-foot-seven, like me, five-foot-nothing like my wife; and whether He had brown, blond or black hair. Or if the Almighty was like me, balding.

Assuming that the passage of Genesis wasn't written by a literal-minded Westerner of the late Industrial or early Information age allows me to think that Genesis 1:26-27 isn't about what we look like. It's about what we are.

The Catechism has a few words to say on the subject of man and the image of God. A pretty good place to start would be 1701-1709 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

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From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.