The Eyes to See God


IN 1914, a Hollywood movie company paid Mexican guerilla Pancho Villa $25,000 for permission to film his revolutionary battles against government forces.

The film's director told Villa where and how to fight his battles. The cameraman decided he could shoot only in daylight and made Pancho Villa start his fighting every day at 9am and stop at 4pm.

Sometimes Villa was forced to cease his battles until the cameras could be moved to a new angle.

When the completed film was brought back to Hollywood, it was found too unbelievable to be released - and most of it had to be re-shot on a studio lot.

It's sometimes hard to spot the difference between the manufactured and the real. Some Australian banks are now pushing scented fragrances through vents to encourage customers to stay longer in their buildings.

Leading customers by the nose is nothing new. A few years ago, the Rolls-Royce company concocted a rich blend of leather and wood scent that mimicked the aroma of a 1960s Silver Cloud, and applied it to the seats of new models.

And a British supermarket chain experienced an upturn in business when it wafted the artificial scent of baking bread across the entrance to its shops to create a homely feel.

Sigmund Freud said illusions commended themselves to us because they saved us pain and allowed us to enjoy pleasure instead. That is why so many of us are so touchy about the believing in God thing.

The reality is too tough to handle.

Much New Age spirituality and atheism reject the notion that there is some reality "out there", and claim "truth" is based on merely believing something to be true.

As poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said: "Few people have the imagination for reality."

A criticism often levelled at spiritual belief is that it is all about wishful thinking.

But the reality seems different.

The great religions of the world perceive a God who is real, alive and personal; a God who has manifested a real, physical, tangible presence within actual history.

So why don't we all acknowledge that sort of experience?

Writer and theologian Karl Rahner said God wasn't hidden. We just don't have the eyes to see God because our eyes aren't attuned to that kind of reality.

We struggle with doubt because we can't picture God's existence, imagine God's reality or feel God's presence in normal ways. Our hearts and imaginations simply can't conceive of a God beyond the physical and all that we can see, touch, taste, smell and feel in the normal way.

Believers say God is not just at the basis of morality and spirituality, but also in the physical. God is the basis of physics, biology, chemistry and cosmology.

Unfortunately, our society has gradually desensitised the genetic ability to see and understand that extraordinary notion. The images and soundtrack of modern life tend to assault and dull the senses rather than illuminate the sacred possibilities.

The apostle Paul said we should not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. If we want to experience reality, we must deal with the truth and respond.

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