At the April Men's Breakfast, Larry Weiss gave a brief overview of how God's encounter with human beings has shifted from the Stone Age to the Nuclear Age. Here's a quick summary:
The starting point for our discussion was a new book by James L Kugel: "The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times." We discussed the shift in belief from chaotic Pantheism (everything has its own spirit), to the intricate stories of Polytheism (lots of gods, no one in charge) to Monolatry (lots of gods, but one chief god) to Monotheism (one God, and only one God,) and the Personal Monotheism of Judaism, Islam and Christianity (Only One God, a "He" not an "it") — a God who speaks person to person with us.
The great shift happened when God sought out a man, Abraham, and spoke with him person to person. Later God spoke to the people through prophets, still later through the written word, and since Jesus' incarnation, through the living Word. We now seek God out, rather than waiting for Him to seek us. And, as Jesus taught, God is now within us, waiting for us to look, really look. And to hear, really hear.
Also, we discussed Kugel and others' view that primitive people did not have a sense of individual self. Instead, early Man identified with family, clan or tribe, a "collective" self not an "I". Bronze Age men and women were vulnerable and "porous" or semi-permeable" to the visible dangers and unseen powers outside. Today, Kugel and others feel, we have developed what may be too impermeable a sense of individual self, or ego. Inside our protective shells we might no longer see ghosts, but we may miss the angels.
We all enjoyed wonderful pancakes and lively discussion.