I'm struck today by pondering that it is this type of imagined world in which most of our treasured narratives about the divine emerged. In such a world the most important persona is the ruler. Some rulers are more kind or just than others. But all rulers are tyrants.
When the ancients imaged the divine, they did so as a reflection of these very human, and conflicted, tyrants. God become the warrior who destroys his enemies, "casting horse and rider into the sea." God will brook no alternatives, "worship only me." God will have compassion on "those who fear him." And further, unless you do as God tells you, "you will be handed over to be tortured until you have paid your entire debt." The ancient image of God is all too Game of Thrones for my liking—the divine created in the image of the demagogues of old.
I am all the more surprised when in the midst of autocratic, vicious and ruthless cultures voices arose to challenge the zeitgeist. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Do not return evil for evil. Be the servant of all. Welcome those who are weak. Such sentiments reflect a differently imagined world. Such, too, are the core sentiments of all the worlds great sages. This differently imagined world, in Christian terms, would be "the Kingdom of God," or better still the "Realm of God." The trouble with "kingdom" is that it still mirrors the ancient world of tyrants who rule ruthlessly and viciously. Historically, Christians have tried to marry the two notions: God as tyrant with God as loving parent. At its best the compromise is a tyrant who is loving rather than vicious. I would prefer to lose the tyrant, overlord, king, and ruler metaphor altogether. Perhaps reimagine the divine more clearly as parent, friend, lover, and companion on the Way.
It's quite difficult as much religious language is saturated with the "tyrant who deserves absolute obedience, or else" model.
In re-imagining the divine, we can do better than Game of Thrones.
Peace and all Good,