I was watching an interview with a professional athlete recently and he said of winning a recent game and his performance that he is "so blessed". When I hear this it just grates on me like nails scratched on a chalkboard. I understand that being thankful is important and can definitely cheer us up when we're down, but the whole concept of God being the ultimate source of all our blessings (and choosing to label beneficial happenings as such) just rubs me the wrong way.
You see, to me, saying you are blessed means that God sent favorable happenings in your direction instead of mine. Obviously one could argue that I am blessed just as much, but in different things. For some reason I don't buy this explanation. For the athlete, there is so much time and dedication put out in the form of practicing and training that it should be no wonder they are "blessed" with a good performance in one game or several. I was fortunate to be born in the USA so I had a leg up when pursuing the American dream, having started out in America and all. When I think of those outside my country and circumstances, however, like someone in Africa for example, I get an entirely different reaction. If God is the source of all our blessings, why does he play such favorites?
When I ask this question to people like my wife who believe in God, and believe that god has one favored true church on the earth, the response is that everyone's conditions may seem different here, but in the hereafter we'll see how equitable it all was. This might be, but should we always assume that when there appears to us to be inequality in the world, we should just turn a blind eye and hope everything will be settled in the hereafter? I think this belief can lead to being taken advantage of in the least and outright defrauded or killed (and having it be said that it was god's will) at the worst.
The funny thing to me is that those members who do take advantage of others seem to move up in the ranks of the church fastest, while those that let others take advantage of them because of a belief in the equitable hereafter seem to be the lowest on the totem pole as far as callings (and blessings) go. Obviously this is possibly a gross generalization on my part, but it can be shown true in many cases (Like when Henry B. Eyring says he was blessed to be able to sell a very valuable extra piece of property he just happened to have sitting around in his portfolio of assets). Of course I realize I sound like a bitter apostate in this, but I just can't continue to accept that there is a director or choreographer (or whatever people claim God's role to actually be in our lives) out there divvying up blessings here and there based on some, as yet unknown, standard of fairness. I guess we can either accept that because "the" standard of fairness is not known it must not exist (which would be a perfectly natural conclusion) or we can say that it does in spite of appearances to the contrary, but we just don't know what it is.
This goes back to the question of faith I explored in a previous post wherein I ask what is the purpose of faith. Until and unless someone can show me that there is ultimately a benefit in the hereafter for exercising faith (instead of, or in addition to, reason) in the here and now, I will choose to follow reason and rely on my intellect instead of placing faith in a hereafter that has yet to be proven even exists let alone knowing that when it is revealed everything will be shown to have been perfectly equitable.
On top of that, I cannot relate to this God of whom so many speak. When you say that God is my heavenly father, I naturally try to relate to him by placing myself in his circumstances and asking myself, if I were god would I treat my children this way? The answer most of the time is no friggin' way! It turns out there is much that God does that I cannot relate to, because if it were up to me, things would be wayyy different here.
On a different note, I went and looked up the word mammon (duh, I probably should have done that before I wrote and posted my views on the word) and it doesn't mean "the world" but means riches or material wealth (which could be considered part of the world, right?). I guess that changes my whole outlook...does that scripture mean I have to choose between the god of riches (mammon) and the Hebrew god of...poverty? I think I'll choose to avoid following a god that advocates poverty thank you very much. Makes me wonder what is up with all the admonitions against riches in the bible. I have heard some say (no doubt trying to find the work around to this teaching in order to have riches but still live the spirit of the law) that it is the "love of money" that is to be avoided and not just money or the pursuit of it in itself. But if you desire to pursue money don't you kind of have to love it? If one believes the bible and teachings of Jesus it seems as though it is better to avoid the temptation and seek a life of poverty than to seek riches and be subject to so much temptation. Jesus would say don't worry about stuff...all your needs will be taken care of...just let things take care of themselves...you will be blessed. Then a modern day leader of the lds church would say, "See, all those people that went out on missions early in church history were taken care of." However, if I go out today and take nothing with me and embark on a journey across the country, I could probably survive on the charity of others for a very long time, but is that any kind of life worth living? Living on somebody else's dime your entire life does not bring confidence and self respect, it robs you of it.
I can see some sense in saying that riches can never bring true happiness, but I sure wouldn't mind testing out that theory ;-).