Friday, May 7, 2010

Bargaining with God

I'm re-evaluating my thoughts on making promises to God in exchange for favors from Him. I have heard it said that this is wrong because it transforms the relationship into one of commercial traders, and that this is an affront to God.  As if there was something despicable about such a relationship.  As I hold traders and merchants in high regard, and don't see such a relationship as an inherently inappropriate one.

Given that:
  • A trader gives something of value in exchange for something of value.
  • A subject gives his regent the regent's due his regent is owed in payment for the regent's favor.
  • A regent grants favors to his subjects.
The relationship from the perspective of a subject sounds more like that of a trader, then.  It seems to me as if those who grant themselves to God while claiming that they ask nothing in return are behaving as if there is nothing God could have that they would want.  That strikes me as if they believe themselves to be the regent in their relationship.

We see numerous instances in various religious texts of people negotiating deals with God.  Just to list a few of them:
  • Genesis, chapter 18 - Abraham strikes a bargain with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • Mohamed was originally told by God that he and his followers should pray 50 times per day - he was able to bargain God down to only 5 times per day.
Besides, if one is selling oneself to God, wouldn't one have a serious incentive to offer the best devotion one could.  Those things I donate (like these blog entries) I am less likely to put much effort into, but if it is something I am selling, then I will certainly give my best.

I am thinking that a person has value, and that he is his most valuable property.  That he should take care of that property, and when selling himself to God that he should try to get as much as possible - it's not like any boon received would diminish God.

Bargaining is a form of discovery, and in a financial transaction, it is a method for discovering the true value of a good or service.  Wage negotiation is a method for discovering which line career one is best suited to pursue.  I think that it has demonstrated it's general purpose utility, and I assert that this utility includes the discovery of the best path of service to the divine.

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