Q & R: Will God turn out to be a fundamentalist?

Here’s the Q:

In November 2011 I came across your book “A New Kind of Christianity” at a time when I had been battling most of the things you deal with so eloquently and openly in it. The book has helped me a great deal because it reached me at a time when I had all but given up on Christianity so thank you.
My attitude toward the Bible has largely shifted over the last few months. I don’t necessarily believe the Bible to be the fixed, innerant Word of God so much as it I see it as a beautiful collection of the ancient history, mythology, and spirituality of the Israelites as well as a collection of poems and stories inspired by God. I don’t think this renders it without authority or truth- quite the opposite. Besides I still love the Bible, I just have a different kind of appreciation of it.
My question is this: even though I seem to have completely reconciled myself to this new paradigm through which to view scripture, there is something about God himself (or the idea of him) that seems to unnerve me still. Every time someone mentions God, about how he has plans for me, or about how they serve a mighty God etc it seems to irritate me. I realized that I am annoyed by people’s mentions of God because I feel that most of the time they are actually talking about their God and the attributes and arrangement they have ascribed to him. My problem is that I don’t believe we can arrange God. So many of our problems as human beings stem from people having arranged God into a system of belief: mormonism, catholicism, islam, evangelism, judaism. To be frank most of these systems of beliefs practice the kind of exclusivity and discrimination (against women, gays, intellectualism, science) that completely turns me off. And so when people that subscribe to these systems talk about God, knowing what they mean, I am completely turned off by this “God”.
I want a relationship with God (somewhat/maybe/yes I do/no I don’t) because at the moment it is non-existent. But I don’t know how to approach him. I can’t deal with belief systems anymore and I don’t just want to mould him into a reflection of myself so that I am comfortable with him. I feel like I don’t know a thing about God at this point and I don’t know if I ever will. I can’t bring myself to pray or listen to worship- it all feels arranged and far too reminiscent of my days as a fundamentalist. It’s easier dealing with Christ, I suppose because he showed us who he is. But “God” (the father) is just so obfuscated to me and whilst on the one hand I want to know him better on the other I’m scared he’ll turn out to be a fundie.
What is your advice? Thank you and God bless you.

Here’s the R:

First, I love your question … and you would be amazed at how many versions of this question I’m hearing lately. So many people are struggling with the word “God” itself because the word evokes so many assumptions that they now find problematic. (This might become a focus of a book down the road … we’ll see.)
If I can put on my pastor/spiritual director hat for a moment, I would encourage you to try to name the things that are problematic to you … is it the idea of God as interventionist (outside the machinery of the universe, but occasionally sticking his hand inside it)? Is it the idea of God as limited to one basic metaphor? Is it …
That will allow you to also name the things that are life-giving and resonant to you.
And then you will at least know what you’re struggling with and working with.
Interestingly enough, you’ve described the struggle between what I call stage 3 and stage 4 in my more recent book, Naked Spirituality. You’ve done the constructive work of stages one and two (simplicity and complexity). You’re now doing the deconstructive work of stage 3 (perplexity), and you’re wondering if there can be anything beyond this deconstruction in stage 4 (harmony).
Don’t be afraid … God, on the other side of stage 3, won’t turn out to be a fundie. God will be nothing but good, beyond all words, beyond all images … beyond all, and yet in and through and with all as well.
Thanks for writing.