Letter: ‘In God we Trust;’ The only meaning anything has is the meaning we attach to it

Wow! It looks like we’re developing our own Charlottesville-like controversy right here in Princeton, regarding, of all things, an “In God we Trust” display. The first thing that came to mind when this discussion started, was the first rule of spiritual development: “Nothing has meaning. The only meaning anything has is the meaning we attach to it.” The second thought was about the organization behind promoting the banner, whose attempts to infiltrate local governments and school boards, etc. (in the name of God), I find, if not deplorable, at the very least, objectionable. They clearly want to determine the way we think and live based on their interpretations of the overworked word, “God.”
Re. Evelyn King’s letter in last weeks UT, I find myself in partial agreement and partial disagreement with her. When I write I most always attach a few hooks in my writing to generate some responses, and Evelyn is one of the people in this community who has the gumption to respond and tell UT readers that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and I love her for that. Evelyn represents the religious right, and I suppose I’m out here somewhere on the left. Anyway, I disagree with her over the notion that the Mystery we experience subjectively, and mistakenly try to define objectively, is somehow the CHRISTIAN God, as though we have special rights to claim God as ours, as though the Mystery responds to and embraces only those who wear a Christian label. If that is what Evelyn intended to say, we are indeed in disagreement. The Mystery that lives within us, and about us, is God over and within it all. This Presence is not against anyone in Creation; it just is. Do I trust that God? Difficult question. I certainly do not expect this God to be at my beck and call, but I would have to deny my own experience to suggest that this Mystery is not vitally real.
To those who object to publicly displaying the word God because they do not believe, I have no convincing response.

Dick Gist, Princeton