When I was a kid, I listened to and sang children's songs such as The Wheels on the Bus, Ten in the Bed, Twelve Green Bottles, and I Wish I Were a Windmill. Not being a father, I don't have my finger on the pulse of the contemporary children's music scene, but it seems that these songs aren't as innocuous as the ones that I knew in the past.
On Sunday morning, I was channel surfing when I came across a children's program on a community radio station. I don't know who the artist was, but I caught a snippet of a song with lyrics along the lines of, "When you're feeling down, remember that you are good and the universe loves you." That grated with me. "Oh, really?" I thought.
Due to the shortcomings of search engines I have no idea who the composer and performer of this song is. Regardless, this concept was popularised by the best selling self help book, The Secret. by Rhonda Byrne. It also got occasional mentions in the TV comedy How I Met Your Mother. In a vague sense, the Universe is analogous to the Judeo-Christian God. Only rather than the personal being of the Old and New Testaments, the Universe is an impersonal, collective spiritual force that permeates everything.
It shapes the course of your life, and you can also tap into its energies to receive good things and success in life. In which case, where's my house with home theatre room, and a large back yard with room for a dog and my private golf driving range, which I share with a wife and 2.3 children, you know, all the trappings of a comfortable first world, middle class existence?
Jesting aside, this song is just another example of consumer driven spirituality. A child hearing this song may be encouraged to be selfish in their thinking, receiving the message that the world revolves around them, and that they can have whatever they want in life. In this expression of spirituality, where is the ethic of serving others and making a positive difference in the world?
As for the notion that we are "good," nobody is truly good. To the extent that human beings are capable of being or doing good, it is because the grace of God enables them to be (Philippians 2:13, Hebrews 13:21). Some Christian traditions believe in the age of accountability, where for the purpose of salvation, a child is covered by God's grace until mature enough to understand and thus be responsible for obedience to God's moral law. After that, all of humanity is accountable to God in how we live our lives, and need to consider where we stand before Him.
God is not an impersonal force. He is personal and knowable (Jeremiah 9:23-24, John 17:3, 1 John 2:13), Because God is love (John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 1 John 1:9), He wants all of humanity to come to saving faith in Him (1 Timothy 2:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9). We are here to serve Him, and not the other way around. I'd rather know a loving, holy God than some vague, fuzzy concept of a universe.