I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.
I mean, all of you: Fred, Scot, Rachel, MPT, John Shore, everyone at the Patheos Progressive Portal, and all of you I haven’t mentioned or even ever read. Write something substantive about God. Not about Jesus, not about the Bible, but about God.Now that I'm done, as Tony Jones would put it, "clearing my throat," I'm gonna (pardon the metaphor) spit it out.
God is sacred, and near at hand and difficult to grasp, and love in an eldritch non-Euclidean way, and kinda self-explanatory but not so much, and above my pay grade.So there you go: a substantive sentence. And having said that, let's unpack this thing.
#1: God is sacred.This sounds kinda remedial, and it really is, but it's more important and less disputable than most of the omni* statements that get made about God: God is sacred. You don't worship a car's engine or its engineer, you don't worship the computer's OS or its programmer - but you do worship God, because God's an appropriate object of worship.
This is a brutal truth that comes before most else. Possibly even before God loving, in his eldritch non-Euclidean way (see #3 below.) To believe in God is to worship God, for very plastic values of "worship." And although I'm not totally sure why yet (see #4 below), I know that when I wrote those last few sentences I chose "do" rather than "should" for a reason.
#2: God is near at hand and difficult to grasp.(So maybe I did quote "Patmos" there. Does anyone know who Hölderlin is? Anyone? Bueller? Didn't think so. Moving on...)
God is omnipresent. That's enormous, and enormously important.
God is not a cosmic watchmaker who never needs to look at the assembled watches again, because God is here. The tsar is very dead, but God is not high above because God is here. God does not look like Urizen in "The Ancient of Days" (as shown to your right) because that's pointing there to describe God, and God is here.
It also fucks up God-talk, or if it doesn't it really should. God's being near at hand makes Him difficult to grasp.
We talk about discrete things we can point to, or even people we can point to, in a very different way than we talk about people that are in the room and, presumably, able to speak for and present themselves. This side of time, God is more than we can point to and see; this side of time, God is more than we can write down and define. (A long long time ago, better and smarter people than I will ever be tried. One of them concluded that the world wouldn't be big enough to hold what was written.)
So how do we let God speak? And how do we listen? Those are good questions for better people (see #5 below.)
#3: God is love in an eldritch, non-Euclidean way.
That was... astonishingly fun to write.
#4: God is kinda self-explanatory but not so much.My original intent in writing this was to say something. Once "God is love in an eldritch non-Euclidean way" was added in, and this became #4, I realized that I'd gone beyond that a bit, and was now trying to show something that I don't have words to say.
God is, as I mentioned way back there in the beginning (#1), difficult to grasp. While I'm willing to say most of what I allegorized just above, I don't know how to say that, and while I believe it, it's not exactly the most a priori stuff in the world. How do I defend it? Fucked if I know. That's the realm of apologetics - and in the mainline, we don't do apologetics, we do contrition. So why am I skipping past so much of this? Because
#5: God is above my pay grade.
And then there's me.
I only started taking this Christianity thing seriously last Christmas Eve, driving into Pennsylvania and discovering the entirety of "O Holy Night." I only started doing this Christianity thing seriously on Trinity Sunday, five months later. I have enough of a grasp of theology to get myself in trouble; huge swathes of Scripture are still foreign to me. I routinely open my underused NRSV Bibles and find books and chapters that I'm certain I never read before. I have no certification to do any talking, and if I were to be tested for such certification right now I'm quite certain that I'd fail the test dismally.
Never mind "born again," I'm still fucking gestating.
I realize that this is kinda devastating to one of the points that Tony Jones may have been trying to make (that non-rightists are competent to do God-talk), but in the interest of full disclosure that's pretty much where things stand right now. Trying to walk that walk. Trying to abide. Trying to love.
Trying to radically change direction and become something new, and trying to take that effort more seriously. And since I think (and hope) I said something substantial about God after these six hours sitting in front of a monitor pounding on a keyboard, I'm gonna take these closing moments to get this rant off my chest.
I'm not wise by any reasonable human standards; not powerful; not competent to fucking speak. I probably am panentheistic, not that it matters. But it wouldn't be hugely hard to ditch Christianity again, the way I did for the last ten years. And I don't intend to, because I do take this Christianity thing seriously, and I do mean to do this Christianity thing well.
With that said, let the record show that taking my convictions seriously makes me happy.
And since I've always sucked at writing endings, kthxbai.