Monday, February 18, 2008

the maybe God

"Maybe God does get upset with us for offering all sorts of prayers. Maybe God gets upset some days and not others. Maybe we think God capable of that and maybe not but I guess the point is that if we equate a certain way of thinking with "the accuser" or "Satan" or "the evil one" I'm just not sure how we can avoid calling anyone (at least implicitly) who thinks this way evil." (hineini)

you, know, i am so incredibly comfortable with a 'maybe God' idea that i wonder if it represents some kind of faith shortcoming in my theology or something. what i mean is that a God of possibility makes more sense to my heart than a God of impossibility... this is challenging for me to embrace in light of my sunday school upbringing, but there is a natural invitation to my heart there that i cannot deny.

recently i read a deep, meaningful and frank email from a friend who is fed up with his job- particularly his boss. none of his prayers seem to be answered right now and it is making him crazy. unfortunately, i'm not sure my words were much comfort because i had been asking questions of my own.

but what? God is only interested in our growth when we are theologically orthodox and well-behaved? where is that written down?

perhaps we go through famine in order to discover aspects of the spiritual walk that elude us all these years of plenty. perhaps pain and calamity are necessary parts of our invitation into dialogue with the maybe God. perhaps we cannot grasp the concept of the maybe God in times of affluence and charm.

the God of faith and UNcertainty- can we deal with a God like this?
all over the world, others do.

it's like we have been using theological hand sanitizer for so long that the smallest doubt bug will wipe us out as an entire people because we have no faculty for dealing with the God who doesn't get right back to us on this one

the God of the wait
the God of the silence
the God of the apparent absense... the maybe God.

maybe God is focusing on global injustice and disparity
maybe God is wanting me to sort this one out myself
maybe God is more like the sovereign king that the weeping lover
maybe God is angry
maybe God is hardline
maybe God punishes
maybe God isn't interested in the win-win
maybe God isn't going to ever give me a sign
not even the slightest movement of the curtain as i throw rocks at the window in the sky (rev david whitticomb, 2001)

what do we do with the maybe God, who can therefore be the undoing of everything we always thought about God?
the things that we found so endearing about God?
the things we've based our entire faith upon?

what if the maybe God is a truer picture of God than the one we've held onto our entire life? what then?

Jesus said
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

i think that Jesus was talking about the maybe God.

what if my issues with my boss are actually my issues with my God?
is there enough faith left to still hold on? if not, what do i need to do in order to get a better grip on this God-person?

i mean, letting go is not an option- but what if the most important learnings of our lives take place in the time of punishment? what if the most important work we do for God is still before us and is contingent upon our embracing of these new revelations of God- these divine possibilities?

these are the questions that i ask the silence

to be systematic and carve very rigid lines between who God is and who God isn't presumes a lot, i think. there is no awe for me in an understandable diety. this doesn't mean that i like the glib, nonspecific, acknowledgement of a someone or something that is beyond or at best removed and therefore irrelevent- i just find comfort in the knowledge that the more i discover within the character of God as revealed in scripture and demonstrated in people, the more aware i am of how much more there probably is to discover.

geometrically, a ray is a line that extends from a starting point on to forever, whereas a segment is the portion of a line that connects one point to another. i think that it might be more comfortable for many to see theology as a segment and their own personal growth as a ray. for me, however, there is great joy in considering both my personal growth and my theology to find their beginning at a point on a pre-existing line and travelling on that line to eternity at the same speed.

i don't think that the pre-existing line is God or 'the pathway of God' or anything... it's probably just a linear model of time. however, the idea that life and love can move along this together at the same speed appeals to me, in that it is my desire to be somehow growing and deepening in my capacity to love with each passing day.

to increase one's capacity to love and express this love is, in my view, the point of a personal theology.

and this is for the questions that don't have any answers
(kid rock)

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Blogger hineini said...

One of the most important things I have learned from my studies in Judaism is that what I am to do, my purpose and the decisions I make in day-to-day life, are not determined by who or how God is. God's character has no bearing on my responsibility to my neighbour, to God, and to myself. Obviously I would not speak for all of Judaism, no faith is monolithic of course. I did find this way of thinking far more common in Judaism however than in Christianity. In Christianity, the emphasis seems to be on recipricating God's love, pleasing God, praising etc. This sort of relationality, this sort of "because God loves me I will love God" is very vulnerable to doubts about God's character because our relationship (any relationship for that matter) is dependent on the behaviour of both involved. I'm not sure this inter-dependence is the best way to think us and God. A friend once told me that he could be a Jew regardless of whether God exists or not, it would make no difference nor change his faith, he knew what he had to do and that is whats important.

The Hebrew Scripture and the New Testament both seem to leave little doubt for me that God is for God's self first, with humanity coming in a distant second or third.

Blogger jollybeggar said...

"This sort of relationality, this sort of "because God loves me I will love God" is very vulnerable to doubts about God's character because our relationship (any relationship for that matter) is dependent on the behaviour of both involved."

spiritual codependence...

i think that if we in the Christian faith hold to the unconditional love of God and the unmerited favour that is grace, then perhaps this should be the way we structure our side of the relationship as well...

to love in the silence, to believe in the absense and to serve not because of a hoped-for response but because of responsibility, right?

otherwise it may simply be cosmic commerce.

Anonymous Kaleb Archer said...

Ok so, following your example of the parallel rays travelling in the same direction, growth is constant? Or are you just saying taht the parallel lines travel at the same speed? so at times you are learning lots and God is opening your eyes or is it a constant growth where you grow at a set speed without changing?
I like to think that there are times when I learn so much that my head might explode and times that I have fallen out of line with my bible studies and reading. I wish to think that I could grow at times and because of events that I never considered. I like the idea of a Random God. A God who does things that we as Humans could never consider!

Blogger Little Vine said...

This is Kaleb and by the way I have a Blog.
Check it out, please?

Blogger jollybeggar said...

growth constant? ha ha- i wish.

it's like the ray described is part of a gameboard. now i don't know about you, but in my life growth happens in spurts, with my gamepiece hopping along this track like a car being driven by someone who doesn't know how to work the clutch. there are even times when regression takes place and i find myself moving backwards on the gameboard- not so much 'unlearning' as simply forgetting some really important things and having to experience the consequences of certain 'unrefined' actions yet again (romans 7.15 comes to mind) but that's probably a whole nother blog.

so i mean, yeah, consistancy is the plan, but distance and direction are not the same thing, and it's probably more appropriate to think in terms of accelaration and deceleration rather than velocity. whereas it is my expressed desire to keep moving forward and to do so at a constant rate, the reality of my life is that if i can just keep facing forward remaining ever open to progress, ever receptive to the teachings afforded me by so many, then movement along this track can continue to haltingly take place.

the greatest factor is probably my willingness to move.

Blogger hineini said...

what about the command "be still and know..."? I find when I'm always going, or thinking about going, or trying to go I have a tendency to miss things.

Blogger jollybeggar said...

ha ha- you won't believe this...

OpenID societyvs said...

"to be systematic and carve very rigid lines between who God is and who God isn't presumes a lot, i think. there is no awe for me in an understandable diety" (JB)

I feel the same way...if God has it all lined up and we know all we can know - faith becomes such a stagnant thing and gives mass reason to leave.

I like to think I know something about God - bit nowhere near everything...and for me...I feel better in that spot than in the spot that says 'I have defined God's plan'.

I do a lot of discussions on my blog about orthodoxy and my breaking away from it - I get a lot of rude comments thrown my way and I do not return the favor. I think it reveals a lot about how we view God even in simple conversations - if we can find room for other people's views then I think I am more comfortable there.

Blogger jollybeggar said...

"I do a lot of discussions on my blog about orthodoxy and my breaking away from it - I get a lot of rude comments thrown my way and I do not return the favor." (sVs)

ha ha- well i think you're safe here- although there are never any guarantees in a public forum like this, are there?

but we're just trying to engage in an ongoing deepening, right?

Blogger hineini said...

Your always welcome! just beware, I have a very nasty violent side that pops up all to frequently. I beg grace, a patient, forgetful grace, from those I encounter.


Blogger jollybeggar said...

'patient, forgetful grace'

sheer bloody poetry

Blogger hineini said...

umm thanks?

If you tap keys long enough, sometimes they happen to make appealing patterns, even inspite of oneself.

wasn't it something about a million monkeys on a million typewriters?

Blogger jollybeggar said...

"Please do not be alarmed," it said, "by anything you see or hear around you. You are bound to feel some initial ill effects as you have been rescued from certain death at an improbability level of two to the power of two hundred and seventy-six thousand to one against — possibly much higher. We are now cruising at a level of two to the power of twenty-five thousand to one against and falling, and we will be restoring normality just as soon as we are sure what is normal anyway. Thank you. Two to the power of twenty thousand to one against and falling."

The voice cut out.

Ford and Arthur were in a small luminous pink cubicle.

Ford was wildly excited.

"Arthur!" he said, "this is fantastic! We've been picked up by a ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive! This is incredible! I heard rumors about it before! They were all officially denied, but they must have done it! They've built the Improbability Drive! Arthur, this is ... Arthur? What's happening?"

Arthur had jammed himself against the door to the cubicle, trying to hold it closed, but it was ill fitting. Tiny furry little hands were squeezing themselves through the cracks, their fingers were inkstained; tiny voices chattered insanely.

Arthur looked up.

"Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."

Blogger hineini said...



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