Tuesday, May 20, 2008

deja vu and something about the naked God

well, in classic form, the comment left by hineini prompted a whole new post...

These seem to me to be more demanding questions that take both out experiences and our desires for who we are and who God is seriously, without trapping us in the "things we'll never know" wasteland where we end up taking "the leader's" word for how things are.

we all seem to play the same scripts again and again don't we?
the more we try to grow, the more we stay the same.

except that, for my part, it demonstrates a fair bit of growth to become a question-asker rather than an answer-giver... something like "i also think that the most important aspect of one's faith is the question-asking part... even if the answers we are able to arrive at are, at best, inconclusive" may very well be a familiar type of statement on this blog over the last year. however, in this case, it is a fair distance from the land of this writer's origins.

(for laughs we can always go looking for evidence of this by reading really early posts on this particular blog, replete with declarative statements and high-sounding direction.)

but to assert that the asking of this or that particular type of question is a bit old hat feels rather one dimensional in and of itself somehow. i mean, the challenge has been there for awhile now to consider possibilities that, for me, can only be articulated in the form of the scandalous question... to explore with trembling hands the face of the maybe God that has been obscured into a formless blur for us due to our years of staring directly into its own light of revelation to the point of relative blindness.

so the challenge is ever to try to take each new experience, each new conversation, each new relationship, and consider that aspects of this God person which are inconsistent between two or more scenarios have to go- to have my own personal picture of God shaped by comparison so that, like the approach to sculpture adopted by michelangelo, large pieces of the slab of theological and doctrinal marble that keep God the person encased in human construction would drop away, revealing the naked God within.

i was talking with a friend the other day about this- in particular about the robes that we place upon God... robes which celebrate (and even exaggerate) certain aspects of God's character while almost completely obscuring others. we like this God to be loving and just, but where love and justice seem to conflict, we default to grace in order to escape wrath or damnation. we like this God to be merciful and miraculous, but where neither mercy nor miracle seems present, we default to existentialist free will doctrines which allow God to escape the bang and blame game.

my friend and i agreed that it seems to be very comfortable for us to clothe God with our own presumptions and prejudices about and against God- to array God in some things rather than ascribe to God all things. it feels somehow safer to selectively highlight the things that we either like or dislike about God, depending upon our orientation towards the divine, rather than to openly admit that the things we feel either unsure or uncomfortable suspecting to be true about God are also divine possibilities...

and in so doing, we dress God up like something God is not.

like a little child who dresses the family dog up in a frilly dress and a silly hat in order to serve the dog some make believe tea, we dress the God up in order to somehow relate to rather than revere the creator of all.

but have you ever looked at the face of that dog? there's this look of weary tolerance, as if the dog knows it looks foolish (almost as if it even feel as foolish as it looks) bound up in something like that. all far-fetched anthropomorphisms aside, in my view, we bind God up in the garments of praise/ robes of expectation rather than subject ourselves to the prospect of the naked God- and God puts up with it.

eventually, i hope that my understanding of God will be free of all of these cultural coats and expectations that i in my myopia have loved to dress God up in.

but back to hineini's post above.
i couldn't help but notice something interesting in there considering familiarity and restlessness.

the questions asked in the bit prior to the above statement that opens this post also have a familiarity to them. we've been down that road before as well- unsatisfactorily or otherwise- in earlier dialogues, and have come back to the same queries.

one might call this consistency.
another might conclude that an impass has been reached... you know, that place in a conversation where everything is on the table and the arguments become circular and rhythmic. that's usually where one or the other loses interest! ha ha.

what i find most intriguing, though, is the idea of the things we'll never know wasteland and how open endedness is a trap that causes people's free minds to run crazily and pointlessly on the wheel in the cage until such time as some leader releases them with an easy answer, telling them emphatically how things are. it seems as though the dissatisfaction with the inconclusive answer to the tiresome question is based on exactly this: wanting some leader to state emphatically how things are.

okay, here's my take on it all:

inconclusive and unexplained,
but being progressively revealed...
God's strip tease.

nope, nothing new there...

but, after all, the last post was called 'ferris' and did bear the illustration of the space station from the film 2001 a space odyssey with human beings doing laps on a large revolving wheel set in the stars. metaphors come and metaphors go, but this is more of a visual rhyme.
Despite all my rage I'm still just a rat in a cage
Then someone will say what is lost can never be saved
Despite all my rage Im still just a rat in a cage
And I still believe that I cannot be saved
(billy corgan, 1994)

Monday, May 12, 2008


my friend in malaysia recently posed a line of questions in an email.
Did God create everything?
If so then did He create SIN?
If not then can Satan create things?
Or did God just make the
possibility of sin?
Is the possibility of something too big a question for the human mind to understand?"

there are some challenges whenever we default to the notion that "God created everything, therefore..."

it's probably just bad logic on my part.

i like to hold to the idea that God created materials and situations, got wheels turning, and BOOM, there we have the earth and all that is within.

i like the idea that the 'big bang' was the voice of God shattering the silence and the darkness simultaneously with the words 'let there be light!'

i like the idea that evolutionary theories do not prove or disprove anything, especially the existence or non-existence of God, and that they do not necessarily contradict our Christian cosmology.


if i am comfortable with this 'wheels turning' thing, then i should also be good with the idea that God indirectly put to death the friends and families of my dear friends in sri lanka with the tsunami. i should be fine with the idea that God 'did' the recent cyclone in burma which took the lives of 100 thousand and has us wondering whatever happened to at least 200 thousand more. wheels are turning and the outcome is attributable to God, right?

well... yes, but... no... but...

hate that. somehow there are things that seem inconsistent with our (my) picture of who God is and what God is about, no matter which position in a logical argument like this i side with. drives me crazy sometimes.

there is comfort for me, however, in remembering that all we know about God has been revealed to us- revealed to us in ways that are recognizable to us even though we are, in our fallenness, only a reasonable hand-drawn facsimile of what created and deemed 'very good.' the things that we do not know we do not know because God has chosen to remain a mystery through them for reasons that are God's- perhaps because the answers to some of our questions may be too big for our minds to embrace. we mustn't ever let logic bind God. this promptly ushers out the possibility of miracle.

a miracle, after all, is a break in the cause/effect nature of our physical world- an intervention- and when God chooses to break these little physical rules that keep our feet on the ground and keep the fires burning and the air circulating on this planet, God does so for good reasons- God's.

and how might we understand the mind of God apart from revelation? we can't. i'm kinda glad that we can't though.

being prone to bad logic, foolish conclusions and abhorable behaviour, for us to be able to completely comprehend the divine at this level would make divinity considerable less divine. in my view, part of God's divinity is God's mystery. in my rather wimpy understanding of things, the possibility of sin is our free will, which is also our greatest endowment from God- free will represents God's greatest trust, greatest risk, greatest hope.

i also think that the most important aspect of one's faith is the question-asking part... even if the answers we are able to arrive at are, at best, inconclusive.

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