Friday, October 14, 2016

The longer I stick with the idea that there is a God and that the God that is, is testified to in a good portion of what is called the Old Testament and New Testament, the more I become aware of how most of what I've believed about this God is so lacking and limited.  God, as I have experienced, is beyond our language to describe, our hearts to contain, our beliefs to bear full witness to, our minds to conceive.  These limitations do more to mislead people than to aid them in discovery. Indeed, any explanation that isn't steeped in mystery is likely to push people away from God, rather than toward God. Scripture bears witness to this God-beyond-explanation--God answers Moses' question about who he should say sent him with "I Am", and Jesus tells Nicodemus that the Spirit cannot be predicted, and there are far more examples that point to the undefinable nature of God.
Most of the theological stages I've passed through have been little more than a wide spot on the spiritual highway, though my own experience and what I've witnessed of others is that we set up house at these barely wide-spots; i.e., we settle in thinking and expecting we are not moving from there or changing our idea of God and who we are to be.  Unfortunately, since these are not permanent theological locations, many people who discover the impermanence of these wide-spots simply give up on anything beyond them, give up on seeking anything more, give up on God because their idea of God has been so cemented to a limited idea that they feel betrayed, angry, disillusioned, and disappointed--since the limited view cannot speak to the challenges and griefs we experience.
My experience of settling in is much like I remember when I was a boy and my father would be doing yard work. My father would give me a ride in the wheelbarrow around the yard, twisting this way and that, until he would stop near where he was working and park the wheelbarrow. There I would sit in the wheelbarrow and not get out, hoping for another ride. Eventually, however, needing the wheelbarrow, my father would dump me out.
God allows the circumstances of life to dump me out of the theological and spiritual wheelbarrows I become accustomed to, and no matter how many times I try to crawl back in, it just won't hold me.
It isn't that God isn't seen through these views of God, its just that each view is so limited.  As I move further along, I become both frustrated that language is too limited to express God, and grateful in the vast landscape that continues to broaden in truth and love that is inexpressible. I have discovered that so far there's always another wheelbarrow ride as long as I remain curious.

© 2016 Stephen Carl

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Assumptions are necessary in life. Without them we would be testing and confirming everything and have little time to genuinely live and enjoy each moment. We assume and take for granted the air we breath, the ground upon which we walk, the physical laws that govern our movement and existence. Beyond these we make assumptions about relationships, everything from family support to other drivers on the road. Clearly some assumptions come back to bite us.
There are other assumptions, however, that are erroneous, yet they are so knit into the fabric of our beliefs and consciousness that to question them is for some akin to heresy or overwhelmingly absurd.
One assumption humanity practices is that of our place and position as a creature upon the earth. Take for example Earth Day, recognized on April 22. It began in 1970, not even a blink of the eye in the age of the earth. Something about humanity declaring one day as earth day strikes me as arrogant and audacious.  It assumes that we have some inherent right to do with the earth as we choose, to use it and its resources as we choose, regardless of the other creatures that call the earth home or of the earth's wellbeing itself, let alone our own future on the earth that sustains us. I realize that the establishment of Earth Day is about the exact opposite of all of that, but its establishment identifies just how askew our assumptions are regarding our place and role in relationship to the earth.
For those familiar with the Abrahamic faith traditions,  the Genesis account, after the wonders of creation, indicates that The Creator spoke to humankind and said: be fruitful and multiply and have dominion over the earth.
Humankind was also given the responsibility of naming everything.  This naming and the command to have dominion is a huge responsibility. It has, for many, created the assumption that we can do anything we please, that the earth and all of its teeming life is ours to exploit to our advantage. While the earth may be granted to us for our wellbeing, to have dominion is not the same thing as dominating. Imagine, if you will, the relationship of a King or Queen who have dominion over a country of people. Though they have incredible power and privilege, the purpose of which is to govern and manage the land and people to the benefit of all--not to dominate the land and people, but to be good stewards in order to bring about prosperity and wellbeing for all. Any kingdom or nation that has a despot for a ruler will eventually fall because there is a terrifying mismanagement of the resources of land and people.

As we make decisions on various energy policies, economic policies, business policies, and politics, may we test our assumptions that we, as one species on this planet, have a right that supersedes all other life, whether plant or animal, let alone the wellbeing of the planet itself. We are stewards, not owners of the earth. We are to have dominion, not domination over the planet.
The assumption of our right to do as we please, because it serves our current purposes, is erroneous and dangerous. To have one Earth Day is quite frankly based on an erroneous assumption about the relationship between humanity and the planet we call home. Now if the earth had one day a year called humanity day, then that would make more sense.

© 2016 Stephen Carl