Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The "G" Word

"The name of God can be used to freeze our wonder, to make a comforting and useful idol, or it can be the opposite: a name that opens into continuing mystery."

- Thomas Moore (The Soul's Religion)



Gordon Ferguson said...

'God' is a 'pointer' word - a 'vector'. It is supposed to reveal something to us, not be something in itself. Because most westerners understand themselves as observers thinking about the world, we immediately latch on to 'god' as the name of an object that we observe. Language beguiles us and compounds the mistake because, as observers, we want to make propositional statements about the world, and every meaningful sentence needs a subject, an object and an action - or so we think. And so it is that God becomes an idol.

We do not need an actual physical Golden Calf to have an idol, we merely need to detach ourselves from the world by thinking about it rather than acting in it. We have made a god of our objectivity, who goes before us because we are not prepared to wait in the world, with all its trials and tribulations, for the truth that comes down from the mountain.

If instead we see ourselves as actors relating to the world, 'god' points us to the universal other that is the essence of our relationality, the 'other' in which we live and move and have our being. We need to learn to be in a state of relatedness, not seeking an object which either freezes us in abject fear, or we idolize in false comfort.

It is in a state of relatedness that we discover the transcendence that comes from letting go into the world, and the immanence of the world reflecting back to us. There is no mystery, for to focus on 'mystery' is just to replace one object, 'god', with another object, 'mystery'. Instead, just let go and love one another.

And how do we talk about this, with our language of subjects and objects? by telling stories, for in the same way that propositions reveal factual truths, so stories reveal relational truths. But real stories, of the sort that we have foolishly confined to the nursery. Stories that begin 'Once upon a time...' and end '.. and they lived happily ever after', and definitely never ever offer explanations.

Unknown said...

I wasted a lot of time seeking "God's will" for my life. Now I prefer to look for good will - love. The bible says God Is love, which is a verb - as Gordon says - relating to that of God in everyone (or everything?) in a loving way. Simple but not easy.