Saturday, August 29, 2015
As I work at understanding Depth as a way of thinking about God, I think of an image that has colored my prayer for 60 years. It's from Bede Griffiths' The Golden Thread.
I am standing beside a deep, dark pit that seems to have no bottom. I am not satisfied with the area around me. From the pit I hear a voice calling, "Jump, my son, I'll catch you." The dark pit is frightening, but my surroundings are not fulfilling. I jump and find myself caught up in the loving arms of God.
(Clicking on the picture enlarges it.)
Friday, August 28, 2015
I want to try to understand a little better how John Haught's notion of depth helps me to think about The Divine. No matter how deep we go into ourselves and others and nature, reality still evades full disclosure. There is an inexhaustible depth beneath the surface of our impressions.
This inexhaustible depth of existence is one of the ways that we can think about God. This depth of existence promises to give more substance to our lives than what we can find on the surface. It is a kind of ultimate ground that is trustworthy.
(This is a feeble attempt to express Haught's reasoning.)
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
"This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me," says Jesus in one of several passages in the Gospels where Jesus criticizes the Pharisees for their legalism (Mark 7: 1-23.) Religious people must be careful not to make an idol of the law, holding it in place of God. Richard Rohr has said that law is necessary, of course, but it is not the guiding star; it has been wrong and cruel too many times.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
One of the short prayers that I pray as I begin my morning prayer is, "You are in the deepest part of who I am." I sense that there is an ever deeper part of me that I will always be reaching for. I suspect that at the very bottom of who I am is a Depth that I can only begin to fathom. John Haught says this is one way to answer his title's question, "What Is God?"
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
"Will you also go away," Jesus asks the Twelve (John 6:67.) Some of his followers have found his teaching on eating his flesh and drinking his blood too much and have gone away.
Joshua asks the Israelites who have been delivered from slavery in Egypt and have reached the promised land, "Choose this day whom you will serve....as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15.)
Saturday, August 15, 2015
Friday, August 14, 2015
The May before I retired I took a long trip by car to Florida. As I drove from west to east across Georgia I saw a sign for President Roosevelt's home in Warm Springs. It was not something that I had even thought of, but I immediately turned off to make a pilgrimage to the house where he died. I decided to make the pilgrimage to thank him for Social Security which was making it possible for me to retire in two months. The pension from my job would not have been sufficient.
80 years ago today President Roosevelt signed the law creating Social Security. There was much objection to it from left and right, but it finally passed Congress. It has now become so much a part of our American life that we don't even advert to it. A great example of caring for the common good.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
As I meditate on the book What Is God I remind myself of St. Augustine's saying that, when we think we know God, then what we know is not God. Even in any healthy human relationship we always want to know and understand the person better. If we want to have a healthy relationship with God it is crucial that we keep growing in our knowledge and understanding of The Divine. We each grow at our own pace.
In thinking about The Divine we are always limited to analogy and metaphor. The more comfortable we get with ambiguity, the more we want to know how to think about The Divine.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
(The spectacular cut in Sideling Mountain, Central Maryland)
In the introduction to his book, What Is God, Father John Haught thinks that using the neuter phrase "the divine" helps to express the fullness of a "Presence" that we cannot wrap our minds around. We do not have human concepts or words that would completely capture what we mean by "God." Not using male and female pronouns might help us to avoid thinking of The Divine in human-like images.
We can rest in the all-surrounding Mystery that knows us and loves us without being at all like us.
Monday, August 10, 2015
"Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them." Perhaps these words are so familiar to our ears that we fail to realize how shocking they are. In John 6:51-57 "flesh" and "blood" are used in four different sentences. "Flesh" is used by itself in two other places. The Greek verb that John uses means "munch" or "chew." Most vividly, Jesus says, "whoever feeds on me."
In the earlier part of this long chapter, Jesus uses metaphorical language to talk about himself as the "bread from heaven." Here he switches to very realistic language to make it abundantly clear that the bread and wine are truly his flesh and blood.
(Clicking on the picture enables you to see how lovely my neighbor's flowers are.)
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Sunday, August 2, 2015
I am reading What Is God: How To Think About The Divine, by Jesuit John Haught. The author is trying to help us move away from human-like (anthropomorphic) images of God and develop a notion of an immaterial, transcendent reality. It might help to call this "The Divine" rather than "God." This transcendent reality is not some impersonal energy. It possesses "those qualities which constitute the dignity of human persons, that is, something like intelligence, feeling, freedom, power, initiative, creativity, etc. (though to an eminent degree.)"
For some years, now, I have been trying to think about The Divine in this way. Haught's book is valuable in that effort. I will blog more about it in the days to come.