Tuesday, July 29, 2008

This End of the Telescope

Alone you ramble the whole of the world, through the black water jungles for bliss. It's feast or famine, you eat what you kill, there's no need to bring God in to this.

Inevitably when there is a need to understand something from a perspective that exists with us not being at the centre of the picture a conflict will occur. Inevitably.

We have to be the centre - and if we are not, the perspective must shift to make us so.

At our best, your joy becomes my joy, your pain becomes my sorrow. At worst, pain dictates my pleasure and your pleasure manipulates my pain.

This tension, albiet poorly described above, is a distorted, or muted image of that which I believe exists between our Creator and us.

Pain, conflict, sorrow and all that stuff which is, to us: "not good" is so quickly viewed through the wrong end of the telescope that we loose perspective. So our sorrow becomes about us, our pain is about us, and our confusion is about us not understanding. Through the wrong end of the telescope the Creator becomes a passive third party or at very best a smaller image that what he really is in this tension. It is from this end of the telescope that faith gets turned quickly into religion.

It's as if our understanding when it comes to God is that a) there is some stuff that God just "allows" to happen b) there is some stuff God wants to happen and c) there is some stuff where God just kind of goes..."oh shit..shoot didn't see that coming...hey Moses, you totally pulled the wrong lever on that one...this'll be interesting"

It becomes about us and only us - and then maybe a God character who is interacting from a far.I'm feeling like I'm only starting to wrap my head around this idea, that I think has many further implications - but in terms of the one I'm confronted with right now, the truth is this:

That if understanding our pain, pleasure and any other "thing" that goes on really gets reduced to the sum of our actions + the sum of other peoples actions and maybe the sum of a sometimes acting Diety we will forever come up short to the question of why does shit happen in our lives. Or more classically "why does God let bad things happen"

Always short.
And there are those (many, oh so many) Christians who actually believe (say on the topic of pain) that a lot of suffering is because God is just plain 'ol unhappy with them. They preach a sort of "God is getting you back" or actually disguise it as a "God is teaching you about ___" - while YES God does discipline those he loves, he is NOT "getting you back" and really I believe is not going "hmm how can I teach __ about humility...I know I'll give them nasty flesh eating disease...". Many christians would not actually articulate that, but I think a lot of us believe it. I'm going to go out on a limb here:
Jesus, when he died 2000 years ago, that was it. All the punishment, all the "revenge" that you could have had - done. Job's suffering wasn't about Job at all.

I think why we do this cause and effect system that reduces God is because we still want to be the centre of our faith and belief system. We have a great propencity for religion. This idea that whatever I do, it comes back. It puts us at the centre and removes Jesus. If I "get right" with God, he'll speak to me is such an intuitively "nice" idea but I would say totally biblically incorrect. Maybe it's unfair to draw a connection between us and Jakob - but, let's face it: where was he and what was he doing when God radically changed his (and our) life? Moses? the Disciples?

I do believe God's plan / will has suffering in it. Totally. But I think western Christianity has made up this cause and effect because it's easier than believing a faith that is mysterious, tension filled (ala first paragraph), not totally a sum of our actions etc. etc.

So ___ definitely, scour the bible for the why why why does this happen, but be prepared for the answer. I don't claim to know it, but I think it really has something to do with questions of who is this all about? Who is the person most glorified here? Cause, I think it's not really about us.

I think this Blog post is about a whole set of things just kind of perculating in a brain that I am finding to be ever more emotional, active and other than I would sometimes like. But I guess it's kind of an idea that our prayer life is so very much a reactionary thing - and while thats ok, it starts to breed a faith that it's about us. This starts to breed a set of beliefs that while based on the Bible, kind of take their own "twist."They are not "wrong" but I think a lot of the time they are really just not biblical (so yes they are wrong, I was just being kind). As a result of this "wrong" theology, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, we go running to a bible, from the totally wrong angle, and surprise, find that it just kind of leaves us unsatisfied.
But from a different end of the telescope I think, the galaxy is a lot bigger.

Word's out the doctor is not coming in
This genie's too angry to go back
Into the bottle again

Years of progress digging the sand
Companions we made didn't last
Lousy lovers do well with their hands
But I'll reach you like nobody can
Slow and easy you let your paddle go
Down a the bottom there is more hell to row
I see clear at last I love I loathe
On this end of the telescope

-Jakob Dylan

1 comment:

eutychus said...

some nice thoughts... but many are not really biblically corr... uh, oh heck, they're just plain wrong. biblically speaking God uses suffering many times to discipline people. as far as my limited understanding is concerned God's character does not change, and too often Christians use the Cross as a way of saying "everything way back then" doesn't really count anymore. it's a way of getting around the uncomfortable realities of the Old Testament and God's more "Fatherly" characteristics.

and yeah, sometimes God probably does say "shoot, didn't see that coming..." because he gave us free choice... His character is to redeem our choices when they lead us astray, so that when Moses pulls the wrong lever, or the Israelites want a king... well, the plan might alter to include someone named Jesus.

i don't mean to be a dickhead here jeff, but you haven't lived through enough to make an informed comment on this topic. (neither have i for that matter.) your thoughts are, yes, confused, and maybe it would serve your blog better to throw these things out as questions.

but at least we'll have something to chat about over lamb.