Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My World View 2008

I believe that God is in the design, somehow hard-wired into the nature of the universe. We are his creatures and say that we are made in his image. Our biology and human nature must show us some kind of outline of what God is like. I get glimpses of the design when I read studies in biology, neurophysiology and cosmology. I believe we need to study creation in order to understand the creator. I think that everything is interrelated and that it matters deeply what each creature does and what happens to every part of creation. It matters what we do with our bodies and with our stuff.

I believe that Jesus opened for us the door to God. God is no longer inaccessible to us. As another human he is able to form the vital connection with us and show us the way to connect with the Spirit directly. We are mammals and mammals cannot live in isolation. When the veil of the temple was torn, it was torn for all time, allowing us into the very sanctuary of heaven. I think this is what Jesus was describing in John 17: “As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

I imagine the Trinity as it is shown in Rublev's Old Testament Trinity icon. Three people around a table, engaged in a fellowship of love, in a creative and living conversation. I think of overhearing it and edging closer, hoping to be drawn into their fellowship. I believe that all of creation comes from this creative interaction. I know that creativity is playful. When people share in creation, energy flows between them and something new is born out of the flow. I believe that energy is the Holy Spirit of God.

I believe that sacraments are a model or a map of the design. They give us a taste of the Holy. Through them God uses stuff to connect with us. We need to touch and be touched. In the Eucharist we touch and taste Jesus. Sacraments are not enough without an individual, direct experience of God but in the dry times, they are something to remind us of that experience.

I believe that God created a world, not a theme park. Actions cause reactions. Choices have consequences. I believe that God does not control or punish but nor does he prevent the consequences of our actions.

I believe that the atonement is about reconciliation between God and man. Christ was crucified to awaken compassion in us. I think that often we are very angry with God for how harsh this existence is. On the cross, God bared his throat and said, 'Go ahead and kill me, get it out of your system'. I think that it's impossible to look at the suffering figure of Jesus on the cross and to stay angry. I believe that we are also stuck in shame at our own sins and failures, unable to look God in the face. I think the crucifixion may also have been a desperate gesture by God to shake us loose from that fixation. He says, 'All right, if you're certain that your sins require a death, I'll be the one to die.' I believe that there is no limit to God's mercy and grace. I know that he is far more forgiving than we are. I know that he has taken the worst of my mistakes and sins and used them to show me his mercy. We say, 'Lord, I am not worthy'. He says, 'That's true, but you must let it go now. Come sit at my table and let's be friends.'

I believe that truth and humility are two words for the same thing. Without truth, nothing else works. The spiritual life must be a constant search to know the truth, about yourself, about your relationship with God and with other people. We can only see the truth about ourselves with the help of God and other people. We can only bear that knowledge with the help of God and other people. We learn over time to bear more and more of the truth. We can choose to bear the tension between our desires and beliefs and actions. The result is that we grow and become able to bear yet more knowledge and more tension. We are called to make choices and to know that we will try and sometimes fail. Sometimes we have to give up our image of ourselves as good people. This takes a self-emptying that is very painful but it is the only way to make room for God. This all has to be freely chosen. You can't force anyone to see the truth until they are ready.

I believe that the goal of the spiritual life is to increase in three loves: Love of God/intimacy with God, Love of self/personal transformation, Love of other people/ministry to other people. Prayer should increase in us love in these three areas. I think of them as forming a wheel. You can grab hold at any of the three points and begin to move around the perimeter. Different people will find it easier to grab hold at different points. Love always is about a flow of energy and as energy in one area grows, it should spill over into the other areas. We long for God and God longs for us. He woos us and tries to draw us to himself. We respond and experience him feeding and filling us and that give us enough energy to love other people. As we open ourselves in love and confidence to other people, we are able to bear the very real misery in this life. When we love other people, it becomes harder to see them in need without trying to help. As we become more open and trusting toward each other, we may increase in our ability to love and respond to God. Most people will never know the love of God until they have been loved by other people. We are mammals and mammals need other mammals to survive. Infants need touch to thrive and grow. Bereaved people can really die of a broken heart. In the Incarnation God became a mammal to connect with us this way and we are now his vital link to other people.

I believe that saints are the ones who do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with God. They give us a glimpse of what it means to love God with your whole heart and mind and strength. If Jesus has opened the door to God, the saints are ones who have opened a door to Jesus, and we see some of God's light shining through them.

I believe that our goal is to be able to see God face to face in all his Glory, to bear the light of his presence, to bear the truth about ourselves. One lifetime does not seem enough to prepare for this. I have read intriguing accounts that suggest that reincarnation may happen. I think Purgatory may be a freely chosen state when we agree to bear the suffering that comes with acknowledging the truth of our lives and deeds. I think that Hell may be the state when we encounter light and truth and cannot bear them and so refuse God. God is the Divine Lover and has only himself to give us. It is exceedingly uncomfortable to be pursued by a Lover whose love we reject. This is all purely speculation. I don't know what life after death is going to be like except that it's all right. "All shall be well, and all shall be exceedingly well."

I have two gardens. There's the one you would see if you visit me, where young trees and newly planted shrubs are years away from their full size. Where weeds get ahead of me and are the most flourishing things in the yard. Where insects and black spot and drought stunt and blight the plants. There is also the garden that exists in my mind. It's the garden of Someday, and Not Yet, and A Few Years From Now, and When I have Time. I believe the Kingdom of God is like this. There are our halting attempts to live life ‘As If’ the Kingdom were among us now and there is our hope for the Kingdom to Come, when the Kingdom as it exists in the Mind of God is fully realized.

I believe that in Heaven, altos get to sing the descants.

I believe in the holiness of everyday life. Before enlightenment, pay bills, do laundry. After enlightenment, pay bills, do laundry.

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