November 20, 2017

A Lost Imagination for God

pluto-new-horizons-2015-07-14-01

We can never sneer at the stars, mock the dawn or scoff at the totality of being. Sublime grandeur evokes unhesitating, unflinching awe. Away from the immense, cloistered in our own concepts, we may scorn and revile everything.

But standing between earth and sky, we are silenced by the sight. . . .

• Abraham Joshua Heschel

• • •

This week I’ve been trying to wrap my head around something I have felt inside for some time, a perspective I’ve had few words for, a secret fear about my own journey as well as for the world in which I live.

On Monday, I tried to talk about it by means of a metaphor, using The Wizard of Oz. It seems to me that the world we live in today is Oz-like, a land of colorful things that interest and stimulate the mind and imagination. The wonders among which we dwell, wrought by our progress, make the Christian faith look colorless, bland, and uninteresting by contrast (i.e. like “Kansas” in the film). Now, the attractiveness of the “world” has always been an issue for Christians, but the “world” has advanced so far in the past two centuries so as to become an overwhelmingly pervasive sea that has swept the Church off her feet and is pummeling her beneath waves of technology, freedom, and affluence. “These are the days of miracle and wonder,”  sang Paul Simon, and the people who suckle at the breasts of such marvels are becoming increasingly immune to the ideas Christians throw at them.

Yesterday, we invoked Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who famously wrote about a coming world without religion as we’ve known it. “Our whole nineteen-hundred-year-old Christian preaching and theology rest on the ‘religious a priori’ of mankind,” he said but then asked, What if “this a priori does not exist at all, but was a historically conditioned and transient form of human self-expression, and if therefore man becomes radically religionless . . . what does that mean for ‘Christianity?'” In his musings, Bonhoeffer made use of a different metaphor, saying that perhaps the world has “come of age.” Father is big and strong and can do anything in our eyes, when we are children. We rely wholly on him (whether we recognize it or not) for our life and well being. But when we mature and become independent, able to stand on our own, capable of providing for ourselves, what then is our relationship to Father? Who is Christ to a world come of age? asked Bonhoeffer.

Today, I want to lay it on the line and state my fear in plain terms, and tell you why this subject is eating me up personally and as an ambassador of Christ to others.

I am afraid that I live in a world in which we, myself included, have lost our imagination for God.

Let me put it like this, to bring it right down to today’s news —

In a world where people can build a small, durable machine, outfit it with intricate, precise instruments, and send it off into space for a ten-year journey of three billion (!) miles, keeping it on course so that it meets up with a small dwarf planet on the edge of our solar system where it captures a treasure trove of meaningful data and sends it back to us — in a world like that, what does it mean to have an imagination for God?

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I mean, this New Horizons project is mind-blowing!

Learning about this expedition elicits a sense of wonder I’ve not felt in a long time. Three billion miles! To the exact spot where they aimed it ten years ago! Without any serious glitches! How far is three billion miles? How can I even begin to fathom this? This kind of stuff is invigorating. It expands the mind. It sparks the imagination. It calls forth genuine awe. This is big.

God used to be big.

And in the past there was always plenty to remind mere mortals of this. Nature itself was terrifying. If that weren’t enough, religious rituals and ceremonies emphasized mystery and an invasion of otherworldliness into human experience. Majestic cathedrals were built to inspire thoughts of transcendence. Composers wrote intricate, soaring, ethereal music. Artists were commissioned to paint altarpieces, icons, and frescoes with sublime themes that portrayed grand stories and evoked mystic contemplation. People spoke, trembling, of God intervening directly in the world: sending plagues, giving great victories, judging nations, casting mountains into the sea. Life itself was uncertain enough that one might feel ever dependent on the mercy and goodwill of one’s Creator.

One commendable motivation of literalists and fundamentalists such as Young Earth Creationists is to try and keep this “big God” alive among us by insisting that all biblical accounts are journalistic depictions of what actually happened. “Isn’t God great!” But what they end up giving us is a cartoon God. This God delights children and satisfies those who are averse to literature, complexity and nuance. Those whose imagination can’t stretch beyond six to ten thousand years. Those whose God is not big enough to speak in poetry, metaphor, myth, or fiction.

The Church and Christians like me have not done a good job translating, updating, and expanding the imaginative worlds of the faithful so that they can begin to conceive of a God who is even bigger than three billion mile space missions, a universe approximately fourteen billion years old, and quantum physics that describe microscopic realms where the “laws” we know do not apply. A God of infinite variety and complexity, who can only be fully appreciated by a spirit of humble awe and wonder as we gaze on “things too wonderful for [us], which [we] did not know” (Job 42:3).

And then to think that in Jesus, God walked here among us. To see the wonder in human flesh, flowing water, broken bread and poured out wine; my neighbor’s eyes.

Where are those who will help us develop and expand our imagination for God in these days of miracle and wonder?

To become aware of the ineffable is to part company with words. . . . The tangent to the curve of human experience lies beyond the limits of language. The world of things we perceive is but a veil. Its flutter is music, its ornament science, but what it conceals is inscrutable. Its silence remains unbroken; no words can carry it away.

Sometimes we wish the world could cry and tell us about that which made it pregnant with fear-filling grandeur.

Sometimes we wish our own heart would speak of that which made it heavy with wonder.

• Abraham Joshua Heschel

Comments

  1. Amen.

    I find this imagination for God through others. My soul, my emotions, my entire being is stirred up at the beautiful promises and possibilities that God alone will bring to us. There are so many miracles that occur, that are just as miraculous as anything ‘common’ in God’s creation.

    He’ll always surprise us. He’ll always find something new. And we cannot imagine how wonderful it will be.

    seems appros to post this, as it sums up a lot of it for me – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDkBzkA9L4s

    • Learning about this expedition elicits a sense of wonder I’ve not felt in a long time.

      This was how I felt as a child. I lost it when fundamentalism started taking hold on my life.

      But!…I’m rediscovering it. And that’s beautiful. And by faith I believe that’s God’s doing.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        “This was how I felt as a child. I lost it when fundamentalism started taking hold on my life.
        But!…I’m rediscovering it.”

        Ditto.

        However, it is a hard thing to articulate. And I wonder somedays if loosing it was a necessary part of finding it again. So how do you arrive if you first, somehow, never had it too lose?

        C.S. Lewis’ Talking about Bicycles – while a work in real need of some editing – captures this best IMO.

  2. “How far is three billion miles?”

    It takes light 3 seconds to get to the Moon from Earth, 8 minutes and 20 seconds to get to the Sun, about 4.5 hours to get to New Horizon (and Pluto) and 4.24 light years to the nearest star (after the Sun), 25,000 light years to the center of our galaxy, 2,538,000 light years to the nearest big galaxy, Andromeda.

    It takes over 19 hours for a signal from Voyager 1 to reach us and a tiny bit under 15 hours for a signal from Voyager 2. Both launched in 1977. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/

  3. dumb ox says:

    If you haven’t already, read Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for a big picture of God. Hymn of the Universe is available in public domain and is amazing.

  4. dumb ox says:

    I think you put it well. Literalism claims to retain a big picture of God but results in quite the opposite.

  5. But can one not be awed at human wonders, and even more awed at God’s wonders? This seems to be either/or.

    Yes, we humans have accomplished much in the last 200 years. But that does not mean I cannot acknowledge it and be wowed by it, and still have a deep awe and worship of God, who is much bigger, in many ways.

    • grberry says:

      I think the question posed to us is “who today isarticulating God’s wonders from a big picture perspective?” That we can experience those wonders is one thing. That we can articulate them in a way that helps others to experience them is a different thing. I’ve read more people who say they get the wonder from the big picture than who have even attempted to articulate it.

      And I’m in that camp myself. Sometimes there are moments when the big picture amazes. But I’ve never even attempted to articulate it. And most of the time, my day to day interaction is with the small things. It is nice to get buzzed by a cardinal when I step out of the office for a brief walk, and see a swallowtail butterfly also, but the wonder they elicit is a wonder of the small things.

  6. The more self-centered we become, the smaller the imagination for God…

    • Christiane says:

      +1

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      And a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation becomes the most self-centered of all.

      Imagination and SCRIPTURE(TM) are mutually exclusive.

    • The more self-centered we become, the smaller the imagination for God…

      I suspect there’s something to that. You might say that we point our imaginations towards that which we find desirable or captivating or awe-inspiring. The more self-centered we become, the less attractive the concept of a creator God becomes, and the more uncomfortable we are even thinking about things bigger and greater than ourselves. His “I am who I am” doesn’t fit well together with our “I am who I choose to be.”

  7. Eckhart Trolle says:

    Maybe that’s the problem–“God” (whatever that means) is a creature of our imagination. Scientific progress drives home the contrast between fact and fantasy.

    • Maybe we’re creatures of God’s imagination imagining dieties of our own creation.
      But seriously, it seems to me that the major splitting point between faith and science is that God had the audacity to create a physical universe that really does exist. If the universe really does exist, and it really is completely physical (and therefore observable in every part), then it just logically follows that things that exist and happen in the physical universe are explanable in scientific terms. And just because a supernatural cause isn’t needed to provide explanation and a rational understanding of the universe, that has absolutely no bearing on whether God exists or not. It just means that the universe really is real: either because it just is or because it was made to be so by design.
      Of course, current science, which so far is basically limited to observations made on and from this tiny speck of dust we call earth, has probably only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to explaning the universe and everything in it. New theories about the origins of the universe will continue to dethrone old theories as new information continues to pop up.
      I guess what I’m saying is that as long as science is based on observation of the physical universe, then the existence of a creator who exists on a plane beyond physical observability will always be a possibility on the table. And how likely or remote that possibility is becomes a matter of opinion, perspective, and belief.

  8. Robert F says:

    Yes, the universe is big, and it’s impossible to imagine a bigness of God bigger than the universe we perceive out there. But the apophatic wisdom of Christian mysticism has always acknowledged the inconceivability of both God and his creation. And it has discovered that the most measureless immensity of creation is the human spirit itself. How could it be otherwise when God became human in Jesus Christ? If we need to stretch our imaginations more to do justice to the God whom we believe in, perhaps we need to stretch it in the direction of the human, the human-sized, neither macro nor micro, the place in-between where heaven and earth meet and are embodied in the everyday and the ordinary world. This is the place that Jesus Christ chose to be.

    • Christiane says:

      Hi ROBERT F.

      this quote from C.S. Lewis may have meaning for you:

      “It seems, then,” said Tirian, “that the stable seen from within and the stable
      seen from without are two different places.” “Yes,” said Digory. “Its inside
      is bigger than its outside.” “Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a
      stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world. ”
      (C. S. Lewis)

    • Christiane says:

      ” the place in-between where heaven and earth meet and are embodied in the everyday and the ordinary world. This is the place that Jesus Christ chose to be.”

      this seems to be written for one interpretation in context, but ROBERT, I see something else in it: for me, your words strangely evoke a sense of ‘sacrament’ . . . and ‘communion’

      Sometimes your writing is exquisitely evocative of what lies in the mystical realm of our faith and I think you may have a gift for this . . . thanks for sharing it with us

      • Robert F says:

        Christiane,
        By temperament, I tend toward gnostic mysticism. Since I was a child, I dreamed of escape; hence my early interest in Buddhism, which at the time I thought of in terms of escape into Nirvana (I subsequently have learned how mistaken was my notion of Buddhism as escape), and, ironically enough given the subject of today’s post, my childhood fascination with outer space and astronauts (when I found out just how physically demanding being an astronaut was, I gave up my early hopes of becoming one — I tended toward gnosticism, but I was lazy, too).
        Coming to a sacramental understanding of existence, humanity and God has been a slow, painful process. I’m still in process, and my gnostic tendencies often re-assert themselves.

        But the beauty of a poem, or of Zen landscape paintings and haiku, or of my wife’s laughter and piano playing, or of our cat’s playfulness and mischief, or of the irregular rings that the residue of dried coffee leaves in the bottom of a white cup, or of the night-time sky filled with stars and planets, all these and a myriad of other created things keep turning my head back to this world of ordinary, everyday experience, almost despite myself, and filling my heart with hope and love. I’ve come to know these things, and the experience I have of them, as Jesus Christ’s Incarnation in my life, and the life of the world around me.

  9. Robert F says:

    I’m perplexed about the fear expressed in this post. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been aware of the inconceivable immensity of the universe, and it’s inconceivable smallness, too. These things were impressed on me by my early education.
    My religious instruction in the Catholic Church embraced this complexity, immensity and inconceivability of the universe as befitting and imaging that of its creator. There was never any tension between the two; science, evolution, cosmology, and faith were complementary, not in opposition to each other. I think this is once again a benefit that my Catholic upbringing imparted that I haven’t been appreciative enough of. And it probably is what makes it hard for me to relate to this post.

    • True. It’s all a matter of perspective. If we accept that the universe was designed and created by God, then none of these new discoveries should discombobulate us.

    • Robert, I completely agree with you about our Catholic upbringing. It never occurred to me to be impressed by sending a small craft in space when compared to the maker of the whole universe. Maybe for others their conception of God is way to small.

      • Robert F says:

        David,
        Now wait a second: I’m actually very impressed with the tremendous feat performed in the New Horizons mission. It’s just amazing, because the human mind is amazing. Utilizing scientific observation and mathematics, human minds projected themselves to the edge of our solar system, and arranged a complex, long-range (in distance and years) rendezvous between a device constructed by human beings on Earth and the (dwarf) planet Pluto. Such an impressive feat honors the creator of that infinitely more impressive cosmos, in all his magnitude, splendor and mystery. I’m completely astounded by the capacities of the human mind.

    • Yes. I think my fear betrays my Protestant and evangelical background. It is a primary reason some of us are drawn to historic traditions, who are much better at keeping some sense of wonder alive.

      • Chaplain Mike,
        You deal with death and dying every day. Could that be veiling your eyes to the wonder around us? There have been times when the focus of my life narrows down to the next step I take, and I can’t find the beauty in what’s right around the corner, where, if I would look, I could catch a glimpse.

        This may sound trite, and I don’t mean it to be. But do you have a hobby, an avocation, a way of re-creating in your off hours to refocus your view? When I was dealing with the illnesses and death (and aftermath) of my loved ones, it was playing music with my friends that re-centered me and gave me energy. Maybe astronomy would be that thing for you.

        • Actually, it is in my vocation that I find the most wonder, along with avocations like writing and photography, which I share here.

          I think many of you are downplaying how immune people today have become to wonder because of our modern setting. Few of us even ever really see the sky anymore.

          • Robert F says:

            Otoh, when I look into the sky (which I do every day and evening [of course through much ambient light pollution]) I’m aware of the vastness of what I’m seeing, of its complexity and the wonders that fill it, in a way far more accurate and commensurate with actual reality than a pre-modern could. Science has emptied the heavens of their mythological matrix, but it has also given my imagination more access to the real mysteries of the universe, which turns out to be even grander, and more frightening, than a realm filled with gods and goddesses, angels and demons.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > I think many of you are downplaying how immune people today have become to wonder
            > because of our modern setting. Few of us even ever really see the sky anymore.

            Agree, 100%.

            Maybe this is not so new – as a lot of other commentators seem to believe. I am less certain of that. Is Comfort ultimately the greatest adversary of Wonder or Awe? Or is it a failure of our Art?

          • but it has also given my imagination more access to the real mysteries of the universe, which turns out to be even grander, and more frightening, than a realm filled with gods and goddesses, angels and demons.

            And yet, how I wish we had both…

            Guess that’s why fantasy novels appeal to me at times. It’s still fun and cool to have that realm of angels and demons, gods and goddesses. But it doesn’t diminish how wonderous our real universe with all it’s science is.

            Left brain, right brain maybe? idk

          • Randy Thompson says:

            The most powerful experiences of the holy I’ve had are when I’ve been with people who are dying, especially when they die and I’ve had the privilege to be there with them when it happened.

          • CM, I think a lot of people *do* look at the sky – but you know, that’s kind of a solitary experience, not one you’re going to see out on the street or in a parking lot, necessarily.

            As for your background kicking in, I suspect it’s more the evangelical part of it, rather than Protestant per se. (Being from a high-church P. background myself, with lots of love for art and science, it seems normal to me to look up at the sky. and wonder at it. Only wish there was less light pollution these days…)

          • Robert, I think if you rely on your eyes alone, rather than what you know, you can do a fairly decent job of imagining yourself into a “premodern” frame of mind. I mean, the sky really does look like a bowl on a clear day, and the stars really do resemble pinpricks in a dark curtain (or some such) which allow brilliant light to shine through.

            CM, I think there is a capacity for wonder that is inexhaustible, Ditto for creativity. And while you might not see it close at hand, where you are, I suspect that it is nearer to you than you might think. I am sure there are many children in your area who are fascinated by the stars, planets, comets, etc. – and so much more. If you need to reconnect with that sense of awe and amazement that you feel is missing, maybe you could somehow be around kids (in Scouts, in some kind of educational group) who are experiencing these things for the 1st time – ? Because I think that will reignite things for you. We all get ground down at times and don’t look up, certainly, and we forget to look. But I’m not sure that’s the same thing as not caring. (You can even look at the Angry Birds – Space game for things that relate directly to the Pluto mission and pics, and I’m sure that a *lot* of kids have been playing those levels of the game and have read the info. they include about it all.)

          • Christiane says:

            Chaplain MIKE,
            we are ‘over-stimulated’ with images, noise, speed, colors, and complexity . . . there are children who suffer from learning difficulties who are aided by being placed in a sheltered cubicle which gives them privacy, quiet, and allows them to FOCUS on the task at hand . . . their weakness? they can’t sort out what to focus on because of the onslaught of too much stimulation around them

            I think they may be the ‘normal’ ones, sometimes . . . the rest of us are deluding ourselves if we think that in the pressure-cooker that is everyday American living, we can respond ‘normally’ with consistency . . .
            the result of our over-stimmed existence: prozac use, alcohol consumption, lack of normal sleep patterns, inability to get sort out the ‘hype’ from what really matters, over-eating, over-spending, . . . . .ad nauseum . . .

            in the words of Wordsworth . . . ‘the world is too much with us’ . . . those children in the cubicles . . . they are the ones who let those around them know that this is the case for them . . . if not for all of us in time.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            we are ‘over-stimulated’ with images, noise, speed, colors, and complexity . . .

            Brings up a one-liner from a forgotten SF short from a Sixties-vintage Analog, regarding the glasses worn by a future Kid Genius:

            “(glasses) which could be tuned to Fisheye mode for maximum optic input.”

            their weakness? they can’t sort out what to focus on because of the onslaught of too much stimulation around them

            I developed that weakness as I got older. It’s been gradually creeping up since I turned 40.

            I work in a cubicle farm where EVERYTHING IS URGENT URGENT URGENT in a company where there are twice as many managers as grunt programmers (like me) who do the work. I have most of Starfleet camped outside my cubicle, all screaming “YOU HAVE TO SAVE MY SHIP WESLEY CRUSHER!” (Wesley cannot even materialize in the transporter room before he’s beamed to another ship He Has To Save NOW!!!!!)

            Five years, three months, and one day until I’m eligible for Medicare and can finally retire.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > I think my fear betrays my Protestant and evangelical background

        Probably true. But even without that issue a form of the problem remains.

        Not having grown up Evangelical I don’t feel the same angst about the awesomeness of the universe; I grew up around aerospace engineers, that is just the Universe as it is, I feel at home [in a sense] in that Universe.

        But articulating why this Other thing matters, concretely, is still hard. It is still, IMO, a problem of Imagination [with the possibility of a bit of cowardice thrown in]. Evangelicals might call it “relevancy”. Articulation of this is hard.

        Why is it that articulating beauty, love, and wonder is so much harder than expressing grievance or anger.

      • “I think my fear betrays my Protestant and evangelical background. It is a primary reason some of us are drawn to historic traditions, who are much better at keeping some sense of wonder alive.”

        That’s definitely my experience. Liturgy that uses Shakespearian English, incense, chanted psalms and hymns, candles, silk and brocade vestments, silly hats and robes, statues and images of those who have gone before… all of this helps keeps the wonder alive for me. When asked why we use traditional English in our liturgy, my rector likes to paraphrase a quote that says something to the effect of “We use words we wouldn’t normally use to think thoughts we wouldn’t normally think.”

        I can’t help but be caught up into the Big Story with this sort of thing, even if some elements of it aren’t quite as ancient or universal as we’d like to think they are (sort of like how being totally period true with a Ren Fest costume is often less immersive for some folks than using anachronisms that we expect to be more representative of the genre/time).

    • turnsalso says:

      Make that two of us, as usual this week. Science has always captivated me, and my time as a YEC dampened it as mostly illusion. Since abandoning it, I have known nothing but wonders and new, fascinating challenges to ponder through.

      • turnsalso says:

        Though to be fair, I was not raised as a Catholic, and had nearly no acknowledgment of science in my religious upbringing except for some YEC propaganda in my junior-high days.

    • Agreed. This isn’t something I’m worried about. I appeal to the imagination often in my conversations with about God, with both people of faith and people without faith. People resonate with it. And it’s changed my approach to prayer dramatically.

      Maybe it’s because the pocket of evangelicalism I’ve been around has typically embraced the arts and valued creative expression.

      There is hope for the world, CM.

      • Rick Ro. says:

        I feel fortunate, too, to be a part of a fairly dynamic worship community and church. Creativity is encouraged. Wonder, also. I often open my adult Sunday school class with the question, “Did anyone have any God moments last week?” to encourage looking for God in the mundane or make sure we hear about any awe-worthy incidents.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          That’s why I ended up swimming the Tiber.
          The historical trace including Patronage of the Arts.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      The kicker is, of the three Abrahamic monotheisms, Christianity should be the best-equipped to handle Deep Space and Deep Time without becoming overwhelmed. It’s the Doctrine of the Incarnation — no matter how Deep Time & Space become, no matter how big God has to be, God remains on a one-to-one human scale through Incarnation as Jesus Christ.

  10. Robert F says:

    The line from the Paul Simon song is incompletely quoted: These are the days of miracles and wonders….and don’t cry, baby, don’t cry, don’t cry… Leave it to Rhymin’ Simon never to send us aloft without quickly pulling us right back down to earth.

    • Robert F says:

      It is, after all, a rueful song, with an ironic attitude toward those miracles and wonders.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I like the lines near the end of his song “Outrageous.”

      “Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?
      Tell me, who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone?

      God will
      Like He waters the flowers on your windowsill.”

  11. PastorM says:

    Sometime, check out Doug Frank’s A Gentler God. It is a bit hard to find but well worth reading.

  12. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    “””Life itself was uncertain enough that one might feel ever dependent on the mercy and goodwill of one’s Creator.”””

    The impact of the perception – however illusory [*1] – of safety has an almost inestimable impact on the concept of Religion.

    “””One commendable motivation of literalists and fundamentalists such as Young Earth Creationists is to try and keep this “big God” alive … But what they end up giving us is a cartoon God.”””

    Yes. Beyond being a cartoon he is also a brittle god, too easily broken. Perhaps this fragility explains much of their angst, often expressed as hostility and anger.

    “””The Church and Christians like me have not done a good job translating, updating, and expanding the imaginative worlds of the faithful”””

    Once someone gets to Comfortable – relatively easy in the modern west – how do words inspire inspire someone to reach upwards to look further? Beyond a fleeting impulse. Inspiration is hard.

    [*1] yes, yes, death is inevitable, tragedies happen. But there is ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER that the 21st century west is ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE a safe place to live than medieval anywhere. And many people get to keep their teeth for their entire lifetimes!

    • Once someone gets to Comfortable – relatively easy in the modern west – how do words inspire inspire someone to reach upwards to look further? Beyond a fleeting impulse. Inspiration is hard.

      But isn’t this where we should begin looking around us…or downward, backwards, at those less unfortunate? And help them?

      Wasn’t a lot of Jesus’ focus and ministry about getting us to stop looking inward, stop looking upward…and starting looking outward and around us?

      • Not to hijack this thread too much, but…

        Miguel – back to the Law discussion from before, Jesus fulfilled all the Law, which includes the sacrificial/temple/tabernacle system. How can we not look at what he did and say that he basically ended, forever, Judaism? And by extention…the Law.

        Moving back to topic…remarkable how Jesus’ sacrifice freed up all believer’s time so they can actually focus outward instead of inward/upward.

        • Of the three major world religions today…is Christianity the only that is fundamentally an outwards focused religion, and especially a compassionate outwards focused religion?

        • Rick Ro. says:

          That seems to be the message of Hebrews; basically, after what Jesus did, why would you want to go back to the old way of getting right with God?

  13. Funny. When the probe flew by Pluto last week, I sat at my desk at work, watching the on-line countdown to closest approach — I’d been dialed in pretty intensely to the program for the last few months. A half a minute or so before it reached its closest point, I announced as much to some of my coworkers.

    “What’s going on? I have no idea what you’re talking about.” they said. Educated people. With advanced degrees. In technical subjects.

    I probed the office the rest of the day to see if anyone else was excited about it. Nope.

    What does this mean? Nothing much good, probably. Does such disengagement from scientific discovery on the part of people who actually know some calculus and computer programming suggest that, in fact, the universe isn’t as fascinating as CM and others of us experience? Does this mean anything positive regarding a greater imagination for God? Probably not that either.

    In the media, Pluto’s flyby certainly made news. But it was usually a third or fourth-level item, after some shaky smartphone video of a random scary event somewhere in a Walmart parking lot in small-town Ohio that was, after all, a _compellingly shaky smartphone video_ rather than a boring old picture of Pluto’s two-mile-high mountains of ice.

    Are we as fascinated by the universe as CM suggests? Is it scarier when we’re not?

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Pluto flyby is NOT on Social Media(TM), so it does not exist.

      “LOOK! IS THAT KIM KARDASHIAN?”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > I probed the office the rest of the day to see if anyone else was excited about it. Nope.

      Yep, similar experience.

      > Does such disengagement from scientific discovery

      I find disengagement, not just from science, but from – it seems – nearly everything to be troublingly pervasive. Lives of pretty extreme [and ultimately self-imposed] isolation seem disturbingly common.

      > In the media, Pluto’s flyby certainly made news

      I am, have been involved in, several Public Information efforts for various things. Even things that directly effect people’s day-to-day lives. The “news” just doesn’t work anymore. People go on an on about Social Media and interconnectedness…. it is all bull crap. Many many people exist in tightly constrain media silos [possibly of their own construction]. Reaching people with information – even information directly relevant to them – is harder than ever. It is easier than it has been in a long time to Opt-Out. And, very sadly, once people have pushed the Opt-Out button they naturally trend toward a position of skepticism and dismissal that becomes a feedback loop for disengagement.

      > Is it scarier when we’re not?

      Yes.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I find disengagement, not just from science, but from – it seems – nearly everything to be troublingly pervasive. Lives of pretty extreme [and ultimately self-imposed] isolation seem disturbingly common.

        Just Me, My Smartphone Screen, and My Texting.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        People go on an on about Social Media and interconnectedness…. it is all bull crap.

        You mean all the silent statues staring at their smartphone screens (sometimes moving their thumbs to text) I have to dodge around in EVERY public place?

        A couple weeks ago, there was this one smartphone statue skateboarding down the station platforms at Fullerton. I think he was seeing where he was going by using the camera-to-screen app on his screen. Actually looking up to see where he was going? “What’s the App for that?”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        People go on an on about Social Media and interconnectedness…. it is all bull crap.

        Further thoughts and a bit of an epiphany I had this morning.

        To those of us familiar with Huxley’s Brave New World,
        SOcial MediA is aptly named.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      While I share your frustration, I doubt if this is new: I remember this type of reaction from when I was at school 30 years ago. And I am pretty sure my dad would say the same about being a young geek in the 50’s. Etc etc. Most of mankind rarely look further than absolutely necessary – often and unfortunately out of necessity, but in general they will seldom resemble Victorian country vicars even when given the time or money.

      • Robert F says:

        No doubt, many medieval peasants, wearied from a day of back-breaking labor in the fields, did not spend much time looking to the skies either, except for signs, of one kind or another, of what the weather might have in store. Then it was into the windowless hovel for a night of as much sleep as possible, then up with the sun for another day of back-breaking labor, labor from which a good, clear view of the sky could give no relief. Those who are bowed down by overwhelming labors rarely take much notice of the sky.

        • Robert F says:

          No doubt, there were some who looked up; how few or many, impossible to say. What’s the use of comparison of one age to another in such an unmeasurable subject, anyway? Comparison is not what matters; looking up is what matters.

        • Klasie Kraalogies says:

          Yes. And so today, in many parts of the world, ans also here, where many have to work long hours before they can go home and then attend to the hose chores and kids etc. But apart from that, money rarely increase the spirit of inquisitiveness – it mere enables those who already have it. And those are few.

    • The science and wonder at it I’m exposed to is routinely only done by atheists I listen to. There’s an irony there.

      America, and especially Christianity, is anti-intellectual. Fundamentalism mostly, to be fair.

      It’s depressing.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Very true. Think of it as a fundamental question of character? If the final answers are already known, if all you need to do is “trust and obey”, and if there are a thousand unwritten moral codes to obey, what is going to become of your inquisitiveness? However, if your worldview leaves many things unanswered, and if it leaves you and others like you to be at forefront of discovering truth, what is going to happen then?

        Ponder that.

  14. Powerful reminder that the God we worship can never be domesticated – whether that is literalism, fundamentalism, YEC or the opposites of those views. That cartoon image results regardless of whether one holds to a YEC or a theistic evolutionary stance I think. Isn’t the point not whether our doctrine is “right” but a call to move from epistemological hubris to epistemological humility?

    • Yes! The irony is that all the beauty and grandeur and glory of God (reflected in His creative power and imagination AND in His incarnation) is so focused not on standing (or falling) to appreciate it on its own, but gets lost against the backdrop of YEC or fundamentalism attacks by most of us is striking to me. Epistemological humility, it seems to me, would allow us to just let that awe wash over us, rather than turning this otherwise beautiful blog into a ‘wow, I’m glad I’m not like those fundies (anymore) and their silly small god worship!’ Why does seemingly every conversation have to take a swipe at someone? Granted, the irony is not lost on me that I think I’m doing the same right now. I guess MY hubris is bound up in the notion that I am an ex-YEC, who is tired of being an angry ex-YEC, and just wants to ‘be.’ It seems like as much as we all want to self-identify away from fundamentalism, we keep forgetting to rest in the transcendent/imminent God who is.

      • David, if it weren’t for the fact that nearly half of Americans still believe in a literal 6-day creation, I would say you have a point. This represents the pitiful state of affairs in the Church as well, and as I said the other day, it’s time for us to wake up and join the 17th century. Our imaginative faith world is in shambles.

        • CM, so are you advocating that the chief end for restoring an imaginative faith at this point is to dismantle YEC? I’m, frankly, less concerned about the constraints of fundamentalism (which, indeed, are constraining!) than you are. To say that nearly half of Americans (42% is the current stat that I found) still believe in a literal 6-day creation strikes me as an oddly unsatisfying statistic, especially since there seems to be a much smaller number for whom the notion of there being a creator means *anything* at all. People may give lip service to the idea of a creator, but He has no discernable impact in there lives. How many ARE impacted? When you start asking THAT question, the number shrinks. Are we suggesting that fundamentalism is the reason so few think about God at all? That the presentation by fundamentalists of a small god and small gospel is THE controlling paradigm that has wrecked our capacity for an imaginative faith or is it fair to say that it just wrecked *your* capacity for a long season? No doubt, for those who still hold to a strictly fundamentalist, YEC worldview, the Grandeur of God seems lessened (and your point is fully granted on that). But I wonder if making fundamentalism the boogie man is the way to regain the bigness of God? Human pride, selfishness, hatred, evil in the world in general… that has a far bigger impact, IMHO.

          And just to display my ignorance and completely small brain, I’m still wrestling with the extended consideration of Bonhoeffer that you gave us yesterday. To say that humanity as finally grown up or come of age strikes me has a hard thing to believe. I’d appreciate your further thoughts on that. I’m thoroughly confused. Namely: is Bonhoeffer saying that’s a good thing? (Maybe my ex-fundamentalism is bumping against my capacity to see the point).

          • Clay Crouch says:

            “…so are you advocating that the chief end for restoring an imaginative faith at this point is to dismantle YEC?”

            That would be a good genesis.

          • David, I’m not making fundamentalism the boogie man. I mentioned their position as one futile way Christians try to hang on to the idea of a “big God.” I had considered mentioning other ways as well, but in the end I thought too much emphasis on those ineffective paths would detract from the point of the post. One example was sufficient. Also, I said on Sunday that I would be focusing attention once more this week on YEC in light of recent stories in the news.

            As for Bonhoeffer, more later.

          • are you advocating that the chief end for restoring an imaginative faith at this point is to dismantle YEC?

            Absolutely! And the faulty assumptions and hermenutics that led to it’s creation and distillation! The whole theory of YEC is built upon untrained experts trying to marry both the words of Scripture and the musings of independent ‘prophets’ and their fever dreams into a whole with modern science.

            It’s all there in history for anyone to see and pierce together. The trick is to not dismiss real actual history and evidence because you want the conclusions to remain static.

          • To say that nearly half of Americans (42% is the current stat that I found) still believe in a literal 6-day creation

            I’d say that stat is low. 42% may “believe” in YEC, but I imagine there is a much higher percentage walking around in cognitive dissonance. They believe in YEC, but they know what they were taught in their public schools and colleges. And when push comes to shove, most will default back to YEC as their belief.

          • That the presentation by fundamentalists of a small god and small gospel is THE controlling paradigm that has wrecked our capacity for an imaginative faith or is it fair to say that it just wrecked *your* capacity for a long season?

            Yes! And history demonstrates this over and over again in the 19th through 21st centuries! I can give many examples and lists.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Make God a “big God” by making Him just the biggest Fish in a small pond?

            God is so Puny He can only be a Big God when compared to a 6019-year-old Punyverse?

          • Klasie Kraalogies says:

            David, time to (re?)read “Small Gods” by Terry Pratchett?

          • Robert F says:

            The Punyverse: the New Kid in town in God’s neighborhood…but what happens when that apparent Punyverse turns out to be other than he seems?

            “I don’t wanna hear it.
            There’s new kid in town.
            I don’ wanna hear it.”

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            Was that a Jesus Juke?

  15. I don’t know, when I do think about the vastness of the universe or even the complexity of living organisms, I find that in general it helps me spur my imagination of God. That God is somehow bigger and more complex than that. That He brought the processes into order that created such a vast universe and such complicated lifeforms.

    If I did have a trouble, it would be with the idea that God is that large and that vast, but yet still cares about us or more specifically me. It seems so preposterous. I wonder if it really is though. I mean some assume that the vastness of God makes us insignificant to him. Why would He care? However, what it it is exactly because God is so vast beyond our imagination that it allows for Him to care for even seemingly insignificant people. I don’t know if that makes sense or not, but that is where my thoughts led.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Again, the Doctrine of the Incarnation. No matter how large and vast the Cosmos, no matter how larger and vaster God has to be, God remains on a one-to-one human scale through Incarnation as Christ.

      So why do so many flee the Incarnation for a 6019-year-old, ending-tomorrow-at-the-latest, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Punyverse?

      • You’re absolutely right on that. I don’t have any clue why people ignore the Incarnation so much. Maybe because the Incarnation gets a little too personal, a little too close. Some would rather tilt at windmills and speculate about the impersonal, particularly if they can set themselves (and whatever group they align with) up as the hero.

      • +10000000 HUG

        I’ve often fantasized about being caught in the middle of a dumb theological debate, putting my hand up to pause someone blathering about something ridiculous, slowly and authoritatively stating “INCARNATION,” and walking away with two fists raised in the air.

        Group experiment?

      • Robert F says:

        You are spot on about the Incarnation, HUG. Right as rain.

      • Dude….YES

        • Robert F says:

          You sound like Molly Bloom at the end of Joyce’s Ulysses:

          “…and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.”

      • StuartB says:

        Jesus was a carpenter. He built tables and chairs and structures that healed and housed and comforted more sick and dying than any miraculous act he did later in life.

        The Creator came into creation to keep creating with what was already created.

        And many of us expect something from nothing, rather than work with what we have.

        He came, and sweated, and nicked his finger, and bled, and showed us how we should be doing the same.

        • Robert F says:

          Kazantzakis in his novel “The Last Temptation of Christ” has father and son carpenters Joseph and Jesus making crosses at Roman command. I’ve often wondered about that; would the Romans have contracted out to local carpenters to make things like crosses, or did they have their own carpenters, and other tradesmen, traveling with them?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        So why do so many flee the Incarnation for a 6019-year-old, ending-tomorrow-at-the-latest, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Punyverse?

        Turns out I answered my own question in a Creation Wars comment thread some 18 months ago regarding the Ham-on-Nye debate:

        I’m sure one factor in YEC is fear of Deep Time and Deep Space. A 6017-year-old, Earth-and-some-lights-in-the-sky Cosmos is a lot more cozy and comfortable than what we see in the Hubble Deep Fields. Small enough that WE can be Important without any outside help, when Ruling the World(TM) looks like more than a portion of a pale blue dot amid the blackness. Deep Space and Deep Time dwarf anything and everything into insignificance.

        Yet Christianity should be THE best-equipped to deal with Deep Space and Deep Time, by virtue of the Doctrine of the Incarnation. No matter how enormous and old the Cosmos becomes, no matter how Big God has to be, no matter how insignificant one pale blue dot and the life forms on that pale blue dot, God remains on a one-to-one human scale through Incarnation as Christ.

  16. When God replies to Job, he doesn’t answer his questions. He instead blows his mind with examples from nature of how big He is and how powerful He is. Elihu had just spent the previous chapters telling Job that God had bigger fish to fry than respond to him, but God jumps in and (as if to refute Elihu) does respond. Thereby He shows that yes, He is big and powerful BUT he still cares and responds to those who call out to him, even if they are arguing with him.

    Job responds as a humbled man who knows he has been heard, even if his questions didn’t get answered. His need was bigger than the questions he posed, and God met his need.

    I know someone who loves Reformism because “it has answers to all my questions.” This concerns me, because there are some answers God doesn’t share with us because we just can’t know it all.

    Many thanks to Philip Yancey and “Disappointment with God” who opened up the book of Job to me and let me learn to love the God who hears me when I complain to Him.

    • *…because there are some answers God doesn’t share with us because we just can’t know it all.

      Except, y’know, for the way the reasons for Job’s misfortunes are specifically laid out in the opening verses of the book. And they are, specifically, “God and Satan were shootin’ the sh&t one day and made a bet that . . .”

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Ha!

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        And they are, specifically, “God and Satan were shootin’ the sh&t one day and made a bet that . . .”

        Has the vibe of a “Once Upon a Time” opening.

        Like the first words of narration in Lauren Faust’s reboot of My Little Pony:
        “Once upon a time, in the magical land of Equestria…”

    • Well put, DebD. “His need was bigger than the questions he posed, and God met his need.” This has been my experience, too.

  17. As has been noted, imagination is bad! It is the realm where Satan comes in and draws us away. That is the thinking that has stifled one of the most important gift/tools that God has given us. The reason we have bought that thinking is because we think imagination begins from nothing; from no place. It is just pretend nonsense. That is in fact impossible. Imagination has to begin, even if we think we are just making something up, from someplace within our psyche. Certainly it can be used for ill to cunjure up all sorts of evil schemes but that’s just the mixed bag that we are. It can be used equally to imagine the greatest flights of fancy in heavenly places. Soaring with eagles or angles. Sitting at table with Jesus and laughing at a good joke. Leaning against a leg of the Father’s throne like a child in its fathers office. Morphing into an atom and being joined to others to become a wave of of light bursting forth from the eye of God. These flights are akin to meditation and have a substantive positive benefit.

  18. Another thing that discourages me — and maybe some of you can help remedy this — why is it that when someone does give a recommendation of an artist, author, or composer who can expand our imaginative world and sense of wonder, it is almost invariably someone from the past?

    Who can point us to contemporary Mystics who are capable of leading us into contemplation and wonder?

    • Maybe because the genius of the Mystics isn’t fully recognized until they’re dead and gone?

      They’re usually too much of a threat to the status quo to get mainstream attention.

      Or they care so little about receiving attention in this world that it takes family or a group of peers to collect and assemble their works after they pass.

      A worthy calling either way.

    • Randy Thompson says:

      So, what’s wrong with the past?

      The experiences of the mystics are timeless. Their historical address is irrelevant and their experience is always (and everywhere?) relevant. They nourish, encourage, and open one’s spiritual and mental eyes. One sees more after reading them, both of the heavens and of earth.

      I am sure such mystics are among us now, maybe in the pew in front or in back of us. How would we know? I suspect that to the contemporaries of St. Therese of Lisieux, St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa o Avila, Dame Julian of Norwich, William Law, and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, these mystics would have been completely unknown. .

      Don’t lose heart. God, in his love for humility, usually reveals these people after they’re dead.

      And, better a dead mystic than a live theologian–although, who knows. It’s interesting. When St. Thoma Aquinas became a mystic, he rather abruptly stopped being a theologian.

      j”All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

    • Robert F says:

      Never heard of Jean Vanier? Or Rowan Williams? Or Parker Palmer? Or Gerald May (well, he’s been dead a few years, but not long enough not to belong on a list of our contemporaries, and I would have named him if you’d asked the question while he was alive)? If you’re willing to accept non-Christians, how about Thich Nhat Hanh?

      Most of the time, we’re just looking for mystics in all the wrong places…

    • St. Bono of Dublin…St. Edge of the same…etc, lol

    • Who can point us to contemporary Mystics who are capable of leading us into contemplation and wonder?

      Because America and fundamentalism and CCM and capitalism, they don’t really exist much.

      Those heretics on the fringes, they are on to something tho.

    • Robert F says:

      There are plenty of resources out there, only they usually are communal these days, rather than the project of a single cowboy mystic (though the two listed below both had monastic founders):

      http://www.contemplativeoutreach.org/

      http://wccm-usa.org/

      But you can’t get wet without getting in the pool.

    • grberry says:

      The art I follow most closely is science fiction. This brings two thoughts to mind.

      First is that we need time for filtering. Theodore Sturgeon, one of the leading authors of his era of science fiction writing said somethings that have been twisted and popularized as Sturgeon’s Law: “90% of Science Fiction is crap. But then, 90% of everything is crap.” (Orginally, “everything” was a list of other arts and genres.) We need time to filter out crap and find gems, and that inevitably means that most of the known gems originated a while ago, leading to a likelihood that the artist is now dead.

      Second is C.S. Lewis’s poem “An Expostulation”, the first line of which is “Against too many writers of science fiction”. Google search the first line and you’ll find the poem, even though it is still under copyright. Like a good poem, it can be read multiple ways. I have in mind it as a commentary on the failure of science fiction, one of the most imaginative literary genres, to offer much in the way of true imagination. One commentator has observed that in order to sell, the story needs drama understandable to humans. That draws authors and editors back to human scale stories.

      • Robert F says:

        Theodore Sturgeon was a good science fiction writer, but Kilgore Trout was the true genius.

        • Robert F says:

          Of course you remember what Kilgore Trout had to say about the immensity of the universe: “The universe is a big place, perhaps the biggest.”

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        I have in mind it as a commentary on the failure of science fiction, one of the most imaginative literary genres, to offer much in the way of true imagination. One commentator has observed that in order to sell, the story needs drama understandable to humans. That draws authors and editors back to human scale stories.

        What it means is an author has to strike a balance similar to the Incarnation.

        Balancing the wonders of Cosmic imagination with the one-to-one human scale of drama understandable to humans. And it’s difficult to pull off. Christ could be both Fully God and Fully Man, Fully Cosmic and Fully One-to-One. We can’t.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      why is it that when someone does give a recommendation of an artist, author, or composer who can expand our imaginative world and sense of wonder, it is almost invariably someone from the past?

      Because it takes that long to demonstrate Staying Power?

  19. C.S Lewis’ concept of joy comes to mind. He spoke of how something as simple as a range of hills in the distance evoked this feeling, somewhere between longing and nostalgia (Sehnsucht or something) that pointed him in the direction of the Divine. This feeling has dogged me ever since I was a child, and it’s always kept me seeking, even if all evidence is against me. I fear that people have lost the ability to experience this sort of thing. I fear that what we call wonder now is only a shallow version of a deeper spiritual arousal experienced by people like Lewis in earlier times. Or I might just be crazy; I’ve entertained that possibility quite often lately.

    • Good word, Matt. Yes, Lewis’s “joy” is exactly the kind of sense I’m trying to get at today.

      • I thinks it’s worth noting that I, personally, don’t get much of this feeling from science. Us sensitive right-brain types tend to feel depersonalized and disenchanted by science. I think we need more Narnia and Middle Earth in our experience of life, and less space probes and evolutionary psychology. I think imagination needs more enchantment than is currently on offer.

        • Stephen says:

          I’ll see your Narnia and raise you one Germ Theory of Disease. Which do you think has saved more children?

          • You make a very good point. My (patently hypocritical) anti-scientific chipped shoulder must have been acting up again. Still, would it kill you to let me have a couple elves? Maybe a wizard or two? I promise I’ll feed them everyday.

          • Rick Ro. says:

            Each has it’s value, me-thinks.

      • Klasie Kraalogies says:

        Ah, Chap Mike, your words remind me of this XKCD cartoon: https://xkcd.com/877/

    • Christiane says:

      MATT K,
      you’re not crazy, maybe ‘enchanted’ . . . if we are lucky, we will all experience at least one awe-filled memorable moment in our lives as our mental and spiritual ‘go-to’ place when the world overwhelms (or underwhelms, which can be worse) 🙂

      take the gift and treasure it . . . it’s meant to encourage you on the journey

    • Another Mary says:

      I so agree. It is joy that can be the most simple and mystifying. Mystifyng because it is here, all around us, everyday. Crazy that God would design us with that ability to choose and because it is within it often is overlooked.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      > C.S Lewis’ concept of joy comes to mind.

      Exactly!

      The catch is that Joy is an outwards facing thing. When someone chooses an internal isolated life they have slammed the door on Joy, and then they become suspicious of it, what is out-there. Someone may not be isolated and internalizing because they are Selfish, but being isolated and internalizing will make them so in end.

      My own life is a witness to this fact, and coming out the other side [thankfully, and thanks to many].

      It is easier to wonder at the stars when you are looking at them with a friend.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The catch is that Joy is an outwards facing thing. When someone chooses an internal isolated life they have slammed the door on Joy, and then they become suspicious of it, what is out-there.

        Just Me and My Smartphone Screen.
        (text text text text text text text text…)

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Again, Huxley’s Brave New World meets SOcial MediA.

          “The last invention in human history will be the Holodeck.”
          — Dilbert, spoken before the Smartphone and SOcial MediA.

    • “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe, is as good as dead —his eyes are closed. The insight into the mystery of life, coupled though it be with fear, has also given rise to religion. To know what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms—this knowledge, this feeling is at the center of true religiousness.”
      – Albert Einstein.

  20. This could be dedicated to a whole new thread! From an evangelical perspective, it will be a rehash of everything wrong with the vast evangelical industrial complex: pragmatism sells. From a larger perspective, it takes time for great writing to be recognized and placed in the hands of the public. Third, many great writers were shunned or exiled during their lifetime and only later discovered for their true genius (Teilhard being one of them). Mark Heard received little or no recognition from the Christian unity in his lifetime. When I was in college, someone responded to my fascination for Bruce Cockburn by calling him a “pseudo” Christian. It’s kerygma vs kairos – the emphasis on the message to convert vs being seize and by the wonder of God it this moment and space. I’ve got names of living writers, but it will have to wait until later today.

    • Frederick Buechner.

    • This should have been attached to Chaplain Mike’s comment above concerning why no living authors are being recommended.

    • I seem to recall even in my early years in college that C.S. Lewis wasn’t considered quite a real Christian. After all, his novels never ended in an altar call. And he smoked (gasp)! And he was an Anglican (double gasp)!!

    • someone responded to my fascination for Bruce Cockburn by calling him a “pseudo” Christian

      Because a little sin poisons the whole pot for some.

      “Would you be willing to drink a glass of water if there was even a little bit of poison in it?”

      etc

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Or would you rather be So Spiritually Pure you have ceased to be human?

      • dumb ox says:

        “I used to be a little boy
        So old in my shoes
        And what I choose is my choice
        What’s a boy supposed to do?
        The killer in me is the killer in you”
        – Smashing Pumkins

        • Robert F says:

          “And I could purge my soul perhaps
          for the imminent collapse.
          Oh yeah, I’ll tell you what we could do–
          you be me for a while,
          and I’ll be you…”

          –The Replacements

          • I fell in love with the sweet sensation
            I gave my heart to a simple chord
            I gave my soul to a new religion
            Whatever happened to you?
            Whatever happened to our rock’n’roll?

            – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

          • Robert F says:

            Read about your band in some local page,
            didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name.
            Sweet Georgia breezes, safe, cool and warm.
            I headed up north, you headed north.

            On and on and on and on,
            what side are you on?
            On and on and on and on,
            what side are you on?

            Weary voice that’s laughin’, on the radio once,
            we sounded drunk, never made it on.
            Passin’ through and it’s late, the station started to fade.
            Picked another one up in the very next state.

            On and on and on and on,
            what side are you on?
            On and on and on and on and…

            Pretty girl keep growin’ up, playin’ make-up, wearin’ guitar,
            growin’ old in a bar, ya grow old in a bar.
            Headed out to San Francisco, definitely not L.A.
            Didn’t mention your name, didn’t mention your name.

            And if I don’t see ya, in a long, long while,
            I’ll try to find you
            left of the dial,
            left of the dial.”

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUmwzgFXfug

            –The Replacements

      • dumb ox says:

        Strain the gnat and swallow the camel. That’s the evangelical way.

    • Robert F says:

      You know, they may have a point. If you listen to that stuff, it’s like a gateway to listening to stuff like this:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRENoPisFYk

      And then you’d end up just like me.

      • dumb ox says:

        That’s a bad thing?

        • Robert F says:

          Not if you like really kick-ass, under-appreciated rock bands. Devo was as tight a band as any, and they had some pretty nifty dance steps, done in unison while playing instruments punk fast. You can say a lot of bad things about America, and many or most might be true, but only in America could a band like Devo have been conceived, born, and survived. That’s a good thing about America.

          • Brianthedad says:

            RF, your breadth of experience and thought never ceases to amaze me. No sarcasm,

    • Stuart Kauffman.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When I was in college, someone responded to my fascination for Bruce Cockburn by calling him a “pseudo” Christian. It’s kerygma vs kairos

      From that example, more like Counting Coup in the game of Christianese One-Upmanship.

      Where the Proof You’re Really Saved is “Whatever *I* do that YOU don’t!”
      And the Unpardonable Sin is “Whatever YOU do that *I* don’t!”

  21. “I am afraid that I live in a world in which we, myself included, have lost our imagination for God.”

    That’s part of the message of Madeleine L’Engle’s “Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art.” I’m reading it for the first time and have enjoyed her encouragement for Christians to be creative just as our God is creative. I’ve found much of the book to be ho-hum, but sprinkled throughout are delightful gems of wisdom and insight.

    • Robert F says:

      Ho-hum? Some of it’s downright zany, like her belief that human beings should be able to teleport themselves by the sheer power of mental energy, and that this will go a long way toward resolving the environmental crisis.

      Strangely, though, you are right: despite both the zaniness and ho-hum, there are real gems of wisdom and insight sprinkled about in the book.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >teleport themselves by the sheer power of mental energy

        Kind of a pretty standard modern fantasy trope. What modern fantasy doesn’t link activation of ‘super powers’ to emotional or sexual arousal, etc… Magick without gods needs some other kind of battery.

        • Robert F says:

          Yes, except the book we’re talking about is not fiction. It’s about the creative process, and contains many personal reflections, as well as accounts of her religious beliefs and philosophy. Teleportation is what she believes should be entirely possible in the real world; she also refers to some physician in Europe, whose name I can’t recall, who she says has researched and documented the ability of human beings to regenerate damaged organs and appendages, specifically fingers, at will.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            Oh, that book! yeah, the lady is bonkers. Kind of the quintessential liberal hippy lady.

            She did write during the [brief] heyday of modern western shamanism.

      • StuartB says:

        Anyone familiar with the teachings of Art Katz? Him and some other charismatics I’ve been exposed to believed mankind could “teleport” themselves “in the Spirit”. Just like Stephen did. That they could will themselves to another place, or that the essence of their being was in another place. And they’d have stories about missionaries telling them they’d talked face to face a week prior to their arrival. Stuff like that.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          “Teleportation in the Spirit” — Astral Projection with a Christian coat of paint?

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      >ho-hum, but sprinkled throughout are delightful gems

      This was my response in re-reading them as an adult.

  22. Randy Thompson says:

    When I was a teenager, our church youth director quoted Albert Camus’s description of modern hyman beings: “They fornicate and read the papers.” I have never forgotten this quotation because I have found the words of that now dated French existentialist to be true. To update it, I think Camus would say,”They fornicate. Period.”

    Technology and communications have enabled us to avoid people and things we don’t like. We cocoon ourselves in our own little worlds where our ego is comfortable. The sad thing is, to live this way is finally to become imprisoned in our own egos and their desires. Nothing or no one outside our cocoon of comfort need be respected, taken seriously, or listened to. “We” has given way to “I,”

    This blinds us to the world we were born into. We have eyes, but we do not see. We have ears, but can’t hear. This state of affairs when Jesu quoted those words of Isaiah two thousand years ago. The only difference now is the level of blindness and deafness. By choosing the theologically-enabled bubble in which we live, we fail to see how small that bubble is, and that it gets ever smaller.

    Our bubble, or cocoon, becomes more and more of a fantasy, disconnected from anything we don’t like and from people we don’t like or agree with. And here is where Charles Williams’ scary novel “Descent into Hell” is almost a prophetic word. To choose “your own reality” is to end up disconnected from the good of your intellect, from other people, from reality, and finally from God. And you find yourself in hell, and you are no longer a self.

    Encouragingly, Williams’ other writings opened my eyes to the glory of God everywhere. “Coinherence” for him wasn’t just a technical theological term describe the Trinity, but a description of the universe, which was to him an inter-related “web of glory.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “Technology and communications have enabled us to avoid people and things we don’t like. We cocoon ourselves in our own little worlds where our ego is comfortable. The sad thing is, to live this way is finally to become imprisoned in our own egos and their desires.”

      This.

      “Our bubble, or cocoon, becomes more and more of a fantasy,”

      Yes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      When I was a teenager, our church youth director quoted Albert Camus’s description of modern hyman beings: “They fornicate and read the papers.” I have never forgotten this quotation because I have found the words of that now dated French existentialist to be true. To update it, I think Camus would say,”They fornicate. Period.”

      Because actual F’ing is the only thing you CAN’T do over Social Media.

    • Robert F says:

      “They fornicate, and text.”

    • Robert F says:

      “They fornicate, and take selfies.”

    • Robert F says:

      Now dated French existentialist? Camus? I think you’ve gone just a little too far there, buddy…

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Paraphrasing T.S.Eliot,

      “These were an interesting Godless people;
      All they left behind was a Cloud full of selfies
      And a million used condoms.”

  23. “Who can point us to contemporary Mystics who are capable of leading us into contemplation and wonder?”

    I feel like an annoying three-year-old kid with a toy drum, but I’ll bang it one more time. Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault in the extent of my study so far is THE ONE BOOK that can best take you home. Probably not the kind of book you can read at one sitting, tho it’s only about 170 pages long and is not difficult reading. Yes, you can take Richard Rohr in smaller doses, but you have to spend a lot more time overall to get the gist from him.

    I must emphasize that gaining an intellectual understanding of the book along with five bucks will get you a cuppa Starbucks. It is only in DOING what the book describes that the journey can be made. And it is an inner journey that reportedly shrinks New Horizons down to stepping out to get your mail. I can’t fully testify to that yet myself but I’m taking the word of many a lot smarter and more dedicated than me along the way.

    The book could be digested in twenty minute chunks. But the whole point to the book is whether or not you are then willing to invest another twenty minutes a day practicing what it shows you how to do, at least until you’ve given it a fair trial over say a month or two. It isn’t easy, and yet it is. You can do it sitting in an easy chair or a zero gravity chair or on a mat on the floor. You could do it in your car waiting out a traffic jam. It basically consists of emptying your self to get it out of the way so that God is disclosed. It is much easier said than done. The self is desperately determined to hang on in charge of things, and is masterly in masquerading as Self, your inner Spirit from God.

    I find that out of something like twenty minutes of practice, on an extremely good day I might quiet my mind and get strong hints of the Presence of God for five minutes off and on. That doesn’t happen often. More so I might find I’m doing good to eke out five seconds. But even those five seconds make a big difference the other 23 hours and 40 minutes. And if I fail to put in those twenty minutes at all, I pay the price until I do. I’ve been known to get up out of bed in the middle of the night to catch up. Some days I’ve done two sessions.

    We are talking immanence here, and while transcendence remains real, it is somewhere out there with Pluto and the far reaches of what we like to call the Universe, which apparently turns out to be a grain of sand on a beach somewhere. I’m not anywhere near that. But the turning point that anyone can make is to realize that the voyage is not outward bound to the stars, but inward to the heart, where God lives and is waiting to go for a walk with us in the Garden in the quiet of the evening. We each are captain of our own spaceship and can give the order to turn it around at any time. Again, this is NOT an intellectual undertaking, but the mind can help the heart comprehend in the beginning of the journey.

    • Thanks for the recommendation, Charles. I hadn’t heard of her.

      • Damaris, if you do read the book I would be most interested in your response to it. For me, it is both an excellent introduction to the practice of contemplation and a how-to manual. Right now Richard Rohr is featuring quotes from Lady Julian of Norwich, a mystic of medieval Europe. To me they are interesting in showing how there have been people all along who have attuned to the Presence of God in this way, but the language and imagery from her time or the Ancient Near East desert mothers and fathers, or even fifty years ago, just doesn’t resonate with me, would never have sparked my interest on their own. Paul’s admonition to put off the old man isn’t going to cut it with the Nones and the Dones or the Youngs, but speaking of the narcissistic ego might get some attention.

  24. Randy Thompson says:

    Chaplain:

    I think this passage from John speaks your post today: “The one light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receie him.” (John 1:9-11)

    Eyes, but not seeing. Ears, but not hearing.

  25. OldProphet says:

    Chaplain Mike. I think that the posts this week are your best ever! Really great chestnuts to chew on. Just wish to say…… I’m greatful and humble to have been allowed to comment here on Imonk, plus I’ve grown and learned a lot. I ask for forgiveness for those I’ve offended. Be blessed and annointed all you beloved of the Father! Stuart, keep pushing, I love your heart. RF, it’s been real!

    • Robert F says:

      OP, That sounds like good-bye. If that’s what it is, please reconsider; I, for one, value your comments, and your sense of humor. I know there are many others here who feel the same as I do.

    • Ditto. Good posts lately. Thought-provoking.

      Going somewhere, OP? Blessings to you whatever the answer is.

  26. One commendable motivation of literalists and fundamentalists such as Young Earth Creationists is to try and keep this “big God” alive among us by insisting that all biblical accounts are journalistic depictions of what actually happened. “Isn’t God great!” But what they end up giving us is a cartoon God.

    This is a commendable statement, and one I’d have to admit to grudgingly. As my brother said to me recently when I got a little heated talking about my past charismatic cult: “you still sound a little bitter.” Yeah, and I always will be. But wisdom can be found there, and acknowledging the good goes a long way.

    That cartoon God thing…one of the instances that marked me as an outsider or potentially dangerous at that cult was my voicing the idea that God didn’t snap his fingers each day of creation and “it was done”. That seems like childplay for a omnipotent deity. But where I was it was the only acceptable understanding of the text…

    YEC does seem like a cartoon God, the more I’m away from it. Whereas, the God of the Scriptures does some amazing and wonderful and beautiful things within the confines he himself gives himself. If Jesus refused to just create bread from stones whenever he wanted, why wouldn’t God have slowly developed and refined and perfected the universe during creation as well?

    It’s a hard concept to explain…but I’m with you fully about the cartoon God idea.

    • “It’s a hard concept to explain…but I’m with you fully about the cartoon God idea.”

      I’m afraid the only image of this historic New Horizons decade long endeavor I’m taking away with me is Daniel Jepsen’s disclosure of the Disney Connection last Saturday. Classic!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      That cartoon God thing…one of the instances that marked me as an outsider or potentially dangerous at that cult was my voicing the idea that God didn’t snap his fingers each day of creation and “it was done”.

      That’s because He wasn’t Q or Discord.

  27. One of the interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 was that as technological prowess increased mankind had lost its capacity to imagine. HAL concluded that made man into a liability to the mission.
    This link is really interesting:
    http://www.kubrick2001.com

  28. Lorelei says:
  29. StuartB says:

    Imagination requires progress, the belief that things can get better. When you have no hope or vision for things improving, then imagination dries up.

    Reminds me of common fantasy tropes. A perfectly preserved Medieval world with magic, but little to no technological progress. Science, in the long run, would almost always win out over magic, since who needs a spell to power a lamp when a water wheel generating electricity will do that just as well? The collective imagination in most fantasy settings is very low, whereas creativity in magic tends to be high; how do we reuse and repurpose what we have, instead of creating something new?

    Another trope is the idea of ancient technological superiority. Our ancient forefathers had the ability to create giant halls of rock, yet we don’t know how they did it. They made blades that could cut anything, and all we have is iron. Ancient knowledge lost to time, and knowledge is always perpetually slipping away; there is nothing being added to it, merely lament over what was lost.

    Really, I’m describing a wordview or philosophy that is responsible for all this. Responsible for the loss of imagination. Responsibly for Chaplain Mike’s lament and concern.

    And since the 19th century, it’s dominated America. Maybe even ravaged.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says:

      “””When you have no hope or vision for things improving, then imagination dries up.”””

      And just like the irony of the Romans, surrounded by real progress and even through the zenith of their power, they convinced themselves with a narrative of inevitable decline. This is one of the most puzzling aspects of humanity – we can stare right at improvement and progress and yet be convinced all is lost. It is an ugly part of what we are, it excuses manifold cruelties.

      Expect doom and inevitably you will be correct.

      “””Another trope is the idea of ancient technological superiority””‘

      Much of Evangelicalism reads like this type of fiction.

      “”””Really, I’m describing a wordview or philosophy that is responsible for all this””””

      I think what you describe is partly to blame.

      “””And since the 19th century, it’s dominated America. Maybe even ravaged.”””

      Yep.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Imagination requires progress, the belief that things can get better. When you have no hope or vision for things improving, then imagination dries up.</blockquote

      Remember the Parent-Teacher Meeting scene in Interstellar?

      The “Earth is Dying and We Must Accept Our Inevitable Fate; Don’t Give Them Make-Believe Hope” attitude?

      Reminds me of common fantasy tropes. A perfectly preserved Medieval world with magic, but little to no technological progress.

      That was a common back-and-forth in my Old School D&D days — Magic vs Technology. My personal resolution of the trope was the idea that “a Medieval world with magic” — actual working Magic — would tend to think of solutions/advancement in terms of Magic instead of technology. You need to advance? You research or tweak a spell or summon a supernatural force/being instead of designing/building a machine to do the job. They’d THINK in magical terms.

      Applejack: That’s just it, she lives in… the Everfree Forest!
      Applejack: The Everfree Forest just ain’t natural. The plants grow…
      Fluttershy: Animals care for themselves…
      Rainbow Dash: And the clouds move…
      Applejack, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash: ALL ON THEIR OWN!
      Rarity: [faints]
      — MLP:FIM, S1E9 “Bridle Gossip”; the ponies are so used to controlling nature with magic that what we would call “nature” is unnatural to them

      Another trope is the idea of ancient technological superiority. Our ancient forefathers had the ability to create giant halls of rock, yet we don’t know how they did it. They made blades that could cut anything, and all we have is iron. Ancient knowledge lost to time, and knowledge is always perpetually slipping away…

      I read once that the main difference in theme between an SF background and a Fantasy one is that the SF tropes are towards The Future (Advancement) and the Fantasy tropes are towards the Past (Golden Age decline narrative).

  30. I think technology is good like candy, tastes amazing but does not really satisfy. I think no matter how we progress, our deepest hungers will remain. When we have finally gotten over all these gizmos and advancements then we can get back to paying attention to the things that really matter. If we drown ourselves with technology and social media and all that, the hunger inside us keeps getting worse and we become disoriented, hopefully we have not forgotten the things that are really inside us, the issues that really matter and our being wants to resolve.

    • Klasie Kraalogies says:

      True, but at the same time, no amount of yearning for a mythical past will do the same either. The problem is in the mirror, not in the app…..

  31. God is big, bigger than our idols, and our idols are guaranteed to fail us

    • dumb ox says:

      Amen. It’s difficult to discuss idols in a world where no one believes idols exist. But they occupy our pulpits and Christian bookstore shelves. If this diminutive god of American Evangelicalism is no god at all, what is it if not an idol? If it is an idol, then where, in the words of Habakkuk, is the God of Heaven?

  32. Dana Ames says:

    I’ll be putting in some links in the very hope that this will get thrown to mod, because I want Chaplain Mike to not miss it. (I was going to email him, but this will do, too, and will serve in case anyone else is interested.)

    I’ve been listening to Fr John Behr a lot recently. I’ve read a couple of his books, but as with many good thinkers, I find listening to the same material presented from different starting points to be helpful for me as an auditory learner. This Fr John has done in the past few years. His talks bring together so many of the points people noted above: loss of wonder, too much comfort, the Incarnation, what it means to be human, death, suffering…

    I would recommend this one for anyone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AR5ZEnV-XsI

    This series of 4 is specifically a journey through his book “Becoming Human”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jaZmvyzOj04
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOzKGmx85QY
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXNH4NsL858
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csu4YAE4FCg

    Ch Mike, these 2 podcasts would probably be of more specific help for you in ministering to Christians, or if anyone is interested in your Christian faith, as the talks were given to a room full of priests & their wives, who are in the same position as you encountering dying people:
    http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/2013_assembly/fr._john_behr_death_the_final_frontier1
    http://www.ancientfaith.com/specials/2013_assembly/fr._john_behr_taking_back_death1

    One of his major points is that we have to start with the cross and resurrection, and interpret everything from there, but be careful – even those who lived with Jesus for 3 years didn’t get it, even immediately after the resurrection and encountering the empty tomb. This one is especially good for that:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy-gCEWh5-4

    But really, they’re all good. If anyone is interested and have the time to listen, I think there will be much help for you.

    Dana

  33. dakatasue says:

    I suggest Robert Capon’s Parables of Punishment, Chapter 7 “God’s Action in History” as a good spot to look for some thoughtful insights. If his “Parables” trilogy is not on your bookshelf, I highly recommend them.

  34. dumb ox says:

    “I will rise from my bed with a question again
    As I work to inherit the restless wind
    The view from my window is cold and obscene
    I want to touch what my eyes haven’t seen

    But they have packaged our virtue in cellulose dreams
    And sold us the remnants ’til our pockets are clean
    Til our hopes fall ’round our feet
    Like the dust and dead leaves
    And weend up looking like what we believe

    We are soot-covered urchins running wild and unshod
    We will always be remembered as the orphans of God
    They will dig up these ruins and make flutes of our bones
    And blow a hymn to the memory of the orphans of God”
    – Mark Heard

    • Robert F says:

      “I’m gonna rent myself a house in the shade of the freeway.
      I’m gonna pack my lunch in the morning and go to work each day.
      And when the evening rolls around, I’ll go on home, and lay my body down.
      And when the morning light comes in, I’ll get up and do it again.

      I wanna know what became of the changes we waited for love to bring.
      Were they only the fitful dreams of some greater awakening?
      Yes, I’ve been aware of the time going by, they say in the end it’s the wink of an eye.
      And when the morning light comes streaming in, you get up and do it again.
      Amen, say it again.

      Caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender,
      where the sirens sing, and church bells ring, and the junk man pounds his fender.
      Where the veterans dream of the fight, fast asleep at the traffic light,
      and the children silently wait for the ice cream vendor.

      Out into the cool of the evening strolls the Pretender.
      He knows that all his hopes and dreams begin and end there…

      …I’m gonna be a happy idiot and struggle for the legal tender,
      where the ads take aim, and lay their claim, to the heart and the soul of the spender,
      and believe in whatever may lie in those things that money can buy.
      Though true love could have been a contender

      Are you there? Say a prayer for the Pretender,
      who started out so young and strong, only to surrender.”

      –Jackson Browne

      • If Coke is a mystery
        And Michael Jackson history
        If beauty is truth and
        Surgery the fountain of youth
        What am I to do
        Have I got the gifts to get me through
        The gates of that mansion

        If O.J. is more than a drink
        And a Big Mac bigger than we think
        If perfume is an obsession
        And talk shows confession
        What have we got to lose
        Another push and we’ll be through
        The gates of that mansion

        I never bought a lotto ticket
        I never parked in anyone’s space
        The banks, they’re like cathedrals
        I guess casinos took their place
        Love, come on down
        Don’t wake her, she’ll come around
        Chance is a kind of religion
        Where you’re damned for plain hard luck
        I never did see that movie
        Never did read that book
        Love come on down
        Let my numbers come around

        Don’t know if I can hold on
        Don’t know if I’m that strong
        Don’t know if I can wait that long
        Till the colours come flashing
        And the lights go on

        Then will there be no time for sorrow
        Then will there be no time for shame
        And though I can’t say why
        I know I’ve got to believe
        We’ll go driving in that pool
        It’s who you know that gets you through
        The gates of the Playboy Mansion
        But they don’t mention the pain

        Then will there be no time of sorrow
        Then will there be no time for shame
        Then will there be no time of sorrow
        Then will there be no time for shame

        – U2

  35. Over the last few days our own Chaplain has been circling around issues that are not entirely clear in either his mind or ours, but if I had to attach a temporary label, “angst” might do as well as any. Our good friend W has taken another break that may wear that label as well. Old Prophet may make for three. None of these are terminal in my view, all seem serious.

    It would appear that some particular move of Spirit, or perhaps spirit, is at work, I sense the former. Yes, this too shall pass, but in the meantime as we natter on it would be good to send out prayers of blessing, healing, peace, and restoration to these three in particular. And also for all the congregation that meets here who may not be taking the brunt of the storm but shelter under the same tent.

    I look out my window and the sun is shining, it’s a picture perfect day coming to a close. Things ain’t always what they seem, and the sun isn’t shining on everyone right now. God bless us all and bring us to fulfillment in the here and now as our Lord Jesus showed the way.

  36. In the contemporary US evangelical world, Louie Giglio is one who has shown us the immensity of creation and spoken of the greatness of God. You might not like the way he does it, but he’s one who had had a go at it in this century.

  37. dumb ox says:

    Do want a modern mystic? Did you catch Neil deGrasse Tyson on 60 Minutes? He talked about constantly being amazed by the wonder mystery of the vastness of the universe, that he always looks up at the stars when exiting a building, and that the wonder of the universe is the same amazement of a child catching snowflakes.

    I think part of the problem is Christians not understanding when Jesus said one must come to him as a little child – without pretentiousness. We then read that Paul calls us to be mature, and suddenly the prior words of Jesus go out the window. There is no wonder of God or the universe. As HUG mentioned in the previous thread, we look at the universe and conclude, “It’s all going to burn”. Translation: who cares? Who needs Oz when we have not only our precious monotone world, but that monotone world will last for eternity – an eternity spent with a bunch of two-dimensional, monochrome people bowing before a two-dimensional god. How…wonderful. “Shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion.” (T.S. Elliot).

    American evangelicalism has no room for the mystic or for the universe for that matter.

    Brennan Manning addressed this in his writings, how that child-like approach to truth is replaced by pretension, hypocrisy, and masks.

    “No where is the dreamer, or the misfit so alone” (Neil Peart).

    Of course, the universe has color. The tragedy is how Christians have become so colorless.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    There is no wonder of God or the universe. As HUG mentioned in the previous thread, we look at the universe and conclude, “It’s all going to burn”. Translation: who cares? Who needs Oz when we have not only our precious monotone world, but that monotone world will last for eternity…

    In a never-ending compulsory Bible Study.
    (That was the most common image of the group I was involved with when I was in-country in the Seventies — nothing but studying and reciting SCRIPTURE(TM) for all eternity.)

  39. “In a never-ending compulsory Bible Study.”

    Unless you were a bad Christian, in which case you will be stuck on the stuck in the slums on the wrong side of the tracks of heaven. That’s where I’ll probably be. Look me up when you get there; we’ll have a helluva party.