I need to mitigate what I said in the last post somewhat.
I made the idea of God-as-Powerful-Being seem a pretty toxic notion. I interpreted Psalm 139 in the most unflattering light, making God out to be a threatening, celestial, Big Brother, harshly monitoring and assessing our every move.
But as we’ve said before, while God cannot be contained in any image we can conjure, nevertheless, many different images do awaken us to different dimensions of spiritual experience. When our God is All-Powerful-Being, as we saw, it can lead to some toxic spiritual experiences. However, it can also awaken deep and profound ones. For many of us, when that was our image of God we learned to yield, to surrender, and to make deep, spiritual commitments.
God, I stand before your all-seeing Presence…
And I commit myself to live honorably before you.
I yield to a Presence greater than my own.
And surrender to the virtuous life asked of me.
I will do good. I will eschew evil.
I made those commitments early in my life and imagine many readers did as well. It was a precious and powerful thing we did, and we honor those commitments still. We pledged to live with integrity before God; to live honestly, openly, and with integrity. It was a vow of dedication, faithfulness, and loyalty. Again, it was a wonderful thing we did.
However, for many, it also came with the baggage we described in the last post.
It is times like this we need to exercise the permission our tradition gives us to jump from one metaphor of God to another. When we allow ourselves to imagine God differently, it is possible to open ourselves to other; equally wonderful; but different; spiritual experiences.
What if, instead of an All-Powerful Being, we imagined God as dirt (“The Ground of All Being,” our Christian saints and mystics suggest). If we drop the implications of God-as-Person for a while, we can plumb new insights from God-as-Ground.
When we think of God as “the soil in which we are rooted” it evokes a very different spiritual search than when we think of God as the “man in the sky.”
NOTE: This is a special Friday post, even though I’ve moved to a Tues/Thurs posting schedule. I felt like yesterday kind of left things hanging. I’m back now, to Tues/Thurs.