Tuesday, January 06, 2009

God With Us

The Hassidim tell the story of the preacher who preached over and over, "Put God in your life; put God in your life." But the holy rabbi of the village said, "Our task is not to pur God into our lives. God is already there. Our task is simply to realize that.
-from The Rule of Benedict: Insight for the Ages, by Joan Chittister, OSB
God is in my life. Even when I'm not aware of it, even when I'm not seeking God, God is in my life. Imagine what this says about God.

The typical religious model involves pious people praying to God and God responding to their prayers. But consider that God is active in my life even when I haven't prayed. My life, all of it -- the good, the bad, the ugly -- is a manifestation of a life lived with God. The world around me -- again, all of it -- is a manifestation of a world filled with God.

What could I learn about God from this simple fact? Imagine if instead of relying on theology to tell me what God is like, I tried to learn what I could about God from examining my life and my world in light of the fact that God is there. I know as theology this is a shaky proposition at best, and disastrous at worst, but isn't this how we form our ideas about people? Granted, we're often wrong about people, but when we're trying to form a relationship rather than an analysis, this way of knowing someone works quite well.

There's a danger that theological assumptions will taint the conclusion. If I place high importance on the idea of God's omnipotence, I'm likely to conclude that God has caused everything I've seen happen. That's a distortion of what I have in mind. It's an analysis. If there's a conclusion there to be had, I'm on the wrong track already.

What I want to do is to start with my personal experience of God, primarily in prayer, and from this I want to learn to recognize God in the world around me. I want to learn about God in this way. What does God do? What does God leave undone? What does God want?

Is this circular reasoning? Yeah, I think it may be. Most of what I write in this blog I write just for myself. I feel like there's something here, but I can't quite get at what it is.

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