I think what we miss is the culpability of both God and humanity for the ongoing dilemmas of the human condition. Religion exonerates God for any culpability rather than recognizing the problematic reality of creating. I understand creation to be God’s best effort within the confining realities God would face in pursuit of a creature with whom God could interact in a meaningful way. God’s desire for relational communion with an other is at the beginning of all creation. Before God began, God was thinking about us.
I understand God’s nature to be ‘Holy’; God cannot be other than who God is. Certainly, God’s experience of humanity is an unprecedented experience in the life of God, even an adventure. Wrestling to grasp transcendent realities is a limited enterprise! However, the inclusion of the man Jesus as a holy addition into that which constitutes God (divine essence) would not change God’s nature.
The administering of grace is a sign of spiritual maturation. To be merciful is to display God in public. To forgive is divine; it is the power that unleashes creation, that lifts the soul from self, that challenges us to move forward, and requires the suffering of our ego. Forgiveness releases God into our lives, into the quagmire of human relationships that become entangled in a quandary of emotions and self-justifying stories.
When Jesus brought his ‘self’ to scripture, his readings did not fit the intelligentsia of the age. It was not hermeneutical art that made Jesus’ interpretations original, it was his practice to align scripture with the revelation of God that he knew. This being said, Jesus began with revelation and found the meaning of scripture because of his revelation.
The underlying structures of reality, is a phrase for referencing the relational and physical realities that form and govern our experience of knowing the world as human beings. Some of these structures are cultural while others are universal. We often live aloof from these structures as though they lack definition or are not easily discernible.
Ultimately all idolatry will end with the victory of God. In the meantime there is another end, it sits in dark contrast to a completed humanity, a humanity embraced into the being of God so that God is all in all. Idolatry is always a failing power ever on a descent into madness. Madness is the end of idolatry, it erupts in self-destructive powers that kill humanity and poison the ground.
I will approach this subject from the recognition that the study of economic systems requires the thought of theology, the demands of justice, the critique of philosophy, and the regulation of law so that a well-informed person can speak about economics in a way that is healing to the people of the world. The globalization of economics has heightened the impact of a monetized world with the distribution of power to persons that govern the earth’s resources who are not elected officials. Elected officials are to be held accountable to the people and the law, in the case of billionaires their power is not drawn from the state, and the law is on their side rather than the demands of justice.
God never loses us. In the absence of the body, all that constitutes our existence is held in the loving Spirit of God. God’s act of joining the creation by making part of what it means to be God to be human, affirms God’s desire for us to live. Jesus does not intend to be alone!
Christian revelation is the product of God’s self-revealing through the incarnation, life, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus. If God were to appear in his transcendence there would be nothing for humanity except a sense of the numinous. Transcendence brings us nothing and mystery is a distraction from reality. It is the en-fleshed entrance of God into the human family, as one of us, that provides us with a clear vision of whom God is; we are called to follow his example.
Religion begins with the search for God. According to James (the Lord’s brother), religion is an awareness that God is watching to see how we will live in a world of injustice where evil exists alongside goodness. That God is watching is made clear by James, because religion is to be practiced ‘before God’.
For many in the world of Christianity the formation of a title with the words intelligent and spirituality would engender a distraction as though a misnomer was at play or at least an oxymoron. This is an unfortunate perception because spirituality without the presence of intelligent thought is a fickle exercise in seduction, a self-deception, and voids any authorial dependency upon an intellectual approach to scripture and life. This state of affairs allows unquestioned statements to pass for wisdom, and the erratic quaking’s of physical response to indicate ‘spirituality’.
Part of being human is to live and exist with some degree of aesthetic desire. This sphere of existence is joined with two others: the ethical and the religious. These three permeate our existence and experience of life. Each sphere is distinct and functions only in relationship with the other two. Whether the relationship is correct or not determines the character of a person. I will begin with Scripture's garden narrative where etiology and foundational teaching on humanity is part of the writer’s intent.
The daily experience of living that gives rise to ‘monsters’ is a constant and will remain a common predictable event until the telos. The possibility for the eruption of monsters (Leviathan) is always just below the surface. The rising of the monster is brought about by the tension present in human relationships. This is so whether it is merely a couple of brothers or in larger relational formations such as the cultural, national, and international.
The life of Paul portrays an uncommon power to live out a calling, in the face of rejection and suffering. Paul lives without ever-exhibiting uncertainty or doubt. In this sense Paul models a trait seen in Jesus. This trait is either unseen in the disciples or none of them lived it with the tenacity of this immovable convert named Paul; the violent, power seeking, religious zealot called to be an apostle.
God closes his eyes to our constructions of personal sin when systemic structures of evil prevail and the weak, the poor, and children become victims of an unhealthy society. The definition of a victim is that they are innocent. The attribution of sin to a victim is an ignorant self-righteous rant of religious absurdity. The inheritance of sin is not through genetic relationship; it is the resulting relation of all humanity through societal constructs of power that corrupt reality.
Christianity is a breach upon the world order. It is the beginning of the end of reality as constructed by humanity - a reality inconsistent with God’s will. Christianity’s breach into the sphere of human existence is a challenge for humanity to re-imagine the world with God. Christianity is a radical message of freedom, in which humanity chooses to follow the teachings of Jesus without restraint; without excusive reasoning that justifies the concept of ‘the secular’. Christianity demands the immediate sacralizing of every human being’s life. Human beings alone hold the position of being sacred before God. Christianity accepts the non-violent teaching of Jesus as essential practice for expanding the breach of God’s entrance into the world. Christianity is the singular power potent enough to change, to save, the world.
The human capacity to turn sorrow into sweetness begins with tears. Blues songs, in a sense, celebrate sorrow as a sweet reality that can only be resolved through a memory held in the beauty of music. The loss of gospel lament to the feel good ditty of this generations praise songs is to replace facing reality with illusion, even illusory religion. Spirituality faces reality and asks the forbidden questions of religion governed by absolutist ideologies. Spirituality weeps along with the God who weeps.
I think most of us come to the place where we question God for not being more present, more helpful, and feel resentment toward God for not relieving some of the horrendous suffering that plagues history, humanity, our lives. Rather than learning to forgive God, theologians have spent vast amounts of energy on justifying God for the pain, hurt, and evil in the world. I have not found any of their attempts worthy of an adult mind.
We can know God but we cannot prove God exists. However, we can remove any negating assertion in a similar statement. I know, Christianity is not impotent and it can be proven theologically in the realm of intellect, existentially in the lives of martyrs, exemplary souls, and practically in the world. The hope pieces of scripture express the hope of God for humanity. God’s hope is not vain. The eternal triad of faith, hope, and love, bring the presence of God into the world and actively work toward a redemptive reality both now and yet to come.
To say that homosexuality is a created, or a natural state, is a metaphysical claim. Such a claim voids psychological and sociological effects on the human psyche. Further, this particular claim denies the power of the will in relation to the natural biology of gender. Rather than wrestle with the responsibility of choice, or the existential ripples in humanity that contribute to gender confusion, the homosexual community opted for a spiritual explanation in order to normalize their behavior.
In order to affect a culture shaped by external forces of wealth, and power, a culture of ideologies inconsistent with the growth and development of Jesus’ vision for humanity, Christianity must establish cultural practices that promote critical thinking and replace the role of the external forces with alternative practices. Alternative practices are not accommodation; they continue to resist evil, and to support ethical and moral values consistent with scripture and faith.
In the course of presenting the following ideas it might be thought that I’m a romantic whose aesthetic sense of reality lacks the intellectual rigor to think of love in psychological, biological, and cultural concepts. I must immediately deny such thoughts, for although I was captured by love long ago and reacted in unimaginable ways that affirmed love’s power to preserve and bless the mutual lives of two human beings, my reflective powers on this subject is not mere romanticism. Yet, I understand romantic love to be like a force so powerful that it is overwhelming; it is like rolling thunder bellowing from heaven, it is like hearing God speak or perhaps it is God speaking.
The banality of evil is a phrase used by Hannah Arendt. It is the subtitle for one of her books, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. She uses the life of Eichmann and his trial to display the banality of evil in an unremarkable man. The inept, thoughtless Eichmann exemplified the power of systemic structures of evil that normalize intolerable genocidal murder without resistance from the concept of ‘good people’. We like to think that good-people are numerous in every society and will resist intolerable evil, we have learned through the holocaust that this is not so.
It is my conviction that the healing of the world is ultimately dependent upon humanity living together as male and female; that the disjunction of relationship between the genders is at the root of all humanity’s problems. It is my conviction that exhibiting the image of God through the male-female relational dynamic is the challenge set before us throughout the entirety of scripture. The misogyny of scripture is countered by literary subversion throughout its entire corpus.