Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Reality of God as PROCESS and RELATION?

Because our dominant understanding of the world today is through categories of interrelatedness, process and relativity, what God is for us must be expressed in relational terms. Process theology has been a rich approach, but often remained at a conceptual and philosophical level. Here a woman theologian presents a process view which uses image and feeling, but not at the expense of rigor of thought. Perhaps only metaphor and imagination can begin to express the reality of this mystery we call God. Listen to Marjorie Suchocki’s beautiful use of music to understand God as process:

"Imagine a symphony, in which each note is intensely alive. Each note in this symphony of fantasy would feel itself in relation to all the others, feeling its place in the whole and the whole as well. The life that sustained the lives of the notes would be the symphony as a whole. Posit a deeper locus of awareness than the aliveness of the notes in that life which is the whole, the symphony itself. A living symphony, sparkling with awareness of its own beauty both from the perspective of the whole and from the multiplied perspective of each part--the single beauty is intensified through the multiple awarenesses merged into the unified awareness of the whole.

"This is fantasy, obviously, and if it is hard to imagine what such a symphony would be like in its own nature, it is still harder to imagine how one outside that symphony could be attuned appreciatively to such a complex beauty. Imagine that every listener becomes a participant in the symphony, adding a new note, and that the symphony is everlasting, ever deepening, ever intensifying infinite, inexhaustible beauty.

"A fantasy, surely, for no symphony is like that. Yet if it could be, it would be something like the process notion of God. God infinitely relating to the entire universe, bringing that universe to resurrection life within the divine nature, unifying it within the divine experience-we fumble our way into the fantasy of a living symphony, but even that metaphor is not sufficient to describe the amazement of God. The fantasy is but a dim way to project what such a reality could be like. We, in our human experience of personality, are but the dimmest reflections of such an awesome reality. But the reality of God could be something like that.

"How, then, shall we name that infinitely complex, infinitely living reality? ‘One’ is accurate, for it is the single unity of God which accounts for that living symphony: God's is the beauty, God's is the adventure, God's is the joy. And God is one. But complex! The unity of God is of a complexity far transcending that which we can experience, pushing us to the edges of our imagination to fathom what it must be like. This awesome complexity of God is preserved for us through the notion of trinity, (WHICH SHE REDEFINES AS POWER, WISDOM AND PRESENCE) for otherwise we might fall into the arrogance of thinking that God is but humanity writ large upon some cosmic screen. The degree to which God surpasses our own experience creates a qualitative difference in kind, for the leap between God and ourselves in intensity of experience is vast. . .

–Marjorie H. Suchocki, God Christ Church (A Practical Guide to Process Theology)
Crossroad, 1986. P. 214-5. Note: this book is highly recommended in its power to integrate, but is somewhat philosophical in its argument and suppositions.

Monday, January 17, 2005

TRUE TEACHERS?

A man once approached the Baal Shem Tov and asked him how he could tell true teachers from charlatans. The founder of Hasidism (not solely "a famous kabbalist") answered as follows. He said, ask the teacher if he knows how to banish machshavot ra’ot, or evil thoughts. If he says he has the secret, the Baal Shem Tov continued, he is a fraud.