Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pause for Effect

OK people, its been a while since I've written. I've gotten so many beautiful, supportive, and affecting responses to what I have written, and for that I want to thank you. I guess I never realized how many people would not only read this, but relate to it and then respond. To tell the truth, I was a little overwhelmed. I hesitate to call it this for fear of being presumptive, but I had writer's block. When I thought I was writing for a little audience of one maybe two, I was writing for me, for expression, to get it out there. When it became clear just how far reaching this blog had become I was a bit paralyzed. What if I'm not good enough? What if I disappoint? What if what I write does not meet expectations?

So to laugh in the face of all those fears, I thought I'd write them. Boom.

Here are some of the thoughts that have been bubbling in my head for a week or so.

I was listening to a podcast of an Australian pastor who was speaking about acceptance. A friend had suggested him, so I listened. One of the illustrations he used was when the Pharisees dragged the adulterous naked woman before Jesus and demanded her stoning. The pastor Rob (from Bayside Church in Melbourne) elucidated the actual reference. In the original language it was written, Jesus didn't say, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone," a noble sentiment and a treatise on judgment. What Jesus actually said was, "He who is without THIS sin cast the first stone..." I was blown away. Jesus wasn't just saying, Judge not lest you be judged; he was pointing out our (as in all of our) tendency to judge most harshly those sins we fail at ourselves. He was pointing out the Pharisee's hypocrisy in trying to kill a woman (who was clearly guilty as charged) for her exposed sin, while they kept their own failings neatly hidden away.


I was listening to a BBC podcast about Akhenaten, an Egyptian pharaoh. I think he was Nefertiti's son, but not sure. He was the first pharaoh to replace the animistic references to gods in art and architecture and writing with humans. More specifically, he systematically replaced images of animal or natural representations of god with depictions of a family: father, mother and child. The historian speaking stated that this triad traditionally holds importance and power in many ancient cultures.

Why am I going on and on about this? Well, it reminded me of a book I read last fall by Sue Monk Kidd called, Dance of the Dissident Daughter. In one part of the book she talked about how the Trinity, which modern Christianity understands as father, son, and holy spirit, originally was figured as father, mother and son! There is the triad again. There is some deep wisdom to be understood in this trinity.

Why does this symbol keep coming up? What does it mean? Here's what I have so far. I think this triad, or trinity points to relationship. Coming from a fundamentalist christian background, I am no stranger to the phrase: Sanctity of Marriage. Dobson and all of his contemporaries go on and on about how marriage is the cornerstone of our society. There are seminars about marriage under fire, and many people I know and love go on and on about how marriage is being destroyed. Everyone has a different opinion about what's destroying marriage. I guess I'm more concerned about why its important. What deep truth does marriage embody and symbolize?

The symbol of family is embedded in vast and disparate cultures. It is almost universal, which is another red flag that it is important. Whatever you imagine Family (or Triad) to look like, it is clear to me that the sacredness and importance of relationship is central in the symbol. God is all, and I do mean ALL, about relationship. I see the decay of family in our culture as a result of loss of relationship.

I was talking to my niece the other day about her boyfriends in high school. Her experience has been largely transactional rather than relational. I will give you (fill in the blank), and in return you will give me (fill in the blank). We both get what we want right? Any of you who dated in High School can attest to how often that arrangement works out. Girls give of themselves physically to get love. Boy's hide their true vulnerability and try to get masculinity from getting sex. Neither comes out the other side happy.

We do this to God too. I spent so many years of my life unwittingly expecting God to come through on some deal I had created. I will believe in you God, go to church, pray, read my bible, the whole deal; In exchange you'll give me the life I want. You'll arrange for my happiness. If I pray hard enough, hold out enough faith, you'll heal my friend. Here's the formula, follow it and you will get results every time. God will keep up his end of the bargain.

Have you ever been disappointed when that formula didn't work out? I have. I could only draw two conclusions from that disappointment. Either God isn't who he said he is, or the formula doesn't work...or maybe there is a third option. I don't really understand who God is. Maybe what I have learned about God is false.

I need to relearn who God is, and what it means to have a relationship.

Those are two thoughts I've been stuck on for a while now. I am just going to throw them out there and see what sticks. At this blog, I invite you to the dialogue. I won't pretend that I have it all together (I'm something of a quick study at that). The thoughts I throw out there are just that, thoughts. I would love your responses. Thanks for reading!