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!


  1. I am aware that it is difficult for some of you to post on this site, (not really sure of how to make it easier)so I'd like to post an ongoing conversation with my friend Paul as I think it helps to elucidate the subject. Here it is:

    Paul writes:
    "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. "

    Yes i noticed that attitude in a number of people. My kids had that idea they prayed ( i assume for something they wanted changed ) nothing happened they decided thee was no God. I missed the boat on training them in that department i guess.
    I wasn't aware of the concept i suppose. i don't remember believing in such a formula. i have more of a "God will do want God wants to do" frame of mind.
    But what you said makes sense i can see a person's immaturity making deals like that.

    Mollye wrote:

    Yes, immaturity breeds bargaining, but my underlying point is: most people are being taught an immature understanding of God as a matter of course, if not explicitly, then definitely implicitly.

    Paul wrote:

    "most people are being taught an immature understanding of God as a matter"

    Okay i missed that intonation. God is taught about in a thousand different and incomplete ways. at first i thought; " I haven't run into that personally" but i know media 'evangelists' sometimes fall into that trap because they want 'ratings' or 'converts'. Health & Wealth gospel types are the most cringe worthy.

    But now that i think about it more, that immature " God is My Genie because He Loves Me " syndrome is around more than i realized.
    Jesus' most devoted disciples suffered persecution and/or early death by martyrdom. There is no indication of them asking for expecting life to be made rosy. Paul did ask for healing but God said no, and Paul left it at that but overall he wasn't busy thinking of himself or asking for things for himself. If someone of Paul's devotion, and dedication to God had no tremendous expectations of EasyVille then who are we, who are far more self centered and narcissistic, to think God is going to give us heaven (on our terms) now.
    So all this to say your point is very wise and valuable. I checked my own attitudes and can now remember as a very young man being taught obey God and blessings will flow (material blessings like He promised Israel), but i always assumed i'd never obey well enough and thus expected nothing too much. Later i learned what happened in Israel stayed in Israel I expected even less as far as material blessings but hoped for Spiritual Blessings, and knew forgiveness was a certainty, and repair and heart healing would happen to the extent i allowed God into my life.

    Mollye wrote:

    I agree with you about the perspective issues we have. We in western Christianity have been sold and continue to sell ourselves a false bill of goods. Our version of God looks very much like ourselves and the things we value and much of that version doesn't really work or play to the rest of the world.

    Keep the conversation coming folks! I love it.

  2. Here's a comment from Avril:
    Sista of mine you have such a gift and it is so refreshing to have you share it. Thank you! I find that a lot of things that ruminate in my heart are like cream in coffee before you stir it (it's there it just hasn't quite become fully there). I feel like when we talk or I read your blog your are like a spoon stirring things and helping me ... Read More process the deeper things of my heart(which don't always get a pile of reflection in this stage of my life). So once again I will say THANK YOU, I need you to be fully you and share it...I love you!

  3. From Kate:
    Moll, great thoughts! On the first paragraph--we read BECAUSE you share yourself! You are the draw, my love -- your care for us in sharing what you are thinking and feeling...mmmmmhmmmmm! Thoughts on marriage -- I'm following you. I've heard that Wisdom in Proverbs is the Holy Spirit and feminine pronouns are used to refer to her/him/Holy ... Read MoreSpirit. In my studies and profession, I see that Moms often are the wisdom in the family. They walk out the day to day things of life that help us to keep on keepin' on. In very much the same way, the Holy Spirit is the feet or the whisper or the gut feeling that we get when God is addressing us! I'm of the mindset that the Holy Spirit is mother's intuition -- even if the mothers don't recognize the HS behind it :) I'm with you on this!

  4. Thanks girls!
    Avril, love that metaphor, Joni worthy really...who's the writer? Hmmm I see something in your future :)

    Kate, this topic of the feminine aspect of God and how its been buried is SO important to me and so thought provoking. I get excited every time I see a more complete picture.

  5. Mollye - did you ever read the Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker? It's fictional, but his writing on the relationship (called the Great Romance in the book) with God seems to reflect some of what you are saying here. I just finished the book and have a fresh perspective on the love that God has for us, not out of what we can do for Him or have done for Him, but just out of the fact that He plain ol' loves us. Good stuff you are writing. I am not the introspective type of person, but your words resonate with my heart. Keep writing!