How We Understand and Speak About REALITY


Sunday — 22 April 2018

In 1886 the French sociologist Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) dismissed all gods as unimportant window dressing and insisted that religions are just rites and rituals.

In The Origin of Species (p. 470), Charles Darwin wrote that: “The feeling of religious devotion is a highly complex one….Nevertheless, we see some distant approach to this state of mind in the deep love of a dog for his master, associated with complete submission, some fear and perhaps some other feelings.”

Ever since Darwin equated human devotion to God with a dog’s devotion to its master, biologists, psychologists, and some philosophers have been postulating religious instincts and other neurological bases for religion. Their work always attracts attention, especially in the popular media. Time Magazine and Newsweek, for example periodically announce a “new” revelation about religion. In his best-selling 2006 book, English biologist Richard Dawkins tried to say it all: The God Delusion.

And so the contemporary REALITY questions:

Dose God exist?

Have we discovered God, or have we invented God?

Are there so many similarities among the great religions simply because God is the product of universal wish fulfillment?

Have human beings historically created supernatural beings, because of their need for comfort in the face of existential tragedy and to find purpose and significance in life?

Or….have people in many places and in many times, to a greater and lesser degree, actually gained glimpses of God?

Theologians try to understand and interpret our experience of REALITY. I see three approaches in contemporary “theology,” as it tries to answer the above questions: (1) Static Belief, (2) Short-Sighted Humanization, and (3) Christian Humanism.

Before moving into these three categories, we need to clarify what theology is and is not.

Faith is our experience of God: the human experience of the Divine. Theology is an interpretation of that faith experience and finds expression in words and symbols. The best definition of theology is still that of Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109): Fides quarens intellectum – “faith seeking understanding.” Theology is an interpretation. When we do theology we express ourselves in the symbols, words, and rituals that are products of our culture.

Cultural change means that theology changes as well – in small ways and occasionally in big ways.

In every age people scratch their heads trying to best express what they experience in their faith experiences of the Divine. There is always change in theology just because words change, thought categories change, and symbols and rituals that worked in one era do not always work in another time frame. This has always been my point with my blog “Another Voice,” the challenge I read long ago in Little Gidding by T. S. Eliot: “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language; and next year’s words await another voice.”

Next week: Two strong but unhealthy contemporary theological trends – Static Belief and Short-Sighted Humanization…..Bear with me please!

Jack

jadleuven@gmail.com

Human Rights / Human Dignity


Sunday — April 15, 2018

“‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.” Acts of Apostles 2:17

In my first post Easter reflection, some thoughts — for people of all ages — about being prophetic in living our dreams and visions.

First a brief story.

A friend sent me a short video about a young man’s vision of Jesus. A young white fellow was deeply troubled and tearfully crying and praying in church: “Jesus help me! Lord help me please!” Suddenly a dark-skinned man in a robe appeared and said: “Hey man, what’s the problem?” The fair-skinned fellow cries out: “I need Jesus!” The dark-skinned man replies: “Yes. I am here. What’s your problem?” The young man says: “but…but you don’t look like your pictures!” Jesus replied: “Get over it kid. I am dark-skinned and speak and act like a foreigner. I grew up in a different part of the world. My Mom and Dad were very dark-skinned as well. We all looked like migrants to people like you……now what’s the problem?”

The message of Christ proclaims the dignity and worth of every human person. There can be no exceptions. The must basic human right is the right to be oneself: to be accepted, to be acknowledged as a human being who by nature has value and deserves to be respected.

In authentic Christian behavior all must be acknowledged, respected, supported, and helped: male, female, transgender. Black, white, yellow and colorful combinations. Gay, straight, and uncertain. Americans, Mexicans, Syrians, and other foreigners. The young and old. Rich and pour. Handsome and ugly. Smart and stupid. Saints and sinners.

Are you listening bishops? Are you listening rabbis and imams? Are you listening White House? Are you listening Democrats and Republicans? Are you really listening United Nations representatives from around the world?

In the revelation of Jesus Raised from the Dead, this is authentic Christian behavior. It is authentic human behavior: not just our challenge but our duty. It is our responsibility. Political party or religious tradition differences allow no exceptions.

Next week some pointed theological questions.

Jack

jadleuven@gmail.com

Easter 2018


Happy Easter!

May we move forward, supporting each other,

in the Way of Jesus who is our Truth and Life.

“Instead of reading the Bible to assure ourselves that we are right,

we would be better to read it to discover where we have not been

listening.”– Raymond E. Brown, The Churches the Apostles Left Behind, p150.

Jack jadleuven@gmail.com

I will be away for a couple of weeks.