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I’ve never heard a snowflake fall. It must make a sound, even if, as an Asian parable says, a snowflake weighs “Nothing, or less than nothing.” And yet there must be a point of contact, and with it, a sound, however slight.
Even if human ears are not sensitive enough to hear it.
I can’t hear a worm, burrowing through moist soil towards a dew-dappled lawn. But a robin can.
A dog can hear a whistle way above my frequency range; at the other end of the frequency scale, elephants use a sub-audible rumble to communicate with other elephants out of sight over the horizon.
In her book, A God That Could Be Real,author Nancy Ellen Abrams explores some implications of our human limitations. We can only comprehend things that fall within a certain size range, she asserts, relative to our own size.
Categories: Soft Edges
Tags: God, hearing, sight, Nancy Ellen Abrams, perceptions, A God That Could Be Real
It’s easy to say what I don’t believe in anymore – an all-knowing grandfather God who sits on a cloud somewhere up there, out there, distant but keeping an eye on everything, delivering rewards and punishments,, and upsetting things here on earth with what we call “acts of God.” But then people ask me, “So what kind of God do you believe in?” And I find prose can’t do it; poetry at least comes closer.
Faces talk around a table
knees warm around a campfire
voices sing in a circle
hands clasp in the darkness
and in between, among, around them
hovers a shining....
Tags: God, shining, presence
I’m not sure whether this is a poem, a meditation, or an experiment. And I almosthope you find it confusing. You see, we all know what pronouns are. The Concise Oxford Dictionary defines them as “a word used instead of a noun to designate a person or thing already known…” In theory, then, a pronoun is simply a stand-in. But a pronoun is also a word in its own right; the choice of pronoun has its own implications. It conveys singular or plural, gender, and even the closeness of the relationship. So how, I wondered, do the pronouns we use for God affect our perceptions of that, umm, whatever?
...Can one still be one when two are one?
Now I am We, and They are I
And He and She are You and Me—
And I don’t know who I is anymore.
Tags: God, pronouns
Does God lie awake at night, worrying about things?
Yes, I know -- that image immediately pictures God as a person. A person who sleeps, in a rumpled bed, tossing and turning. In other words, someone just like one of us, only more so. Psychologists call it “anthropomorphization”-- seeing others in our own image.
It’s the kind of misplaced identity that led Marc Gellman to title one of his books, “Does God Have a Big Toe?”
But basic question is not whether God lies awake at night, but whether God -- whatever God may or may not be -- worries.
Tags: God, Nashville Statement, biblical sex, worry, worship
I cannot deal with a world in which there is no God at all. As I wrote last week, I need something that I can call God.
That’s why I write about God. Writing about God is how I sort out my thoughts. Often, I don’t know what I think until I try to put my vague intuitions into words.
But those words convince me that I am not just an atheist, an unbeliever. Yes, there is a God. I am obsessed by God. I don’t know how to understand that presence. But I keep trying.
Tags: God, gravity, relationships, attraction
“Why do you keep writing about God?” a reader asked.
Good question. The only answer I can think of is that I have to write about God. I need something that I can call God.
I use the term “something” loosely. It doesn’t have to be a thing. Or a person. Or a being, supernatural or otherwise. It doesn’t even have to be an idea. It just has to be more than me.
And it has to have some kind of volition. It has to be something more than blind chance, more than a probability field in quantum physics. Whatever it is, I want it to have an ethical sense – to want, even to desire, a better outcome for all.
Okay, God, I apologize. In the past, I have occasionally argued that you don’t intervene in worldly events. I have even suggested that you cannot intervene to fix things down here.
I was wrong. I must have been. Because Dan Rather writes in his Facebook blog, “I end each of my days with a silent prayer for my country… I hope against hope as I slip off to sleep that our rapid descent into governmental chaos has hit a nadir -- only to awaken to a new set of incoherent tweets or explosive headlines. I pray again that our Constitutional government, the great gift of our Founding Fathers, will provide a safety net to catch us before everything we hold dear is no more…”
If a famous news anchor like Dan Rather believes you can do something about the state of the world, who am I to disagree?
Tags: God, Dan Rather, intervention, prayer
Your average termite is a stupid creature. It's a whitish grub. It has only rudimentary senses; it can't really see where it is going. It can do only two things -- crawl and chew.
But put a number of termites together and they will immediately start to build a home for themselves.
The mound that emerges is astonishingly complex. And the termites do this with no direction. No blueprints. No planning.
No one termite – especially not even the queen, who is little more than a living ovary -- has the intelligence to direct this construction. None of the termites knew what they were doing when they created it. But it is unquestionably real.
Nancy Ellen Abrams calls this an "emergent" phenomenon. It derives from the collective activity of those termites. But it is not them. It is more than them.
Tags: God, Ants, termites, emergent, transcend
This column started as a casual email chat among editorial colleagues, about the virtues of knowing other languages and cultures. Somehow, it morphed into a discussion about the relative merits of the gods of various cultures, and the way every religion felt that its god was superior to any other god or gods.
And someone asked, “Who’d want to worship an inferior god?”
The concept intrigued me. An inferior god? Why not?
Tags: God, Almighty, vulnerable, weakness
Tags: knowing God, God