The Luminosity of Darkness and Wonder: Part Two
Photo by Brant Huddleston
To read this essay from the beginning, go to:
The Luminosity of Darkness and Wonder: Part Two
So ideas are inadequate to define God, and words are too. What then of the Bible ~ the written “Word of God”?
I am not a “Bib-idolator”, one who makes an idol of the Bible and who believes God cannot ever operate outside of what we read in its 66 books. Bib-idolators, second only to Koran-idolators, are the most egregious of ideologues, lacking the poetic thinking of which Sam Keene speaks.
They transform the great love stories of scripture, with their epic sweep and grandeur, into a “constitution” ~ a legal document they use to condemn “other thinkers” (aka heretics) and coerce them into “orthodoxy” (right thinking), as if the Orthodox know what right thinking is.
Bib-idolators trap the living God in a 66 by 66 book-sized box, or worse, kill off the character just as he strokes the last word of scripture. To Bib-idolators, God is dead ~ she can write no more.
But no! God lives and will not be contained. “Let God be God,” should be our mantra, and nothing else.
Bib-idolators claim “God never acts in a manner contrary to his word,” but the very scripture they idolize betrays that tenant. In Acts 10 of the Bible we find the Apostle Peter on a rooftop trying to pray, but he is hungry and falls into a trance (low blood sugar?).
He then sees heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contains all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds, all of which are forbidden to eat by “the Word of God,” or what we now call the Torah, which included the Law of Moses found in the Old Testament.
But then...surprise! A voice tells Peter, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
Peter, an “orthodox” Jew, acts like one might expect him to. “Surely not, Lord!” he replies. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
But something huge is happening here. God is out of the box. God is moving, alive, breaking his own rules, acting in a manner contrary to his word.
But Peter is still a prisoner of rules and regulations, so God speaks to him a second time, and in one breathtaking, revolutionary statement…changes everything. He says to Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
God the contrarian.
God the rule breaker.
God who will not be named.
God the box buster.
Just when you think you’ve got her all figured out, she breaks free of your ideas and goes in a very different direction.
And what if a sheet were to descend from heaven today? To whom would it appear, and what “unclean” thing would it hold? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect it would make every LGBTQ person in the world rejoice, for we are not to call unclean anything that God has made clean.
Perhaps by putting my thoughts to paper, I am no better than the iconoclastic Byzantine warriors, who fought with swords, rather than pens, to abolish the veneration of icons and other religious images. For I too believe we should erase our images of God. It is these very images that keep us from glimpsing the infinite and tasting the truly sacred, or as a gay friend of mine said: “stripping it of the glorious mystery with which anything kissed by the lips of the divine is imbued.”
Are we willing to be so fearless?
Erasing does not mean replacing. American evangelicals replaced the pale, weak, skinny, crucified Jesus of mid-evil Catholics with their own distorted image ~ a strapping, Hollywood handsome Jesus in clean blue robes holding a snowy lamb ~ a poster boy for their pro-war, middle class, capitalist, Western values. A kept man. A poser. Both images are lies.
Erasing the images means facing your fear and entering the “darkness of not knowing.” Erase your answers ~ there are only questions. Erase your names ~ there is only “he who cannot be named.” Erase the “he” ~ for God is he, she, both, and neither. Erase your ideas ~ for if you believe an idea, you have to conform to it, no matter what else you might learn or experience.
Put a 55-gallon drum in the middle of your personal parking lot and burn them all.
Then experience the luminosity of darkness and wonder.
“But in the end, we remain joined Him as to one unknown.”
Dionysius the Areopagite
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Thus began a year long journey that took me from the rocky coasts of Portugal, to the hot sands of Morocco, to the mangrove swamps of Panama, with many places beyond and between. In cheap hostels and the backwaters of the nomadic milieu, I discovered a treasure chest of colorful and fascinating people. I tell their stories and a bit of my own.
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