Tag: divine

We push beyond self to the Other

There is a danger at work in the religious life. It is that we take every thought in our heads as words from God. Connecting with the Infinite, I suspect, is a bit more otherly.

This, I think, points to the allure and the limitations of reason. Thinking is an act of the mind (the self) even when we are thinking about something or someone else, such as the Divine. We may think we fall in love with God when we actually have fallen in love with our thoughts about God.

That is not to say we cannot fall in love with God, the object of our thinking, but there must be more than our thinking; there must be experience. And both our thinking and our experience are best comprehended in connection with other thinking and experiencing persons. Then the God we fall in love with is more likely to be the true Divine, not just my divine.

But, no, that is not true. People tend to think badly and to misunderstand experience, and we tend to hang out with others in the same predicament. Many people, some in very large groups, have fallen in love with notions of God that I highly suspect are untrue. Some already have passed off the historical scene; others will.

We do not despair. We are merely humbled, or should be, in our desire to connect with the true Divine. I suspect our connections will be weak because we think and experience in such confusion.

1 Corinthians 13:12-13:

“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (NRSV).

Or in the venerable and beautiful King James Version:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

Thomas R. Kelly: God can be found

Those of us who like to read are pulled along through many dull sentences and paragraphs in hopes of encounters with truly marvelous ones. The payoff is such that we keep pursuing.

Today, at lunch, I discovered some special words from Thomas R. Kelly. They came from a lecture he gave at the Germantown Friends’ Meeting in Germany in January 1938.

“To you in this room who are seekers, to you, young and old who have toiled all night and caught nothing, but who want to launch out into the deeps and let down your nets for a draught, I want to speak as simply, as tenderly, as clearly as I can. For God can be found. There is a last rock for your souls, a resting place of absolute peace and joy and power and radiance and security. There is a Divine Center into which your life can slip, a new and absolute orientation in God, a Center where you live with Him and out of which you see all of life, through new and radiant vision, tinged with new sorrows and pangs, new joys unspeakable and full of glory.” (pp. 18-19, A Testament to Devotion, 1941)

Kelly was a Quaker and a philosophy professor. His life showed that a person can allow his or her thoughts to dig deep, only there to find that the One who made the pursuit possible is the One to be worshipped.