Theological Proposition #2

I will consider myself forever entangled with the exploration of the vast mysteries of who and what God is, as well as, how God is active in this mortal plain. My sense that God is an Ultimate Projection is just one fruit (or maybe foul) of that exploration. The idea that God’s attributes are created through the language and images and experiences we have on earth is probably not new. We, as finite beings, can only ascribe (or project) things we know to the Creator. As such, all things ascribed to said Creator are flawed from the beginning. The things of finite creatures can reflect images but never comprehend or view the full scope of the infinite.

Therefore, for God to be God, God must be of a substance that at the same time reflects the image placed within and steps beyond our finitude and individual (and communal) projections.

I have no problems with saying that where love or mercy or hope is found, there we will also find God. However, we must also make room for the idea that where hatred, oppression, and injustice is found, we will also find God. God’s attributes suffer in the hands of men and women. We can certainly witness this through the obvious polemic that occurs when we venture to call Mother Theresa and Fred Phelps (of God Hates Fags fame) worshippers of the same God.

Each of these people has projected their internal worldview onto their ministries. God, for each of them, becomes who they are (or were). In the arms of the faithful, God is continually created and re-created. In the case of Mother Theresa, one might look at the witness of her life and view God as compassionate, merciful, giving, and sacrificial. These are also the qualities that she displayed throughout her life on earth. In the case of Fred Phelps, people see the judgmental, fear-inducing, intolerant characteristics of God. Moreover, these are characteristics that Mr. Phelps displays through his constant homiletic and social intrusions. That said all of these characteristics can be supported through various scriptural references and historical claims.

If this is the case, then is all that we know of, or attempt to ascribe to, God flawed? Is each characteristic of God that we endeavor to ascribe fundamentally and inescapably finite, and thus fails in its bid to adequately approach the actuality of God? Certainly we can ascribe our deepest fears or our deepest hopes to God, but is that everything? Can the Ultimate Projection really be more than one mind or even one gathered set of minds projects out into the world?

All of this is a long way of describing why I feel so beholden to the mystery of God. It is why I can honestly answer tough questions with an “I don’t know.” It is why I get so mad when people attempt to create answers and put words into God’s mouth based on either their interpretation of a 2000+ year old writer or their own internal fears and needs. What happens with these situations (and all situations) is that the Ultimate Projection becomes merely another projection.

Being okay with the mystery of God also means being okay with the mystery within me as well. For me, mystery is the most comforting and confounding piece of my faith. It is comforting that I do not need to have or create the answers to life; I can attempt to release the Ultimate Projection from the confines of my mind. It is confounding because of one question. Namely, how do I relate to something that is at its core everything I know and none of it at the same time?

The closest I can come to realizing the potential of God is to be open to various interpretations as they speak through the experiences of my life. As each person projects their internal realities into the Cosmic Stew that is the Ultimate Projection the concoction grows beyond the limits of one person, group or community. The love, mercy and hope mingles with the judgment, intolerance, and fear. That mixture combined with a healthy dose of mystery (mystery meat anyone?) is a recipe for something that is at once a reflection of our internal image of God and a healthy respect for the very “thing” that is our Author.

Therefore, the Ultimate Projection can no longer be a “he” or a “she.” The Ultimate Projection is at once both she and he, child and adult, elderly and young, mother and father, brother and sister. At the same time, the Ultimate Projection is none of these as well. Such is the mystery, that what we choose to believe in is at the same time everything and nothing…



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