Summer and the Herme Moon
Friday gratefuls: Rebecca. Diane. Mussar. God is Here. Metaphors. Revelation. That Bull Elk, the face of God? Speaking to me of the world I do not know, but in which I live. Ruth and Mia. Introversion. On display last night and this morning. Slept long. More Rain and Hail. Computer Chip with built-in human brain cells. !!? Mountain life. Cool while the World burns.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: Revelation to us, not the history of theirs
One brief shining: Convergence beginning to happen for me after a lifetime of religious and spiritual orienteering revelation it may all come down to revelation the revealing of the sacred in this life in my presence and palpable to me.
Whee! Heading down the slide toward a big splash in the World Ocean of consciousness. Or, the Waters of the Collective Unconscious. Or, the inner cathedral. Anyhow. In the book God is Here by Tobia Spitzer we’re discussing metaphors for God. Her contention being that we’ve hung on to a few metaphors-King, Judge, Warrior-and neglected or ignored many others all found in Torah. God as Fire that does not consume, God as pillar of Smoke, God as living Water, God as Whirlwind, God as Malakh or messenger, Angel to name a few. Also Spitzer recounts recent work in cognitive linguistics that discusses how language shapes our world and therefore how the metaphors we use determine what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and feel. Let alone consider. Which is a secondary or mediated process after sensory input.
Not sure that the word God is worth rehabilitating, but I’m finding the thought process while engaged in this conversation fascinating. Part of Spitzer’s point is that we often thrown out the Torah with the King/Judge/Warrior bath water. So we turn away from understanding God because we don’t like those metaphors, but that there are many others perhaps more compelling. God as lover for instance in the Song of Songs. Or God as the still small voice. Or God as Justice.
Here’s what keeps buzzing through my head though. Why do we insist on trying to fill up the metaphor God with new wine, putting new wine in an old wineskin which means it’s likely to burst?
Reminded me of Emerson’s line in his Introduction to Nature: “…(why should we not have) a religion of revelation to us, not the history of theirs.” This pushed me to what I now consider the essence of this interesting conversation. How do we know revelation when we see it?
In other words, by dropping away from the Torah and/or the New Testament, too, we have also dropped away from considering how Emerson’s dream might come true: a religion of revelation to us, because we’ve rejected the history of their revelations as past tense, never to be repeated.
Well, that has to be wrong. If we can accept that their revelations were real and profound, as centuries and millennia of folks like us have found them to be, then there must be equivalent experiences available to us right now. Of course you can deny the whole notion of the sacred or the holy or the divine, then there’s nothing more to consider. However, if you have even a small inkling that there is more in this world than is dreamt of in your philosophy… Well.
What experiences might we have that conjure Rudolf Otto’s definition of the holy:
“the transcendent [the holy]) appears as a mysterium tremendum et fascinans—that is, a mystery before which humanity both trembles and is fascinated, is both repelled and attracted. Thus, [God] sic can appear both as wrathful or awe-inspiring, on the one hand, and as gracious and lovable, on the other.”
I have these experiences. As recently as this week. When thinking about Otto’s work and the concept of using new metaphors for God, I can easily call to mind the Elk Bull observing me from the Forest in a driving Rain. That was the face of the Holy, I’m sure of it. Holiness as Wildness. Holiness as the life of the other, the non-human. Holiness as a shock, an amazement. But here’s where I diverge from Spitzer’s work. Why call that God? Why not say it was a window, a moment of seeing into the numinous, a sacred moment which can inform my life long after the experience. Why not say the Holy is beyond our understanding, but accessible to our senses. Yes, by all means let’s use metaphor to describe it but do they have to point back to the Middle Eastern notion of a God? No. I say no.
On the other hand. Yes. Let’s look to Torah to the New Testament for clues about how experience revelation. Let’s examine and learn from all the metaphors for God. Without having to use God as a reference point. Can we experience the Holy, the Sacred in Fire? Yes. In Water? Yes. In a Tornado? Yes. Does that mean there’s an entity which ties all these experiences together in a quasi anthropomorphic whole? No. Not at all. It means rather the world as we know it is only a sliver of the whole, a whole filled with wonders and treasures we can find. But only if we choose to see what we’re looking at.