Skip to main content

"It's Hard To Explain..."

Today's sermon at GRU was on "process theology". I'd never heard the term before. The philosophy presents a conception of God that is radically different from those most people have.

That's another thing I love about this place: different perspectives every week, with emphasis as needed on respecting differing belief systems and the unifying traits they share.

Today, though, was challenging.

Every week they do a 'story for all ages'. The story this time was called "Wabi-sabi", and it was, well, beautifully simple. A cat named Wabi-sabi questions what her name means. Another cat tells her it means 'beautiful'; a dog snarls at her that he can't possibly explain the meaning to someone so simple. "Am I beautiful or am I simple?" she wonders, and learns those two things can be, and should be, celebrated as one and the same. Throughout the story we hear the phrase 'it's hard to explain'. And it is...if you're wedded to the idea that beauty is in the destination, not the journey.

This resonated strongly with me, because finding perfection in imperfection and cherishing the journey... both are things I strive to do each and every day. Musically, what came to mind (and what has stayed in my head since) was this excerpt from an iconic piece of American classical music: 'Simple Gifts'.

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free 
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be, 
And when we find ourselves in the place just right, 
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight. 
When true simplicity is gained, 
To bow and to bend we shan't be ashamed, 
To turn, turn will be our delight, 
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right."

It should be noted that 'come 'round right' means to come back where you began. That might sound wrong--who wants to be back where they started? But if you do so armed with new understandings, how is that not progress?

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be." --Douglas Adams

That's an epitaph. I have made of it a mantra: it's something I repeat to myself whenever I feel out of place, a reminding that right here, right now, is where I am and where I belong.

The children's story about beautiful simplicity, about perfection in imperfection, was a well-chosen introduction to the idea of process theology. And here is where I must stress that this was NOT presented as Truth with a capital T: they don't do that there. This was food for thought, to make of what we would.

WHAT IF God was NOT all-powerful?
WHAT IF God was NOT all-knowing?
WHAT IF God was NOT a Being at all, but a Process?
WHAT IF we, all of us, were a part of that Process?

and finally

WHAT IF that Process could be called by another name...Love?

(full disclosure: not all of this came directly out of the sermon today. Some of it comes from here)...and oh, how it makes me wish *I* could have presented this material. Because this doesn't just speak to me, this IS me.

"to become...the next grandest version of the greatest vision ever you had about Who You Are" -- Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God

The idea here that God is Love. Love is a process. Properly applied, it grows, it expands (don't worry, I'm not going there, not today); it calls to each of us to be the best version of ourselves that we can be in the present moment. We become co-creators with God, in reforming the universe with our every choice. (Quantum mechanics is frolicking in this playground...)

You can take Process Theology as a starting point and apply any number of lenses to it. The site I linked views it through a Christian lens--and yes, that can be done, despite the seemingly unChristian starting point. The idea of 'process' is very important to Buddhist thought. It's also quite amenable to atheism: this is not your typical theistic construction of God. It makes no moral judgments on your actions; it simply evolves, and you with it. We all evolve, you know. Some of us more slowly than others, but we all evolve. Because the journey is an evolution, the evolution is a process, the process is Love, and Love is God.


Popular posts from this blog


The question is, how do we respond?

Today's sermon at Grand River Unitarian was both the most overtly Christian and the most overtly political I've yet attended.

It's worth noting that the Christianity was still muted, and was the inevitable byproduct of the guest speaker (the Lutheran chaplain of the House of Friendship), and the politics was the inevitable byproduct of the topic (poverty and homelessness).

I'm still glad I went, because once again today's service cleared up something religious that has bothered me for a long time.

Lutherans believe you are 'saved' -- a concept I have enough trouble with --- by God's grace alone, through faith alone. That's always suggested to me that there's nothing you have to do except believe. And if that doesn't work out for you, well, you're not believing hard enough. QED.

The speaker explained that Lutherans believe everything in your life is a God-given gift, and "so  the question is, how d…

Three Wheelin'

I have written a few times on the single thing that has defined and limited my life more than anything else--my lack of a driver's license.

You people who have them probably take them somewhat for granted. The lack of one tends to manifest in many ways, none of them pleasant and some of them very much unexpected.
Of course, there's the first order consequence: you must rely on others for your transportation. This has several corollaries. Taxis are insanely expensive, but other than inconveniencing a friend or relative, there's no other feasible way to do something as mundane as, say, grocery shopping.  Seeing friends who live across town is doable, but if they live an hour by car away, you're beholden to Greyhound or Via's schedule. (You'd better hope they live in a city big enough to merit a bus/train station).   There is no feeling quite so helpless as when a friend or loved one gets sick or injured in your presence and you can't drive her to the hospital…

Modular Madness

I just got off a week of nights.

It hasn't been all that long, really, since I worked solid graveyard shift. I was promoted to Meat Department Manager at the beginning of September; went to Seasonal and Pets at the beginning of December, and than one day in mid-January I got invited into the manager's office and told "all my dreams are coming true".
What they meant by that was a transfer to dairy and frozen. Which, as longtime readers will know, is what I've been doing since 2001.

This was not a dream come true for me, much less all of them. Don't get me wrong: I like the position. But it's technically a demotion: just as they are in other chains, dairy and frozen here are a subset of grocery. They're called departments but aren't, really.

I've never understood this. Studies show that most visitors to a grocery store will buy something from dairy and/or frozen, and Walmart is just like a grocery store in that regard. I move a lot of product.

Going Moldy....

Show more