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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Faith in and Love of God

After I die I doubt that I will meet God face to face. He or She won't have one and neither will I.

Ah metaphors! let's not be literal, you say.

All words are metaphors, symbols, even these I write now. They do not mask things in our world or reality. They are our way to it. Our world, human reality, is constructed by metaphors, symbols, models of thought by which we adapt to our environment and adapt our environment to us collectively.

And God?

Well, that's a metaphor for which I have little use except historically. Ground of Being, Spirit of Love, Objective of the unlimited desire to know, Emerging Future, Infinite Love, Mystery of the Universe, Higher Power, Transcendent Meaning. All wonderful metaphors. What's the reality they contain or point to?

Not a superman in the sky, not a tribal warlord or god, not a supreme entity out-there controlling everything, not a feudal king, not the images in sacred scriptures--at least not anymore for me and I suspect for most of us.

Words, concepts, useful metaphors and models are grounded in personal and inter-personal experience. They move to discern and categorize our experience and are applied back to our experience for verification. This is so for ordinary language as well as science, art, religion, economy and all our ways of knowing the world and ourselves in the world.

So what is the experience that grounds the notion of God and all its surrogates?

It is the dynamic transcending experience of our very existence in the world. It is the background experience of every question we ask, of every risk we take or experiment we make, in our enjoyment of nature, in our commerce with each other, in our search for new learning, in our reading of a great book or participating in a work of art, and in our delight in family and friends. Yes, it is in the background--but then it often emerges in a feeling of wholeness, of worth and dignity, of respect along with a desire for more. More understanding, more meaning, more connection, more respect, more love.

So does that background transcending experience have an end. If by "end" I mean term, I think not, I hope not. If by "end" I mean meaning, well, yes, that is why I point to our transcending experience. But I realize that I will die, my body and brain will decompose, and I will no longer have the consciousness of my "self," including my transcending existence. I will not meet God face to face.

My faith in meaning however goes beyond my individual existence. I have no evidence that my meaning, our meaning, and the meaning of the universe will perdure. That's why it is a matter of faith. My faith keeps me going, learning, engaging, risking, loving, and happy. And my faith makes the meaning of it all so.

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