Monday, May 09, 2005

Firing on all cylinders

C.S. Lewis wrote of God: "If He can be known it will be by self-revelation on His part, not by speculation on ours. We, therefore, look for Him where it is claimed that He has revealed Himself by miracle, by inspired teachers, by enjoined ritual. The traditions conflict, yet the longer and more sympathetically we study them the more we become aware of a common element in many of them: the theme of sacrifice, of mystical communion through the shed blood, of death and rebirth, of redemption, is too clear to escape notice. We are fully entitled to use moral and intellectual criticism. What we are not, in my opinion, entitled to do is simply to abstract the ethical element and set that up as a religion on its own. Rather in the tradition which is at once more completely ethical and most transcends mere ethics…we may still most reasonably believe that we have the consummation of all religion, the fullest message from the wholly other, the living creator, who, if He is at all, must be the God not only of the philosophers, but of mystics and savages, not only of the head and heart, but also of the primitive emotions and the spiritual heights beyond all emotion."

So this is the realization that I am slowly coming too; that I believe God is drawing me towards. And I'm really wrestling with it. I'm so comfortable with my apologetic-driven faith. I never understood those in the Body who supposedly hear the voice of God, and that feel comfortable enough with that to say, "God told me X." I've always dismissed that as wish fulfillment or worse. And thus, never had to pursue that line of faith further than that. And I was quite happy leaving it like that. Then my world fell apart, and God has been rebuilding it. Part of that rebuilding is the inclusion of this new woman (who I believe is supposed to be my wife.) who embodies exactly what I formerly excluded from my comfortable conception of Christianity. And she's not the only one. I'm in a church full of these people. And it's the most amazing, living, working church I've ever been in. So now as I jog in the morning I'm grappling with this conception of how God can work and communicate with us. Beyond the philosophical and into the mystical, to a place where logic is hidden in areas of spirituality that we humans can't divine. And I have to say I'm very uncomfortable here. In a way. I want to be careful in how I approach this, because there is a difference between leaving a comfort zone, (Usually a good thing.) and leaving the peace of God. (Always a bad thing.) I feel like I'm in the former category. Not quite sure what to make of all this. I'm certainly no where near the new-age mish-mash of buffet theology or Gnostic thinking that I've always associated with "mystic" Christianity. I'm just coming to grips with the fact that God wants to engage us on more levels than merely the intellectual, and even beyond the 'heart'. I think my resistance to this is based on our culture's arrogant assumption that since we have science - which has given us so many explanations to so many things - we don't need to bother ourselves with the 'baser' instincts. I think what it comes down to for me is that I need to accept that there are aspects of God that I just can't wrap my mind around. (Which I thought I understood a long time ago.) But beyond that, He still wants to be felt and responded to on those levels. But I'm at a loss here, because I don't know how to respond just yet. I don't even know how to define what those levels are. I like Lewis's way of putting it; "…the primitive emotions and the spiritual heights beyond all emotion." I have no idea what that means, but it sounds right to me. We have this infinite God who reveals Himself to us in multitudinous ways, but no matter how opaque He makes Himself, can never be fully grasped by mortal physical beings. That infinite, if it can be perceived at all, must touch us in ways we don't understand. Mystical ways. I've had a sense of this growing in me for some time now. As I was first conceiving of Crymsin Hymnal and plotting out the progression of revelation that God takes us through, I was looking at the last third and wondering how to write in that mindset. From a place where the mystery of God is accepted in peace. Having not arrived at that destination, it's hard to imagine. But I wanted that sense of the mystical to pervade the music.

So while I don't know what is happening, or how I am being awakened, I do know it is of God, and I'm grateful for it. I suppose in the same way we can't say why music can stir our souls, or colors move us; we can't know how and why God does the same thing. But he does. And it's good. I'm seeing how this aspect of Christianity complements, and is a necessary balance to what I've always focused on. So I think I'm becoming better-rounded in my faith. Firing on all cylinders, if you will.

As I'm reading over this I'm seeing that what I wrote could be misconstrued as saying that those Christians on the other end of the spectrum from me are mystical primitives. Which is not what I think at all. But since I'm only now just coming into an understanding of this side of the tracks, I can't comment much beyond that. Beyond saying that they seem to have an understanding of God that I don't yet. Perhaps I'll be able to articulate this better in retrospect.

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