Wednesday, March 4, 2009

aim at the highest...

One week into the season of Lent, Brother Tilden speaks of a common theme of the BU's, the Fatherhood of God (see Ware Jr. and Channing.)

THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD (Scripture Readings)

"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
. . . Do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
. . . For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.
For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father which is in heaven.
Matt. v. vl. vll. x. xxill.

THE FATHERHOOD OF GOD (Tilden's Meditations)

"THE Fatherhood of God is the sublimest revelation of Christianity. The soul's cry is for a Father, and it will find no peace till it rests in a Father's arms. The Great Spirit is in living communion with our souls. Do we know Him ? Do we listen for His voice and expect to hear ? The presence of God is too near to be seen; too interior for the senses to lay hold on; but it must be felt in the soul as the centre of its life. Our Father! He is the sun round which all our Christian doctrines revolve. Its golden beams stream all through Christ's teachings. Do we value as we should the early thought of God as it first breaks in on a pure child's mind, and consider how that thought is often the pole-star that shapes his course round the world ? Love God as your Father. He loves you. Let His love waken yours. The essence of the Infinite One the finite mind cannot fathom. But when we say, Our Father, He comes forth out of the mystery of mysteries and speaks to our hearts and bids us aim at the highest conceivable ideal; an ideal that will always be above, rising in endless spirals higher, higher, higher!



PeaceBang said...

So what do you think, BU? Is the Father God "the sublimest revelation" in Christianity? I am wondering about this. At the height of my feminist awakening in my early 20's I would have HATED this entry. Now, older and mellower (ha!), I just think it's limited, but not criminally so. I think perhaps the greatest revelation in Christianity is the idea that we are intimately related to God and can address God as a child addresses a parent, relies on a parent (or should be able to) and is unconditionally loved by a parent.

However, given the contemporary revelation that so many mortal men and women are, and have been through the ages, truly stinky parents, perhaps we should make more of an effort to translate that familial intimacy that led Jesus to refer to God as "Abba" into new terms.

Which is to say, it may in fact be theologically true that Jesus was God's own Son, but for the rest of us, God-as-Father(Parent) may make for a mighty inauthentic theological formula.

Sermon topic: "Is God Supposed To Be Our Perfect Parent?"
I wonder how much value this concept has to the middle class 21st century American ...

Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

Well, I just posted in my notes something of a rant about the whole Father and male God thing.

You'll see the entry I posted yesterday - it was quite angry and strident, and if you can get through it, you're welcome to read it. It's pretty heated, I'll admit.

Just bear a couple of important points in mind:

1: The English language

In our beautiful English language, which came to us from the Anglo-Saxons, "man" and its plural "men" was not gender-specific originally. "Man" referred to every person, whether they had an "innie" or an "outie" to put it delicately. Only later as the language developed and grew did "man" specifically refer to male humans and NOT female humans like me.

Etymology Online is a great site that I refer to constantly for the original meanings of words.

So of course, when Tyndale (was it Tyndale?? I'm pretty sure it was) translated the Bible into English for the first time, he was translating from a Mediterranean language into a Germanic one, and he might not have been aware of the original gender-neutrality of "man" and "men."

2: Women's spirituality

All I can say here is that many times I've seen women come to what used to be called the Appleseed Sister's Circle (a local Goddess group I used to facilitate) and break down into tears because they had suffered so much spiritual abuse and they felt so devalued in a patriarchal path...but then, upon finding Goddess spirituality, they felt like they were finally truly valued as human beings.

It really makes a difference.

Here's another example of how much of a difference it makes, only coming at it from another direction:

The Anglican and Episcopal churches would never alter the Book of Common Prayer to have totally gender-inclusive language. They would never substitute the word "Goddess" anywhere that the word "God" is found in that book.

They would never say "Mother Goddess" during prayers, instead of "Father God."

And even just now reading those very words and imagining what that would look like - can you yourself feel what a difference it makes? Many find it viscerally shocking, to actually speak the words "Mother Goddess" during prayer. It really does wake them up and get their attention.

OK sorry for the ramble. Had to get that off my chest.