Friday, December 30, 2005


I was all set to wade into topics theological and talk about JLA and Tillich, but right now the best I can say is that my 3 year old sees rain butterflies in the water splashing into the air off our street. A "moment of transcendence" for sure. It raises a point about the distinction between the theory of theology and the practice of theology.

I'm not sure I buy the post-modern notion that all theology is local. In general yes, I believe that context specific theories are better than over-reaching total theories. But I wonder if there might be a situation at hand akin to the relationship between quantum mechanics, Newtonian kinetics, and Einstein's relativity. Physics looks slightly different on the level of the very small, the very large, and the everyday world we live in.

I am a structuralist in orientation, and would like to see some structure to contain and explain all our different personal and local theologies. There is the tyranny of structure that tries to explain away the local and the personal to fit some grand theory of everything. And there is the atomism of the strictly personal and local that I feel UUism has spun into. And I believe that there must be something in between.

Tillich criticized both autonomy and heteronomy. He believed in a theonomy that called for justice, compassion and communion. He saw sin as all the idolatries and profanations that allowed us to divide ourselves and quit living as neighbors or sibling children of God.

And while his systematic theology is among the most dense reading I have ever done, I know that he remembered that theology must be based in that sense of reverrence and mystery expressed by my son.

There may not be a god per se, and there certainly is no such thing as a rain butterfly. But both ideas can give us a different way of living life and relating to the world even if neither is necessary nor sufficient.


At 8:35 AM, Blogger Brian Spolarich said...

If not a god (God), then why this?

At 4:25 AM, Anonymous Clyde Grubbs said...

The local theology of the theolgical liberationist is located in a community of human beings. It is accountable to the community which is part of the larger human community. The protest against the over arching theology that claims it is for everybody is that such theology represents the truth claims of a privileged group of people who set themselves up to speak for those they oppress.

I see this as different from post modernism...although some narrative theologies attempt to relativize theology to identity groups, but again that tends to be dominant cultures attempting a unifying theme before liberation and reconcilation.

At 7:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The following isn't exactly an overarching system explaining anything, but it is a famework that I have found helps me to listen more openly to other people's beliefs while simultaneously accepting and respecting my own. If that makes any sense.

Also, John Hick has a system of thought about religion that I found very satisfying because it makes so much sense to me, and it seems to fit the sccumulated experience of the human race so well--and accommodates a plurality of belief systems. Check out his "An Interpretation of Religion"


These tenets imply the existence and validity of manifold beliefs.

1. God is infinite; we are finite. Therefore we cannot wrap our minds around God; God is more than our understanding of God.

2. God is infinite; words are finite. Therefore we cannot contain all of God in any set of sacred words.

3. Each of us knows a piece of God. Some of that piece is ours alone, our own unique path to God. The rest overlaps with the pieces of God other people know.

4. God is infinite; our piece is finite. Thus two pieces of God may appear very different; they are nonetheless pieces of God.

5. There are many ways of coming to know more of God; one is through sharing with each other the part we know. No matter how different, two pieces of God have some aspect in common. When we share, we learn more about our common aspects by seeing them from within the other person’s vision; and we learn more about our unique connection to God from discovering what we do not share.

6. We learn much and gain strength from those who are like us; they are necessary to us. Our understanding of an aspect of our piece of God is deeper and stronger when we understand it as others understand it. Therefore we love and are comforted by our samenesses; they lend us power for living.

7. We learn most from those who are different from us; they help us walk around our piece and see it in new ways. In the process of seeking our common aspects, we lead each other into unexplored regions of our own pieces of God. Therefore we treasure our differences; they open us to a greater connection to God.

8. A sharer can learn from anyone, is open to opportunities for sharing, and finds a way to share with anyone who offers.

“The universe”, “god”, “Reality”, “Truth”, “Mystery”, “the Tao”, “the Goddess”, “Spirit”, or “the Gods” may be used instead of “God” in the above.


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