"And we are put on earth a little space, / That we may learn to bear the beams of love." William Blake.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Why I don't have a Joel-ology

BAM! I'm really writing to persuade you to read another blog post! Be warned. "What Matters Most" swipes at "theology" as we conceive it.

As I read Fr. Stephen Freeman's piece, I realized that none of us would propose to create a systematic"-ology" about another person. I don't have a systematic Joel-ology for my husband, though I think I know him well. I don't have one for my parents, either of my children or my closest friends. We don't have president "so-and-so"-ology, or Kierkegaard-ology because we know that we cannot truly distill the essence of another person (we can't even agree on when personhood begins, for Pete's sake). We can know a person. That is how we know God.

Last night, while editing short essays for submission, I re-read a piece I'd written about knowing God through the bearing witness to a friend's stillborn son. I'd just listened to one by Cheryl Strayed from the Dear Sugar column collection Tiny Beautiful Things about a woman with a newborn on the brink of death. Both Cheryl and I said we could know Jesus (a mere person to her), who is Christ (a person and divinity to me) through being witnesses to His suffering, often through historical accounts as well as through others' suffering.  I worried a bit because I'd penned an almost identical denouement as Strayed. What would it mean that I, a believer, seemed to say something so similar to someone who says she believes Jesus is only a very admirable person?

I checked myself. Not a problem, I've concluded. It was His humanity that opened the door to our encounter with and "knowing" of Divinity. He is fully human. (Most heresies started by trying to dismiss this.) And, He is fully God.

So, if you are inclined, this short bit by Fr. Stephen Freeman is a good reminder that theology is not what we "think" about God but about knowing Him, the person of God, who knows us.

What Matters Most by Fr. Stephen Freeman

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