I suspect I’ll regret posting this, but i’ll throw it up anyway. It’s time for a confession. I have this unhealthy obsession with uber-fundamentalist christian blogs. It began a few years ago when i realised that i didn’t get what people in the emerging church were emerging from, and where the fights about theology were coming from [why were Brian McLaren’s books so controversial?] so i started reading some evangelical christian websites, and it only took a few clicks from there until the really scary stuff caught my eye. It really is a whole other world out there – and it’s really not pretty – and I think i’m finally beginning to understand why the USA context is so completely different to Australia, NZ and the UK, in terms of worship, spirituality and community.
Anyway, long story short, and all that. After reading some stuff last night – in the Guardian*, not the Vision Forum website – I realised that it’s time to start using another word instead of ‘God’. It was this comment that tipped me over the edge:
As David Attenborough says, there is a species of parasite in Africa which lives by burrowing into the eyeballs of children and blinding them. If God exists, God made that parasite.
I can re-theologise and explain that away: I don’t believe in an omnipotent being who created the world; I try to have faith in the fragile event. But interrupting a liturgy to include that disclaimer disrupts the all-important poetry. The unpacking and re-interpreting of theological language – of which ‘God’ is the ultimate example, really – is not what i want to spend my time doing. While i’m sure there’s virtue in reclaiming the name, just like there’s virtue in reclaiming the church, I’m happy to leave that to others to do. And I’m really happy to leave behind language that might ever put me in the same camp as the uber-fundamentalists. So I want to find ways to speak of the event of God without ever speaking of God.
The only time i use the language of God is when i’m writing for a Christian audience. And while i’ve been happy to be ambiguous or multivalent with language, i’m increasingly uncomfortable with people thinking i mean something i really don’t. Wish I knew where to start though.
*the whole Guardian article is another blog post in waiting – thanks to Blythe for sending it my way.