Sunday, June 7, 2009

God Out of Bounds


I would like to color outside the lines for a while here. I don't want to argue about the Bible or about orthodoxy, or even really mention them at all. What I want to talk about are the other ways that I experience God, the other paths I've found to wisdom and joy and wonder and transformation which I associate with God but which are not always officially authorized by the adherence-police of our time.

In talking with real live people, once they've gotten past the pat and expected answers we all learned in Sunday School ("love", "the Bible", "Jesus"), some of these things turn out to be the meat-and-bones of someone's lived spirituality. Why are some people so afraid to honor that? Not me. I go out there looking for God in everything. I don't always find God, but when I do, what a thrill!

[Raises a mug to looking high and low for God - salut!]

If I have the time and interest to sustain me, I'd like to cover a number of categories of my experiences of God "out of bounds". I've listed them briefly here, but I may not write about them in this same order. We'll see.

I also welcome all of you to add your own experiences of God out of bounds. Come on, don't be shy. You can even post anonymously if you're afraid the adherence-police will find out :)

The examples I list are not meant to be exhaustive, just things that come to mind under each category:

Fantasy and Myth
...Tolkien (as always with me), Ursula K. LeGuin, Joseph Campbell, Karl Jung, and so on

Poetry and Music
...T.S. Elliot, Langston Hughes, e. e. cummings, hip-hop, Schubert, trance, the Blues

Other Religions and Spiritualities
...Zen and "nothing special", Vajrayana's Six Realms, rave culture, ragas, chaplaincy, vision quests, chanting Om, Islamic prayer, martial arts

Relationships
...family, romantic, friends, enemies

Nature
...beauty, the destruction of beauty, the end of civilization, sharks (!), humans as animals

Sex
...apparently God is sex-positive

Visual Art
...Understanding Comics, abstract, representational, awe

Failure
...to live up to expectations, to succeed, to overcome fear and anxiety, to be cool

Violence and Nonviolence
...the arc of the universe (?), "I foolishly thought violence would free me from violence", Experiments in Truth, Walter Wink

Physical Science
...Universal spatial scale, scale in time, scale in diverse phenomena, biological examples, the anthropic principle, rules and breakdown of rules, math as metaphor

Brain/Mind Science
...A General Theory of Love, Sam Harris, Ekman's emotional templates, hallucinogens, modern dogs

Way Out There
...aliens, the occult, conspiracy theories, torture and objective truth

***

As I go through this series, I invite everyone reading to comment about their own experiences of God out of bounds...

4 comments:

Aric Clark said...

I've been looking forward to this series for a while. Even the lists you've concocted here are intriguing.

Doug Hagler said...

Yeah, I'm sort of looking forward to it (which is good - I might actually carry it through). Ideally, it'll provoke some discussion...

Jodie said...

Modern dogs?

Doug Hagler said...

What Jodie, torture and objective truth didn't get you? :)