Reading a post by Coleman Fannin is like viewing a lunar eclipse. They don’t happen all that often, but when they do, they’re beautiful. And as moonlight is reflected sunlight, Coleman’s posts are often reprints of posts by other bloggers. In his March 29 post, he shares Real Live Preacher’s post on when his teenaged daughter tearfully told him that she no longer believed in God.
It’s a moving story. It reminded me of several things, first of all that I didn’t become a “believer” until I became a doubter. I was twelve when I became agnostic, and unlike his daughter, I didn’t feel I could talk about it with anyone then.
Another thing is that his daughter longs to “feel God” within her heart. There are different levels of feeling, to be sure, but she’s on the right track, that intellectual belief is not what it’s about. On the other hand, neither is emotional feeling, which comes and goes by its nature. Being is what’s really important, the sensing of being in the Ground of Being, and That being within us, but even this sensing comes and goes as well, until we reach that level of divine union called awakening or theosis.
Another thing that struck me was how important the conversation is. If there is one thing that the Emergent movement (er, conversation) has in common, it’s a desire to share the love and knowledge of God through conversation and authentic listening.
Paradoxically, in our speech we can only share our concepts, our feelings about where God is in our lives, and those are not only limited, but inevitably misleading. God cannot not be there, though our belief in, or feeling or awareness of This Presence may not be there. The Absolute absolutely is.
But speech is entirely relative. I find that talking about God becomes increasingly more difficult, because I sense that everything I can say reflects such a truncated “truth” that it’s essentially a lie. “Quit flapping your gums about God,” Meister Eckhart said, and for good reason.
The Real Live Preacher said, “My daughter doesn’t believe in God right now. Why do I feel so happy?” and ends his post with the confidence that she’s finding her way, and glad that she could talk with him about her doubt. I would suggest that there’s something there as well, that although she cannot feel God right now, she’s never been closer, that nothing has changed with the changeless One. My teacher once said “God doesn’t care if you believe in him or not.”
Where can I go to escape your spirit?
Where could I flee from your presence?
If I climb the heavens, you are there,
there too, if I lie in Sheol.
If I flew to the point of sunrise,
or westward across the sea,
your hand would still be guding me,
your right hand holding me.