Ironically, I have more trouble voicing my feelings about this whole God business than I do voicing most anything else. I can write a 300-word restaurant write-up in half an hour, churn out blog entries like a factory, and affect a horribly cliché Pauline letter to suit a particular insight I have. But I don’t think like this – I don’t FEEL like this. My passion isn’t spelled inside of me with unpronounceable words and piles of complex sentences. Ironically, when it comes time to describe what this passion of mine is, I choke. For me, that choking involves long-windedness and being obtuse.
For instance, I never think it sufficient to say “I love God” and let that be enough. No – it’s stronger than that, more powerful than that, more abrasive and upheaving than a simple “I love you.” Which is why I search for esoteric descriptions and piece together the most incomprehensible writings; I do it to reach what language simply cannot begin to hint at. But it’s all I have. So I keep trying.
Oftentimes, inspired by music of various sorts, I will lie in bed and dream about the moments I have to really voice my thoughts and feelings. Simple things, really. Simple, like universal love and a God made of all creation. Not too hard to comprehend. Superficially. But I am constantly afraid my less-than-awe-inspiring presentation of these revelations will fall flat. Or, at the very most, will strike an uncommon, underused chord. By the end of the service or celebration, that chord will be silent because no one or nothing would have plucked it again.
Then, I’m sure there are those who are mostly annoyed at me belaboring the idealistic vision of a “Great, Good, Merciful, Many-Named God.” Give it a rest, yeah? Well, maybe I should. But, then, I don’t feel I’ve been paid enough attention to it to warrant a break. I feel I need to keep pushing, writing, speaking, and thinking until some part of this vastly simple and overwhelmingly complicated web of spiritual energies actually has an interested audience.
That’s one big reason why I’m so drawn to ministry. It’s a place where people expect this kind of passion and talk. They look for it here. Now, maybe I’m due to upset the status quo somewhere else. Maybe I just need to face the fact that bringing my passion to the pulpit would only seem like a reiteration of what’s already been done, said, preached, and promised. If so, I certainly wouldn’t want to don the cloth. Because, however much a minister of God I am in some form, it would be under the specific hierarchy of a specific God teaching a specific set of things. My theology and the church just would not get along.
So how? Would anyone listen to me if I shouted at the top of my lungs on a street corner somewhere? Do I work with the system, finding my way inside it and coming out through the top to everyone’s surprise? After all, Ghandi and Mother Theresa are shining examples of working in structures – and then, later in their lives, working against them. In some form, for my own preservation, I will have to work, study, or teach in an environment that fosters that whole business. Quite clearly, I cannot do away with human history and tradition simply because I think they are impedances to great ideas and spiritual fulfillment. At the same time, though, I cannot sell out to them. Change needs to happen. And while I can’t tell you why or how, I am constantly yearning to make that change. Honestly, it is so powerful that it burns. I can only describe it as a good burning – a motivating fire.
At this juncture, knowing what I do of life and the nature of human beings, I think my best bet is to continue with my study in theology so that the world grants me credence to talk about it. I might write a book now, and it might be published, but who would read it? It would be a low form of popular theology I feel, and I don’t think it would make the difference I want.
Additionally, if I am able to establish myself in an institution of some sort – and I am now aiming for the university – then I will have the opportunity to bring all esoteric, exclusive conversations back down to the people who matter. Not only that, but I might set an example for all of those walled in institutions. Come out and be who everyone else is – a human being, a creature, a spiritual gift. Call our creator who or what you will, but let’s find common ground. Let us inform each other. THAT is what I want – a unity despite ourselves. And then, someday in the future, the world will come to understand that discussions fitted into dark corners of high status and privilege are painfully destructive. These are discussions that everyone needs to be having. Ironically, I believe that those who now shut themselves up in isolating memberships and excluding groups only hurt the opportunity to be enlightened, enriched, and bettered. It is akin to saying, with utmost genuineness, “I can study on my own and learn all that I need to. I don’t need anyone to teach me.” Very well, then. Let those who choose to do so be without relationship. They will see how far they get with books alone.
So this is where I am at. I must subvert the structure but am unsure how to do so. I must speak out, but never know where or at what volume. And, I must be in a forum where I can speak in conversation. No pulpits for me; no talking at people. I need correction as much as the next person – and will, even when decorated with university degrees. Men make men Godly; alone, men are simply themselves. And even that is for a short while. Without each other, without a higher purpose, we dissolve into worthlessness.
So tell me, if you know, where I can go about this business of saying and preaching and seeing and doing. I would love for you to come along. Surely, I cannot do this on my own.