Monday, October 19, 2009

God, Whatever That Means

“We must appreciate that we are lost before being ‘found’ or being ‘saved’ makes any sense,” because we have to lose in order to find, to be emptied in order to be filled.

Martin Buber once said “The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable.” The world is large, and contains multitudes, and no system will completely resolve all the contradictions, both beautiful and terrible. But the world’s multitudes can be embraced. Perhaps, in this way, “God,” whatever that means, is like “the world.”

A great divorce always exists between God and our words about God, because we are never really speaking about God, but only about our understanding of God. But for some unexplainable reason, we cannot stop ourselves from stretching our language to the breaking point in order to make some sense of that which we cannot make sense. John Caputo, one of my favorite authors, exclaims, and I with him, “Why can I not stop speaking of God, of whom I cannot say a thing? . . . To set out for a shore that we can never reach, to be exposed to a secret we can never plumb- what is that if not a description of a proper path to God?”

I cannot offer any answers, because I don’t want to dogmatically construct yet another kind of individualism. Instead, I want to form community with others as I ask and seek and knock. As a poet once said, "[T]he point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” Perhaps we can see our language, our “raid on the inarticulate,” as an embrace of God rather than an attempt to define God.

My attempt is to find some way through these stories and reflections to speak meaningfully of God, which is not the same as speaking authoritatively, as if humans could ever do such a thing. I only have a hunger that is rarely filled, because I hunger for something meaningful. And I hunger for “what has been lost/And found and lost again and again.” I hunger for God, whatever in the world that means, and so I walk willingly out to wander through the forgotten deserts. And in my, and our, going may we remember, as Tolkien reminds us, “Not all those who wander are lost.”


  1. Michael (aka your brother)October 19, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    Well said. Love the quotes. Thought-provoking insights. I think Tolkien can fit the same description you gave Wendell Berry yesterday...

  2. these words, still as powerful as they were at L&F, take on new and and equally beautiful/gripping meaning in light of your current setting. love ya bro.