Monday, March 16, 2009

reflections on a "models of God" assignement and other ponderings

I just finished an assignement for my systematic theology class where I chose to write about "models of God" from two theologian's points of view and what images and languages they use in these models. Let me tell you, trying to describe the indescribable is VERY difficult to do, even if you are basically only reporting on what other people said! It really opened my eyes up to the diversity of thought on God. I am very glad that people write about these things with such passion.

Some of the observations I have about God from this assignment: I come from a liberation theology point of view mostly, which starts with the assumption that God has a "preferential option for the poor." This may seem contradictory for a white guy who grew up in the 'burbs to have an affinity for this theology, but I think my parents, even though I did live a somewhat sheltered life growing up, did try to instill in me some empathy for other people and their condition in life. I even look back at my Scout troop and the variety of economic conditions kids from the troop came from. True it was restrictied to my neighborhood, but that neighborhood was somewhat diverse as neighborhoods go. But no matter who's homes we met in, I was taught to be appriciative of the hospitality they provided, no matter what level of hospitality they were able to extend. This has been able to translate for me to one of my ministry settings. Since my church appointment is part time, I fill some of the other time by being in charge of the community meal on Saturday mornings at a church downtown that serves mostly homeless people (we refer to them as sojourners, and if you have visited this church or even heard of a church that uses that term, you know which church this is.) So every weekend I see how God is active in what we would call "the least of these, our brothers and sisters."

But what is still troubleing for me is my response to this segment of the population outside of that particular setting. Yes I am able to help provide a meal, but then when I leave I still see people on corners with cardboard signs asking for help. I don't give anything to them on the corner, but I help them with a meal at the church. Am I really able then to do as much as I can or should? I have a colleague who blogged about this same feeling a couple weeks ago, and I can say that I empathize with their concerns around this - and this colleague is one who has a strong social justice passion the way I do, maybe even a stronger passion! But the question is always "Where is God in all of this?" Where is God in my willingness or ability to help or respond only in certain ways or situations, Where is God in my recognition of my own White Privlege that I struggle with so much? Where is God in my ability to ignore what is going on around me when there are many who do not have that luxury? do I just care too stinkin' much? (and can i blame that on my parents? jk!)

anyway, my faith seems to be in a good place at the moment. as good ol' JW was constantly asking "how is it with your soul?" seems pretty good right now, dispite some of my questions about discribing God. It is an imperfect task, but one that I think we need to struggle with. As Paul wrote to the church in Corninth, our wisdom is nothing compard to God's, and our greatest strength is tiny compared to God's weakness. We just have to trust that we are doing our best to discern and cary out God's will here on earth. that is my prayer, and that is the prayer I leave any of you who have taken the time to read this.

God bless y'all!

the irreverant rob allen

1 comment:

  1. I can tell you from my research for my undergrad thesis, one's mental image of God is formed very much based on one's parents, especially (in our patriarchial society) our mental image of one's father. I think that says a lot of good things about a man we both respect a lot.

    I look around at all the stuff I *can't* do and I realize that the most powerful, the most helpful, and the hardest thing I can do is walk to the cross and lay the guilty feelings at its base. That doesn't mean I don't have an obligation to do what I can when I can for as long as I can (to paraphrase), but that when I have done what I can do, I can rest assured that somehow, it all works out in the end.