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The Lamp and the Mirror
Illuminating Personal Theology
Lesson #1 response 
16th-Apr-2006 07:37 am
1. What are your own lenses and biases? What are the gifts and limitations they bring to the task of doing theology?

*White male, working class mostly secular upbringing in a historically Christian society - the idea (and reality) of powerlessness before the ultimate is hard to accept for us guys, I think

*Postgraduate education - and thus fond of thinking (too fond) and a certain vanity about what my intellect can achieve even if that same reasoning tells me otherwise.

*Skeptical nature (in-built bullshit detector, the alarm is in the back of my neck which gets tense and itchy and makes me irritable in the presence of bullshit or bullshitting) - that's good for not being credulous, but can be a barrier to new ways of thinking and of experiencing faith.

*But equally, "I want to believe" - part of me has always sought to escape from the extremities of my cynicism

*Some (limited) study of comparative religion, plus the conclusions so far of my own faith journey make it hard for me to subscribe to "a faith" with their exclusive dogmas and/or practices. There's a freedom and an honesty in this, but also a risk and a price to pay - the support, challenge, and learning potentially available from a spiritual community are not present in my life currently. It's easier to get lost in the wilderness when you're wandering on your own.

2. What words do you use most frequently to describe the Divine, your spiritual beliefs, and your ethics? What do these words reveal about you?

*I call the Divine "God" mostly.

My instincts are monotheistic. To me, if God makes any sense at all then it's all God, whatever manifestation or face you meet or wish to ascribe to God. So I guess I think I may as well just cut to the chase. For me, "God" is as good a name as any - seems shorter and less clumsy than some alternatives like "the Divine" "Ground of all being" "Ultimate Reality" etc. etc.

Also, God is not so descriptive...I try not to get into being too specific in describing or conceptualising God, because I feel that the description or conceptualisation can become an idol, and whatever I come up with God will be beyond it and can confound it. I like though, the echoes of tender compassionate Jesus-God, and terrifying awesome Yahweh-God that the word has in my society.

I don't know what to say about the other parts of the question, except that I've always known that it's not enough to turn away from the world with all its flaws and suffering and say "God, take me away from all this" - for me, it's always been clear that I am meant to turn to God for the strength to face the world, and to respond actively and compassionately, even if I don't always want to so I keep asking on the other hand for a quiet normal comfortable life of love and family!
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