Monday, March 10, 2008

Not Playing God

from Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together:
"God did not make others as I would have made them. God did not give them to me so that i could dominate and control them, but so that i might find the creator by means of them... God does not want me to mold others into the image that seems good to me, that is, into my own image. Instead, in their freedom from me, God made other people in God's own image. I can never know in advance how God's image should appear in others and two others. That image always takes on a completely new and unique form."

Bonhoeffer points something out here vitally important to us, esp. to ministers. this is something i should have tattooed over my heart and on my forehead. others aren't a roadblock to God, they're the super highway. I've seen recently too many "christians" say things like "I just hope you find the true Christ." or "i hope you're striken to your knees and find christ as we've found him" or "there is only one way"...

how many people are on this planet? a few billion. good. each one is a different way to God. you can learn something different from each. take away the notion of "only those who actively come in the name are the only ones worth paying attention to" because that's just short-sighted. God isn't the most obvious, infact God is very subtle. there are better ways than a sunrise to let people know that you're there, but that's the method i see God reminds us everyday that God's there... discard notions of secular.. there's no such thing. God is everywhere. The trick is to be atuned to seeing God and finding God in unexpected places.

We do not have control of one another.. as a pastor i don't WANT control over others. i want to enter into dialog and see how that reflects back on us both... let's look at the strange feedback loop we've created.


Anonymous said...

So "you're not the boss of me" is your theology? -- The Gadfly

Actually, I agree with your idea, but then again as a unique creation, I don't have -- unless I enforce my will on you as my theological slave/pet (yes, you can me my monkey :O )

While you appeal to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, I would look to different (not superior, just one's I'm more famailar with and seem to echo old Boni) voices. Sir Philip Sidney in his Defense of Posey rejects puritanical arguments that poetry leads to debouchery, but creativity. The root for poetry is poiesis or brining something into creation. Artists (of all stripes, not just painters) bring something new into creation. In other words, they act like "little makers" they emulate God's creative power as we are made in God's image. The important aspect here is that in the P version of creation, we are made in God's image right after God creates man and woman. Hence, the emphasis is on our ability to transform creation in ways pleasing to God. Now that pleasing to God bit is wide open.

Another source is the Sybil/Prophetess Diotoma in Plato's Symposium. Socrates and Diotoma debate what is best in life, and unlike Conan in his eponymous movie, she does not claim that driving one's enemy before him and hearing the lamentation of their women is best. No, she claims that poeisis and eros are the best. That is using one's passion to create. Socrates is wary that such unbridled passion will stand at odds with logos, or order, rationality. Diotoma argues that eros (passion) precludes logos (rationality), but that art can serve God as the metaphysical locus of goodness, what is best.

John Dewey, the great American pragmatist loved this idea of combining what seemed dissimilar ideas to create a better synthesis. Human create from old ideas (conditional truths/laws/customs) by refining ideas. Artists he claimed in Art as Experience offer ways into the future -- some will work, some will not. Dewey based some of his philosophy on Hegel's synthetic model of progress, but was less optimistic about human progress ending in a utopian end of history (telos).

Guess who?

Luke said...

you're not the boss of me! (And so can you!) is my theology ;-)

thanks for the affirmation of the idea. i think it a very powerful one we need to keep close, esp. when dealing with those opposite us.

i appeal to Bonhoeffer because my brain can't take large words. Bonhoe uses simple words to get across complex ideas, a model i hope to follow as well.

Diotoma rules! i totally agree with that. emotion preceeds rationality which formulates emotion which produces a new emotion! look! a self-referential feedback loop! yay!

and the more i read of john dewey and his crazy decimal system, the more i is like'n his approach. like you wrote in my notebook, "theory w/o application is worthless, practice w/o theory is meaningless."

i don't know about universal truths, but i think that would be one of them.

Abby said...


I agree. Everyone is different and each person we come in contact with helps to shape who we are. I think its great you want to be involved with the people in your church (or soon to be church). It is a much better approach than force feeding faith into their lives.

Rock on, dude!