Throwing in the Towel

I don’t want to talk about God anymore.

I don’t know how honest I can be here, but I resonate so much with Peter Rollins words in How (Not) To Speak of God.   In the introduction, he quotes Ludwig Wittgenstein: “What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence.”  He juxtaposes this notion with an idea that he took from his time in what he calls the evangelical charismatic movement.  “God is the one subject of whom we must never stop speaking.”   So he ends up with this mashup of thoughts:

That which we cannot speak of is the one thing about whom and to whom we must never stop speaking.  – Peter Rollins.   How (Not) To Speak of God

For whatever reason, thoughts of God run me over every day.

One of the actresses in a play I’m currently acting in, (Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers, the next play opening at Taproot Theatre) recently joined a long line of folks from my past when she reflected that almost anything was an opportunity for me to begin “waxing philosophical.”

Frankly, I’d just as soon stop.

Obviously, the previous sentence is a lie.

I’m throwing in the towel.

As I wrote about a month ago, the feeling of being overwhelmed has short-circuited the blog.  I’ve been spitting out unrhymed tetrameter ninety-to-nothing for months now, but when it came to constructing coherent, linear thoughts about the things that interest me in terms of spirituality, God, creation, art, and beauty, well…I’ve become far more reluctant to “wax philosophical” than I used to be.

I wonder what would happen if I just laid out the questions here.   Along with the admission that finding answers to them isn’t really the game anymore.   I can read C.S. Lewis and he’ll give me really good constructions and pretty amazing insights, as will N.T. Wright.   Have I got time to put those guys up against the Marcus Borg camp, and do I really think I have the intellectual tools to logic my way through the conundrums and baffling inconsistencies?  Does the deep mystery of life really yield to an Enlightenment reading of a Middle Eastern collection of sacred texts spun out over several thousand years?   And is all that what will determine how we find God in this life, what we mentally assent to, whether we buy it in the deepest bones we’ve got?

But I want to have conversation about this stuff.   To talk, to write, to wonder, to think.   My personal credo begins with “We are not alone.”  And I hold to that.  What is the nature of our togetherness, though, we and the One whose being and presence defines our “not-alone-ness”?   And here’s what I think I’ve finally figured out: sitting here thinking about it solves nothing, and yields less.

So here come the words.    Talking about God again, or the loss of Him (see Insurrection, Peter Rollings again), and hopefully, more about the world, and the sheer love of the place.

Sure, I’ve heard that before…

11 Comments

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  1. Personally, I’d be deeply disappointed (and equally surprised) if you stopped thinking and writing about God. The thing is, Jeff, you so often bring to my mind the deep questions of meaning and purpose which need to be in the forefront for anyone trying to lead a meaningful and “examined” life. But go ahead, my friend, just try…

    • Actually, and this probably just means my writing skills are a bit off, the title “throwing in the towel” refers to the giving up of the trying not to speak. So, in other words the time of not speaking is now at an end, so “here come the words.” Thanks for the encouragement…

  2. Yes vanity – all is vanity – so says the preacher of preachers – he also says that with much reading and learning comes vexation of the spirit; so be of good courage – for even Salomon with all his wisdom and knowledge struggled with the real day to day challenges of life – YES?

    • much reading and learning = vexation. Yes, I can get behind that one. But what choice is there? Some kind of “bliss is ignorance” statement doesn’t quite work anymore. Thanks, John. Peace…

  3. well, yeah– the last line says it all, right? Hahaha! You just write about what comes into that head of yours, and we’ll read it. Love you man!

  4. Jeff, If Nouwen (The Way of the Heart) is right, you must stop speaking for a while in order to guard the fire within. He quotes Diadochus “When the door of the steam bath is continually left open, the heat inside rapidly escapes through it; likewise the soul, in its desire to say many things, dissipates its remembrance of God through the door of speech, even though everything it says may be good.” So guard the spirit, the life within you. God will not break his ties with you. Rest.

  5. Jeff, I grew up thinking I knew God and Jesus. I had heard about them all my life. But in my heart I knew I didn’t know them. Most of the time I think you and God have a very close relationship. This one sounds like you are still searching and feeling a little desperate. May I recommend “The Prodigal God” by Timothy Keller? This I know. God wants you to find him..

  6. Hey Neita, I’m not sure I’m desperate…maybe a little. God and I go back and forth daily about all kinds of things, so we’ll see. Stay tuned…thanks! Love you so much…

    Peace,

    Jeff

  7. I found myself – on 3 recent occasions – talking about the deep stuff of life with acquaintances: a teenage cousin-in-law, someone new in town, and a co-worker.

    It had been a while since I had done so with closer friends and the rapid succession took me by surprise. Still, by the third day I found myself wondering if this is what people expect from my conversations? Is that how I want to be known? Although part of me yearns for that kind of discussion, for me even “the things that matter” can burn you out.

    While I hardly believe I’m the only one out there interested in this kind of thing, there’s an amount of anti-intellectualism in our culture that I feel even toward myself. I went to college, I read Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, etc., but I feel I’ve got to apologize for that. Sometimes when something a philosopher wrote is the perfect example of what I’m trying to get across, I sure feel like an ass sharing that information.

    At one point I aspired to live a life where all my actions were filled with deep meaning. Now I just hope to live simply, and to express love truly.

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