Too lazy to blog, so let’s “share” instead

Things have been a bit quiet round here lately, and are likely to stay that way for at least the next week or so. Busy at both work and home.

I’ve still had time to read other people’s blogs via my Google Reader feeds, however, and have now added a feed to my sidebar showing my “shared items” (currently under the heading “Read elsewhere”, though I may change this).

The first item is a great post by Ben Myers applying Suzanne Vega’s song “Pornographer’s Dream” to contemporary evangelical worship’s search for a Deus nudus and the resulting stream of disillusioned evangelicals finding their way into the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox Church (though some of us end up in the Lutheran Church instead!). As Myers writes:

Where every church service becomes the opportunity for a life-changing experience of the divine presence; where every song and sermon and prayer is designed to produce immediate emotional impact; where the whole Christian life is transformed into the pursuit of a “naked” experience of the divine – here, the final outcome can only be a profound and paralysing boredom. And for those subjected to such boredom, the only remaining spiritual desire is for a mysterious God, a God not merely naked and exposed, but clothed in ritual, sacrament, tradition.

Or as Myers puts it in the next paragraph: “a more modest, and therefore more sexy God.”

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3 Responses to Too lazy to blog, so let’s “share” instead

  1. Wm Voelker says:

    The problem is on both sides for those Myers describes.

    1. Those pursuing the “naked” God seek the one who is the Hidden God, the God who hides himself so that we sinners might not be destroyed (Isaiah, for one, knew this, as did the author of Hebrews). They do not experience boredom, as Myers suggests; rather, they gain nothing but frustration! Their adrenal glands are fried from their constant expenditure of energy as they relentlessly hunt God As They Think He Really Is, hoping to gain grace through contact with this God As They Think He Really Is. When they find that they are unable to get that which they seek, they may stay where they are, continuing to attend but without much enthusiasm or interest, they may leave the church entirely, believing that there is nothing there for them (and there is very little for them in so-called “evangelical” churches, as they are often called here in the US of A), or they may run to places which claim “We’ve got God here! He’s right behind the curtain!”, hoping for all the world that this new and vastly different place will give them what they’ve been searching for.

    2. The problem those who turn this way run into is that those who claim to have the Veiled God don’t often pay too much attention to God’s own Word concerning where He promises to be found. They end up seeking God everywhere and in everything, with “grace” functioning as a thing-to-be-acquired rather than something received from being in the presence of God. Thus the Veiled God is entirely veiled, and the quest turns from one of getting into God’s unveiled presence to finding the best spigots from which one can obtain grace.

    The problem on both sides is that God As He Has Revealed Himself is ignored or shunted off to the side in both cases: Jesus is what they’re looking for, but he either doesn’t appear to be what they’re looking for or he becomes one source of contact with God among many. Myers is right about this, but he points to the *event* of Jesus Christ, rather than to the *person* of Christ. And where does he promise to be found? In his Word, and in his Sacraments: the very things that are either ignored, disparaged, missing, or misused by either of the above-discussed directions which are often taken.

    So it is: when the Word of God is considered to be a veiled thing *for believers*, Christ is found in it; when it is treated as an instruction book (either for living in such a way that will bring contact with the naked God or for the task of finding the naked God), and not as something given to us that we might have life (see John 20), Christ is not found in it. When the sacraments are considered to be nothing more than acts of faith or remembrance, Christ is not found in them, and everyone’s time has been wasted; when they are treated as super-sources of grace, then they are misused and Christ *may* be in them — those receiving them, however, are left wondering just what’s going on, and just what they’ve gotten, if anything.

    Thus in either of the above cases, it’s chasing after the Hidden God rather going to where Christ and his benefits are promised to be. You can see where this is going, I’m sure. Let me suggest the Augsburg Option, rejected by (and thoroughly different from) both above-described sides.

    (See also this essay (it’s a PDF) by Steven Paulson on the Hidden God; it may be of interest or use to you.)

  2. Daniel Ketelby says:

    Funny, but I’ve got this song running through my head at the moment – in relation to a craving for the theological immediate:

    “So you say it’s going to happen now
    But when exactly do you mean…?
    See, I’ve already waited too long
    And now my hope is gone.”

    I’m thinking of it in relation to ‘praise and worship’ songs with lyrics like “let this be a holy moment now” (what, as opposed to a moment in which a demographically various group sings words off a big projection screen, you mean?) and prayers that run “and, Lord, I’d really like you to be with us now, Lord, as we listen to Frank’s testimony, Lord” (words vary according to circumstance; sleeve-tugging and faux-intimate style remains constant.

    I guess I’m a bit fed up at the moment.

  3. Daniel Ketelby says:

    Correction: I know I’m extremely fed up and sorely tested at the moment.

    There are those moments when you can’t help thinking of God as some cruel, tyrannous piece of garbage.

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