Walking Together, Encountering the Other

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2011 at 1:19 am

Submitted By: Gentry

On the mountain as fog curled over the ridge I couldn’t help but think about the kol Yahweh. I thought about it all the more when 65 mile an hour winds turned us into human sails on the auto road shortcut and Nelson Crag trail.

Shortly before, walking the stream and stepping over the twisted roots beside Psalm 19 burst into my mind – the heavens declare the glory of God. Day after day they pour forth speech. Night after night they display knowledge.

On the mountain, the transcendence/otherness of God was on full display. As Rhys said, experiences like this remind us very quickly of our place in the natural order. As we struggled forth I kept thinking about my life as a contingent proposition.

It seems to me that while the transcendence of God is fully displayed on the mountain, the immanence/inward presence of God is more of a focal point in the city. As I walk with the kids from Judson Street to the Beverly Library or as I stop at Chinatown for a meeting at the Nonprofit Center I am, quite often, still thinking about God, but my thoughts are often framed as a question, a pursuit of personal salvation, or intellectual probing about a personal moral question. As I succumb to the temptation of Starbucks – or, if I’m lucky, Equal Exchange – I often approach God as a problem and address him as an ancestral conception of authority that is threatening to reshape my life around scriptures or control my life with guilt.

On the mountain I do not approach God with questions, but with awe. On the face of Huntington Ravine, I encounter God once again as the holy other, the majestic creator, the one who has forced up this mountain, called forth these driving winds, and is setting me straight about my place in this world.*

As we struggled up the mountain, I mentioned to Rhys that I was starting to question how much the urbanization that started to take root in the industrial revolution influenced Christian theology’s elevation of God’s immanence in the 19th century. That’s an academic question that might be worthy of a master’s level church survey paper.

However, as I reflect on our conversation, I’ve realized that my theology question is far less important than remembering the transcendence we encountered upon the mountain. Moreover, moving forward I long to cultivate an awe that far outstrips, while not invalidating, my questions about and evolving conceptions of a God whom I only know in (infinitesimally small) part.


* Horrific musical connection not intended.

  1. This is a good word. I think the lack of awe and personalization you note is hard to fight since much of evangelical theology & culture beats home the positives of understanding God personally and intimately. The unfortunate result is: Jesus is my boyfriend, or for me I think, especially as of late, Jesus is my shrink. There when I need him, at my leisure. Only to hear my problems. Heck, I even sit on the sofa. This is definitely a good reminder that I need a little more “holy crap!” in my regard for Him and how setting does, like it or not, affect that.

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