a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
“Providence,” a term not without intrinsic vagaries. I’ve related before that my M.Div. credo paper is entitled “Toward a Theology of Care.” Obviously, G-d‘s Providence reflects a direct correspondence with care. For me, my paper served as a way of transliterating mysticism into theology.
The first thing I’d like to do here is set aside the doctrinal line that says God’s Sovereignty means that G-d micro-manages humans, human life, or physical existence—G-d as seen in process theology adds very helpful nuances to the notion of God’s Sovereignty. Providence captures G-d‘s Sovereignty in a nuanced way.
So, without Providence we’re left standing over somewhere near John Calvin in the grasp of hard determinism. While the modernist conception of human free will may be less than ideal, a hard determinism is simply not palatable. Gratefully, Providence helps in the work of softening both problems.
On my reckoning, I recognize Providence as the movement of G-d and see it in sacramental terms—e.g., an outward visible witness to an inward invisible grace, that is, a mystical möbius of care. As a mystic, I reckon G-d‘s Providence is of a piece with G-d‘s Presence—not to conflate the two, just relate them as aspects of G-d‘s nature.
Of course, G-d (known as both Providence and Presence) is scalable from what is regarded as the tiniest insignificance to the grand majesty of the cosmos. Saint Paul sketched this principle in human terms through the cultural application of Christ being all in all (Col. 3.11).
Jesus defies categorization. Still, it would be rather difficult to argue the descriptor of teacher did not apply to Jesus. This ‘teacher’ dimension of Jesus has always been prominent in influencing my understanding and significantly guided my approach as clergy. So, for me, following Jesus means teaching mysticism, e.g. pointing towards G-d‘s Presence and G-d‘s Providence, and helping others recognize their own experience of G-d.
In my experience, teaching mysticism in the local church context was often best accomplished indirectly—i.e., sans any overt talk of mysticism. I found most congregants were more comfortable with a supernatural understanding of G-d‘s Presence perhaps analogous to an image of (Divine) Jesus walking three feet off the ground. So, basically, my job was to ask why would (Human) Jesus’ feet need washing, e.g., with a woman’s tears (Luke 7.36-38)? Feet that never come in direct contact with the earth don’t need to be washed. Presence, with us, not from a supernatural distance.
Christmas is the mass for Christ, Jesus as the Immanuel—G-d with us. To mystical Christians, Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, is the high holy day of the year—a human/divine invitation to tangibly receive G-d‘s Presence into our hearts and lives.
G-d‘s Presence is a mystical möbius….
John Wesley’s teaching used the language of an experience of a heart strangely warmed to frame conversion by G-d‘s grace as an internal mystical stirring.
I’ve found that seeking external mystical prompting is best framed in the language of seeking and sensitivity to ‘G-d sightings.’
G-d‘s Providence comes to us in both personal and collective forms. G-d‘s Providence can come to us personally as intuition (internal nudges). G-d‘s Providence can come to us collectively as invitation (external opportunities). So, too, G-d‘s Providence, like G-d‘s Presence, is a mystical möbius
Hebrew Scripture tells us a story of a rainbow being the sign that God [YHWH] promised not to give up on human kind and destroy everything again (as in The Flood). Scripture is nuanced, though, as I also find stories there that indicate G-d‘s Providence is not irresistible and is subject to the resistance of human willfulness. G-d desires the best for humans, but does not insist upon or impose it. The invitations of Providence are frequently ignored or rejected.
In my experience, life itself is the best teacher regarding G-d‘s Providence. As clergy, I saw that my task in the local church was listening to the peoples’ stories for G-d‘s stirrings and promptings and finding ways to reflect back (and point to) G-d‘s desire/care. G-d‘s Providence seems to open doors and serves to lead us toward our best selves.
Providence is G-d working with the on-going process of creation. This occurs in small and large ways—both internal (intuition) and external (invitation)—and G-d‘s Providence may come to us by any means.
In current event terms, G-d‘s Providence may well encourage democracy as the most just form of human governance for this epoch of human evolution. If so, then a question for Americans is who wins the face-off between G-d‘s Providence and the anti-democratic, autocratic forces at work in DJT‘s MAGA-cult and what’s left of the GOP?
How many opportunities, like a nonpartisan commission, will our leaders get to help facilitate reconciliation of our extreme polarization before Providence gives way to our cynical human willfulness and the relentlessness of history rolls right over our grand and noble experiment?
Next week: No idea. Come and see.
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What did you hear me say?