That three letter word

The word ‘God’ can be a stumbling block, partly because of the anthropomorphic image, cultivated over the centuries, of an aged man with a long white beard. The Arabic word ‘Abba’, which Jesus used, means both parents, mother and father, as well as the divine source of all being. Yet, even to refer to God as father and mother is to remain stuck in anthropomorphic imagery. Meister Eckhart wrote, ‘God is no thing.’ For myself, Hamlet’s use of the word Divinity (i.e. a force, an energy) is helpful, as when he says, ‘There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we will.’ And the image that comes closest for me is St. Paul’s reference to God as ‘an ocean of Love … in which we live and move and have our being’.


4 thoughts on “That three letter word”

  1. Hello Dear James,
    An Ocean of Love. Wonderful.
    I remember while we were in the Holy Land going to – can’t remember the area’s name, it will come back no doubt after I send this, where the source of the Jordon was, and that morning we had read that Jesus had asked his disciples as he was walking there with them them “who do you say I am ?” For me since then I have thought of God/Trinity as the Source of Love – or of the Ocean of love you speak of.
    Much love,

  2. Yes, James. I’m feeling for myself the word ‘God’ has no carriage at all, should be abandoned. For me to speak the word requires so much further explanation of what I think it to mean, the exercise is no longer helpful. There is such a myriad of beliefs assumed under the utterance ‘God’, belief in one’s idea of God, belief that other ideas of God are wrong, so many. We only get all tangled. There’s no point using the word when it has a million meanings to wade through, let alone be passionately held to. As you say, we need a better metaphor. Thank you for mentioning Hamlet’s line. So easy to pass over as there are so many lines. Here again, in a line, does Mr. Shakespeare cut through it all; how many times has he gone right into my psyche and lay me bare so much so that I have begun yelling at him that he has no right to do that. In the line of Hamlet you quote, he has taken all of my life discovery, passing through ordination and a long spiritual journey, all the learning of a lifetime, and in a sentence of a very few words, and there it is, he hands me all of it, a lifetime, in 14 words of a line of a play. And there it is. Before your giving me Hamlet, I took theologian Paul Tillich’s words to heart: “The first thing to be said about God, is we can say nothing about God.” But I also follow you: there is something to know. If the cross is anything, perhaps a new revelation, it is that of love, as you say pointing to the ocean of love we live in; not the cross as some exacting price that the God demands be paid – or else. God, no!! Ha! Yes. Love. The shape of us. The carpenter.

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