Over the past couple months, I have written about the conceptual relationships between religion and spirituality and language and linguistics. While my educational background in linguistics means that these connections fascinate me, there was a reason for doing this deep-dive beyond my own interest. Thinking about God and faith through this lens is essentially about coming to terms with religious differences. This isn’t about relativism, but about accepting the reality of our situation on earth. There are as many perspectives on God and life’s big questions as there are humans. We need to be able to talk to one another and understand our differences if we are going to have a future.
Moreover, many of us find ourselves, whether intentionally (through our curiosity) or unintentionally (through our life circumstances), washed against the shores of many different traditions over the course of our life, some ‘closer to home’ than others. And so we need to have ways of understanding what it is we’ve experienced. Simple questions like ‘Is this true?’ must give way to more subtle questions, like ‘How is this true? And how is this false?’
This is important to me because it is my own story. And what I found was that, no matter what spiritual language I was learning or dialect of Christianity I was speaking, and in hindsight, even the times when I couldn’t ‘speak’ at all, I knew there was something beyond the simple material of the world. That something or Someone wants to be known and, more importantly, can be known. All of these ways of talking about God offer their own insights, approaches, understandings, and tools. And I have become convinced that by engaging with as many as we can — with grace, gratitude, and humility — the fuller our experience of God can be.
And at the end of the day, isn’t that the point? I don’t want to skim the surface of the experience of God as a religious dilettante, nor do I want to explore the depths only of my own comfortable little cove.
I want the whole ocean. I want the Abyss. Nothing less is good enough. Because nothing less is God.
In a way, this is the entire project of this blog. I write about the Scriptures and think about hermeneutics because I want to know God. I write about articulating values and living lives that produce good fruit because I want to know God. I learn and share about what psychologists are discovering it means to live a good life because I want to know God. I explore different sacred practices because I want to know God.
Knowing God in the depths isn’t easy. And putting what it is we find into words is even harder. Talk about God by its very definition stretches language beyond its limits, as we attempt to describe infinite truths in very finite words.
This series will explore all of these themes, not only knowing God, but also our need and inability to put this knowledge into words and actions. It won’t be a how-to guide — I most certainly am unqualified for that — but I hope it will at least provide something of a map to help your own journeys of life and faith.