Wednesday, September 01, 2004
The Awful Truth
A mystic wants to walk through the curtain that Jesus tore apart and experience God directly.
Rephrased, you could say that a theologian studies God using written materials, and a mystic studies God through his senses. Brennan Manning, in "Ruthless Trust," mentions many people he describes as theologian and mystic.
The first time I read that I thought he was nuts. Aren't they opposed? They have been in my experience, and mystics have always been looked down upon. But do they really oppose each other? They both study God, and just as an engineer can be an artist, can't a mystic be a theologian?
This wouldn't matter except that I Have a sneaking suspicion that I'm a mystic. And a theologian. I love my experience, but I also use a concordance.
Could it be that the "first love" everyone talks about (except at Mosaic) is really a phenomenon of trust? A person gets saved and they have to trust God. Everything is new, naturally, so trust is the only thing they can do. As time goes on they learn about God and church and the bible and, as is natural in our culture, knowledge takes the place of trust. Why trust God when I now know enough to solve my problems? But this is a lie. The only way to solve my own problems is to keep them so simple that anyone could solve them.
At first the problems seem huge, so of course I turn to God. Then they become more known. Our culture teaches that we're not to need anyone. But God wants us to need him. We're supposed to need him. We're made to need him, for everything that's important. He wants us to make decisions, but he is the source of our reasons to make those decisions. In other words, why do anything if I don't have a relationship with him? Theology supports this, mysticism understands it. Christians need "feel-how" just as backpackers do, and airplane pilots, and sand sculptors.
My name is Larry, and I'm a mystic. There. I feel better now. Manning says that Jesus may be more pleased when we trust him than when we say we love him. The theologian in me questions this eisegesis, but the mystic says "Of course. How else is love demonstrated?"
I have yet to understand the meaning of "Love" in and of itself. So many other concepts seem to be interchangeable, or so similar that the need to be mentioned. Trust is one of them, but so are esteem, respect, admiration, desire, ...etc. From a survivalist point of view, "Trust" seems to imply letting one's guard down, or perceiving the object of trust as a non-threat. Without experience, this perception would appear to result from hope. Don't know if I'm making a point here, but perhaps it provides a different avenue of exploration...by the way, this is fun !!