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I Think God Moves in People

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Sometime before midnight on New Years Eve I found myself nuzzled into the living room couch with another friend who studies theology in graduate school.  Amid the dancing, yelling, and clamoring of glasses at the party that surrounded us, she spoke one of the most simple, profound things I had heard about God in a long time.

After describing the details of a rigorous seminar course on prayer she had completed early that month, she said, “You know, I came out with a lot of doubts about whether God works in the world the way we often think God does.  But I do think that God moves in people.”

A poet friend of mine once described the different types of poems she writes.  She identified one kind by describing a visit to a museum when she found herself standing before this particular painting, staring and staring, simply captivated by it at the deepest parts of herself.  She couldn’t walk away.  She had to write a poem about this surprising moment of wonder that simply grabbed her.  She writes these poems about simple, startling moments.  I think God moves in people.

The more theology and philosophy I study, the more confused I am about the Infinite working in the finite. I’m reading Karl Barth and at the moment he is trying to convince me that in my human limitation I do not know God from within.  He says something like, human beings cannot know this wholly-Other God but through the revelation of scripture and the Church.  What to say?  I do not have convincing words for responding to this brilliant theologian at the moment.

But I have wonder:  I have these moments when God moves in me.  And in these moments the finite world may be simply what it is, but something in me is different.  The wonder persists beyond the limits of what I can explain with my rigorous reasoning right now.  I’ll keep trying to put words to it.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/l-dogg/2558482751/


  1. Terry says:

    Anselm makes the same move in the Monologion. I think he clarifies it a bit in de grammatica.

    But then, as Augustine might say, “Lo, you were within me, but I outside, seeking there for you.”

  2. Terry, did you know Barth LOVED Anselm? Your comment sounds about right.

    Also, I have thought of you since I started taking this Barth seminar. Profs here keep alluding to the fact that your Yale folk love their Karl Barth. Hope the new semester is treating you well!

  3. John Arnold says:

    Sometimes there just aren’t words adequate and we are left in awe of what is holy. I suspect the Holy Spirit set Bart straight about a few things when he arrived in heaven. Namely, that despite Bart’s theories the Holy Spirit still has a job of comforting, convicting, teaching, and guiding people and is continuing to do so.

    One of the things that scripture reveals to us about God is that God has for centuries revealed himself through a variety of dreams, visions, and visits. I don’t see why that God should have recently stopped behaving like the God we know in scripture. Just some thoughts to consider.

    Just discovered your blog via your guest post. Looking forward to exploring it further. Peace and blessings during Lent.

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