From belief to atheism: 6-12-13
Up in the air over baubles: 6-14-13

Ways to encounter God: 6-13-13

There are, of course, many ways to conceptualize God, and as I've said before it's best to start by acknowleding that anything we humans say about God is arrogant, given that in the end the fullness of God is beyond knowledge (even considering what is regarded as divine revelation).

BuberStill, we struggle to find a sense of who God is. One way is through propositional or doctrinal statements about God drawn up by theologians (we're all theologians, even if we don't believe in God) after years of instrospection and study of holy writ.

Another way is through encounters with the divine, however we imagine those taking place. Today is a good day to think a bit about such encounters because it's the anniversary of the 1965 death of Martin Buber (pictured here), the great Jewish theologian best known for his I-Thou formation of that encounter experience described in his 1923 book, I and Thou.

As the biography of Buber to which I've linked you makes clear, his I-Thou (and I-It) formulation of relationship garnered many critics. Fine. Let the academics argue about that.

Where I think Buber is helpful is in moving us from doctrinal statements about God into wanting some kind of encounter with God. In some ways this is similar to mysticism, and yet I think Buber and others would argue that such encounters need not be so completely private and internally focused as they often are in traditional mysticism. That is, our encounters with God can happen in the everyday matters of our lives and need not require special mystic meditation practices.

At any rate, Buber is an interesting guy worth knowing about. If you haven't read him or read about him, I commend him to you so maybe you can create a He-You relationship.

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I mentioned here the other day that the Southern Baptist Convention is losing members, too. The Religion News Service writer of this blog has some suggestions for how to reverse that. But don't hold your breath until the Baptists adopt the ideas.

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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column now is online. To read it, click here.


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