The Projection of God…


The following is another online conversation from the class: Images of God, from this spring. I do not have the link to Ulanov’s article, or I would include it here. 

The Projection of God…

by Larry Williams – Tuesday, 31 January 2012, 06:03 PM

As I think about Ulanov’s essay, the idea of having differing, and changing images of God, shouldn’t be such an awkward thought. That is what I do with other people. It is easy for me to draw people in flat caricatures; especially when I don’t know them very well. The caricatures are heroic for people I tend to like while other people I don’t take to readily are drawn in unflattering, shadowy forms. All lack the reality of the person I would know if I were to live with them every day, and would change to reflect both heroic and selfish people. I would be disappointed in some, and pleasantly surprised with others. Frankly, I believe Ulanov has a valid point that we are unable to hold to a stable image of God. I like the thought that we can embrace our disparate images and allow them to develop throughout our lives.

It occurs to me that maybe Freud isn’t so far off, in that the God we seek is really the God we want and need based on our own unique, personal experience from our earliest moments of being. I am finding that God IS that, but God is ALSO what I don’t want, and don’t feel that I need. God is so vast as to be dissonant; especially in times I want harmony and harmonious in times of dissonance in my life. I must say that recently, God is confusing even in God’s goodness.

I suspect that various faith traditions really approach, not the true God; rather groups of words which try to describe aspects of God. Other traditions approach emotion as God. I would say the emerging church seems to approach a gray God, with neither black nor white, who is all-inclusive as it relates to people with no values of exclusivity at all: A God of no character boundaries. This final approach both intrigues me and frightens me at the same time.

I am coming to find that the more I know God… the less I can say about God… and that worries me. According to Ulanov, I should probably try to embrace that.

Reply

Re: The Projection of God…

by John Ray – Wednesday, 1 February 2012, 07:26 AM

Larry,

I love the part where you write “I am finding that God IS that, but God is ALSO what I don’t want, and don’t feel that I need”. That is so true. What really hit me though, and I think is crucial when introducing this idea to people who want a solid, safe and “unchanging” god, is the point you make about how we make images of everyone, other people, even ourselves, right? When this is recognized, the discussion about making images of god may not seem so off the wall.

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Re: The Projection of God…

by Larry Williams – Wednesday, 1 February 2012, 04:55 PM

“When this is recognized, the discussion about making images of god may not seem so off the wall.”

Exactly! This “image making” idea kind of occurred to me as I began to write this post. How we are so quick to dismiss how similar our relationship to God is to that of other people. It bothers me that we are so apt to try to describe God, rather than to experience God. I don’t discount the God-being-invisible-thing is kind of distracting in our attempts to experience God, but isn’t that one of the benefits of the man, Jesus? Why do we theologians keep trying to comprehend the uncomprehendable when we have the life, death, and new life of a carpenter to watch? Do we really NEED the other stuff? And what about the God we find in the Creation? Is it not enough to embrace its beauty without needing to control it?

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Re: The Projection of God…

by John Ray – Thursday, 2 February 2012, 09:55 AM

I so agree that I am more and more comfortable and drawn towards experience and description as opposed to explanation.

Hey, also remember you are up for the synopsis this week, right?

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Re: The Projection of God…

by Darrel Harvey – Wednesday, 1 February 2012, 12:37 PM

Larry,

Great point about the subjective nature of caricatures. I totally slant my image of people based on their like-ability in my eyes. Why wouldn’t I do the same with God? There are days I like Him and days I don’t. I need to live in community in order to fill in the portrait of God. This discussion also impresses me with the need to embrace and communicate with other traditions. Each one reflects and emphasizes a different aspect of God. We need each other but instead we have settled for division because we’ve hung a cheap caricature on our wall – like a souvenir from a theme park.

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Re: The Projection of God…

by Larry Williams – Wednesday, 1 February 2012, 05:06 PM

Darrel,

Speaking of theme parks… I have a couple near me. Why don’t you fire up the Harley and head it this way?

Regarding faith traditions tendency to divide rather than seek concensus: Maybe because it’s a presidential election year…..

Ok…. seriously…I am reminded by your words, that divisions need bridge builders. I must ask myself: Can I handle the inward dissonance of reaching one hand out to a Southern Baptist, and the other to an Episcopalian? What would coffee taste like with a bitten tongue?

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Re: The Projection of God…

by William Zuelke – Thursday, 2 February 2012, 10:04 PM

southern baptist and Episcopalians……..how about muslims and catholics

billz

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Re: The Projection of God…

by Larry Williams – Friday, 3 February 2012, 06:12 PM

Actually, Bill… I think I am less afraid of muslims than Southern Baptists….

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Re: The Projection of God…

by William Zuelke – Thursday, 2 February 2012, 10:02 PM

I am finding that God IS that, but God is ALSO what I don’t want, and don’t feel that I need. God is so vast as to be dissonant; especially in times I want harmony and harmonious in times of dissonance in my life. I must say that recently, God is confusing even in God’s goodness.

you are so right on Larry……in my experience and in my mind this is it. this is the joy of relationship.

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