Thursday, February 18, 2010


'God is still speaking'


I confess I don't hear anything myself. I get it secondhand. Maybe the question is why am I not hearing?
Same way she always has: through people.
Who is listening?
Think what He used have to do in the OT to get peoples' attention.

Speaking? Why do we insist on an anthopomorphic God. What do you hear him with? If you aren't listening, can you still hear him.
What does he speak about?

Does the fact that matter (only 4% of the universe) has become self aware mean anything in this conversation? What level of God aware is matter at this stage?
Does God work according to percentages? That's not the representation of either testament.
F, are you referring to my mention of matter being only 4% of the universe? Geez.
LBJ, you think % of matter is relevant to answering the question?

To quote, ER: how?
Are you just being contentious or challenging inclusion of it as a symptom of my egotistic efforts to show my superior level of smarts?

Point inferred by the use of the 4% is that even though the self aware matter is only a small proportion of matter, while matter itself is a small proportion of the All.

Futhermore and specifically, the All is less than God. So, how arrogant can we be to assume God has stopped speaking to the God-aware of the cosmos of which we must be only the minutest of a fraction.

Or coming to it from the micro side, how dare we think of ourselves as so much like God, as we now are constituted, to even begin believe we can hear the smallest part of what He has to say much less all he has to say.

How does God speak to us? Every way there is to know.

Why, as you contend,are you not hearing him? You have contended in the past that we know only what we are told. Arguable, but reasonable, if God is not other than from and of us, or is there something else to understand?

As you intially asked, "...why am I (Feodor) not hearing?
"... how arrogant can we be to assume God has stopped speaking to the God-aware of the cosmos..."

Since any answer to this particular question is impossible speculation and sheer imagination wholly unrelated to human experience -- unanswerable in the extreme -- the issue is idiotic, much less arrogant. I really don't think ER's declarative has to do with something for which we have not grounds of relation.

"... how dare we think of ourselves as so much like God, as we now are constituted, to even begin believe we can hear the smallest part of what He has to say..."

Well... we have Genesis: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness."

And... John 14: "Because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."

And... (my favorite): "His [Christ's] divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature."

If you ask how we dare, you need to take that up with scripture, traditionally understood as the sufficient, but not comprehensive, way in which God speaks to us, to bring it back to ERs question.
"You have contended in the past that we know only what we are told."

I have never contended any such thing.

I do contend that if we claim Christianity to be the identity of our faith, then we have the responsibility to live out that faith with courage. And dispensing with the faith of the saints, leaving Christian heritage to the cancer of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism or the envy and hate of some atheists, is sheer cowardice and lazy, glib, shallow understanding.

The faith of the saints cannot be understood when one's basal reference is mid-century, mid-American protestant pamphlets. Or Roman Catholic ones for that matter.
And I sincerely do not believe that anyone hears God by reading the best seller lists of made-up gnosticism, with dreams of being connected to a subversive, oppressed past.

I do think that such behavior does address - and provide a really odd kind of introjected forgiveness and solace for - some vastly significant neuroses that lie in the collective unconscious of white America.
Alan got it up there in the second comment: through people.

God is still speaking -- through people and peoples.

I think humanity is spiritually autistic, though -- seeming to babble and blather and go on and on about nothing and everything, but then sometimes one person will utter a profundity and those around him will stop and go: "What did he say? What did that black preacher from that church in Atlanta say?" ... "What did he say? What did that little bald guy wearing the round glasses and the white homespun say?"

And people that hath ears hear.
And once in awhile, Feodor says something profound, or DrLoboJo, or Alan -- maybe even I do.

Even the Neils. My Brit atheist blog buddies. Some unreconstructed redneck in a backwoods bar in the Ozarks, some angry urban yoot on a street up there in Feodorland, a sworn enemy ... says something.

And God speaks.
"God is still speaking -- through people and peoples."

Is this really worth saying? I don't even know that it's true, though it sounds good. What evidence do you have? Anybody can come up with something important and vital, but shouldn't there be something more than that when God speaks? Obama's campaign speeches, the speech on race, the speech in Germany... hardly anything better in the last several years.

But when God speaks AND is heard, things change. I don't see things changing.
Feodor's challenge to Alan's declarative sounds really good. It is the always present, "but . . ." that accompanies each and every positive declaration of God's people.

My response to that "but" is usually something like this: What do you expect? Skies opening, earth splitting, angels descending? While there is plenty of that in the Bible, there is also just the muddling through that, upon reflection, seems to be God working and speaking through ordinary, and the occasionally extraordinary, folks we encounter. Sometimes in those whom some might label evil, or immoral. Sometimes those whose entire life is lived outside the covenant.

Feodor's challenge seems to imply that we have no criteria for determining God's words from human speech; God's acts from the mere mundane. That simply isn't the case. As St. Paul writes, we should always test the spirits, if for no other reason than to make sure they are of Christ.

So, yeah, God speaks through the Kings and the Ghandis and the Neils and the Alans and the lobojos and the criminal and the hooker and the junkie. Ears to hear, along with a bit of willingness to submit one's discernment to the discipline of understanding.
God spoke and chaos turned to Creation.

God spoke and breathed life into the dust we call Adam.

God spoke to me through you when you said, "Life is prayer," forever changing my thinking, therefore my life.

God spoke through a good friend, sister and fellow seminarian -- who just got accepted into the PhD program at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary, very yay for her! -- when she talked to me about Phillips, and later I "heard" -- "Start seminary," and still later, "Keep going."

God spoke to me through the UCC's infamous "Bouncer" TV ad, which was the tipping point for my repentance from inherited homophobia.

God spoke through the news from N.O. after Katrina, drawing me back to church.
Things are always changing, Feodor.
And GKS gives the correct but still un-evidenced response.

What is God saying to us these days, GKS? And can we agree that God is saying that? I think agreement should be some part of a criterion for "testing the spirits."

Well, let's test what you and ER and Alan are claiming. What is God saying to us as a people these days?

This infers that I am not expecting the skies to open up, nor am of the opinion that God does not speak through people. I'm just not sure that God is currently speaking. Sometimes, I'd think you'd allow, God is not speaking.
ER, the personal is, of course, the personal.

But the notion of God speaking seems to me to be a stock reference about God speaking to a community, a society.

Or, at least, this is the domain in which I have my questions.
F: "And I sincerely do not believe that anyone hears God by reading the best seller lists of made-up gnosticism, with dreams of being connected to a subversive, oppressed past."

:) Well I guess that packages my cosmic view of God alright.

"I do think that such behavior does address - and provide a really odd kind of introjected forgiveness and solace for - some vastly significant neuroses that lie in the collective unconscious of white America."

Say what? Jungian racism? Only the whites?

F: "But when God speaks AND is heard, things change. I don't see things changing."

How will you know when you do?
Well, Feodor, I don't think God *does* speak TO peoples, nor has God ever spoken TO peoples, unless it was through invididual people, who other individual people could take or leave.
GKS wrote, "So, yeah, God speaks through the Kings and the Ghandis and the Neils and the Alans and the lobojos and the criminal and the hooker and the junkie."

Woah now, let's not get to crazy here.

I never claimed he spoke through me. Criminals and hookers and junkies, sure. But in the words of Charles Barkley, "I am not a role model."

Which is just fine because I'm more content to listen.

Anyway, as I'm certain that even Feodor would agree, if He is speaking through me, I'm too stupid to recognize it. ;)
When literacy is no longer a barrier to cultural capital and cultural capital is no longer a barrier to achievement for hundreds of thousand of children born in poverty or urban neglect.

How much of your own soul did you give to change the American social fabric? How many such souls have there been?

And despite what you and hundreds of thousands of others contributed, by percentages, the denial of access has only grown worse.
BTW, ER, you know we Presbyterians think that God speaks through votes?


Think about that long enough and you may start wondering what they've been putting in your cigars. :)
I think God may be saying something through the Hubble Deep Field.(look it up)

F:"How much of your own soul did you give to change the American social fabric? How many such souls have there been?"

Seriously, don't dispare.
It is the conflict and the challenge that moves us forward as a species. Otherwise God's creation would never have experienced him.
Un-evidenced, as in I didn't give examples? Or, perhaps, there isn't any evidence that suits your criteria?

The United Methodist Commission on Relief is still in New Orleans, across southern Louisiana and Mississippi, helping people reconstruct their lives. THe head of UMCOR was in Haiti when the earthquake hit, checking on the ongoing efforts to build a sustainable social and economic infrastructure there. Millions have poured in and will continue to do so.

UMCOR was in Rwanda even as the UN stood by and allowed the butchery there to go on. Hiding potential victims, helping the injured. When the violence was over, before the UN, or the Red Cross, or any other agency decided it was safe to go in, UMCOR was already directing relief efforts.

Medicins sans Frontieres continues to work across war-ravaged central Africa, in southern Asia, and, of course, now, Haiti.

God speaks not just in words of individuals, or in the collective pronouncements of the churches. God speaks in the lives and witnesses of those who serve others. Who serve justice and mercy.

As far as the world changing - we are far too close to know how much the world is changing because a Dutch physician decides to dedicate her life to serving AIDS patients in Mozambique, or a store clerk from Wisconsin serves as a missionary in Bangladesh. Do the realities of power shift? Are you willing to stake your life that they are not? Because, I am willing to stake my life that they are.

Until the final trumpet sounds, the struggle will always go on, there will be losses as well as victories. The trick, if it is such, is not to give up.

As far as Obama's victory not changing much, I would beg to differ; do you think the Republicans and conservatives would be howling as loud and long as they do if there wasn't a fundamental shift in the American people's perception of what is in their best interest? One can judge the effect of potential change by the forces of reaction against it.

This is the evidence I have that things are changing because God is speaking - this same God raised Jesus from the dead, never to die again. I submit my life to that first principle, a decision made for me before I was even a blip on the cosmic radar, and in that I lay my faith, my hope, and my joy.

This is why I find the constant questioning, in the end, to be sound and fury, signifying nothing. If one is waiting for anything definitive, well, we've been waiting for that for a while, and my guess is it isn't around the corner. So, rather than get it all straight first and then moving, I move, trusting that my legs are guided by someone who sees the path ahead far more clearly than I ever could.
Does God speak to me through people around me? Sometimes. Mostly it's their own, hard won and god-given wisdom. But that's a self-concerned issue that is neither here nor there and my life is fairly inconsequential. If God speaks to me, it does little good in the world. Still, a little good from me, from Alan, too (we have somewhat different goods).

I am interested in the God who breaks forth in a movements political, moral, musical, scientific, geographic, ethnographic, literary.

Einstein and Bohr, Zola and Hugo, Beethoven and Bach, Gandhi, King, Lewis, Moses, Edelman, Faulkner, Baldwin and Ellison and Morrison, Dylan, Marley, LBJ, Wiesel, Levi...

Is God speaking to our situation through people these days, years, decades?

I find silence. I am waiting, with Wiesel, to see hate rolled back. Aren't we all waiting... while we give our little bit... to see hate rolled back?
Haiti makes me angry at God. God is not speaking in Haiti. Or Africa.

God is only mopping up mess.

That's not a God I can believe in. One that mops up mess after mess, clearing the table for more surgeries, more bodies, more empty plates.

Robertson had it ass backwards. Haitians did not make a deal with the devil. Haitians were suffering centuries of the carting away of their natural resources and domestic goods by imperial powers.

And then the sin-cracked earth visited death upon them. They are Christs, not demons. They are all Christs suffering unjustly and we are partly culpable.

We, who help with the mopping, are partly culpable by virtue of our citizenship. God acts through us to mop up what God and France and America are culpable for. And that's the name of that tune.
You know, I've been waiting forever to use this, and this discussion of God speaking seems like the perfect time....

"If God is a DJ
Life is a dance floor
Love is the rhythm
You are the music"

Words to live by from Pink.

Enjoy. ;)
The difference between us could not be more clear.
See my comment in the other thread. I think you're starting to get it.

At least Alan can openly own his self-concern. GKS defends God in Africa by talking about UMCOR, French and Dutch doctors, and Wisconsin broom salesmen.

As long as the white folks are doing good works, God's a happy and justified man, I guess.
F, I really get tired of this. It almost always come down to you pissing on every other effing person in a thread. WTF? You DO start it, you DO make it personal and I want you to stop. You can't mask your own hatred for others -- or is it yourself? -- by writing in third person.

Yeah, I'm a white guy. Kiss my white butt.
I defend God by talking about Christian missionary efforts in Africa? Of course! Do I hold God responsible for the AIDS pandemic there, or for the Haitian earthquake? Do I blame God for the Lisbon earthquake? C'mon . . .

Seriously, all I can do is my own, as you call it, "inconsequential", part. My life, my living - that's all I can claim is my own. Yet, I can have no idea what ripples from my life will turn in to a tsunami, given time and space. If you are mad at God because we live on a planet with plate tectonics, well, you need to take that up with Management.

Let me put it another way. In March, 1996, my cousin's daughter, a smart, funny, beautiful young 20-year-old, went to downtown Geneseo, NY from her housing on campus to buy a CD. She took a well-worn, well-traveled student shortcut there and back. On her way back, the riverbank along which the path wove gave way; her winter coat, soaked, dragged her underneath the current of the snowmelt-swollen Genesee River, trapping her beneath a fallen tree where she died. Her body was recovered only after many days searching.

There was no meaning to this horrible event. There was no purpose behind it. It is just one of many millions of other horror stories of death coming, sudden and unbidden, robbing those of us who are closest and the whole world of the life suddenly ended. To repeat myself - to no purpose.

Did I rage against God for this personal tragedy? Many have. Many have lost what little faith they had because of events such as this. Earthquakes. Tsunamis. Political failures that present as the AIDS and diarrhea pandemics across Africa. There are any number of horrors in this world, both close to home, and far away, that very easily could lead one to despair.

I do not look for meaning in Denise's death, or the events that surrounded it. I look for hope and faith, however, in the God revealed in Jesus Christ so that I believe those events and that death aren't the end of the story.

You want to be mad at God for the Haitian earthquake and the responses - human and inhuman - to it, that's fine. Not a life is saved by such rages, however. And I would hasten to add that I don't think God cares all that much; God doesn't need our assent in order to exist. Nor does God work on your timetable, or mine, or anyone else's.

Not to say that rage at Divine silence is unwarranted. Only to say that, for me, that road is one I have traveled down, and with which I have made my peace. For now.
See? God is still speaking.
You racialized my comment, I didn't. You assumed I was speaking of white men.

You want racial justice, Feodor. You aren't the only one, though. Your assumption that, because we do not wear it on our sleeves, we somehow ignore the reality isn't so much insulting as it is tiring. I have never felt any need to justify my feelings vis-a-vis racial justice to you; this is another road down which I traveled, with those far closer to me, and with far more invested in it that I believe you can imagine, and have come through it quite satisfied all around.

So, please. Stop already.
How you can say that God is speaking in the midst of unrelieved and centuries old death and destruction wrought by colonialism by isolating the work of the Methodist Church, a French NGO, a Dutch doctor, and a Wisconsin shopkeeper is beyond words for me.

So, yes, I admit I sometimes confuse your ass for a seminary educated man. Perhaps its the way your anal lips shape the word, "Barth." Alas, your ass, as the rest of you, is insufficiently self-aware and world-critical for me to kiss it.

The blessing would be go unappreciated.
Haitians didn't just happen to walk down by the river by the millions for the last four hundred years and get caught by circumstances. Their natural resources and national products have been raped and stolen for our national defense and consumption. We reached out and dragged them under long before the earthquake.

I sometimes miss a meal on any given day by accident. Perhaps Africans are way too busy and missing too many meals.

And I am using prophetic satire because God is speaking to you through me.

Who are you to deny it?
That's enough. Srsly. All stop. Everyone. This comment is the very end of this thread.
And the word, "God," is already a racialized comment. I didn't have to do anything.
I recomend Effexor XT twice a day.
Sorry to tag on the end, but Feodors ignorance of Haitian history is so significant I can't help but mention it. The short version of why Haiti is in it's current state is Dessalines. Had Napolean not exiled Toussaint who knows how differently things would have turned out.

Again, sorry to add to the thread, but bad information about Haiti gets me every time.

Do you know anything about black pigs, the CIA, and Haiti?

Ask DrLBJ.

Sorry, but information about Haiti from bad people gets me every time.

Yes, in fact I have seen black pigs in Haiti, black goats too.

Did they escape from your fantasy world?

Next time I meet a bad person in Haiti, I'll tell them you said so.
The black pig you saw is a museum piece. So what happened to subsistence living and domestic economy after we eradicated their native stock?

And you want to talk about Dessalines?

Two hundred years or thirty - which do you think is more pertinent?

And speak to yourself when you are in Haiti, for reflection to correct a knee jerk ignorance.

I guess I need to decide. Do I want to get my information about Haitian history from Dr. Brigit and historians/biographers, or from an anonymous white smart ass know it all east coast liberal. It's a tough call but I'm going to guess Dr. Brigit with a family history going back to the revolution might be a pretty good source.

I was of course unaware that Haitian history only started 30 years ago, or is your point that Haiti was a paradise until the white devils came in and destroyed all that was good and holy.

From what I've seen, subsistence living is much more affected by the lack of arable soil than the (non) lack of livestock. Seriously, you can't drive down the road without dodging pigs, goats and chickens, not only that but they don't shut up at night. Had the white devils only not cut down vast numbers of trees to make charcoal (oh, that was the natives), and if only big chunks of the western end of the north side of the island weren't desert (again the white capitalist devils), and if only the white owned fishing boats didn't come through ans sweep the oceans clean of fish (oh, they didn't do that either), life would be perfect.

So, with this I'm done hijacking ER's thread. ER, my deepest apologies I'm usually better about respecting the hosts wishes. I hope you can forgive me.
Craig, no prob. Glad to see you.
Feodor, it took a couple of hours and a few drinks to get me to see that your're hurting deeply. That ain't smart-assery talking.

So, carry on. It ain't me, or GKS, or DrLobo, or Luke, or Craig that really has you aching.

Good luck, a prayer and my sincerest hopeful thoughts for you to find peace -- they're aloft.

In the meantime, take all the time and space here you need.

Thanks, I've been in and out but quiet. Hope all is going well.

If you think white devils only showed up in Haiti within the last 30 years, then I should take absolute ignorance on your part into consideration when reading your suggestions. Given that, please reread that nowhere was I suggesting you take your history from me - nor, from your presentation - Dr. Brigit.

You could try CLR James just for starters. Then you could leap forward and read Travesty in Haiti: A true account of Christian missions, orphanages, fraud, food aid and drug trafficking by Timothy Schwartz.

Of course, your choice.

But at the very least, Dessalines is not so much your target, wanting, as you do, a dark skinned one. I'd offer, as a sacrifice, Jean-Pierre Boyer (1818-1843) agreed to pay a security ransom to France that crushed-- to this day-- any chance Haiti had to approach economic health.

I offer this sacrifice because I doubt very much you'll read anything objective and worth reading. For the definition of a white devil these days is someone who insists on blaming the victim.
ER, seriously, how many drinks did you have?

It must have been like those brilliant ideas we have at two am only to wake up and find them to be looking-glass fragments.

But how nice - and a little odd - that you were deeply thinking about me on a Friday night.

If you read my response, nowhere do I suggest that the last 30 years is the problem, that was you. I would suggest that Dessalines masacreing his enemies immeadiatly upon achieving power set Haiti on acourse that has not recovered from. Not the only cause, but it's agood place to start. I think Toussaint would have set a different course.

As to the rest of your rant, I'll stick to the folks who lived it rather than some propogandists who you might recommend. Again, I see no reason to trust an annonomyous white liberal with an axe to grind.

Your assumption that I start with Dessalines because he is black has no foundation in reality. I start with Dessalines because he was first. As far as white guys, I guess Napolean would be a good place to start as well. There is plenty of blame to go around in Haiti, Blanc's, Noirs, and inbetween. The fact that you choose to interpret everything through racial lenses is your problem not mine.

Feel free to broad brush every missionary in Haiti, no problem. At least they are in the game, not sittingon the sidelines bitching. While your at it lets jump on the evil white devil Paul Farmer too. Lord knows he and his liberation theology have destroyed countless Haitians lives.

So, to try again to close this out. You read books, and talk to some random Haitians on your porch, I'll do what I can with my limited financial resourses and time to try to make life a little better for a few Haitians. If that makes me a bad guy then I'll wear that proudly.
Craig, when you write this: "I was of course unaware that Haitian history only started 30 years ago, or is your point that Haiti was a paradise until the white devils came in..." you are making the absurd inference that only in the last 30 years did the white devil show.

Try Charles V. I'm pretty sure he precedes Dessalines.

And as for sticking to those who lived it, I question the lives you find to reflect upon. After all, Jefferson Davis lived the Civil War. And he has his followers, too. You go on, be your proud bad self.

As for my stoop, it exists within a six mile radius of 10, 500 Haitians, and even more one generation removed. But, then, you're not aware nor interested in Haitian reality. You just want to manage it.
"You read books..." Like it's a bad thing. Wow, how old is that complaint. Since the sun was placed in the middle of the solar system? Since Newton chewed on the apple, Darwin on the worm? Says a lot, Craig.

And when Americans talk about black folks, and how they are doing good for black folks, no filter is needed. Race is one of the two distinguishing characteristics of the American social identity. And as folks move upward through the other one, they begin to escape the American vise of racism. The Irish did it. The Italians, too. But, then, they benefitted by proxy from Emancipation and Jim Crow.

No amount of ignorance on your part can change that reality... and certainly cannot change the balance of injustice. Nor can my working alongside my Haitian and Haitian-American colleagues, every day.

When one is the game with ulterior motives and historical and ethical blindness, one is not playing the game. One is corrupting it.

You obviously cannot get beyond your preconceptions of those who converse with you. If you wish to continue to assign motives to me feel free, but I have no use for your prejudice. I cannot, nor do I have any desire to, compete with your all encompassing knowledge of everything related to being black. So I will leave you to your anonymous little dream world. You dismiss my Haitian friends (who actually live in Haiti) while elevating the "10,500" Haitians that live with a 6 mile radius of your stoop to some mythical status. Get over yourself. Again, I'm sick of you wl's who sit on the sideline and bitch. Get in the game or shut the hell up.

It may shock you, but not everyone is as preoccupied with race as you. When I am in Haiti or at home building affordable housing or earthquake rebuilding, race is not an issue need is. I don't do things for white people, or black people, or whatever. I do things for people, period.

So, in the interest of preserving your ego, I will take my bad self and study the propaganda you mentioned so I can be as well read as you are. I will tell my Haitian friends that they need to defer to your greater insight of their lives and experiences. Now you can feel good about your superiority and go to sleep knowing that you've vanquished one more evil person.

So, if helping Haitians makes me bad in your eyes, then I take that as a badge of honor. Maybe If you made the tiniest attempt to get past your irrational prejudice you'd be able to comment without ticking off everyone you come into contact with.

I'm sure you will continue to take your personal shots at me after I leave, but that's how you roll, and I'm done playing in your gutter.
"And as for sticking to those who lived it, I question the lives you find to reflect upon."

Question what you will, again, if someone who's family has been in Haiti since the revolution and has chosen to stay in PaP, despite the risk of physical danger doesn't meet your standards for knowledge of Haitian history or compete with some anonymous delivery guy, too bad. In stead of "reflecting upon" peoples lives I choose to interact with people. Yes reading history is great, and I have, but real people making real sacrifices are pretty compelling. So, disparage away, it suits you.
"I'm done playing in your gutter."

Odd. If memory serves, you can in of your own accord, built a gutter and now not only blame me for it but call it mine.

Kind of an analogy of white efforts in Haiti it seems to me.

But hopefully not of your own contemporary and extremely noble sounding work, though the attitude still needs tweaking.
"And as for sticking to those who lived it, I question the lives you find to reflect upon."

You'r'e quite right, Craig, I misspoke. I don't question the lives, I question what you find in those lives to reflect upon. Your under suspicion. Not anyone else.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify.
Just as a matter of record.

As for the Black Haitian "Creole" pigs, they are eradicated and gone. But the French within the last decade have imported to Haiti a similar breed from some isolated corner of France that seems to be adapting better than the "princess pigs" sent over by the USDA.

That would account for the seemingly ubiquitous black pigs that grace the beaches and trash piles.
PIgs in, children out. That's how helping the black man works.
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