While many good folks in the Spokane area attended their place of worship on Sunday morning, I joined the congregation at the Bloomsday run. In one sense, I count it as a religious event. I come from a Christian heritage, and there is that often repeated verse from Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” I would think 50,000 qualifies? And that part about the name? Most who read that passage identify Jesus with the God of the Old Testament, or I AM WHO I AM, which in the ancient Hebrew could also mean I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. I like to think of that as finding God in the people I meet, like at Bloomsday.
There was Ray, the retired physicist from Richland. We had great discussions of dark matter, dark energy, the quantum nature of time and how that might help our race results. And there was Dauncy from Vancouver BC, who worked in a charitable organization that rebuilt dilapidated homes in impoverished neighborhoods. We talked about racing strategies for running half Marathons, Dauncy’s next goal. But my favorite is somebody I didn’t even meet, at least not yet.
If you’ve ever run Bloomsday, then you know about fun atmosphere, the beach balls at the beginning of the race, or how everybody tosses their spare clothing into trees along the route. You know also about the indie music all along the way. I’ll never wear headphones when I run Bloomsday because the music is the best. There are church choirs, organizations, rock groups and so many local talents playing their hearts out. Then there was the man with a microphone calling out to 50,000 runners as they passed under his pointed finger:
“You thought you skipped out on church, but I’ve brought church to you!”
I loved it. And I understand just where he’s coming from. I’m a religious none, someone who’s dropped out of church. He’s a religious fundamentalist, someone who’s embraced church. We might seem in different worlds, but we’re not that far apart. The religious landscape of the world is tearing, and it affects different people in different ways. Some retreat into fundamentalism and others like me drop out completely. We’re both products of our time; we can’t escape that.
So I’m sending out this open letter to the angry fundamentalist at Bloomsday: let’s seek God together. “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” There’s two of us, so wouldn’t we qualify? Maybe we would find God to be completely other than what either of us expect? After all, isn’t that what the ancient Hebrews originally meant by I AM?
Bruce Meyer writes about the relationship between the physical universe and the pursuit of spirituality.
We definitely need more people willing to engage with those who might at first glance seem hostile. You’re correct, people respond to the changing religious landscape in different ways, and it’s a good reminder that we can help each other in our quest for God.
Frank, on Facebook said, “Worship always has it focus on what you value most [idol worship] if not focused on Jesus”
Thank you Amy and Frank for your comments!
“I AM WHO I AM, which in the ancient Hebrew could also mean I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE. I like to think of that as finding God in the people I meet, like at Bloomsday.”
I remember this phrase as “I am who I am becoming,” which is also reflects a process of growth. I have a hard time imagining a god who doesn’t grow as we grow – we evolve. I’m glad you had a good experience. I wish people would begin to admit to themselves that yelling at people is not a good way to convert them.
Rob Bell has a great video about this called “Bullhorn Guy”
Thanks Anna, great points! I like Rob Bell too.
The idea of God being an evolving deity is something that Process Theology has been developing for a long while.
How have you been?
This topic reminds me of the concept of Providence.
Without complicating the matter: when a musician creates a beautiful peice of music, the musician just doesn’t pluck one note and leave it hanging in space time. The musician sustains the notes in order for the composition to exist.
This is a good illustration for what providence is. If we truly move, live and have our being in God than God provides us with growth experiences. Such as what I see is being discussed in this article
Take care, Rob.
Good to hear from you Rob! I’m looking to study more about an evolving deity as you mentioned. It sounds like an interesting idea. I haven’t heard about Providence before, but that sounds relevant also. Thanks for sharing!
Hi guys, I’m a fundamentalist, but I’m not angry! 🙂 I checked the definition of “process theology” as I had not heard of it before. Seems process theology takes a low view of the inspiration of scripture, and posits that God is in the process of becoming all He can be! (the spiritual army, if you will). It sounds like, at least from what short summary I read of it, that it seeks to place man high enough on his own pedestal that he can “help God out” in becoming something more than He originally was? Help me out here, I’d like to know some more of the details of this theology.
Dennis- I’m glad you’re not angry. I haven’t spent any time with process theology either, although I’m intrigued. My understanding, though, is that it’s not about God changing. I think it’s more about our culture changing, and therefore our way of connecting with God changing. Someone from the ancient Rome, for example, might perceive God differently from us in the twenty-first century. My guess is that process theology sees this as a process of growing change.
As a fundamentalist, I realize you probably won’t like this idea. It’s not that anybody takes a low view of scripture, it’s that they take a high view of literature. An ancient writing doesn’t need to be dictated by God to be important. On the contrary, books such as Job become extremely important because they have withstood scrutiny over thousands of years. These were people searching for God just like us, and they discovered important ideas that they can teach us.