2013-03-11

Godding

Godding Michelangeloingly
In the last thrilling Lake Chalice (“God is a Verb”), we heard from people like Buckminster Fuller and Jean-Claude Koven on the subject of the divine being a verb rather than a noun. Some of the thinkers drawn toward saying God is a verb also emphasize love, drawing on “God is love” from the Gospel of John. UU minister Stephen Phinney writes,
“I believe that the holy is in the process of giving and taking of the love we have. In other words, the holy or God is the process of interchanging love.”
God is the act of loving, the ever-present possibility of intimacy and compassion.

You might find this perspective radical or exhilarating. You might also have noticed that the God-is-a-verb people are not actually using “God” as a verb. They say, for instance, that reality is more a matter of events than substances. “Events” conveys a more dynamic quality than “substances,” but if we’re talking about parts of speech (which, supposedly, we are), “event” is just as much a noun as “substance” is. They speak of God as “process” and as “creativity” – both nouns. The last Lake Chalice quoted Koven saying God was “unfoldment,” and “infinity,” and “everything,” and “dance” – nouns every one. “Love,” in the context of Phinney’s usage: a noun.

We might also point out that for all that, “verb” is a noun. We might even point out that to utter, “God is a verb” is to commit a sort of performative contradiction, on the order of saying, “I am presently dead.” (After all, what is the subject – and thus necessarily a noun – of the sentence, “God is a verb”?)

Lake Chalice likes these new nouns (well, except for “unfoldment”), and finds them more inspiring than the traditional nouns, creator, law-giver. So perhaps we need not be sticklers for literal meaning. The point is: there is in our life and our experience a cause for wonder, mystery, reverence. This is better thought of as a process, a dance, a creativity, a love than as a person or entity. Calling it a verb is just a way of alluding to its active doing.

But supposing we did want to be sticklers for actually meaning what we said. Suppose we were to take “God is a verb” literally. How would that go?

Dan Moonhawk illustrates, using diseases, what the switch from noun to verb can look like:
“Most of our diseases are nouns, which we most often HAVE: I have a headache, a stomach ache, acne, cancer, mumps, measles, etc., etc. Each of these can also be seen as a verb or process instead of a 'thing', but to talk about them in this way is weird at first: I'm headaching, stomach-aching, acneing, cancering, mumpsing, measlesing. But what a difference: now these are not things you have, but processes your body is going through, which you have more control over than if it's a 'thing' that has nothing intrinsically to do with you.”
That’s helpful. Now: if God is to be the verb, what would be the subjects of our sentences? We might suggest: the universe. Hence:
The universe gods.
There’s the vast cosmos, quietly, grandly godding along through the ages. Reality gods.

Actually, anything and everything is the subject. I god, you god, he she it gods, we god, you god, they god. All God’s children…god.

And what sort of activity is it “to god”? Following the lead of the process and the creativity theologians, to god is to unfold, like an infinite flower opening its petals; to develop through a process of interaction with all the rest of the godding universe. To god is to become transparent to the creativity of the universe shining through you. To god is to fandango across the ballroom of oneness, to trip the light fantastic not “with” but “as” the mountains and rivers and great wide earth, the sun, and the moon, and the stars. To god is, in the words of Sufi poet Hafiz, to “laugh at the word two.” It is to swim, fully awake, in the sea of mystery. To god is to quaff from the cup of abundance. It is to lose all sense of yourself as a separate being in a creative project, or the creative encounter, in total freedom, with each moment. To god is to suffice. Whoever you are, whatever your imagined shortcomings, you are enough. To god is to do and be everything that you do and are.

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This is part 4 of 6 of "God the Verb"
Next: Part 5: "A Process Reality"
Previous: Part 3: "God is a Verb"
Beginning: Part 1: "The Ambiguity of Ponytails and God"