Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Books in my Life I

http://kwakersaur.blogspot.com/ started this with an account of the books that meant most to him in his spiritual development. Good idea. I want to follow through here.

'Here' begins at the point where I became conscious of God's Love. That's when true life began.

I had been a pretty non-commital religious fellow to the age of 30. I knew there was a God, but could not believe the idea that he had time for me-- or the ants. I had all I had attempted to achieve: good job, good house, good car.

In a day of reckoning I looked forward to 40 more years of the same, and felt it would all turn to ashes. In desperation I prayed: for God to send me something to read.

The next day I was sitting in a barber chair, and a Roman Catholic barber commenced raving about The Power of Positive Thinking (1). (I know this sounds terribly naive, and I don't share it lightly; anyway Christ said we must become as little children, and that's right where I was at that point.

I got the book and was convinced that a personal God loved me. Life changed completely, or speaking spiritually life began at that point.

Soon I was in the Baptist seminary in New Orleans. (I've been a Methodist all my life, but my future wife at that time was a senior at Tulane, and I didn't mean to distance myself. ) I thought I would have to check my brains at the door, but it wasn't really that bad. I was directed to
John Baillie's Our Knowledge of God (2). What I got from Baillie was permission to doubt ("There exists more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds." (Tennyson, I think.) I've been doubting ever since, but gaining insight and nurture day by day.

The next four star book for me was Nels Ferre's The Sun and the Umbrella (3)-- patterned after Plato's Cave. Ferre's Cave consisted of men in a dark place staring fixedly at some marks on the wall with the sun at their back.

Suddenly one came out into the sunlight. Light! Quaker metaphor for God! He tried unsuccessfully to lure his companions. But after a while one by one, a few emerged into the light. But it seemed too bright, and an umbrella became necessary.

This motif repeats itself. The umbrellas are the Establishment-- many of them. The rest of the book explores the deficiencies in the various umbrellas, but the only part that stuck with me was the myth.

Ellie and I found the same idea in a book by Ernest Wieman (4), apparently no longer extant. The substance was we worship the creative event or the created good.
The creative event of course is what's waiting on us to move; the created good is the past we worship.

More to come.

No comments: