It’s Time For Us To Be Kind

Column by Rev. Brandan Robertson on 15 February 2024 0 Comments

This is an excerpt from my book Dry Bones and Holy Wars released by Orbis Books in 2021.

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Like many, I gave up the grandfatherly-spirit-in-the-sky notion of God along with childhood. The works of Spong, Borg, McLaern, Rohr, Rolheiser, and others have influenced the evolution of my understanding of God to involve less of a theistic “being” and more of a panentheistic [perspective]. I find myself at a loss for the “personal connection.” Jesus called God “Abba” in highly personal terms. But a personal relationship has to be among “persons,” right?  Do you have any thoughts on having a “personal relationship” with something beyond personhood?


Dear MaryAnn,

Dear MaryAnn, I relate to your question. I too feel this tension and challenge. It’s hard to pray to a God as “It” or as “the Ground of All Being.” Such language feels impersonal and sterile. I would first observe that all of the theologians you’ve mentioned are men and I’d like to remind us that there are many theologians who are women who have much to add to this conversation. The first who comes to mind is Sallie McFague who suggests that we view the entire universe/all of Creation as “the body of God.”  She thus presents treating the earth (and galaxy) well and engaging in Creation care as a potent way to interact with the Divine.

That said, I’ll refer to the Bible where it is twice stated that “God is love.” That insight rings true for me. As many progressive Christians see it, the Divine is either “a God of boundless, reckless, indiscriminate, awe-inspiring, wide-open, healing, communal Love, grace, and mercy – or [we] want nothing to do with it.”*

I tend to envision God as being a gigantic womb that surrounds the entire Cosmos and as the massive Field of Love which is ultimately reality – and who each of us truly are in our essence. All language – including theology - is of course ultimately symbolic, metaphor, and poetry.  That awareness should help reduce the need for anyone to “be right” and to invite grace and welcome for all of our varying words and interpretations.

Our words about God necessarily color and impact how we experience the Divine. I experience and commune with the Divine as a fractal/child/being of God immersed in the embryonic fluid of grace and as a being created by Love and for love, as I commune with other beings of love in the shared field of Love. This experience is perhaps a form of Christian mysticism whereby our deepest and truest selves encounter and experience each other (including all believers – and all of Creation – past, present, and future) and the fullness of the Divine in a state of deep unceasing communion.

We each have our own and differing needs and degrees of personifying the Divine and I think it’s best if we each allow each other to employ the language that we each prefer. This is of course more easily done if others aren’t requiring us to employ their preferred language.

Perhaps on a related note, God is first referred to as Elohim in Genesis chapter 1, and God is presented as saying “Let us create humankind in our image.” Elohim conveys the fullness and plurality of the Divine and it would seem that a fine pronoun to use to refer to God is “They/Them” – which has been used in the singular in English since the 1300s. I tend to refer to God by simply saying “God, Love, the Divine, Holy One” without using pronouns at all. Somehow doing this is “personal enough.”

Blessings to us all as we seek to commune with the Divine and each other in ways that work best for each of us.

~ Rev. Roger Wolsey




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