Jesus and the Jews

Jesus is not what many people think he is. As a cradle Christian, ordained for nearly forty years in the United Church of Christ, it pains me to see how many people at the gate in need of a healing touch have been driven away from that touch by his identity theft.

Names of God

Fourteenth-century mystic and activist Meister Eckhart says “all the names we give to God come from an understanding of ourselves.” If he is correct, then as humanity’s self-understanding and understanding of the cosmos evolve, then clearly our God-names will evolve in response. Rabbi Arthur Waskow reminds us that the Book of Exodus is also known as the Book of Names because God goes through two name changes within its pages. Why is this? In his article “When the World Turns Upside-Down, Do We Need to Rename God,” Waskow suggests it is because “the old Name cannot inspire a new sense of reality … God is different when the world is different.”

So where do we go for new names for God? The ancient texts of Buddhism say: “God has a million faces,” and ancient Hindu texts discuss “the one Being the wise call by many names.” Thirteenth-century Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas is much wilder—he says that every creature is a name for God—and no creature is.

Peter Gabel Responds

While I appreciate these serious, thoughtful responses to my book by Roger Gottlieb and Kim Chernin, I do not quite see myself reflected in their respective descriptions of the role of spirit (Gottlieb), or the role of hope (Chernin). My claim is that these are not abstract ideas that I attribute to human reality, but that they are concretely revealed by that human reality if we will but embrace “another way of seeing” that makes the presence of both spirit and hope visible in that human reality. The central idea of my book is that human beings are not actually “individuals” in the liberal sense of our existing in separate spheres as disconnected monads, but are rather inherently united by a social bond, a “fraternity” as the present pope calls it, that seeks to make itself manifest in the world through the experience of “mutual recognition.” Because of the legacy of the Fear of the Other that has shaped our cultural conditioning throughout history thus far—a fear reflected in our own individual lives through the social formation of our individual egos—our cultural memory inclines us to see the other as a threat. But coexisting with this fearful impulse in every human interaction and at every moment transcending the fearful impulse, is an unconditioned, wholly original, spontaneous movement toward a new and sudden recognition of one another in which we would become fully present to each other, and in which we would more fully realize ourselves as the source of each other’s completion. {{{subscriber}}} [trackrt]
How to Read the Rest of This Article

The text above was just an excerpt.