God, Frivolity, God, a Kodak Brownie Camera

As you may know, lately, here in Blog Land, I’ve been pretty seriously goofing about with my new camera. Oh sure, it’s been fun. First Roscoe the Zoo Cat shocked us. Then The Evil Tree terrified us. Then the “Art or Garbage? debate confounded us. Then the Fully Atrocious porta-potty name made us wonder if I was ever going to grow up. And finally, of course, we pondered The Mystery of the Apparently Depressed Yet Romantically Hopeful Yoga Practitioner.

Ahhh. Good times, all.

Still, there comes a time in each of our lives when we must put behind us the frivolous purfuits fribulous perpoots fritterless stupid stuff of youth, and concentrate instead upon Matters of the Spirit.

And for me, being Christian, that would mean concentrating upon God.

By which of course I mean the Christian God. By which I mean the Christian concept of God — given that it’s impossible, of course, for anything to be known to us beyond or outside of the way it manifests in our mind and heart vis-a-vis our concept of that thing.

No concept; no perceived reality, right? We’ve got to know what something is before we can process the reality of it. We Christians can all agree on that, right? Not that our God is real — of course we believe he’s real. But beyond the reality of God as we know it — which is to say beyond our concept of God — we understand that God also has realities, processes, and dynamics we can’t even begin to conceive of. We know that in a very real sense, what we worship and experience as God is but a reflection of the totality of the unimaginably vast phenomenon that is God.

It’s like being in Africa. We can be sitting on a veranda beholding the sun setting over a golden veld stretching miles to the horizon, and be stirred to our soul by it — but we wouldn’t then be experiencing Africa. We’d be experiencing only a tiny fraction of Africa. It’s not actually possible to experience “Africa,” any more than it’s possible to swim in every drop of the ocean at once.

Africa, for any one person at any given time, can only exist as a concept, not a specific, perceived reality.

Same with God. I can have — I can experience, hold within my mind and heart — a lot of Him. But I can certainly never contain within myself anything near to to his entirety.

My job — my pleasure, my honor, my responsibility – is to as often as I can expand as much as I can my small, cranky brain and my miserable, shackled heart, so that, if only for moments at a time, I might perceive and appreciate any more at all the wonder, majesty and infinite compassion of God.

The “problem” is that expanding my perception of the totality of God tends to leave me a tad speechless on the subject of God. How can it not? What fool, in the presence of God, talks about God? Who imagines their words will add to God’s reality, will enhance God’s experience, will further Pump God Up?

Please.

Which isn’t to say that passionate pastors and thoughtful theologians can’t do much to inform our understanding of God. I know they can; I know they do.

They’re great at it! Often! And so I tend to leave that function in life to them.

And what do I tend to do, instead? (Not, God knows, that I don’t often enough add my own noise to the “Let’s All Understand God in the Exact Right Way, Which Is The Way I Do!” cacophony.) If you read this blog much at all, you know what.

You know I quite often say things, like … Hey, look at this camera that came in yesterday in this huge box of junk someone donated to one of my wife’s thrift stores!! :

 

 

This really came in yesterday.

It’s something to see, isn’t it?

 

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Arlywn: True!

    Ric: Thanks, very much.

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com Skerrib

    It's fantastic! Maybe it actually eats brownies, hence the name?

    Yeah, God's big.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    here's a bit about the camera:

    http://www.brownie-camera.com/46.shtml

  • http://mormonsoprano.wordpress.com mormonsoprano

    Sadly under appreciated (just like God…)

  • http://www.sheppardministries.com Greta

    Your God conceptions blow me away….this one gave my soul goose bumps….. shivers and shouts (of agreement)….loved the analogies!

  • http://angelbearoh.wordpress.com angelbearoh

    About three years ago, I used to have a Phillips Keychain Camera. Fully 1½ inches tall and 2 inches wide, and powered for all of three days by a single AAA battery, it shot tiny little photos of the boarding house on Aberdeen Avenue where I was living at the time. And it made a decent webcam.

    Sometimes I wonder what you might do with a Phillips Keychain Camera.

  • Dan Harrell

    John,

    Why is the lens named meniscus I wonder?

    Sometimes we limit God's omniscience because of our own preconceived notions. How can I grasp a limitless God if I can't figure out why a camera lens was named for a knee cartilage?

  • arlywn

    it looks alive… see? two eyes and a large hole that could be a mouth, but… it says target under it so… it could shoot at you.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com ric booth

    If you read this blog much at all, you know what.

    Yours is one of my favorite Christian voices I have never heard.

  • Pingback: What we can perceive and what we can’t. « Thoughts on what I am reading…

  • http://wineymomma.wordpress.com wineymomma

    I go away for a while and when I come back I have missed an entire series of…well…hmm…anyway…I think the speechless awe and the happy acceptance of just not knowing is what is so frustrating for people who search for the hows and whys in the world.

    Meniscus-from the Greek for crescent…a concave shape…I believe the lens and the ligament are of similar shape…

  • ron

    Where is it in the bible that it says that "That a marriage couple can not defile the bedroom" with there sex acts..

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Um. Good point, Ron.

  • http://david-brantley.blogspot.com/ David

    Rather poetic. Our attempting to describe God is like the Brownie attempting to take His 3D picture. Clumsy, awkward, slow of speed, but we keep snaping away in hopes of getting it right. And every so often, we capture an image that gives the viewer a brief, stagnet image into the evolving “I will be what I will become” of the Burning Bush.

  • http://david-brantley.blogspot.com/ David

    Rather poetic. Our attempting to describe God is like the Brownie attempting to take His 3D picture. Clumsy, awkward, slow of speed, but we keep snaping away in hopes of getting it right. And every so often, we capture an image that gives the viewer a brief, stagnet image into the evolving “I will be what I will become” of the Burning Bush.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    David: Wow. Nice. Thank you.


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