“The necessary diagonal of the earthly and the heavenly, of the temporal and the eternal, is known by every [person] only in [their] own creative activity.” -Sergei Bulgakov
That line from the great 20th century Russian theologian has come to frame so much of my life of faith and my vocation in theology. God does not approach us as lighting from above. But neither are our lives locked in by immanent horizons below. We discover God by the same path on which God first approaches us: diagonally.
Our sensible, material, “horizontal” world becomes a conduit for “vertical” connection.
In this column, I am going to make an effort to find these creative diagonals around me. In the writings of dead and living theologians. In scripture. On Netflix. On my walks in the woods. In conversations. I am going to try to tell the story of a world made to share in God’s being. And, as Emily Dickinson put it, I’m going to try and “tell it slant.”
Anthony Baker is a professor of systematic theology and teaches among a bunch of extraordinary colleagues at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. He is also theologian in residence at Saint Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church, where he teaches and oversees adult spiritual formation. You can sample his scholarship in the books Leaving Emmaus (2021), Shakespeare, Theology, and the Unstaged God (2020), and Diagonal Advance (2011). If you’re in Austin, and he’s not busy making dinner for his family, he’d love to buy you a beer. Especially if you have a sense of humor. He loves to laugh.
Follow him on Twitter: @AnthonyDBaker