I had a provocative discussion with a good friend of mine yesterday, a “local” who often reads one of my blogs who is troubled by my frequent use of the word “god.” Furthermore, this man is one of the keenest spiritual beings I’ve ever met and he believes in the same “god” that I do…though now I know even more clearly he balks at the use of that word. And, he’s got a point! First of all, there is the simple problem of “god talk.” The term “god” is probably the anchor of the verbiage I like to describe as “god talk” in which the Wholly Other is tossed around so loosely and casually it might as well be a discussion of the local sports team. “God” is a simple coin in the verbal currency of our tribe and will certainly “purchase” a lot of social cache if we adroitly toss it around in the right circumstance. But when I use this term I am not using the vulgarized common coin described above, a coin that is worn bare and devoid of any meaning, I am using a very personal “coin” which refers to the Wholly Other which can never be put into words. Ahem. Alas and alack, suddenly I have “talked” my way here into a conundrum as I am using words even as I suggest words have no meaning! So, just why in the hell bother? Why in the hell continue to drone on and on???? The only answer I have is, “Cause I want to” as I’m not smart enough to explore neurophysiology or astrophysics. In other words, the answer lies in the very mystery of life and I’m reduced to a simple, “Cuz I wanta!”
But “I want to” and so I drone on again using this common coin “god” in part just to annoy my dear friend! This god I believe in…and I’m going to discard the parentheses here and I’m not even going to worry about the gender of the term or the meaning of “believe.” God is a label that I apply to an incomprehensible mystery that I’ve been drawn to since birth, or even since way before birth. And I can’t explain that either and intend to try to do so with less frequency. It is some primordial yearning in the depths of my being, a yearning that I believe is present in all human hearts and even in the very fabric of the universe. This yearning seeks expression and in our ancient past one expression was some guttural cry before a camp fire which eventually was refined over the centuries into the shiny, pristine new coin in a corner of the African continent into a word which, when Westernized became, “god.” And, yes, I think that this guttural cry of one human heart eventually did find one expression in the person of a young man named Jesus Christ….but that is a story for another time.
For some reason I’m stubbornly insistent that I continue to use the word “god” though I’m not opposed to whatever term one uses or does not use. I think words, all words, have value and in the course of human events words tend to lose this value; these “coins” get “worn out” so that the value is hidden beneath the daily grind of common usage. And thus, “last year’s words are for last year’s season and next years words await another voice.” This T.S. Eliot quip referred to our responsibility is to “find our voice” and use this word…and all words…to express who we are in the depths of our being and in so doing give the language into which we were born renewed meaning. If we merely occupy the persona that we happen into and merely use the words as they are given to us by our tribe, they will only have the meaning of “sounding brass and tinkling cymbals”; or, as Jerry Seinfield put it, “yada, yada, yada. yada”