Wednesday, February 28, 2007

panentheism in action

So - without wanting to sound like an obsessed super-fan - I have been completely blown away by the Van Morrison DVD that Pip bought me for Valentine's Day...particularly by the first couple of minutes!
As the gig starts, and even before Van takes the stage, the band start playing and it builds and it builds, into the most intense, mystical, beautiful, soundscape. And that's before the first song has even started. It's so intense the first time I watched it I started giggling.
A couple of days later I sat down to pray and all I could hear in my head was this amazing music. And I found myself saying to myself, "stop thinking about Van Morrison and start thinking about God", and as quick as flash I heard the Spirit say to me something like - 'what you are responding to in that music, the thing that makes your heart and spirit soar, is God. what you are encountering is God - that is why it has the effect on you that it has'.

Now of course I am not saying that Van Morrison is God, but neither am I merely saying that beautiful, creative music is a reflection of the creativity of God (though that is undoubtedly true - and I have said it/preached it a thousand times).

I am trying to say something much deeper than that - something about actually encountering God in things - which the religious philosophers call panentheism. This is not to be confused with pantheism - which says that everything IS God. Panentheism says that God is IN all things but not synonymous with all things. Wikipedia's definition is here if you're interested.

So what I'm saying is that sometimes when we encounter beauty we are somehow encountering God himself not just a reflection of the beauty or creativity of God. I know some of you reading this will be saying "um, yeah, of course" - but for me, even though I thought I knew this - and maybe I did on a conceptual level - I think this was the first time it really hit home.

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