I was talking to a friend recently about how we’d both been deconstructing and reconstructing aspects of our Faith. Wherever you are in the spectrum of Faith, I would posit that you have some idea of God – a Supreme Being, A Good Shepherd, A Sky Bully, An Irrelevant Old Man, A Loving Mother who continually births us… Or a hundred other metaphors. And Metaphors are all we have to be able to define God – it is in their very nature to be indefinable. It intrigued me that much of my metaphors for God were very earthy and poetic, whereas my friend is a scientist and so talked about a scientific idea relating to God. She’s also a musician and so relating this idea of the being of God being very much a song was a big part of what we talked about.
And because I really like to hear perspectives and voices other than my own, and because I really want this space to be a place where people can feel safe to share themselves and their ideas, and because it was Fascinating, I asked my friend to put into blog form what we had a good conversation about. So here it is, please read with open mind and heart and if as she suggests you have thoughts, please do share them in the comments. Be kind and respectful.
In my opinion, Morgan Freeman portrays one of the best interpretations of God in the film Bruce Almighty. He shows someone who is wise, caring, mischievous, who has a peace about them, who loves, who is both gracious and compassionate…that’s my kind of God.
But who, or what, is God? I’m not sure it is possible to answer that question really; any definition imposes boundaries, and we understand God to have an infinite quality.
My own understanding of God is changing. In his ‘Everything is spiritual’ 2016 video, Rob Bell talks about a universal theme of coming together to make something bigger than the sum of its parts… particles, atoms, molecules, cells, organisms… he talks of this flow, this drive, this energy, this forward momentum. ‘Some people call it God’, he says… ‘you might not be comfortable with that, and that’s ok. But it’ll probably come up again under a different name…’
Love? Cosmic energy? Consider this ‘flow’ to be a song, the song of the universe. Everything has a part of this song within it. A spark of cosmic energy, something primal, perhaps a cosmic echo of understanding from where we came. This resonates with me (no pun intended)… everyone can join in with the song, and maybe, in a ‘grand scheme of things’ way, that is our purpose: to be part of something. Your part of the song won’t be the same as my part, but that’s exactly how orchestral harmony works.
Keep running with me here. I’m not saying I am the song, but that the song is within me.
Perhaps this song is cosmic energy, perhaps it is love…perhaps it is ‘God’? ‘God is love’ after all.
But, if my new understanding of God is this ‘song of the universe’, then what about the ‘other’ God? The one who listens to our prayers, who speaks to us…I think that, in some ways, it is us who have personified God… made God in our own image?… given ‘him’ the nature and identification of ‘a person’ … with character, benevolent nature, a sense of mercy, of justice.
Sometimes I need God to be a person. I need ‘him’ to be defined, I need to be able to converse with someone, or have someone who can act, intervene, or understand. Someone who can be aligned with my personhood, someone I can relate to. Someone who can love, and forgive…
But how can a song be a person? How can a person be a song? Which one of these is God?
Here’s where the quantum physics comes in. Light (hmm, I think my scriptures liken God to that, too) is a bit of a scientific mystery. You can’t really see light itself, we just see things that are reflecting it. You can’t see light because it is the means by which we see. Light exhibits a characteristic called ‘wave-particle duality’. Sometimes, light behaves as a wave… it is a form of energy. It flows, it affects things, but it has this ethereal, undefinable quality, you can’t see the energy but you know it’s there. Sometimes, though, light behaves like a particle. An actual thing, with edges. Light particles are called ‘photons’. We can detect individual photons crashing into things.
I think God exhibits wave-particle duality. Sometimes ‘he’ exhibits particle-ness, thing-ness, person-ness; and sometimes God is simply the song of the universe. When we allow the song in us to align with THE song, adding our part, the music is more beautiful than it was, and we feel that inexpressible ‘I am part of something amazing’ feeling. If you’ve ever been jamming with friends and hit ‘that’ chord, you’ll know what I mean.
This changed understanding of God has far reaching implications… if God is not (just) a person, what does this make of my relationship with God? Much of traditional Christianity focuses on love, repentance and forgiveness. How can I love God if God is the love itself? What even are forgiveness and repentance in this new paradigm? I am still working on these questions, so there may well be another blog post at some point. For starters, I offer this: repentance is choosing to align your song with the song of the universe. Find the true song in your soul, not the one coloured by hurt, or rejection, or selfishness, or anger, or fear. Those things put your song out of tune. Retune it to the most honest version of you that there is: the song your heart would sing if there was no pain, insecurity, fear or anger.
Forgiveness is choosing to recognise or acknowledge the song of the universe in someone, regardless of what they may or may not have done. In ‘seeing the song’ in someone, we implicitly also acknowledge it is the same song in ourselves, and that there is something greater uniting us than that which separates us.
This is still an exploration for me, so if you have thoughts to share, please comment! I am always looking for those little sparks that suddenly make me respond ‘yes, that’s it, I just couldn’t explain what I felt before’ … and we are all part of the same song, after all… maybe your part is the part that will help me see further…I see the song in you!
One final note… all parts of a song are necessary. Your part is awesome. I can guarantee that. The song will be more complete for you singing along.