I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Joy of Being Negative

Since Philocrites may still be listening to the dulcet tones of the oboe, I thought that I would just mention how well he preached on Sunday here at Eliot. Reviews were excellent! Chris presented a lovely sermon with beautiful (and sometimes funny!) readings to support it. Thank you, Chris!

I, too am not entirely around this week. I am on "Study Leave" (or, if you prefer "On-Call" time) and will be attending and participating in my mother's ordination this Sunday. So, to give you all something to think about until I get back. I have some thoughts about Negative theology:

Negative theology (I seem to recall a seminary professor using the term "apophatic") is the practice of discovering God by figuring out what God isn't. It appeals, I think, to many of us who, in the light of a world filled with unpleasantness and evil, still try to see the good that we guarantee ourselves is in there somewhere. There is much to be said for cutting away those things, or parts of things that clearly are not helpful to our theological growth.

I have linked to "The Mystical Theology" written by Dionysius the Areopagite. No, it is not an easy read but he (or she, we do not know who "Pseudo-D" truly was) is worth puzzling out. Chapter III, in particular is useful for figuring out the difference between Apophatic and "Cataphatic," or positve theology. Pseudo-D uses both techniques as each tells us something different about the nature of God.

Balance is good when we think about the nature of the Divine. Too often we are confronted by folks who feel that they have all the right answers and could tell us God's phone number if they wanted to. All of us, however, are as capable as anyone else to experience the transcendent and to know its absence. Good luck wrapping your minds around this one!