God in the Silence

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The thoughtful creative understands how to communicate without using words. During Easter week there was a lot of religiously explosive rhetoric:

¢â‚¬¢ A Manhattan art gallery cancelled an exhibit of a life-size chocolate sculpture depicting a naked Jesus, after New York’s Cardinal Egan called the sculpture “scandalous” a “sickening display” adding, “this is something we will not forget.”

¢â‚¬¢ Focus on the Family founder James Dobson declared that Fred Thompson is an unacceptable Presidential candidate because, “I don’t think he’s a Christian; at least that’s my impression.”

¢â‚¬¢ An art student in Chicago constructed a sculpture of Barack Obama as Jesus, complete with a blue neon halo.

These religious yammerings reminded me of the classic line in Woody Allen’s “Hannah and her Sisters: “If Jesus came back and saw what’s going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”

Unfortunately, I think today’s culture war climate that politicizes and trivializes Jesus may explain why in a nation where 82% say they are spiritual seekers, most people seek and never find.

Sometimes it is good to remember that Jesus was a man of few words, unlike many who claim to speak for or about him.

This occurred to me as I sat in a packed movie theatre watching “Into Great Silence,” a documentary filmed at the Grand Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps. The film begins with a biblical reference to the story of the Prophet Elijah, who tried to find God in the earthquake and the fire, but discovered that God is not in the earthquake or fire, God is found in a still, small voice.

Because there is no score or narrative voiceover to explain what we are seeing, one reviewer says the film “is less like a movie and more like a sensory-deprivation experiment.” For 162-minutes we simply observe the daily life of silent monks–praying, repairing a shoe, cutting each other’s hair and listening for God in the quietness.

I asked myself, why in irreligious Seattle, which has been described as a “none-zone” because 24% say they have no religious affiliation, did 100’s of viewers show up to watch the mundane ‘in-activities’ of a quiet, cloistered religious community of devout monks?

I think it is because they are spiritual seekers¢â‚¬¦French mathematician and philosopher Pascal said there is within each human a God shaped vacuum, a space, which only God can fill. I think secular Seattle has concluded that if God is to be found it will be in quietness not in the fire and thunder of today’s religious and cultural verbosity.

During Easter we are reminded that Jesus uttered only seven last words on the cross.

He expressed loving obedience to God: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.”

He attended to the needs of his family and followers: “Woman, behold your son!” “Behold your mother!”

To outsiders and seekers he offered not condemning or hostile words, but compassionate, healing inclusive words: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Jesus followers would be wise to heed the advice of St. Francis,
who urged Christians to “preach the gospel and if you must, use words;”

It seems that God is found in the great silences of love, forgiveness, service and compassion.

The thoughtful creative understands how to communicate without using words.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in April 9, 2007 by | No Comments »

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