Faith: January 2008 Archives

A month with God

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Todd Seavey, a libertarian and atheist writer from New York, has mentioned in passing that February on his blog will be the "Month without God".

It got me thinking, and I think I'm going to make February here on BatesLine a Month with God.

A Month with God isn't intended as a response to Todd's idea -- anyway, I'm not really sure what he has in mind for his Month without God. It's more of a take-off or a spin-off. With Lent beginning on February 6th, it's a good fit.

The key word here is with. Christians believe that God is both transcendent and immanent, both infinitely beyond and above His creation and at the same time present with His people. One of the names given to the Messiah is Immanuel, which means "God with us." John the Evangelist wrote that God "became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus promised His disciples that the Father would send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be with them forever. He told them after His resurrection that He would be with them always.

The transcendence and immanence of God are both affirmed in Scripture, but American evangelical spirituality tends to emphasize God's immanence nearly to the point of an over-familiar irreverence. Living here in Tulsa, the Word-Faith Capital of the World, God sometimes seems reduced to a being a combination of personal errand boy and Magic 8 Ball, handling all requests, no matter how trivial, and providing a constant stream of personal revelations to cover every decision, no matter how minor. I worked with a man who refused to set his alarm clock because he "had the faith" to believe that God would wake him up when He wanted him up.

When I swam the Rhine (or should that be the Forth?) and became a Calvinist, the pendulum swung the other direction, overreacting to the evangelical imbalance toward immanence with an imbalance toward transcendence. At times I feel I've become a practical Deist: God is sovereign, but it's hard to think of Him as being directly involved with or concerned with my day-to-day life.

The idea, then, behind a Month with God is to remember what God has said in His Word about His presence and His personal love and guidance in the lives of His people, and so to get that pendulum back where it ought to be in my own heart and mind. To that end, I intend to post something here in that vein each day in February -- a scripture passage, a hymn, an excerpt from devotional literature. Your suggestions are welcome, in the comments on this entry or by e-mail. We'll start on Friday.

YouTube has already succumbed to the Church of Scientology's pressure, but you can still see the nine-and-a-half minute video of "Tom Cruise on Tom Cruise, Scientologist" on Gawker. (Via Wizbang.) Here's what Gawker has to say:

You have to watch this video. It shows Tom Cruise, with all the wide-eyed fervor that he brings to the promotion of a movie, making the argument for Scientology, the bizarre 20th-century religion. Making the argument is an understatement. The Hollywood actor, star of movies such as Mission Impossible, is a complete fanatic. "When you're a Scientologist, and you drive by an accident, you know you have to do something about it, because you know you're the only one who can really help... We are the way to happiness. We can bring peace and unite cultures." There's much much more. Let me put it this way: if Tom Cruise jumping on Oprah's couch was an 8 on the scale of scary, this is a 10.

If you want to save a copy for yourself, here's a download link. And here's one for another segment of the same video, about his setting up a Scientology detox center in Manhattan after the September 11, 2001, attacks. (It's still on YouTube.) And another one of his speech at an awards ceremony, in which he speaks to dead L. Ron Hubbard. (It's also still on YouTube.) Right-click on the links and "save target as." (You'll need a player like VLC which can play .flv files.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from January 2008.

Faith: December 2007 is the previous archive.

Faith: February 2008 is the next archive.

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