Good writing, with a strong point and with life oozing out.

Pete Rollins: The Irish Hurricane comes to Philly, Session 2

November 12, 2008

A generic image of Pete at work.

(In a moment of self-deconstruction, Pete opens by admitting is trying hard to convince us, but says we should resist him and disagree. He admits he might change his mind.)

God resists the role in which we try to put him. Jewish tradition of Lilith, the woman who was created on the 6th day. Adam wanted to lie on top of her, she insisted that they lay side by side under God. Lilith goes for a walk in the garden, and asks God’s secret name. God tells her, and she sprouts wings and flies away. Some say she returns to tempt Eve later.

Trying to name God, to put God into words, is a common theme. In Exodus, Moses asks God’s name. Jacob wrestles with God, then asks for God’s name. But God instead names Jacob.

We try to reduce God to a name, or to a theological system. So, does God submit to this?

Xianity systematically ruptures systems. Folks talk about Xian universalixm, but the true Xian universalism is that we universally identify with those who are put outside of Xianity. If there is a circle drawn, Xians must always step outside of the circle to identify with those outsiders. (My friend Mike caught the quote much better here.)

Eckhart: “God, rid me of God.”

Atheism is a belief that is so difficult that only religious believers can attain it. Atheism is a rejection of theism. The more rigorous atheism is, the more it is connected to theism. So the new atheists who are publishing so many books right now are more religious than most believers.

True religionists know that any conception of God is insufficient. I have a notion of God, and simultaneously a rejection of that notion. This is what Pete means by ‘A/Theism’. We exist inside the slash. Ie, God is father, but not like your conception of father, which is corrupted. Thus, theology is a dis-course: it sets us off course.

God’s name given to Moses is “I am”: ‘presence’. God is transcendent not b/c God is far away, but b/c God is too close. One doesn’t see the light in the room; the light is what allows you to see. So too is our life immanent, b/c it is so close to us. You don’t experience God, God is what changes how we interact with the whole of life. We can be born again, not by changing our world from outside (in fact, everything is the same), but because nothing is the same for the person on the inside.

Godisnowhere. Is it ‘God is nowhere’?, or ‘God is now here’? As soon as you grasp God, God is nowhere. But as soon as you live after Christ, God is now here. Like the road to Emmaus: when we recognize God, God disappears. So too, the role of priest/pastor is to refuse priesthood. Role of a leader is to refuse to give leadership. To enact the priesthood of all believers. Just like an analyst (psychiatrist) is there to refuse to be an analyst, but to make the analysand see things for themself.

In modernism, doubt is the enemy. But here, doubt is integral. Xians usually deny an interventionist conception of God in various ways. But in Ikon, they’re not sure if God is real, but people belief that God definitely intervened. ‘Does God exist?’ is not a religious question. The religious question is ‘what has God said?’ Aknowledging doubts opens up an interesting space among people, all of whom are a mix of faith and doubt (70/30, 60/40, 20/80, etc.)

Q & A Nuggets:
Xianity is radically exclusive. It pushes those who are inside out to the outside.

The antagonism between priest and prophet is where we ought to dwell. That is what makes Xianity interesting and possible.

We use words to remind ourselves that Xianity can never be put into words.

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