Tuesday, November 3, 2009

My new word - "META-NATURAL""

There is a lot that I love about the community of faith where I worship (click on the image at left for the church web-site). One of the most outstanding characteristics is the caring, permission-giving atmosphere, where intellectual honestly is valued and discussion is not closed off by the fear that our faith may not be robust enough or big enough to handle tough questions.

Consequently conversation in small groups, Bible-studies, and Sunday-school classes often leaves me mulling important ideas over, in my mind and heart, for days. This past weekend, for example, we discussed chapter ten from "The Unmaking of a Part-Time Christian". The chapter title is "A Collision of Worlds."

We talked at length about experiences that have served to blur the distinct lines we like to draw between concepts such as time and eternity, natural and supernatural, spiritual and mundane, heaven and earth, natural and miraculous...

It was this last couplet that commanded most of our attention. Traditionally, religion has ascribed the moniker "miracle" to anything not readily explainable in human terms. It's a definition that is necessarily fluid; things drop off the miracle list the moment they can be categorized scientifically. The problem with this way of thinking is the - understandable - logical conclusion that all we have to do is look long enough and we can explain away God with regard to absolutely everything.

That is not even close to being a satisfactory way of thinking, because the fundamental assumption is exclusionary to the point of being preemptive.

Instead, we talked about the miraculous way in which God works in and through God's people to make possible things that have been always been intended for this amazing and wonderful world, from the dawn of creation. Rather than supernatural, then, what we call miracles are more accurately metanatural.

By "metanatural" I mean more comprehensive; beyond what we can easily see as natural; transcending natural; at a higher state of development....

God created this world, and God labeled the work "good." This world was designed as the place where relationship between the created and the Creator would take place. Experiencing God, then, is a crucial element of that it means to live in the natural world. God is not otherworldly, God is metaworldly....

What I mean is that we do the work of creation a disservice when we relegate God to "outsider" status. And we do disservice to the intention of God's creative work when we conduct our lives in a manner that excludes the divine. A life lived in communion with God is the most natural thing in the world, when we consider that we are created both in the image of God and for relationship with God.

Good fodder for thought. Here - below my salutation - is a relevant passage from the book.
Grace and peace - DEREK

What we’re talking about here is a kind of dissonance. It’s the
conflict between realities. We live in this temporal world, yet we are
eternal in our nature. We inhabit bodies that are fragile and
seriously flawed, yet we are also children of the Great King, and we
are invited to live kingdom lives of victory and great purpose.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus said, “for theirs is the
kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5: 3).
In the book of Ecclesiastes, The Teacher put it this way: “I have
seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful
in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they
cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes
3: 10-11).
Eternity set deep in hearts that live out physical lives in the here
and now. But eternity in a sense is the here and now; at least that’s
where time without end begins. The pilgrim must learn to tell time in
both realities. God’s time is at once both beautiful and challenging.
But it is not a distinction designed to grate; rather, it is a
perspective to be honed. “I have said this to you, so that in me you
may have peace. In the world you face persecution (trouble…
dissonance). But take courage; I have conquered (overcome) the world”
(John 16:33).

- The Unmaking of a Part-time Christian, p115


Charles Willard said...

I like your Derek-ism, meta-natural, which I understand to mean that there is more to nature than meets the eye, whether unaided or empowered by the Hubble telescope or an electron microscope.

Jesse said...

I like metanatural, too. Your definition lines up, I think, with the original meaning of supernatural - which has slipped into the realm of magic and unreality in our scientific culture. Supernatural also serves to divide the spiritual and the physical, which is far from the Hebrew way of thinking (far too Greek). The new word works to recapture the "much bigger than" notion that "super" once carried. And more importantly, corrects the current trajectory. Thanks. Maybe it'll catch on.