Friday, September 14, 2012

waterfalls, God's generous love, and religious fundamentalism

Rebekah at Grotto Falls
As promised, I’ll continue posting pictures and stories from our Great Smoky Mountain adventure.
But today, I’m also going to weave in a quote from George MacDonald. MacDonald, for those of you who aren’t familiar with his writings, is a minister/writer/novelist from the late 19th Century. He was admired by Dickens, seriously influenced C.S. Lewis, and remains remarkably relevant today. MacDonald was called to ministry, but soon removed from his pulpit because his wide-open heart was more attuned to God’s grace than religion’s judgment, and because he was willing to ask the kind of questions that could not yield tidy answers.
The “quote” is actually a phrase introduced by editor Michael R. Philips in his introduction to the novel The Musician’s Quest (originally, Robert Falconer). It also – to my mind – nicely describes my approach to writing as I “think out loud” and my readers look over my shoulder to listen in. Here it is:
(MacDonald) found himself reasoning out the Christian faith afresh each time he set pen to paper. Creed-bound minds are afraid of large questions. MacDonald wasn’t.
“Creed-bound minds are afraid of large questions.” Wow! If that statement doesn’t sum up much of what has been wrong with fundamental Christianity over the past couple of decades then I don’t know what does.
Grotto Falls from the trail
MEANWHILE IN APPALACHIA: One of the goals Rebekah and I had in the mountains this month was to hike and to find some waterfalls. The waterfall is a great metaphor for God’s love:
  • It is poured out;
  • it is overflowing;
  • it splashes so much that it fills the surrounding air with refreshment;
  • it interacts with the sun (The Son) to make rainbows.
  • it can be heard from afar;
  • its musical sound is invitational;
  • its refreshing presence is invitational;
  • it never stops;
  • it almost seems as if much of the abundance is wasted, but the very generosity of the gift is part of its profound beauty….
There’s so much to take in, we have learned to walk slowly
GROTT0 FALLS: The Grotto Falls hike was especially interesting. We hit the trail early in the morning in order to beat the heat and the crowds (we were successful in both), and consequently met a large black bear on the trail.
I rounded a corner just as the bear emerged from the woods, around 10-yards ahead of me. We both stopped abruptly and looked at one another before deciding what to do. I reached for my camera and the bear scampered down the trail another 20 yards before heading back into the woods.
Love like an ocean
Creation is so wonderful, and so impossible to contain, and so overwhelmingly beautiful. I have learned to walk more slowly, and with my eyes wide open.
OPEN HEART: And this thought brings me back to George MacDonald. “Creed-bound minds are afraid of large questions.” Like MacDonald, I am intrigued, challenged, and comforted by large questions.
I am glad that the scope of God’s love, like the waterfall, is impossible to contain and always resistant to the attempts of human minds to hem it in.
Last look at Grotto Falls
The Bible – God’s Word – is intended to open our hearts to the wonder and the beauty and the ineffable nature of our Creator’s generous love.
Likewise, we ought to be about the business of sharing that truth rather than promoting the exclusions of our own religious imaginations.
Like a waterfall – DEREK

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