Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Brian’s Reflection: Wednesday, February 3, 2010

An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love
are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God.

Simone Weil, philosopher, writer, “mystic”,
born on this date, 1909, Paris

What a gracious comment! It tells me a lot about Simone Weil and draws me to her. Actually, there were so many wonderful quotes from her that I may just have to go on a Weil Binge!

I’m not quite sure what she might have meant by “impersonal”. I get the impression that she thinks of “impersonal” as inferior to “personal”. I have long thought of the “personal” portrayal of God as but the very beginning of understanding. So did many of the mystical theologians. Important, yes, but the beginning of understanding. We human beings must “see” God, speak of God in human personal terms for God to “feel real”. And yes, I have my own very personal image of what God “looks like” to me, what Jesus looks like to me. I can connect on a very human, visceral, feeling level.

But I know that such an image barely scratches the surface. Even to those who knew Jesus of Nazareth and “saw” in him the imago dei, Jesus kept reminding them that “no one has seen God”. God himself told Moses that “no one can see God and live”. And Jesus kept telling them to go deeper. No wonder the image of the Transfiguration is one of the most powerful in the Orthodox tradition of Christianity. We can catch momentary glimpses as on the Holy Mount – but we live mostly on the plain.

Maybe the a-theist has the gift of “seeing deeper”. She can go beyond the material, the “seen”, to the “unseen”. A-theists have been thought of in such negative, hostile ways. As inhuman. I think we should value them and their “impersonal” vision. A-theists are people of “faith and love” – and Weil sees that from a heart filled with Divine Compassion.

They point us to the God who is “Beyond”. To the God who weaves each of us into the Mystery of Being.