8/19/2009

Simon thinks outside the box, again

So here we are plodding along in Preludium land trying to put together something that has been itching in the back of my brain for a while, and over on Simon Mein's blog, "SimonSurmises" he has written another wry, witty and refreshing look at things theological, moral and ecclesial. Go read his essay, Away from my Desk.

I particularly liked two sections (but how can I, I liked them all.):

"It is, perhaps, possible to understand how listening to endless lists of menu options delivered in that inimitable electronic voice might suggest parallel theological frustrations of a theologian who wanted to look at, for example, ethical issues in the light of contemporary knowledge of physics, genetics, neurology and so on, or to consider our reading of the bible in the light of historical, manuscript and textual research. This time, it was not an endless menu that triggered a theological reflection. I had to make a series of calls to an Insurance company as a result of a gentle sideswipe by a teenage driver. Amazingly, I negotiated the Menus, only repeatedly to be told: “I am away from my desk or on another line”. Taking a firm stand against my (what I might call), “pantheologism”, I told myself that there wasn’t even a trace of theology here. My resolution did not last long: what about questions of theodicy? what about the Old Testament’s insistence that it is not possible to ‘see’ God (perhaps there had always been a Deus in hoc machina?) what about the overseeing of multiple other planets – “on another line” perhaps?"

I love the idea that God is not answering because busy overseeing multiple other planets.

A parishioner at St. Peter's said the other day, "Glad you referred us to....you know, the older guy who thinks outside the box." Slightly miffed, since I am a more or less older guy and believe at times I think outside the box, I said, "Oh, you mean Simon Mein." (Sigh!)

An then Simon writes,

"Statements like, “It is clearly God’s will that we…..” or “God’s Word has settled the issue” should trigger immediate questioning. What God wants of us is not to be learned from a morning message on the red telephone, but in the patient waiting on the guidance of the Spirit, which comes through the myriad changes and chances of human existence, both sacred and secular."

Ah, here is the "outside" re the box. "The patient waiting on the guidance of the Spirit which comes through the myriad changes and chances..."

Every phone call, every connection, every jot, is a part of the message. Or so it seems.

Simon Mein is perhaps the best Anglican theologian I know (and I am lucky to know a number). It is no slight to the others, but Simon has an elegant way of living with Scripture, Reason and Tradition, as well as all the other tools of Anglican theological work. He has the humor to bind the whole together in the delight in the chase.

I have for some time thought that in addition to the various skills needed for Anglican engagement in theology that are usually brought forward there was the need for a poetic sensibility, a willingness to see the niceties of analogy as a source of poetry and humor.

Simon has it.

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