Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Center

Over on Liz's blog (the title is a link to it) the comments on a post have veered towards a discussion of what "the center" that many of us are trying to move towards might be.

I realized after the fact that I had revealed myself as an inveterate universalist when I made the claim that "the center" changes depending on what people you're including in your calculation (if you have a scattering of points on a graph, you can find a "center" of the scattered plots)

While the idea seems to be that for conservative Friends, and/or christians (?) The center is true, it has to do with God, and that transcends people. So that new people don't shift it at all?

If there is one (well, there are lots of centers, but if there's a "true" one - that can be true for all of us) does it shift a little when each new person is born or dies?

Or is it constant. has it been constant forever? was it the same center for dinosaurs? Or do they lack souls and therefore not have a center? (rhetorical question, I don't beleieve that for a minute, God certainly doesnt' depend on us for existence, if it has it - except as a word a concept, but if you believe in it, you believe in more than that, I'd guess)

I realized a bit later that I don't necessarily believe that it changes (though I probably believe that more than that it doesn't, if THAT makes any sense) - it's possible that it doesn't change, and yet every new person brought under consideration changes our perception of it. More like science, where our best understanding of truth shifts constantly with new information, sometimes subtlely, sometimes radically, but pretty constantly...

And then I wonder if anyone should NOT be taken as part of the equation - which touches on (perhaps) the idea of "that of God in everyone" (at least my understanding of it, which is not a bit of the reflection God, but that we are all a piece of God, and it is (?) diminished by the loss of any one of us)

So, are psychopathic killers part of God? Does their "truth" shift the center, or, rather, give us new information about it (that can be trusted, that is not false) - or are they simply outside the system of God? Is anyone outside the system of God? Not in terms of basic respect owed (like, no one should be tortured!) but in terms of for lack of a better phrase, building the kingdom?


Anonymous said...

I have a story about the psychopath killers and God. When I was 22, I helped a woman who was being attacked by her boyfriend. Things did not work out the way I planned, and I witnessed him kill her.

This is what brought me to Quakerism. I was so grateful to be alive, and I was so awash in mystical experiences as I healed, that I sought out a worship community. (In some weird way, what he did helped build the Kingdom a little bit -- at least in me).

I am not saying at all that my spiritual growth makes up for what he did. (What an icky thought). The idea that he helped build the kingdom actually just occurred to me as I was writing this.

What I meant to say was that I prayed for a long time, asking God where he was when that happened. And I finally got an answer. He was right there with us. With the killer, the woman who was killed, and with me.

On some level, this makes no sense. I know this. If someone had told me those same words -- that God was with us -- it would have seemed really unhelpful to me. I probably would have been really annoyed. But I believe that because the understanding opened itself to me. Just as real and palpable as my own hands.

I would not be able to take that understanding and hold a rational discussion about it because I don't really fully understand it myself. But I believe, as deeply as I believe anything, that God was with us. I believe now that there are no places where God is absent.

And I will never fully understand it. I will never understand so much about our world, about God, about almost anything of real importance.


courtney said...

Just saying "Hi!"

You removed your links--will you be putting them back up? I enjoyed flipping through them. :)

How's your newest girlie, Georgia, doing?

Micah Bales said...

Pam -

In my understanding, it's not so much that God is in everyone and everything that everyone does, but instead that there is the Seed of God, the Inner Teacher that all can hear and obey. Beyond any reason I can comprehend, however, it still seems to be up to us as human beings to make the choice between the Light and darkness, between Life and death, between the Seed that dies to bear fruit and the seed that remains hardened and refuses to give its self up for Love.

Elizabeth - That's an amazing thing that you wrote. I'm very touched by it and would like to know more, hear more about your experience of God. My email is: micahbales AT gmail DOT com

Micah Bales

earthfreak (Pam) said...


Thank you. I haven't responded for so long because I had no idea what to say. I still don't. But thank you.