David Bentley Hart on “How Can We Know God?”

David Bentley Hart (b. 1965) is described as “an American polymath whose work encompasses a wide range of subjects and genres. A prolific essayist, he has written on topics as diverse as art, literature, religion, philosophy, film, baseball, and politics. He is also a writer of fiction.” Religiously speaking, he is a “convert from high-church Anglicanism to [Eastern] Orthodoxy.”

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Is God a Male Human, or Two Males, or maybe Three? Do I hear Four? Or is it More?

Thinking of God as a male human(s) out in the universe somewhere seems to be a primitive, magical, supernatural, and archaic conception of the Divine, literalizing the pronouns of “He” and “Him,” and in the Christian tradition of “Father” and “Son.” I’ve written about this specifically at least once before, but it’s worth discussing more.

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Yet another “First Vision” Account from St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet, and was canonized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox church. He wrote much about Christian mysticism, including his own experiences.

I’ve written twice before about St. Symeon’s “First Vision” accounts. He seems to have recorded many of them. He was prolific in sharing his experiences of theosis, or deification, and is called by Father George A. Maloney the “mystic of fire and light.”

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Another “First Vision” Account from St. Symeon the New Theologian

St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022 AD) was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet, and was canonized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox church. He wrote much about Christian mysticism, including his own experiences.

I have written previously about his experiences of the Divine Light, and his writing in Hymns of Divine Love. Here I relate perhaps his very firstFirst Vision” experience of that Light which he wrote in a homily called On Faith, which he experienced prior to becoming a monk. He seems to have related this experience in the third person, under the name “George,” which may have been his own birth name.

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A Map of Reality

Humans want to know what’s real, what’s reality, what’s true. We have explored the outside world and our inner worlds for millennia, and we seem to still not be sure what is absolutely real. I think the issue might be that what is really real is not something that can be seen or communicated through language at our dualistic level of perception. We have to transcend duality experientially and consciously in order to know the “really real,” sometimes called the Nondual, the One, the Real, the Absolute, or God. Perhaps only at that level of consciousness may we come to truly know what is ultimately Real and True.

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Is God or Christ a Male?

A symbol is a construction, but it does not have meaning to only an individual. A symbol is usually a construction within a society, a culture, a religious system, a group, a people.

It is true that traditionally God and Christ have been predominantly associated with the male gender and masculine principle (a “He”), at least in the West. What we need to decide today is if that traditional interpretation, these symbols of the Divine, are still valid, and accurate, and if they point to truth in the present, or if we need a better interpretation of these symbols as a society, a culture, in Christianity, in our interspirituality, in the world today.

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Reconstructing Mormonism’s “God the Father”

(This continues a series of posts about reconstructing the Mormon/Christian narrative. Please read this introductory post first, if you haven’t already, before continuing.)

The God we are referring to is often known in Mormonism (and more generally in Christianity) as “God the Father,” “Heavenly Father,” or just “the Father.” He is the highest God, and this God is referred to predominantly as a “he” or male figure, although it is also taught occasionally that he is married to a wife (“Heavenly Mother”) and they jointly occupy that highest position of God. As a man or couple, God is portrayed literally as a human being, with a human body of flesh and bones, albeit resurrected (immortal), glorified, and exalted. God is said to be the governor of the universe, and the father of humanity. Humans are made in the image of God, are God’s literal offspring, which is why we too have a human body of flesh and bones. God is a personal being, who hears and answers prayers. It is taught that our goal in life is to become like God the Father, to be a God and live in heaven for eternity. We do this by following God’s commandments, his laws.

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