Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beauty

One of the things I appreciate about being raised by a Christian Scientist is learning their definition of God. In the CS worldview, there are seven synonyms for a universal, single deity: Life, Truth, Love, Mind, Spirit, Soul, Principle. It offers a different, meaningful, and far more accurate understanding of God than the traditional Christian trinity of Father, Jesus, and the Spook (the three of which, somehow, are just one god. Wrap your head around that one!) Some of the things I love about it include the following:

It removes gender from the concept of the godhead completely. What gender is Life? Could be any – and, in fact, includes every. If mankind really is made in the image of God, then, truly, either man is genderless, or God includes all genders. This concept of God really does equalize the sexes, and by changing it from an anthropomorphic entity, makes the genders equal – all of them.

It removes the patriarchy from any sense of sacredness or higher meaning, and renders it what it is: politics.

It makes God accessible not as a distant, judgmental entity, but as ever-present – here, now, universal, and complete.

However, if it were me, I'd add one more to the list: Beauty. Everywhere, everything that is created in nature is beautiful in its own way. I am surrounded by beauty; I have been, everywhere I've gone, from the deserts of Arizona to the forests of Europe to the lush jungles of Hawaii to the stark Aleutians, and even far out in the middle of the Bering Sea. I was born in the beauty of sugar maples in their fall plumage, raised in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere I look I see beauty: the face of a child, the expression on a mother's face as she nurses her baby, puppies and kittens, even a vulture soaring on the wind. I hear it in a meadowlark's clear notes, the chuckle of water over rocks, Jerry Garcia's fantastical guitar solos blending in harmony with the band. I feel it in the warm sun on a cool fall morning, and the fall of cool water on a hot day. I smell it. I taste it. It fills me with joy, and brings tears of gratitude to my eyes.

God is Beauty. How could She not be?

7 comments:

David Carrel said...

The heavens declare the glory of God! I know you are talking about the god of Christian Science, but I agree with you totally about the beauty of God. God's handiwork is all around us and it is obvious that someone out there had to create all of it. Nice post Seda. I would love to see all that you have seen someday.

anne said...

Hey Seda,

To defend the Trinity (ugh!) The original "Spirit" was female, still is in Judaism. In the phrase, "god moved over the face of the waters" in Hebrew, the "god" is a female spirit. In Catholicism, much of the female is still in the Trinity, implying that the Spirit was still feminine. The Catholics feel almost as strongly about Mary as they do about Jesus. It was only the patriarchal Calvinists who denounced this feminine in Christianity and held up the evil in woman and not the good (Mary.)

But, yes, CS is still breathing the breath of Mary Baker Eddy and was better for it.

In my own view, I think beauty is overlooked. There is something of awe and terror in beauty, like the terrible anvilheads full of lightning, yet so incredible or the purple mountains majesty of our youth. Beauty implies life, health, reaching out for the spirit from the base of the physical.

Good to see you back and posting. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

hugs
me

Seda said...

Thanks David. It is, after all, the same God - we just come to an understanding of Her through different routes. I really think that the most basic and real understanding is visceral, not intellectual. That's one of the challenges of explaining God - it's so hard to translate feelings into words. And, you can know God equally well as an atheist, a Baptist, a Wiccan, or a Christian Scientist. Because it's not the language that matters; it's the Truth that underlies it.

In any case, Beauty is everywhere, filling the earth and space - and we can all celebrate it. I'd love to see the jungles you're getting to view!

Anne,
I agree with the awe and terror of beauty. Everything in nature, from the most violent cataclysm to the tender petal of a flower, is beautiful in its own way.

Defend the trinity? Nah! :-)

David Carrel said...

It is interesting that you say that she is the same god, cause I am afraid I would have to disagree. Mainly because I think that everyone can't be right because there are so many contradictions to who God is. It is like having a red apple on a table and have people observe the apple for a while and then describe it: Then one says that the apple is orange, and another says green, and another says fresh, and another says rotten. Are they all right?

Every different religion describes God a different way. If there is just this one god than how is this god explained so many different contrasting ways? Like an atheist believes there is no god; how can their belief about god be true, and my belief about God existing be true at the same time?

Glad you are using the feature that shows the newest comments posted, I wouldn't have thought to look back at this one. Plus I added it on my blog!

Seda said...

Well, how many gods are there? I mean, real gods?

If there are many different ones, then of course you are right. There's Yahweh, who's this Jewish god-dude, and Zeus, who's this Greek god-dude, and Freya, who's this Norwegian god-dudette, and so on.

But I think there's just one God.

That means just one apple sitting on the table, and everyone sitting around looking at that apple from different viewpoints, through a mist darkly (or whatever) - some closer, some farther. So the apple looks different to every one of them.

But it's still the same apple.

IMHO.

Glad you like my new comment gadget. :-)

redforkhippie said...

David: Christian Science being a Christian denomination, based on the Bible and focused on the teachings of Jesus, we are most certainly talking about the same God. (I realize some people are under the impression that we worship Mrs. Eddy or use her writings instead of the Bible or something, but that's really not the case; her work is just commentary designed to help us understand the Bible better -- rather like having a very thorough set of Cliff's Notes written by a wise and thoughtful professor.)

Seda: The synonyms "refer to one absolute God. They are also intended to express the nature, essence, and wholeness of Deity. The attributes of God are justice, mercy, wisdom, goodness, and so on." (S&H, p. 465)

Based on that, I tend to think of beauty as an attribute of God rather than a synonym, but I don't think the distinction is terribly important -- the synonyms are just examples of ways God expresses himself/herself, and Mrs. Eddy notes somewhere in her writings (can't remember where) that hers is not an exclusive list.

Seda said...

RFH,
My mom said that, about attributes. However, I'll stick with synonym. After, MBE said her list wasn't exclusive! :-)

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
Beloved's.
~Hafiz