Richard Rohr’s meditations on paradox have been especially helpful for me this week. My Facebook friends know that I’ve been sharing them all week (see below). They have spoken to me for many reasons. One reason is related to the current sermon series on Job. The wisdom of Job teaches that reality exists in the paradox of Proverb’s Wisdom being both true and not-true. The mystery of God is that God is the all powerful creator who is “in control,” but creates with randomness and lets things happen that seem out of control.
Another reason this speaks to me is that paradox has been one of my life-long pursuits. I was raised in a highly rationalistic theological structure that lived in the binary system of black/white, right/wrong, in/out. Yet, as I read scripture and thought deeply about theological things, even as a child, I saw paradox. Scripture teaches both election AND free will. Jesus is both God AND man. God gave dietary laws AND told Peter to eat the unclean animals. The church is an exculsive “called out” community AND the Gospel is for EVERYONE. On and on the paradoxes go.
This proclivity toward paradox is what, I believe, drew me, unknowingly, into the Lutheran tribe. Lutheran theology gets paradox and allows the theologian to live in the tension…and drives a lot of people crazy. I invite you to read what I’ve written about it here and here and here.
I call the space in which we must live the Communicative Zone. Rohr calls it the nondualist mind. It is that place in which we see two opposing perspectives, assess them honestly, acknowledge the truthfulness in each and then hold them in tension with each other, both being valuable perspectives in God’s world. The image below illustrates it as a pendulum that continually swings back and forth between the extremes. It is the movement of the conversation that creates an energy field that is, in my opinion, the love and life of God.
This tension is almost always painful. It is difficult to live here. It is, as Rohr says, the foundation of falling into the abyss. So, if you find yourself in this painful tension, know that you are not alone. Jesus spans the gap with you as he spreads his hands across the beams of the cross to die, so that we might live. The ultimate paradox.
Love on, friend.