Thursday, August 25, 2005

God's Name, Musings on Predestination, & a Visit to Grandma

Yesterday, the early rising was much harder. Either Boot didn't hear his alarm or it didn't go off, but I was awake to get J off to work, so I got him up. I was exhausted & headachy & just wanted to sleep. So, I let Pie sleep an extra hour & laid back down myself. Of course, when the alarm went off, I still didn't want to get up. But, I did & got him off to school. Then, I read Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger for awhile & got ready for Bible study.

It was a really interesting session. I am going to miss Wednesday morning Bible study so much when I start school. But, Brendan is starting a Tuesday evening adult ed class after Rally Day, so I won't be bereft of his interpretations. He was talking yesterday about how HWHY in Hebrew is a verb, the best translation of which is our infinitive "To Be"...which, of course, is inadequate. So, God's proper name, Yahweh, is, in fact, a verb. He also talked about how devout Jews substitute "adonai"-lord- to this day because of the tradition of subbing it so that the Lord's name isn't accidentally taken in vain. He described how "Jehovah" is a bizarre word created from two different languages & translated into a third. He said that since a verb cannot have a gender, the name of God cannot have a gender. And he talked about how addressing God as "God" rather than "Yahweh" creates distance. The funny thing was that our clerk of session (who tends toward a bit of holier-than-thou-ness) addressed him, unthinking, as "Pastor" rather than as "Brendan", just after we'd been talking about how "God" is a job description & not a name & that we tend to address God by job description.

We also talked about Predestination & about, if God saves us by God's grace, why there will be a judgement day. Brendan's first part to the answer was "We're not God. We don't know." I always think it's very brave & honest of him to come up with an answer like that. He also talked about how our conception of what judgement day will be is probably not the same as God's, since we have such a limited, human notion of things. He also talked about how none of us can know, without a doubt, that we are saved. I heard the clerk say, under her breath & with great assurance, "Well, I know I am". I thought, "How arrogant." But, that is so very human. We all want to have the answer. We all want to have control. We all want to feel that we are better than someone else. I am falling into it right now in my judgement of her. But, really, it is God that is doing the doing. We can't control God. Prayer, yes. Gratitude, yes. Living as God would have us live, yes. But control of God in not in our grasp. Of course, I happen to believe that I am right with God, for the most part, but I am not sure because I am not God.

Another thing that Brendan talked about that struck me is this: What if God chose damnation for Godself so that all of us might be saved? What if that is God's judgement? Or, maybe judgement day goes like this: Adolf Hitler shows up before God on judgement day. God makes Hitler really know, not just intellectually but emotionally, the pain and suffering he caused. In that knowledge, does Hitler not suffer damnation? But, since God is a merciful and loving god, could that not then be a learning experience for Hitler, that his soul might be refreshed and cleansed by God's infinite love & mercy? With God, all things are possible. We should never put our human limitations on God. We should never expect God to meet our human expectations.

After Bible study, I spent some time chatting with Beth Baker about her artwork (I didn't know that she did art, but she's been taking various art classes for years) & about books. I recommended The Artist's Way to her. She said she feels she is good at the technical part of art, but finds the creativity part difficult. I bet she'll really like the book. Then, I stood outside with the grands talking to Jack Linden about their visit with Mai & Mai's new-to-the-US family members. Thinking about Mai makes me hungry for her cooking...the best Vietnamese food I've ever eaten has been cooked either by Mai or by one of her family members. Then, my granddad mentioned Bush & his 6 week vacation. Jack said, "Oh, I don't want to talk about him. I was having a good day. Why'd you have to bring him up???" I had no idea that he wasn't a fervent Bush supporter.

We had lunch at The Golden Jersey Inn. They have a new round of painted cows in & we sat just below "Frieda Cowlo", a wonderful cow version of Frida! How fun! I had a delicious new Buffalo chicken sandwich. Plenty of hot sauce. Mmm-mmm. My grandmom is having laser sugery for glaucoma next week. Hope it helps! After lunch, it was almost time for Boot to come home. I spent some time planning out next month's menus, then took Boot to the Youthful Offenders group (which doesn't seem to have fazed him, although his behavior since he returned from his father's has been nothing but pleasant & helpful so far). I ran some errands & did more menu planning while he was there.

Once J got home, we went down to visit her mom, stopping by Taco Bell for dinner on the way. J & I had a long theological discussion about the things I learned in Bible study today & the ideas Brendan presented. She opined that Brendan seems to have a very intellectual approach & wonders where his spirituality is. I think he is more comfortable, as a pastor, expressing things intellectually. We don't know him deeply, therefore we can't know what his personal spiritual side may be. I do think that in his life, he does tend to take an intellectual approach to most things. Less vulnerability that way. Must be interesting to be married to Laura.

It was a really nice visit with J's mom. We watched "Animal Planet" & gabbed about all kinds of things. She was so happy to see the boys. They were delightful, if a tad silly. She is having her pacemaker replaced today (I pray it goes smoothly), so J wanted to make sure we visited so that she could have a great night the night before & hopefully go into surgery calm & happy. It is supposed to be outpatient, so we'll call her tonight & see how it went. All the way home, J kept thanking me for driving down and kept petting me & being so sweet & affectionate. She has been thanking me a lot lately. She's always affectionate, but it seems stepped up lately. It's nice to be so actively appreciated by someone. I am truly blessed to have her.

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