GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

EPISODE FORTY-TWO: Where God explains to me how we can all find fulfillment in the Victory level

September 30, 2021 Jerry L. Martin Season 3 Episode 10
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
EPISODE FORTY-TWO: Where God explains to me how we can all find fulfillment in the Victory level
Show Notes Transcript

"My reign is the presence of My authoritative love. And it is present already, and all of Nature knows it."

GOD: AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY - The Podcast Ep42

Adapted for audio by

Scott Langdon and Jerry L. Martin

 

JLM

In one of the prayers about Creation, I had been told,

GOD

It is not quite right to say that I "always" existed. I did come into being, and before Me, there was only Nothing, but I was present in the Nothing. There was no time, in the usual sense, then--there was no matter, no energy, no events.

JERRY

Lord, the simultaneity of times would make this all very different. God emerged out of Nothing, but the time of that emergence is, in some sense, simultaneous with now. If so, God is emerging right now.

GOD

Exactly! Now you're on the right track.

JERRY

And Nothing would also be simultaneously present at the 'same' time as now, that is, at all times. If so, Nothingness would represent a permanent possibility of annihilation.

GOD

You're on the right track.

JERRY

Lord, I feel I am supposed to pray about the really big context.

GOD

Yes, that's right. There is a much larger picture. . . 

JERRY

I get an image of that 'pregnant Nothingness' and the sense that everything springs from that and returns to it.

GOD

Now set aside the time aspect of that.

JLM

Okay, I was supposed to picture it without the passage of time. 

JERRY

Lord, I get two different images: first, a static image of everything in a timeless realm of essences.

GOD

No.

JERRY

Second, a simultaneity of times--that everything is happening but at the same time, at a simultaneous moment.

GOD

Now take that to all times and all universes and all gods.

JLM

Well, I didn't know how to do that, so I tried a different tack.

JERRY

Lord, I read again the prayers about Zoroaster and Your double-sidedness. Maybe that is relevant here.

GOD

Yes! The Whole, God and All beyond God, Being itself, is double-sided. This means different things at different levels of being--for the atom it is one thing, for a human another, a god different yet, and the God beyond God still different.

JERRY

So, we experience it in human beings as good and evil, incompleteness, and so forth. And we understand God's divided nature on that analogy. Is that right?

GOD

Yes, that is fine, but there is a bigger picture.

JERRY

Are You talking about being and nonbeing?

GOD

Just listen. It is more like a fault line, a place where tectonic plates rub together, a point or line of friction. It is fought out in every world and at every level.

JERRY

I take it one side is good and the other bad, or if these concepts are too anthropomorphic, that it is important that a certain side win?

GOD

Winning is even more anthropomorphic. No, the tension stays and goes on and, in the simultaneity of times, is fought "all the time."

JERRY

Well, is it in some ways like good versus evil, order versus disorder?

GOD

Good versus evil is more apt because it is not just the challenge of entropy or disorganization.

JERRY

I get the sense of a deep inner blockage, as if something needs to come out or possibly be dissolved, but it is very difficult to dislodge it or bring it to fruition--I'm not sure which image is more apt. Oh, yes, Lord, it is like labor pains.

GOD

Exactly!

JERRY

But labor pains are not about good versus evil.

GOD

We won't worry now whether they are or are not. You are right that something is a-borning, and it is blocked by obstacles in the world.

JERRY

In all the worlds?

GOD

Yes--to Me, all the worlds is the total World (with a capital W).

JERRY

It feels as if You are trying to bring something out of all these worlds. But I also sense that You succeed--simultaneously with the struggle.

GOD

Yes, that is exactly right. That is why your inadequate concept of time has been such an obstacle. The struggle is happening right now, yesterday's and tomorrow's struggles are happening right now--and the final victory is happening right now.

JERRY

The Kingdom of God is here now?

GOD

Exactly. 

JERRY

Is there some way for us to get in touch with that 'final victory' level or dimension?

GOD

Yes! That is also Me. You access it through Me.

JERRY

Is it important that we relate to the level of being - if that is the right way to put it - on which the final victory occurs? Does our relating to the victory level contribute somehow to 'winning the struggle'?

GOD

Yes, oddly enough, the victory is now, and the struggle is now, and yet the victory depends on the "outcome" of the struggle.

JLM

So, our usual ideas about time are inadequate. There is some sense in which all times are present "now." How to understand such a concept? Then I received an image. It was like God looking down at an infinite stack of transparent snapshots, each taken a second apart from the previous one, the most recent on top. Somehow God, looking down, can see right through them all and thereby see all times simultaneously.

JERRY

Lord, instead of a horizontal image of moments being lined up, left to right in a historical timeline, this is a vertical image.

GOD

Yes!

JLM

Then it occurred to me: teleology is vertical. The aim or meaning of the moments of our lives is evident in their vertical dimension, simultaneous in their relation to God. God looks down, while the moments of our lives, in their meaning, face upward toward God.

GOD

Yes!

JERRY

I sense that it is not that things are 'drawn' upward.

GOD

That's correct.

JERRY

It is more that they all 'point' upward, toward the top--not the top in the sense of the most recent snapshot, but top in the sense of the meaning of the whole stack as seen from above, from God's vantage point.

GOD

That's better.

JERRY

As if each moment or event is reaching, as if with arms outstretched, toward the top, toward God?

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

But it's not actually to merge upward but just to be fulfilled by that connection to the top?

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

It seems as if each moment actually has its fulfillment in the Godward direction of the whole stack of moments.

GOD

Yes, the connection is by an aspiration from below.

JERRY

You mean the moments below get fulfilled by their relation to or drawing in or exemplifying the top?

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

Reaching for or turning toward the top?

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

Actually reaching, arriving, merging with the top?

GOD

No.

JERRY

So, Lord, I don't have to actually 'reach' God? I, in this moment, just have to let myself be 'fulfilled' by God? Or to live completely in terms of fulfillment by God?

GOD

Yes, that's better.

JLM

That made me think of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. "I believe that if a little flower could speak," she said, "it would tell very simply and fully all that God had done for it." She described herself as only a tiny thimble of faith, but one filled to the brim.

JERRY

Lord, would St. Thérèse's little thimble of faith be an example?

GOD

Yes, perfect.

JERRY

It's as if the challenge isn't to connect two different beings, a person and God, much less to merge. It is just somehow to realize or 'take in' the fullness. Fulfillment has a normative or qualitative pull, as a turning toward God.

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

It's like a plant flowering as it basks in the sunlight. Its fulfillment is down here, not in actually reaching the sun.

GOD

Yes. Exactly. The fulfillment is on the earthly plane. Now look at Jesus again with this in mind.

 

 

 

 

(MUSIC)

 

 

CHAPTER 66

 

 

 

JLM

How does Jesus talk about fulfillment? He speaks of the Kingdom of God. The great New Testament scholar J. P. Meier explores the relevant texts in volume 2 of A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. While the term sounds static and territorial, he says, it is actually dynamic. It means reign, rule, or kingship--"the dynamic notion of God powerfully ruling over his creation, over his people, and over history." The term does not so much define a concept as tell a story, one that "stretches from the first page of the Bible to its last" and teaches that "God as Creator has ruled, is ruling, and always will rule over his creation, be it obedient or rebellious."

 

According to Meier, an important moment in God's story is "(Deutero-)Isaiah's rethinking of God's kingly rule in terms of forgiving love" which "resonates in the message and activity of Jesus." He cites Isaiah 43:

 

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;

I have called you by name, you are mine. . . .

 

 

The message of Jesus is quintessentially stated in the Lord's Prayer. The shorter version (Luke 11) begins:

 

Father,

Hallowed be your name,

Your kingdom come.

 

When the petitioner prays, "Hallowed be your name," what is being asked for? The key, says Meier, is that "God sanctifies his name by manifesting himself." The prayer asks God to manifest Himself in His kingly power.

 

Thus, the meaning of the first half of the Lord's Prayer is: "Father, reveal Yourself in all Your power and glory [= hallowed be Your name] by coming to rule as king [= Your kingdom come]." This request implies that "in some sense" God is "not yet fully ruling as king." This fits Jewish scholar Jon Levenson's understanding of the Old Testament: God is holding back forces of chaos that continue to resist His rule.

 

According to Meier, Jesus goes a step beyond the tradition when he links God as king with God as father. Both are positions of authority, but one is distant and fearsome, the other is intimate and loving. Jesus' use of the term abba, which has the intimate feel of a word like papa, is without precedent in Jewish practice. "Measureless divine might, about to explode in the final act of human history," says Meier, "is accessible even now in prayer by those who enjoy intimacy with the divine king, who is also their loving father.”

 

There are three requests in the Lord's Prayer: Give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins, and lead us not into temptation. The bread petition resonates with the eschatological banquet--the great feast that celebrates the Lord's final triumph. In the Jewish apocalyptic tradition, the slain Leviathan - representing Chaos - is to be served to all the faithful. For Jesus and his disciplines, it was acted out in the table fellowship, the most famous instance of which is the Last Supper. The prayer asks that this final celebration be given "this day," right now. 

 

Meier discusses the Beatitudes and considers the most authentic version to be what is called the Q version, a presumably lost text that appears to have been known to Matthew and Luke but not to Mark. The earliest form was probably a simple triad.

 

Happy are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Happy are the mourners, for they shall be comforted.

Happy are the hungry, for they shall be satisfied.

 

At this point, I paused to pray.

 

 

 

 

JERRY

Lord, these three verses are all in the present tense. The poor, the mourners, the hungry are happy. This sounds like a celebration of current fulfillment--of fulfillment right now.

GOD

Yes!

JLM

On the question of when the Kingdom of God will arrive, Meier finds "a notable absence of phrases" saying that the Kingdom of God is imminent. One of the few is Mark 9:1. "Amen I say to you that there are some of those standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Kingdom of God having come to power."

JERRY

Lord, this fits with what You have told me. Given the simultaneity of times, and the nature of fulfillment as an orientation to God, the final victory--the Kingdom of God--would be present to all those who turn their souls upward toward God. Is that right, Lord?

GOD

Yes.

JLM

Meier goes on to discuss "whether Jesus viewed this final arrival of God's kingdom as purely future or whether he also claimed that in some way the Kingdom of God had already arrived--however partially and symbolically--in his own words and actions." 

 

In Matthew 11, there occurs an extraordinary statement: "There has not arisen among those born of women one greater than John; but the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than he." It is not Jesus who is said to be greater than John, but anyone who is in the Kingdom of God, anyone, as Meier explains, "already in … the new type of existence made possible by the Kingdom of God." 

 

Moreover, "the least" is "not simply promised a kingdom that will arrive at some future date. He exists in the Kingdom now as he experiences the power of God transforming his life."

 

For Jesus, "human beings were not basically neutral territories," says Meier. Rather, "human existence was seen as a battlefield dominated by . . . God or Satan." Each person had to choose "which 'field of force' would dominate his or her life, … which force he or she would choose to side with." Neutrality was not a possibility.

 

Asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God is coming (Luke 17), Jesus answers, "The Kingdom of God is not coming with close observation. Nor will they say, 'Behold here or there.' For behold, the Kingdom of God is in your midst." Since Jesus is addressing his adversaries, the Pharisees, the point seems to be that the Kingdom of God is even in their midst.

JERRY

Lord, this seems consistent with what I have received. The Kingdom of God is right here, everywhere, now.

GOD

Yes.

JERRY

Since entos ("in your midst") can also be translated "within," many interpreters prefer an interiorization or spiritualization of the Kingdom of God. But, Lord, in light of what I have received, it is not just an interior phenomenon. It is the whole of life and action.

GOD

Yes!

JLM

Mark reports that, after John the Baptist was put into prison by Herod Antipas, Jesus said that "the Kingdom of God has drawn near." This is a statement in the perfect tense, denoting an action that has both occurred and continues to occur, like saying of a train pulling into the station, "The train is arriving."

GOD

Yes, My reign is the presence of My authoritative love. And it is present already, and all of nature knows it. You just have to open your eyes and open your heart.

JERRY

Jesus' admonition to 'keep awake; for you do not know when the time is' seems to portend the near future.

GOD

No, that's a mistake or misunderstanding. "Keep awake" stresses the urgency of attunement to God. "Don't know the time" is not right. Every time is the time.

 

(MUSIC)

 

(THE END)