Making Footprints Not Blueprints

S04 #08 - Look, there! what I mean by God! — God as event - A thought for the day

July 08, 2022 Andrew James Brown/Caute Season 4 Episode 8
Making Footprints Not Blueprints
S04 #08 - Look, there! what I mean by God! — God as event - A thought for the day
Show Notes Transcript

The full text of this podcast can be found in the transcript of this edition or at the following link:

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Music, "New Heaven", written by Andrew J. Brown and played by Chris Ingham (piano), Paul Higgs (trumpet), Russ Morgan (drums) and Andrew J. Brown (double bass)

Thanks for listening. Just to note that all the texts of these podcasts are available on my blog. You'll also find there a brief biography, info about my career as a musician, & some photography. Feel free to drop by & say hello. Email: caute.brown[at]

A short thought for the day” offered to the Cambridge Unitarian Church as part of the Sunday Service of Mindful Meditation 


In my last blog/podcast I introduced you to something said by the Dutch atheist pastor, Klaas Hendrikse, that, in my own ministry, I have come deeply to share. Namely, a belief that, although God does not exist and is nowhere, God is an experience, a human experience and that “if you get up from your chair and go into the world, into life, there God may happen.”

Another way of talking about this kind of understanding of God is to say that God is better thought of as being, not a thing, but an “event.” One contemporary theologian who has consistently done this is John D. Caputo, and what follows is my own way of expressing his basic idea found in a 2007 essay called “A Theology of the Event” (in “After the Death of God” by John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo, Columbia University Press, 2007, pp, 47–49). 

Firstly, if and when I use the word “God,” I no longer understand God as something present but as something seeking to make itself felt in what is present. So, whilst for me, it’s not right to say Jesus IS God, what makes Jesus special to me is that he lived in such a way that what I am still minded to call God continues to make itself felt. Likewise, when I see people expressing in their own lives what seems to me to be that same something, I find myself also wanting to say of them, as I still say of Jesus, “Look, there! That’s what I mean by God!” 

Secondly, it is important for me to distinguish between the name “God” and the event that is astir or transpires in this name. So when I use the word God I always try to attach it to events in which we see people actually doing true justice, loving mercy, and walking with neighbour and enemy. This is why I try to point so regularly to any act of justice, mercy and love and say, “Look, there! That’s what I mean by God!”

Thirdly, I no longer understand God as an ultimate thing, a super-being whose existence could be proved (or disproved) by either science, philosophy or theology, because God is that mysterious nothing (or no-thing) which is something astir in all things. This is why I continually point to the lively, intra-active nature of the universe in which there are always-already energies at play that can both generate and support unfolding new visions of better ways of being in the world and, when I see them I’ll say, “Look, there! That’s what I mean by God!” (cf. John Dewey’s way of talking about God in A Common Faith).

Fourthly, I have been persuaded that, no matter how beautiful, venerable or persuasive they seem — whether they be Trinitarian or Unitarian, whether theist or atheist — all theories about God (including this one) can, and must, always be deconstructed. These theories may, and often have had, some temporary ad hoc usefulness, but they must never be thought of as being themselves the event that they harbour. This is why I point to any living, always revisable, conversational, democratic, open, non-doctrinal forms of religious and secular communities and say “Look, there! That’s what I mean by God!”

Fifthly, I understand God as event as provocation and promise. A provocation and promise that is always calling me from afar and insisting I live a form of life committed to seeking more justice, more love, more mercy and a continued walking with neighbour, including one’s enemy. Given this, it’s no wonder that, as far as every human power that wants to control and dominate other people and the natural world as a whole is concerned, God is indeed a dangerous memory and a radical call to reform. God as event calls and recalls. This is why I try to point to any new expressions and old memories of better, fairer, more just and loving visions of human organization that come to my notice and say “Look, there! That is what I mean by God!”