Do we administer CPR to God or leave God for dead? Even after the Holocaust, the Jewish philosopher and theologian, Martin Buber, refused to turn his back on God and walk (or run) away. Why not? He explained his thinking in his book, Eclipse of God:
“[‘God’] is the most heavy-laden of all human words. None has become so soiled, so mutilated.
Just for this reason I may not abandon it.
Generations of men have laid the burden of their anxious lives upon this word and weighed it to the ground; it lies in the dust and bears their whole burden. The races of man with their religious factions have torn the word to pieces; they have killed for it and died for it, and it bears their fingermarks and their blood.
Where might I find a word like it to describe the highest!
If I took the purest, most sparkling concept…I could not capture the presence of Him whom the generations of men have honoured and degraded with their awesome living and dying. I do indeed mean Him whom the hell-tormented and heaven-storming generations of men mean. Certainly, they draw caricatures and write ‘God’ underneath; they murder one another and say ‘in God’s name’…
And just for this reason is not the word ‘God,’ the word of appeal, the word which has become a name, consecrated in all human tongues for all times?
We must esteem those who interdict it because they rebel against the injustice and wrong which are so readily referred to ‘God’ for authorization. But we may not give it up…
We cannot cleanse the word ‘God’ and we cannot make it whole; but, defiled and mutilated as it is, we can raise it from the ground and set it over an hour of great care.”
– Martin Buber, Eclipse of God (London: Gollancz, 1953), 17-18.
Christine Robinson said:
I refuse to let other people’s foolishness ruin good words for me. It gives them too much power.
Chip Roush said:
It is *very* good to have you in our movement. Please keep up the good work, NT!
Like many UU ministers, I’ve expressed my thoughts on god language from time to time. For those with more time on their hands than they know what to do with, this is my most recent reflection…