Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
After reading the replies to the question raised in Part I, I had a thought. What if some of us haven't experienced a loss of awe but a loss of perception and one that unlike Vashti's is not insulting to the King but welcomed? So the question then becomes: are we looking at the King or from within the King? Is Jesus' prayer in John 17 that His followers be in Him as He is in the Father being answered in us who strive to learn to live in Love, to live in God himself? Has the Awe of God's Majesty been replaced by a serenity of acceptance; by a peace of finding one's place in the universe, only to be manifested on those occasions when we step back into earthly lives to consider all He has done for us? Or is this just wishful thinking?
Given that God is everywhere, God must be everywhere we look; and (as Hindu mystics say) the trick is recognition, 'realization' of that. But culturally people have accepted an astonishing barrier between what we Know and how much we'll permit ourselves to acknowledge as "real", as what's legitimate for us to say we know.
Jacques Ellul said once that back in the 19th Century God seemed to have gone silent because people had stopped listening. But shouldn't we think -- (something I picked up & chewed-on from Anthony Bloom)
that people stopped listening because we're hiding ourselves out of shame? Wasn't that what Adam did, in the story of Eden?
We thought we could Have It All, but found we'd only addicted ourselves to a seductive nightmare.
The dream was that we could gain knowledge and control of our environment, our lives, our destiny. The nightmare has been that the mechanisms we hoped would do this for us have taken all control from us, and rendered us subject to runaway processes which people are routinely manipulated into misunderstanding.
Even the most hardened of us seem to be awed when confronted with an act of pure love. So maybe it's just that God's love isn't as visible as we would like it to be. But then aren't we the ones who are supposed to be that light on a hill? I guess it's the old "instead of cursing the darkness light one candle) thing.
We can 'see' what God is like much more easily by looking at a really good human being...
I think there are a number of reasons that there can be a loss of awe. The loss of perspective that you just described can be one. Quakers talk of each day being equally holy, but we forget open ourselves to the holy in every day.
Some people try to avoid God. Let's face it, being convicted by the Light is not comfortable and doesn't fit with modern sensibilities. To experience awe requires vulnerability and surrender.
God is neither a prosecutor nor a harsh judge -- as that traditional-but-mistaken word "convicted" suggests. Those roles belong to a far different spirit, known as 'Satan', meaning 'The Accuser.' Jesus is quoted in the gospels as saying that "Satan always was a liar," which implies that our mutual accusations and self-accusations, no matter how plausible, are not the real truth about us, not the real truth about anyone.
Why does God provide a personification of that role? Perhaps it helps people see that the traits peculiar to 'The Accuser' are not theirs, no matter how easily people fall into them... and that the thoughts and feelings involved in "convicting" oneself and others are nobody's friend, but our greatest enemy.
If the human fear of facing God's recognition makes people 'try to avoid God', if people imagine God will condemn them for falling 'short' of some false self-image -- I can't imagine any enemy causing greater harm.
What really should awe people -- is the sheer unimaginable scope of God's love for us.
I shouldn't have used the old Quaker terminology. When I say convicted by the Light, I referring to the stripping away of our illusions of ourselves, our ego. It is different from being condemned. Seeing ourselves as irredeemable is just as much ego driven as seeing ourselves as perfect.
In any case, it can be a painful process to have the masks stripped off. It is also liberating and ecstatic. Getting there requires giving up illusion we hold precious. Scarey stuff.
I think I know the feeling...
Anne has observed that "We aren't doing so bad, for a bunch of monkeys", but then that's a pretty unpretentious standard.