In the Name Of..


The first “God” I encountered was a hellfire Judge who sounded a lot like my Pentecostal preacher father. Though I have done years of counseling, meditation, and theological reflection to heal my traumatic childhood, “God” is still a difficult Name.

I say “Name” not being, person, or label. God with a capital G is a Name above All Names. I may someday divorce that Name from the primordial echoes it triggers in my soul, but my present relationship to the Name God is to that of a powerful Signifier that must be approached with great care.

I have been belittled in the Name. Humiliated in that Name. Beaten in that Name. It still carries deep echoes of terror and flame.

Maybe most people were spared my experience with the Name.

I have met far too many who share it and have needed years of healing and recovery from the experience.

When someone says “God,” I must inwardly translate it to “Life” or “Love”, depending on the specific shade of meaning intended. When I am in a church where a prayer is recited, I will replace that Name with these more healing and helpful names. Words have power and my small mental acts of changing one word for another is a way of taking power for my healing.

As an aspiring minister, I will one day in the near future have to serve as a chaplain in training and will be required to pray in God’s name. I do not fear that moment. I signed up for this. I am actually eager to live into the job.

But, it will not be easy for me.

Sometimes the hardest things we try to do take us the furthest distance towards where we always needed to go.

Here I am, Infinite Source of Life and Love, send me.


2 thoughts on “In the Name Of..

  1. I like to think about God like this: There is the big collection of things in the Universe that we understand and have names for. Most words are tags attached to one or more of those things. But the proper use of the word “God” is to point outside the system of named things, to that vast collection of stuff that is too big or too small or too abstract or to unique or too all-pervasive for us to grasp.

    We need a word to remind us of that stuff, because it is powerful. Life is unpredictable and our plans often fail because there are many, many factors we have never named and so can’t pull into our calculations. Collectively, they often end up deciding what happens, not us.

    So the proper way to use “God” is in a limiting, humbling way, pointing to the mysteries of life. But if “God” is a name you are hanging on some defined thing, and if you are using that thing to make your predictions and calculations more definite — in short, to support living more arrogantly rather than more humbly — you’re doing it wrong.

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