The Mystery of God, the Dove that Flies, the Joy of Being a Theologian...

(and) "How to Write a Theological Sentence"

"How to Write a Theological Sentence" was the essay by Stanley Hauerwas I read this morning. Well, I tried to read it. Because every pargraph in his essay DEMANDED that I stop reading... and reflect, write, dream, imagine, and engage. I am not exaggerating when I say this:

This essay may be one of the most important essays I have read in many (many) years.

Because I had to read, reflect, write, dream and so on - that meant I was doing what Sven Birkerts calls Deep Reading... a practice that has much in common with Lectio Divina. 

However, I am not going to talk about that. Instead, what I want to do is provide a beautiful, magnificent paragraph of sentences and words that describe God. Hauwerwas used it in his essay. You are going to have to read this paragraph several times. I invite you to do that. For "easier" reading on a computer screen, I have separated sentences, but what follows is one complete paragraph. It is written by John Donne, a mystical poet. It comes from his book Devotion, page 142 (which I struggled through years ago).

My God, my God, thou art a direct God, may I not say a literal God, a God that wouldst be understood literally and according to the plain sense of all thou sayest,

but thou art also (Lord I intend it to thy glory, and let no profane misinterpreter abuse it to thy diminution),

thou are a figurative, a metaphysical God too, a God in whose words there is such 

a height of figures,
such voyages,
such peregrinations to fetch remote and precious metaphors,
such extensions,
such spreadings,
such curtains of allegories,
such third heavens of hyperboles,
so harmonious elocutions,
so retired and so reserved expressions,
so commanding persuasions,
so persuading commandments,
such sinews even in milk,
and such things in thy words,
as all profane authors seem of the seed of the serpent that creeps,

thou are the dove that flies.

Yes, read that many times. Linger over the words. Roll them around on the tongue and the pathways of your mind. Let them trickle down the throat to the heart. Then may they rise back up in praise and worship.

The Apostle Paul says, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God..." and concludes his doxology, "For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."

The joy of the theologian is to dwell on such things, to live into them, and to bring them forth for others. I am grateful that, such is part of my calling.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International

p.s. If you didn't know some of the words Donne used - look them up. I had to look up peregrinations... which means to walk or travel, especially by foot...