Thursday, January 6, 2011

a little more on G-d

A professor noted on my final exam that he’d like to hear my reasoning for using G-d instead of … y’know… the full word.

He’s the first professor to ask about it, so for the first time I had to be systematic in my explanation (moreso than here).

And here’s my answer:

Hi Professor,

I got my final exam from my mailbox today (thank you) and noticed your question about my use of G-d.

My preference for G-d is twofold. I learned the practice from a friend in college, whose Jewish faith radically challenged and changed my Christian faith (much for the better); it’s only in candidacy that I adopted the practice. As you likely know, the practice in Judaism of using “G-d” is done with the intent of never writing the true Name, since its inscription makes the paper (and apparently the electronic device? I have not fully studied that extension) holy. That’s the first reason that I use it - out of reverence for the true Name (which I acknowledge is not even G-d but Y-h).

The second reason derives from an experience I had in systematic theology early last semester, when I grew incredibly annoyed with my own questions about G-d that I felt had no resolution. I felt that I was in danger of being incredibly cavalier about the Deus Absconditus - that thefact of G-d’s hiddenness made it so much easier to make claims about G-d. I believe in G-d because of the revelation of G-d in Christ; I feel anxious enough making claims about Christ and Christ’s actions — it was much more terrifying to think of asserting what G-d the “Father” or “Creator”, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, might “be” or “want” since I see such a multiplicity of testimony to G-d’s will and actions over time and place in the Hebrew Scriptures. So using G-d is an admittance to myself that nearly everything I learn and read and write could quite well be wrong and I should be very, very cautious in ascribing any of it to the One.

I have not yet adopted the accompanying Jewish practice of saying HaShem instead of G-d in conversation, because it’s harder to change the way one speaks, and because it creates a stumbling-block for people I am speaking with (who need clarification). G-d in writing is at least understood (if puzzling); HaShem spoken, for most Christians, is totally alien. But I would very much like to use a name other than G-d when speaking, for the same reasons as outlined above. I have moved away somewhat from using it, but obviously there are circumstances when nothing else will do.

I expect my reasons for doing this will change the longer the practice continues; I may perhaps reach a day when using G-d is more of a hindrance than a blessing and a soothing for my worried mind. But, for now, this is where I am. Hope this short essay of an answer is clarifying!

Thank you again for your course. It really was great.

Happy j-term!

Emmy Kegler





May G-d make me worthy of such thoughts. May G-d correct me and guide me. Amen.

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