Tuesday, March 07, 2006


A question: Can God contradict God's self?

My apologies for the awkward construction, but I hesitate to choose between "himself" and "herself." "Himself" conjures up the patriarchal male images of God, and I wouldn't want to do that carelessly, just in passing. "Herself" inspires other images in my mind--sometimes a kindly grandmother, at other times a feminist fury--Susan Sarandon maybe, but with more meat on her bones. Or maybe an Irishman in a pub referring to the wife who's going to be mighty angry when he gets home.

Does speaking of God as "she" rule out speaking of God as "he"? Or vice versa? The need to choose one or the other calls attention to the limitations of the English language. Also to the limitations of our imagination.

Or maybe the two pronouns are useful as a dialetic: not he, not she, but something emerging that encompasses (or contradicts?) them both.

I may be playing with language here just for its own sake. But language is what we have. Words mean something. So does the way you arrange them.

Contradictions in God--anger and mercy is one that I heard about yesterday. Righteous anger (and I mean genuinely deeply righteous) coexisting with mercy that knows no boundaries.

Is this one way in which religion runs afoul of science? Either something is true or it's not. The opposite cannot also be true. Though perhaps there are some exceptions to this--something to do with string theory or anti-matter? I've had these things explained to me, and they make sense as long as the speaker is talking. But since I don't use string theory very often in my daily life, it just doesn't seem to stick in my mind. Duh.

I like contradictions. (Note the title of this blog.) I like the part in the yoga class at the end, when the teacher says place your palms together, uniting earth and sky, body and spirit, uh, this and that. Why can't I remember more? My teacher rattled off an unbelievable string of opposites this morning.

As I sit here at the computer with my palms pressed together--well, I did this a moment ago, I can't type in that position--I feel my lower back find its natural alignment and sink straight down into the chair. The troublesome muscle in my left hip relaxes and my breath feels lighter.

The trick, I've learned, is that the palms must be pressed firmly together. Not just fingertips touching, or the cupped hands that meet at the heels and the tips. No, you have to press those contradictions together firmly and experience them to feel more at home in God.

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