Any conversation about “God” involves an agreement to engage with paradox: the human drive to understand and name that which is beyond our understanding, and therefore unnameable. And to call it “God”.
When those conversations take place among people who share a creed-based faith tradition, the assumption is that everyone is talking about the same mysterious, unnameable thing; that everyone is referring to the “what, who, when, where and why” of mystery, as defined by their particular faith tradition.
There can be great comfort in sharing a common language of faith. And yet, that language can also be a barrier when seeking to connect with people of other faith traditions, or those who reject religious teachings. It can even be a barrier for those who do affiliate with a particular tradition.
As a Unitarian Universalist, I’ve relished the freedom to engage with that which is beyond human understanding (and beyond our attempts to name it) not only through study of history, science and religious tradition, but also through personal experience, observation and reflection.
The insights I have gleaned through my own direct experience of “transcending mystery and wonder” have always prompted curiosity about the experiences, observations and reflections of others.
That curiosity has broken down many barriers, revealing that people from all faith traditions can have experiences of the unnameable that are divergent from or even contradictory to the “official teachings” of their tradition. I’ve found that even assumptions about the barriers between religious and scientific understandings of life’s mysteries can fall away when engaging in open-hearted conversation about that which can be called many things, including “God”.
Often, what’s left, is: wordless awe and gratitude!