Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spirituality

A comment here complains of the use of spirituality as being vague. Well - can there be any sense made of this word spirituality?

I will put it my answer in very few words: spirituality is substantial and sensible when Spirit is incarnate. That is when Spirit, the Spirit of God, is present in the day to day bodily and fleshly actions of a human being. That human is face to face - in the face of - in the presence of God. The face or presence (same word in the Hebrew) of God is greatly to be desired - but go softly. Who gets to live on the hill? (Psalms 15, 24) For the righteous one it is very desirable - but who can live in that presence? (Psalms 6, 38) For the wicked, the effect is shame. And shame is something we all avoid more than the plague. If we have a conscience, shame is the most painful of emotions.

But the poet wishes shame on enemies - prays shame for enemies. (Myriad references in the psalms) Is this praying for enemies? Yes - for shame leads to repentance and fixing the problem so that the presence of God the Spirit can again be enjoyed and desirable.

In my reading of the Psalter, it seems to me that the election of Israel is all about such incarnation of Spirit. God is pleased to make his dwelling there and has given the psalms for the formation of such a people of mercy and justice.

I think it would be worth teasing out this thesis with greater precision. It may be though that I have not the skill or training. So who else might take up such a discussion?