Archive - Oct 13, 2018

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Home Cooking and Theological Questions

This fall I am taking Theology 1 in seminary and struggling greatly with it. Some of this is because I do not yet have a sufficient theological language to respond to the questions being asked. Because of this I can only respond with statements of belief and analogies to try and help explain my beliefs. Another part is because it feels like many of the underlying theological questions are superfluous.

We are asked to say why we think theological questions are important and what is at stake with them. To me, mostly they seem fairly unimportant with little if anything at stake. It seems like the response acceptable in class is, because God is this or did that, then we should do something in particular. Because God created the world ex nihilo or out of chaos we should care for creation. Because we hold a social trinitarian view of God when should love our neighbor.

These responses seem to me to be at best superfluous. I care for creation and love my neighbor because of my loving experience of God.

As an illustration, I will turn to my mother’s home cooking. We are approaching the sixth anniversary of the death of my mother and I will say something it may seem incredible for a loving son to say, but my mother really wasn’t a great cook. There was often not enough food. Spices were a luxury rarely used. The meals were often utilitarian and boiled to blandness.

Yet it was also, other than my wife’s cooking, the best food I ever ate. The spices or lack thereof did not really matter. What mattered was that the food was prepared and served with love, with a deeper love than I could fully comprehend. My mother wasn’t looking for praise for her cooking. While she might have gotten some pleasure if I said I really appreciated the way the flavors complimented one another, what she was more concerned about was that we were nourished. If anything, the response that meant the most was, “Thank you, mommy. I love you.”

The Psalm 51 says

Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

For me, the key theological question is, “how do I praise God from my place of brokenness”? Starting anywhere other than “Thank you God, I love you” seems superfluous.