Monday, 30 May 2011

Where does your theology come from?

Daniel over at Benge has an excellent blogpost about creating heaven on earth - a great idea, relating to some of the sayings of Jesus:
"Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew, 6: 10)

When he was asked by the Pharisees when the Kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The Kingdom of God does not come with observation, nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed the Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke, 17:20)

His disciples said to him, "When will the Kingdom come?", Jesus answered and said, "It will not come by watching for it. It will not be said, 'Look here!' or 'Look there!'. Rather, the Father's kingdom is spread out upon the Earth, and people don't see it!" (Thomas, 113)
Daniel also says that he was partly inspired by the lyrics of a Belinda Carlisle song.
They say in heaven that love comes first
Let’s make heaven here on earth.
This led me to think about where I get my theological ideas and inspirations from. A lot of my theological ideas come from science fiction.

I am very inspired by the eco-spirituality of Ursula Le Guin, who is a fan of Taoism. I especially enjoyed her book Always Coming Home, which elucidates a spirituality based on the ecology of the Napa Valley in California, as well as being an exciting tale of a conflict of worldviews. As a child, I found the idea of the Equilibrium outlined in her Earthsea trilogy very inspiring, too. And the ethics implied by her wonderful short story, The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas (I would walk away).

I was also very struck by the ideas of Julian May, who is a fan of Teilhard de Chardin. May talks about the idea of Unity, which is similar to Teilhard de Chardin's Omega Point. Unity is the point at which the whole galaxy becomes unified in a metapsychic way.

I also have to mention Michael J Stracinsky, creator of Babylon 5, and a fan of interfaith dialogue. There are some wonderful ideas about religion and diversity in this series, particularly the episode where the commander of Babylon 5 is asked to showcase the religion of planet Earth, and decides to have a long line of people from different religions, to illustrate the religious diversity of humanity.

There's an entire tradition of theology devoted to listening to the ideas of the people, not just the "expert" theologians - so I don't think there's anything wrong in Daniel getting his theology from 1980s pop songs and me getting mine from science fiction. Indeed, as is well known, new religions have been founded on the basis of science fiction (well, space opera, anyway).

Where do you get your theological ideas?


Roberta Wedge said...

Ha! It figures you liked Always Coming Home. It is still on my bookshelf. I sent in a quote to Radio 4's Thinking Allowed not long ago, vis a vis the previous week's discussion. So it has been read out, and maybe more people will find LeGuin's wonderful, fully imagined world.

Yewtree said...

It figures that you'd like it too :) I love the bit about the Blue Clay and Red Clay, and the different layers of reality, and the heyiya-if.

Daniel said...

Your theology can and, I believe, should come from as wide a range of sources as possible. From 1980s pop, to science fiction, to the Book of Revelation. The problems come only when you allow yourself to be straight-jacketed into one area alone. Roll out the rich tapestry of diverse and divine inspiration!

Sue said...

What Daniel said. I have also got much of my theology from fantasy, notably Tolkien and Philip Pullman

Sue said...

What Daniel said. I have also got significant parts of my theology from rock music lyrics and fantasy - notably Tolkien and Pullman

Yewtree said...

Tolkien & Pullman are a good mix because they balance each other.

RevDan said...

Of course these are only ideas and attempts to make sense of what is happening around us and beyond our senses...the seat of authortiy for me is always personal experience...i have come to understand theology as an attempt to make some sense of these expereinces and articulate them for others to possiblyunderstand too...that said I'm not convinced I am capapble of making sense ofit all...doesn't stop me enjoying the wide

Anonymous said...

My theology is from all over the place. Tolkien. Pullman. Auel. CS Lewis. Brian Swimme. The Tao Te Ching. Perennial philosophy. Process philosophy. Vedanta philosophy. Carl Sagan.

I haven't read LeGuinn. Must rectify that.