Since early adolescence (maybe earlier), while asking all sorts of critical questions about what I have been told to believe, or not to believe, I have never been able seriously to deny the ultimate goodness and presence of the ultimate power that gives me to myself and draws me to give myself to others. This seemingly ever-present power finds me in my lowest moments just as much as in my highest. My reliance on this seemingly ever-present power is what I mean by faith in God.

Maybe I wouldn’t call this seemingly ever-present power “God” if my life had not already been shaped by the writings of the Bible read through the story of Jesus’ divinely human and humanly divine life, death, and risen life. But my life has already been shaped by these writings, and most decisively by this initially ludicrous story. And it’s clear that these ancient writers are likewise speaking of this seemingly ever-present power, the ultimate power that gives them to themselves and draws them to give themselves to others.

Maybe I would not take this seemingly ever-present power seriously if my experience were not shared by countless others who seem reliable on other matters. But there are countless others who seem to share this experience and who seem reliable on other matters. Many are Christian; many are other sorts of “God-intoxicated” folk; some avoid any kind of God-talk and yet still seem to share this experience.

Maybe I would not take this seemingly ever-present power seriously if there were not ways to conceptualize how this power could be ever-present in a world aptly described through the anonymous, abstract formulas and concepts of the natural sciences. But there are ways to conceptualize this, especially those informed by process philosophy and theology. Note, however: my reliance on this seemingly ever-present power began and persisted long before I had ever heard of these movements. Also, one of my fairly controversial positions on the natural sciences (though shared by others) is that, by their very nature, they confine themselves to anonymous, abstract formulas and concepts. What these formulas and concepts describe are real enough as far as they go. But our experience constantly transcends these anonymous, abstract formulas and concepts and is in fact thoroughly “nonymous” (i.e., named) and concrete, and likewise real.

Maybe I would not take this seemingly ever-present power seriously, or affirm its ultimate goodness, if I could not reconcile its seeming ubiquity with the undeniable ubiquity of chaos and suffering besetting us all. But again with the help of process philosophy and theology, and by sacramentally participating in the story of Jesus’ divinely human and humanly divine life, death, and risen life, I can reconcile the ubiquity of both.

So my reliance on this seemingly ever-present power, the ultimate power that gives me to myself and draws me to give myself to others, remains a constant in my life, finding me in my lowest moments just as much as in my highest. And I have every reason to continue speaking of this power in terms of the initially ludicrous story of Jesus’ divinely human and humanly divine life, death, and risen life.

Fr. Charles