Ignatius of Loyola so wisely reminds us in the opening of the Spiritual Exercises that we should try to put the best possible construction on what a person is saying.
I confess that today, I failed miserably in that endeavour. All I could hear was the shaming language being used. I couldn’t get past that to the intent. And then my friend Michelle, who shares my passions for chemistry, Ignatian spirituality and blogging unintentionally came to my rescue (You can read her blog post http://quantumtheology.blogspot.co.za/2016/06/full-conscious-and-active-participation.html)
Some weeks ago I attended an event where one of the participants responded at some point in the proceedings by saying ‘I no longer use that language but…’. In this particular case the respondent had gone out of her way to attempt to engage with the image of God presented and had in fact had a good experience (inasmuch as I could gleen).
Too often though we resort to language as a kind of theological shibboleth. If you use the ‘right’ language which is somehow deemed to be more ‘evolved’ it makes you more worthy. This cannot be the truth.
Whilst I know that my image of God has evolved and the language that I use is also not what it would have been twenty years ago. There are those who still gain tremendous comfort from those images. The thing we all need to remember, is that whatever image we hold now is also limited and temporary. And that God shakes us all up sooner or later.
It is my deepest desire that I will never knowingly shame someone else for the image of God that they carry. To that end, if I ever inadvertently do so, I trust that those close to me will call me out when I fall into that particular error.