An Unfinished Act of God’s Love

Photo Thanks to Greg Rakozy

Photo Thanks to Greg Rakozy

I finished James Loder’s The Logic of the Spirit: Human Development in Theological Perspective, a book I’ve owned since seminary, a book I’ve returned to a few times, a book I couldn’t read through until the last couple months, 10-11 years after buying it.

I’m not even ready to attempt a review. That’ll take me a few years, but he weaves and integrates physics, science, philosophy, cognitive¬†and psychoanalytic theory, and theology into what is a strong presentation of how we are created as a product of the Creator Spirit, for creative purposes, which despite the losses, changes, and injuries in life, find ultimate repair in the face of God, the person of Jesus. Trust me: there is so much to the book. I’d loan it out but I don’t trust you’d return it to me, evidence, for sure,¬†of my continued need to rebuild torn portions of my self in the face of God.

Nonetheless, I think this quote, his last words in the book, capture the broad, grand work Professor Loder accomplished in this fascinating work. It may not take you ten years to return and read through this material, but if you’re at all inclined for the disciplined reflection hinted at in the words below, be courageous:

In actuality, human development is never experienced as a cycle or a sequence; it often feels more like a few decades of searching, finding, and losing an uncertain fulfillment. But in each person the search is a longing for the eternal intimacy of a love that may be grasped only unclearly and proleptically, but nevertheless profoundly, in the face of a beloved caretaker. At three months of age, before the sense of abandonment begins to dawn upon consciousness, the prototype of the face, the configuration of a gracious presence, is set down. Even in the absence of the face, the longing appears and persists. This anticipation cannot be fulfilled in human terms; indeed, every human effort to solve the dilemma posed by the abyss underlying development only intensifies the difficulty. When the longing for that intimacy is satisfied by the Spiritual Presence of Christ, the Face of God, then the answers to our basic questions may dawn on us. A lifetime is an unfinished act of God’s love; it is intended that we complete that act by returning ourselves to God, directly and through others, in love. In this recognition, we discover that the fundamental data about us are not merely that we are alive and developing, incredible products of a vast expanding universe. Rather, as each life unfolds, gets torn open, stripped of its survival techniques and its passing pleasures, and discovers itself as spirit, then it appears from under the surface that we have been created for nothing less than the pure love of God, whose universe is our home.

Photo Thanks to Michal Kulesza

Photo Thanks to Michal Kulesza

Roots of Nonconformity

Photo Thanks to Julia Caesar

Photo Thanks to Julia Caesar

James Loder wrote that “we all have a root of nonconformity, an urge to break away from the common practice of our everyday world.” James Loder was brilliant in his summary of the developmental stage he was writing about.

We all want to break away from the common. We don’t necessarily want to reject the known. We aren’t necessarily exhausted by the everyday world. But we have a root in us to extend beyond it.

I think that’s true for a lot of life. We’re made for the paradox. We’re here for the commitment, the comfortable, and the common. And we’re here for the edge.

I hope that you have the room to appreciate the common and to push against it. I’m not the best at giving you that room, but I know you need it. I know you need that constructive, creative space to water those roots of nonconformity.

It’s hard to raise you in a world that wants to wipe those roots out. It’s hard to know you need to conform enough to be safe; to conform enough to have options for freedom. It’s hard to know that balance. Of course, it’s a part of my walk of faith. I’m called to believe in the balance or in the paradox and the beauty beneath all those roots.