God and the Luminous Web


The luminous web.  What quantum physics suggests is that everything in life–molecules, particles, and sub-atomic particles–is inter-connected.  We are all caught up in an infinite web of relationships.  Indeed, as human beings–as inherently social people–each of us is the summation of our relationships.  These relationships literally constitute who we are as human persons.

About this, in her book, The Luminous Web, Barbara Brown Taylor says: “When I am dreaming quantum dreams, what I see is an infinite web of relationship, flung across the vastness of space like a luminous net.”  (page 54 of The Luminous Web)

Who is God?  All the time in the Church, and in our conversations on progressiveChristianity.org, we seek to elevate God in our language about God.  Our words are always lofty and riveted in tradition.  However, we seldom have serious conversation about who God is in our modern experience.  If we’re not careful, easily, we fall into to thinking about God too casually, as if God were like a good buddy who lived down the street.

When we talk about God, always, there is a mysterious element to God as MORE.  In this regard, I like to say God is the great MORE of the universe–more than anything we can say, think, measure, describe, conceive, or imagine about God.  It is this more quality about God that feeds into the mystery.

In talk about God, I mostly think of God as Spirit (thus the capitalizing of Spirit).  I also think of God as infinite energy and love, as abiding presence, and as endless mystery.  As Spirit, God does not have an exact location.  Consistent with quantum theory, God is anywhere and everywhere at the same time.

What is God’s name?  In thinking about the divine reality we call God, names are elusive.  Who is God?  Does God have a name?  Over a lifetime as a theologian and thinker, Paul Tillich put forth the idea that God was “the ground of being.”  While there are many names for God in the Bible, the name I would put forth is the name God revealed to Moses:

If I come to the Israelites and say to them ‘The God of your ancestors has
sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’  what shall I say to
them?”  God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  He said further, “Thus you
shall say to the Israelites, “I AM has sent me to you.'”  (Exodus 3:13-14)

WhileI AM WHO I AM does not quiet our curiosity about who God is, it does identify God as being–not as “a being” like the theistic God in the sky of traditional Christianity.  Simply put, I AM translates to God is, but God’s “is-ness” is beyond our capacity to understand.  This is part of the ineffable character and nature of God.  I AM WHO I AM.  Okay!  I’m drawn to that name.  It grabs our attention as it arouses our curiosity.  But we can’t be blamed for wanting more handles to grasp it.  At the least, could this not be, as Barbara Brown Taylor suggests, “the utterance of the only One who ever was, is, or shall be, in whom everything else abides?”  (page 55 of The Luminous Web)

In a sense, the problem is that our language is inadequate to the challenge of “naming” God.  Again, God is more than/ greater than our ability to define or describe God.  Still, as hinted at above, I AM WHO I AM invites us into the endless mystery that is God.
ong>God is revealed in the luminous web.  So, how do we learn about God?  How is God revealed to us?  The luminous web stretches endlessly across the universe.  A plucking of the web in a singular place reverberates throughout the entire web.  Indeed, all of creation is part of the web.  Metaphorically, this web vibrates with a radiant brightness–a brightness that emanates from the fact of its inter-connectedness.

Imagine that all of life, all of matter, and all of the particles and sub-atomic particles that comprise matter–they’re all inter-connected.  This image certainly suggests the religious theme “we are all in this life together.”  Some have hypothesized that God is the web.  More than that, I would offer that “God is revealed in the web.”  Whatever, whoever, wherever God is, God is revealed in this inter-connecting web that links us all together.

In this vision of reality, we are all a unity connected by the luminous web.  And just as God is revealed in the web, God is also revealed in the unity.  Indeed, God is in the energy of unification that entangles us.  God is the Spirit of love that pours over us, lifting us to the spiritual high ground of human yearning.  On this spiritual high ground, we honor the luminosity and splendor of the web and of the God who is revealed both in it and through it.

Our faith teaches that we are all our brother’s and sister’s keeper.  In the Apostle Paul’s powerful image of the body of Christ, all the bodily parts are linked together, each with its own function and purpose–each contributing to the beauty and solidarity of the body.  These teachings remind us, building on the revelations of quantum physics, that we are all in this life together.

The Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Frantz is a retired United Church of Christ minister.  He had long-term pastorates in San Diego County and in Miami Lakes, Florida.  His service as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Panama in the late sixties spurred his commitment to social justice ministries and to a spirit of ecumenism as a local church pastor.  He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Pacific School of Religion. He is the author of The Bible You Didn’t Know You Could Believe In, The God You Didn’t Know You Could Believe In, and his just-published book: The Jesus You Didn’t Know You Could Believe In. Dr. Frantz and his wife, Yvette, are now retired and living in Florida.

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