This is my conclusion every time I read another book or encounter another idea! This week having managed to maintain the new regime, and enjoying it, is no exception. I read stuff on spirituality and it sparks ideas on historiography; I read a book on historical methods and postmodernity and neurons start firing to remind of stuff by Paul Fiddes and Walter Wink. Every answer conceals a dozen questions and the whole of a conceiveable eternity would be too short to work through them all (yes, I know, a conceiveable eternity would not be eternity).
In Spirituality and Theology, I have just read the chapter on Julian of Norwich and realise how partial/distorted a presentation of her I gleaned from my spirituality courses. Women mystics always did my head in with their endless headaches and illogical approach, but here I found a more helpful look at some of Julian's writings. In particular, her reference to God as Mother; part of her expression of trinity as 'Father, Mother, Lord.' It is not that God is 'like a mother', more that our experience of 'mother' is a reflection of that aspect of God's Godness (btw, I invented the word Godness, even if anyone else did before me!). Although our experience of the earthly points us towards God, it is actually the reflection of God that we see. Does this make sense to anyone else? I see echoes of it in one the funeral prayers in the Baptist Brick (Gathering for Worship, great book but too big to fit in your pocket/bag) which says 'We thank you for the ways in which N’s life has shown us your goodness, mercy and love.' I have used this prayer for some time and can now do so with new insight.
My research is trying to look at Baptists thinking about change (even if I feel I am being pushed/pulled/coerced into other directions) and my reading about historiogrpahy/historical method has kind of touched on some of this - though what follows may be incoherent! Historical method/historiography has changed over time, as have the ways in in which people think, but I think my overarching question 'how does studying the past affect present and future' remains valid, i.e. by studying how people in the past approached change, in so far as it is possible to reconstruct this, what lessons can be learned that can affect our present and shape our future? Although history (both as recorded and as understood) is itself a subject of change, it remains an agent of change. Maybe I have too many variables here, but in the search for truth, a provisional, demonstrable and defensible argument may be the best that is achieveable and presents a 'practical realist' (thanks Appleby et al, Telling the Turth about History) response drawing on the strengths of the 'modern'/'scientific' methods of the past and the 'post-modern'/'contextual' insights of the present.
One interesting challenge, I think, is that a lot of church and Christian history is written in an 'Enlightenment' fashion, i.e. the God-factor is omitted in the quest for objectivity. In a so-called Postmodern age, is there now permission to write this back in, albeit in a more tentative, provisional way that might have been done when Queen Elizabeth I allegedly saw the hand of God defeating the Spanish Armada?
Please God, can I have a bigger brain - or at least a processor upgrade on the one I have?
No my child, my strength is made perfect in weakness, the one you have will do fine.
Ah well, plod on!