Last football season, my middle son gave me a NY Jets cap that turned out to have magical properties. When I wore it, the Jets won. When I forgot to wear it, they lost.
You can imagine my concern when I went to this son’s wedding in California and lost my “magical Jets cap” in transit. I tried another cap, but its loyalty was to the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, not the men in green. The Jets lost three games in a row.
To the rescue came my son. He sent me a replacement cap – black with a green logo – and the Jets promptly won two consecutive games. All is well.
Do I literally believe in the magic of a cap? Maybe. I believe in the magic of love – as expressed here in a shared delight, an inside joke we can message at game time, the way I miss him in New York. I believe in the magic of fun – following a team just for the fun of it. I believe in the magic of the friends who have shown kindly, humorous concern for my cap situation.
That’s pretty good magic for a simple cap.
FAITH Q & A
Q: You made this statement at the end of a recent Q & A: “Later, when we meet God face to face, we will grasp what we failed to see along the road.” Do you really believe this as a literal truth, or is it just “religious” talk?
A: We are in a realm once described as “limit language.” That means the place at which language reaches its limits and yet we want to say more. “My love is like a rose,” “I am frightened to death,” “You’re as cute as a button.” You get the idea. Our language can only go so far, so we turn to metaphor, simile, myth, story, parable and image to say the more that we need to say.
Religion uses limit language. We describe God as a rock, as ground of our being, as judge, as parent. We describe Jesus as light, bread, shepherd.
The point of such use of limit language isn’t to state a literal truth, but to state what we believe to be true but cannot say within the limits of our language and knowledge. Seeing God face to face doesn’t imply that God literally has a face that we would recognize as a face, but that the intimacy between God and humanity is like seeing someone face to face. Fundamentalists do a great disservice when they insist on the literal truth of such language. They miss its point.