Philosophy and Theology


In a post entitled “Guitars and Worship” Derek Olsen says in passing:

“Some have argued that people can generally be grouped as Platonists or Aristotelians. That is, they either have a sense of reality as something ‘out there’ or of reality as something ‘really here’ intimately bound up with daily mundanities. I intuit that the same is true of spirituality. Some find their connection with God as the God who is immanent and bound up in the holiness of quotidian mundane life. Others find that connection in the God of the transcendent who is ‘out there’ and Other and speaks a word of challenge against what we think is our mundane life.

Both sorts can learn from each other; both sorts need to learn from each other. But a basic orientation one way or the other will still endure.

I’m the second kind. I’m a Platonist by natural inclination. I find God ‘out there’ and in the transcendent and in the different and in the things that shocking me out of my business-as-usual way of living and, through those experiences, can find God and the Hoy in the mundane and the everyday in the ways that I can identify God shocking and surprising me towards transcendence.

As a result, I want my worship to be transcendentally oriented. I want it to help me get in connection with the God ‘out there’ so that I can learn the feel, the touch, the taste of the Other and transcendent God in order that I might recognize that same God in my daily eating, breathing, and moving. Chant is to the ear what incense is to the nose what stained glass and icons are to the eye: culturally conditioned signs of the transcendent but—cutting through the culturally-based significance—vehicles that truly assist me to touch the face of God.”

Read the full article here.

For what it’s worth, I’m platonist as well. I knew that about the way I viewed the underlying functions of reality. But because of Derek’s offhanded remarks in a totally different context, now I have a better sense of why I prefer the worship style I prefer. (And why some find that it doesn’t speak to them at all…)

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...