After the viewing of the Apocalypse of St John (on youtube)we had some good conversations. Two things emerged for me out of those conversations. 1) Romantic love and its prominence in our culture and how it affects our understanding of God, faith, and love, and 2) God concepts and how and if we can distinguish God from concepts of God.
The topic of love and romance came up during our discussions of the Apocalypse of St John because the film has a romantic love interest that was gratuitous. As one person pointed out it's not even that a love story was inserted into the plot line, but simply that we have a woman and a man who are clearly the people who will fall in love and have some form of romance but the story of the romance was lacking. There were love interests but no story. We talked about why a "love story" would be found in a film set around the writing of the Revelation of John. The expectation that you just need to have two people in love in a story for it to be a compelling story. This lead to a brief discussion of our obsession with love songs, romance, and needing to be romantically involved. And touched on the possible historical precedents for this: courtly love, and troubadour songs from the middle ages. Also, the Song of Songs was brought up, and it was pointed out that also in the middle ages we find mystics using this romantic language picturing God as the lover. We didn't that night follow all these threads but there is some rich stuff in this line of discussion.
The possibility (or not) of distinguishing God from concepts of God, came up as we discussed journeys toward and from faith: from atheism to (or returning to) Christian faith, and from Christian faith to atheism. What does one do when and what happens when one's concept of God crumbles, when concepts of God you have been handed fail, or simply don't hold up under scrutiny? There were different answers as we talked after the movie. For most present that night it was a matter of moving beyond the concepts and finding a God beyond concepts, but for others this doesn't seem possible, there seems to be no beyond the concepts. When the concept of God disintegrates God just disappears.
In November Reconciler will offer some opportunities to explore further these two topics and how they might connect up with one's own faith journey and spirituality. Look for announcements, here, on Facebook and Google + in the coming days. It's a practice that we are looking to do more often, as we come together to watch a movie, discuss a book we've read or freely discuss a topic at a Theology on tap, if the discussions focus on a particular topic, or if a few of us want to explore more in depth something we began to discuss we'll plan another time and place to continue the conversation.