One river, many streams; I love theology (and so can you!)

https://nathanaelvitkus.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/a7cf0-braided_drainage.jpgTheology is defined as, according to dictionary dot com, “the field of study and analysis that treats of God and of God’s attributes and relations to the universe; study of divine things or religious truth; divinity.” I agree with this definition, and more to the point, I love theology.
The thing is, theology isn’t limited to terms solely in the here and now, but across the entire expanse of human history! With that being said I enjoy learning about theologians had to say across that expanse of time. From the early years of the church; the desert fathers and mothers in their self-imposed cloistering away from community brought so much to their community (not how I would handle things, but it worked for them) to more modern contemporaries such as Rob Bell, N.T. Wright, Brian Mclaren, Frank Schaeffer, Rachel Held Evans.

Yet I also look for truth of who God is from individuals outside of my faith tradition because I truly believe that all truth is God’s truth, and that grace and beauty reflect creation as well as Creator so the universe of theology is that much more bigger as a result. I also look for God’s truth in varied mediums apart from what people have said and what people have written, but also what people have created, what people have drawn. It is humbling for me to be in the presence of others and where they have found God and decided to share it with others, it also leaves me enamored and grateful for God making God’s self known in so much of creation. And with that in mind all someone has to do is be receptive to seeing / experiencing God to find God, although there are times where I “see” or “experience” God in a limited way, as Nadia Bolz-Weber put it- “I once was blind, and now can see’: it’s more like, ‘I once was blind and now I have really bad vision’.

You might be wondering, how can I love theology? Well, I would say since the streams are many, find one of interest to you! There’s queer theology, feminist theology, process theology, liberation theology, et al. Maybe you connect with one because where you’re at now, and if you happen to jump into another stream as it were, there is space and grace to do that…progressing and evolving is all part of the process, and I’m led to believe that God doesn’t want us to be a stagnant stream, to state out loud or not that “this is what I believe in, this is what I have faith in, this is what I doubt about…” Sure there might be some things we carry over to the new steam we’re in, but I encourage eating the meat, chewing the fat, but spitting out the bones.

~Nathanael~

P.S. Here are some resources:
Queer Theology
Feminist Theology
Process Theology
Liberation Theology

[in hindsight] what my depression looks like

Well, I’m out of the thick of it, the latest round of my depression that is.

It’s not something that happens all that often to me, but I do realize that it is there. Depression with a capital D, which for me usually looks like this.

Some catalyst occurs in my life (in this case, being unemployed) and I start worrying and thinking negative thoughts about myself, my identity, what I’m capable of, what I’m good at, my value to the world and so on…I also over-analyze even more so; as if I have a scarlet “D” pinned to my chest for all the world to see, as if my emotions and thoughts that course through my mind are translucent and knowable to anyone who catches my gaze even for a fleeting moment.

I stay up later, I wake up later, and I become antisocial and limit my contact with friends and family. I do realize that I do want to hang out with them, but there’s a part of me that thinks “God and I have this, why do I need community?” Yet my bro Mark who has seen me in this state of mind (and body and spirit) shakes me to my senses about the value of community. In these coming-to moments I “get it” even if I don’t practice it out.

I eat…when I remember to eat. I have lost some weight now that I’ve gotten back into a routine of working out, but more weight has been lost in my time of depression than in my time of getting into shape. It’s kind of odd, but I will remember the last time I ate, but not really weigh out the ramifications of having eaten, oh, 2 days ago?

I keep to my pattern of living, but in an empty shell half-assed kind of way. I realize I take in what people have to say, but I listen half-assed, I engage in community, but what I have to bring is half-assed, which only fuels my depression a bit more since I feel as people are fully aware of my half-assedness and are judging me and whispering behind my back when it’s turned.

And stranger still in the midst of my depression, in the midst of my despair- I find God to be present and very comforting at that. I don’t read the bible all that much (though I do plan to do that very soon) any more, but I find myself at a place (despite my circumstances) where I feel wave after wave of “a peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) a pulsar-like notion that “I [God] am here…I am here…I am here”.
This doesn’t stir me from my depression, but it does help ease my pain.

***

I realize this is a part of me and that there’s no escaping it. It ultimately helps me when I’m in the throes of depression that God is there and community is there as well; I might pull back and isolate myself, but it’s there any time I need it. Even when I choose not to accept it, just knowing that it is there is reassuring.

Still I realize that I’m not alone in my depression, that there are other people who have this as well. We (who have depression) aren’t alone in our struggles, which is why I don’t feel like a hypocrite for posting this:
https://i0.wp.com/photos-d.ak.instagram.com/hphotos-ak-xaf1/10610997_750469378348947_1854187492_n.jpg
I know how to work through my depression, but please take heed to the phone numbers above and use them if you need to. Not every bout of depression produces suicidal ideations, but still you can call and share (if you want to) what you’re feeling and what you’re going through. They’re good people on the other end of the line, trust me, I worked with some of the individuals.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael