Monday, April 16, 2007

Jesus, Jack & Karl

Today is 24day.

Also known as the “Jack Bauer Power Hour”, or Monday, 24day is a national holiday and generally the best day in any self-respecting person’s week. For both of you reading this from some backwoods fundamentalist church who have not watched 24, there is still time for you to repent. The first 5 seasons are on DVD and you have time to catch up by the season’s end. But, be warned, you will be up all night like a crack addict wanting another fix and the odds are good that your entire April/May will be spent in your jammies staring at your television to finish up in time for the dramatic conclusion of season six.

All this adrenaline and excitement from 24 got me thinking about Karl Barth. Weird, I know. Just hear me out. Barth makes it explicit from the beginning that God is the unknowable and indescribable God. The hidden God remains hidden. Even when we say we know him our knowledge is of an imcomprehensible Reality. Consider, for instance, the personality of God. Barth writes: "God is personal, but personal in an incomprehensible way, in so far as the conception of his personality surpasses all our views of personality."
----24 is a television show, but a show in an incomprehensible way, in so far as the conception of its script surpasses all our views on television itself.

Barth also contends that even when God reveals himself to the man of faith, or, more accurately, to the man to whom he gives faith, still that man with faith "will confess God as the God of majesty and therefore as the God unknown to us. Man as man can never know God: His wishing, seeking, and striving are all in vain.
----24 is a show of majesty, known, yet utterly unknown. Man as man can never know 24: His wishing, seeking, and striving are all in vain. (WARNING: Patient endurance is necessary in watching 24 for any extended period of time)

On Romans 1:19, 20, Barth says: “We know that God is He whom we do not know, and that our ignorance is precisely the problem and the source of our knowledge. The Epistle to the Romans is a revelation of the unknown God; God chooses to come to man, not man to God. Even after the revelation man cannot know God, for he is ever the unknown God. In manifesting himself to man he is farther away than before.”
----Yes. You heard it right. 24 came to you. You did not choose to come to 24. Even after the first five seasons have been released on DVD and sixteen hours have passed by in season six, man cannot know 24. 24 is ever the unknowable show. In manifesting itself to man, it is farther away than before.

“The more we know of God the more he is yet to be known.”
----The more we know of 24, the more there is yet to be known.

“When attempts were later made to speak systematically about God and to describe His nature, men became more talkative. They spoke of God's aseity, His being grounded in Himself; they spoke of God's infinity in space and time, and therefore of God's eternity. And men spoke on the other hand of God's holiness and righteousness, mercifulness and patience. We must be clear that whatever we say of God in such human concepts can never be more than an indication of Him; no such concept can really conceive the nature of God. God is inconceivable.”
----No mortal can really conceive the nature of 24.

Below are some of my favorite Karl Barth quotes for your reading pleasure:

“The finite has no capacity for the Infinite.”

“There is no way from us to God. The god who stood at the end of some human way--even of this way--would not be God."

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