An Observer Making Notes About What I See

Chaitanya Jyothi Museum Opening, 2000

In the Name of The Father, and of The Son and of The Holy Spirit, Amen.



I am not a true theologian.  I do not read Hebrew, Greek, Latin, German, Russian, French, Italian or Spanish or know how much less desire to produce expository literature.

I am not a true musician.  I do not sight-read well, have perfect pitch, see music in a manuscript, think melodies, feel rhythms or hear chord progressions.

I am not a true philosopher.  I do not have original ideas, know nuance histories in the thoughts of extraordinary and ordinary philosophers, feel driven by a desire to be respected, accept or excel at the duties of teaching or feel the whip of publish or perish.

I am not a true biblical exegete.  In fact, I am not an exegete of any literature because I tire easily into listlessness when in the role of expounder or translator.

I am not a true historian.  I do not pour over maps, ledgers, letters, battles, contracts, edicts, artifacts, metallurgies, limitations and proficiencies of languages, etc., or seek to live off income from publication.

I value each of those roles and admire those who truly embody them.  But I embody none of them, although I have been seen as and even claimed at one time or another to embody one or more of them.

I have said I am a cripple whom God has touched.  That remains my core reality in this breathing world.  However, role-wise — about the part I play in this play — there is this: I am an observer making notes about what I see.  My adult years have been used, regardless of circumstances, writing about what interests me, which is to say, writing about what I see.

The geographies of theology, music, philosophy, biblical exegesis and history fascinate and terrify me and across the decades attracted the great majority of my time for observation and writing, which should be taken as mere note-taking.

When my writing sounds imperative, that is because I am seeing imperative in what I observe.  I am not making it up or speaking for someone else or rule-making.  If I write imperative that is because I see imperative, there, before me.

When my writing sounds plaintive, I am seeing plaintive and merely note what I see.

When my writing sounds angry, I am seeing anger and noting it.

When my writing sounds abstract and summary, I am reporting a confluence of observations that have resolved into a picture larger than their sum.

And so forth.  Whatever the tone of what I write/note, that is the tone of what I see at that time.  One can go back to my earliest preserved writings and say about them that they are merely notes regarding my observations at the time I made them.

You want to say what I am?  Well, say I am a scientist, a natural scientist even, making notes of what I see.  I have ever been in this role as best I can recall.

Now there is, or can be, about the natural scientist the hint of the traffic cop, saying who can stop and who can go.  After all, if the observations are accurate and the notes describe them faithfully, then a standard is ushered into the world and the world must abide it or suffer harm.

If, for example, you discover atomic fission and then disregard protocols for its domesticity, you are going to be unhappy, at least for an instant.

Any accurate observation and report about the same sets a marker in the world, a survey point, disregarding which leads to disconsolation of one sort or another.

So in this sense, a natural scientist is a species of traffic cop.  And a natural scientist whose observations and notations accurately pierce the realms of theology, music, philosophy, scriptural exegesis and history is a species of complete traffic system for all human endeavor, more or less.

In the 13th Century, the High Middle Ages, theology was considered The Queen Of The Sciences.  We all, and my self no less, pine for the equipoise of autonomy and heteronomyTillich calls it theonomy — achieved by and granted to Christian humanity during those years.  Theology is indeed a natural science, the most complete and compelling natural science, and that most productive of survey markers guiding the conduct of affairs towards happy results.

This post, too, is merely notes regarding an observation made during shower yesterday, New Year’s Day.


Jill St. John
Jill St. John

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