Monday, June 29, 2015

Healing Interruptions

Sermon preached at St. James Episcopal Church, San Francisco
June 28, 2015  +  2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
The Rev. John Kirkley

I want to begin by noting a feature of today’s Gospel story that may appear to be trivial, but, in fact, is the key to its interpretation.   The story is actually two stories, an interpolation of one story sandwiched in between another story.  Such interpolations are a common feature of Mark’s Gospel.  Look out for them, because they signal that we need to read each story in light of the other. 

In this case the interpolation is an interruption.  Jesus is on his way to heal the daughter of Jairus, when along comes this unnamed woman, who interrupts the action to call attention to her own need.  She engages Jesus in a stealth healing.  She doesn’t ask for what she needs, she just slips in and gets it, trusting that Jesus can provide what she needs – and he does!  For her, this is a healing interruption.  Meanwhile, Jairus’ daughter appears to have died.  It probably doesn’t feel like a healing interruption to Jairus.  Turns out she isn’t dead at all: just sleeping.  Waiting to be awakened.   Jesus, seemingly unperturbed, moves on from the interruption to the awakening.  

Some need to be healed.  Some need to wake up.  What is the meaning of the interruption for us? 

I have to admit, I really hate interruptions.  When I begin to write a sermon, I generally close my office door, turn down the window shade, put my office and cell phones on “do not disturb” and pray that nobody bothers me while I’m trying to write.  It is one prayer that almost never gets answered!

It is not uncommon for the interruption to be someone in need coming to the church looking for financial assistance.  Such people don’t have phones.  They can’t call ahead to make an appointment.  They slip in to the church to get a Safeway gift card or help with rent for their room.  I wish I could say they always get what they need.  I wish I could say that I’m always as unperturbed by their interruption as Jesus.  But I can’t. 

Sometimes, it is easier to handle an interruption when it involves people we know and care about.  After being at the Bishop’s Ranch with 9 teenagers for our annual youth grou mission trip, and hearing my name countless times each day, “John,” “John,” “John,” I realized that power had gone out of me.  I was exhausted!  But the interruptions didn’t bother me all that much.  I was being of service to people I love and was honored that they trusted me – even it was mostly just for little things. 

We have a number of new parents in our congregation.  What an interruption they are experiencing!  For the next 20 years – and more!  But it is a healing interruption.  They are bringing new life into the world.  And their own hearts are expanding as they recapitulate their own life stories reflected in the development of their children and begin to have a deeper sense of compassion for their own parents and, hopefully, themselves. 

Some interruptions are so healing that they don’t even feel like interruptions.  Even the death of a loved one, perhaps the ultimate interruption, can be healing when our beloved has been suffering, or when we realize that our heart has gotten a couple of sizes larger through our care for them.  What a wonderful final gift for them to give to us!  We thought we were attending to their need, and they were healing us!

Healing interruptions can be a personal or interpersonal experience, but there is also a social and even cosmic dimension to these interruptions, and this too is a part of today’s Gospel story.  It is not insignificant that Jairus’ daughter is twelve years old, and that the anonymous woman with the flow of blood has been ill for twelve years.  The number twelve signals the twelve tribes of Israel.  The healing and awakening that these two women experience represents Israel’s healing and awakening.  What is at stake here is the need for the whole people of God to experience a healing interruption.

Notice that Jairus is a leader of the synagogue, a person of social standing and influence. He is operating from a position of privilege, able to access the resources he needs for the sake of his daughter.  He has power and is able to speak directly to Jesus and bring him to his home. 

The unnamed, hemorrhaging woman in the crowd has no social standing or influence.  She is an outcast, rendered unclean by this continual flow of blood. She is operating out of desperation – and unshakable faith.  In her poverty, she has no home and so she takes to the streets to find Jesus.

Her interruption of Jesus and Jairus is a parable about the need for social interruptions – challenges to the way things are – so that the whole people of God can experience healing and reconciliation.  The unnamed woman is forced to take to the street to access power, and Jesus shares his power with her freely.  He declares her interruption justified and commends her initiative as the source of her healing.  She isn’t taking anything that isn’t already hers.  By simply acting on the reality of her human dignity, she is able to claim a healing that would never have been necessary if the people of God had not treated her with such contempt and indifference in the first place.

For people like Jairus, such interruptions are a scandal and a threat to their privilege.  What Jesus tries to convey is that such interruptions are necessary for healing those who are most in need.  Otherwise, they will just continue to be exploited and ignored.   Jairus thinks this interruption can only mean loss for him – the loss of his daughter.   But she is not dead, merely sleeping.  This healing interruption is an opportunity for her – and all who fear the loss of privilege – to wake-up and acknowledge the genuine need of the poor. 

This interpolation is a parable about how interruptions of the social status quo are necessary for the healing and awakening that reconciles and makes whole the entire people of God.  It profoundly challenges us to wake-up and acknowledge that our wholeness is inextricably bound up with the health and well-being of others. Until power is shared, the people of God cannot be whole.

When people take to the streets to assert their dignity and claim their power, such actions can feel like threatening interruptions, but they offer the gift of awakening to those who are willing to receive it.  The civil rights movement was and is a healing interruption.  The pride parades and stealth blessings of same-sex couples’ marriages in churches and synagogues across this land were healing interruptions.  As a result, the whole people of God are beginning to wake-up and are being made new. 

It is in light of this tradition of prophetic, healing interruptions that we should read Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter, LAUDATO SI’: On The Care Of Our Common Home.  His great contribution is underscoring “just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.”[1]  Pope Francis brings the perspective of a citizen of the Third World, relentlessly arguing that the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor are one cry, and that the world’s poor already are the first and most desperate human victims of environmental degradation and climate change.[2] 

Pope Francis acknowledges the reality of climate change, and explores its roots in structures of economic inequality and a culture of selfish greed.  He insists that healthy climate, water, and seeds are part of the commons that should be freely available to all people as a matter of right necessary to sustain life, that most basic human right.  He urgently calls for the subjection of the economic to the political for the sake of the earth, the poor, and the protection of the commons.  He calls for an “ecological conversion,” what I would call a “healing interruption.”

Pope Francis’ letter is a wake-up call.  It will require us to reorient our culture and economy toward the common good in ways that will surely challenge us.  He is like St. Paul, urging the Corinthian Church to give generously to meet the needs of the suffering Jerusalem Church, to strike a fair balance between the Corinthians’ present abundance and the need of the Judean Christians.  St. Paul reminded them that God provided manna in the wilderness equal to each person’s need, modeling for us how to respond to one another’s need. 

Pope Francis writes, “Nature is usually seen as a system which can be studied, understood and controlled, whereas creation can only be understood as a gift from the outstretched hand of the Father of all, and as a reality illumined by the love which calls us together into universal communion.”[3]  “Moreover, when our hearts are authentically open to universal communion, this sense of fraternity excludes nothing and no one.  It follows that our indifference or cruelty towards fellow creatures of this world sooner or later affects the treatment we meet out to other human beings . . . Everything is related, and we human beings are united as brothers and sisters on a wonderful pilgrimage, woven together by the love God has for each of his creatures and which also unites us in fond affection with brother sun, sister moon, brother river and mother earth.”[4]

Climate change is the greatest interruption humanity has ever faced.  Some need to be healed.  Some need to wake-up.  How will we respond to this interruption? 

Today, I choose to respond with hope because, as of this week, my marriage is recognized in every state in the Union: something which I never thought would be possible in my lifetime.  By the power that Jesus freely shares with us, we can make even the greatest interruption an occasion for healing and awakening.  May we claim that power, which is already ours.  Amen.

[1] His Holiness Francis,  Laudato Si’ (24 May 2015),  10.  
[2] Ibid, 48-49.
[3] Ibid, 76. 
[4] Ibid, 92.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

America's Original Sin

Mother Emanuel AME Church, Charleston, SC
Sermon Preached at St. James Episcopal Church • San Francisco, CA
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Texts: Job 38:1-11 & Mark 4:35-41
The Rev. Ron Willis

May the words of my mouth, and the meditation of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and our Redeemer.

Satwant Singh Kaleka
Paramjit Kaur
Suveg Singh Khattra
Prakash Singh
Ranjit Singh
Sita Singh:
These congregants of a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, had gathered to prepare a free communal meal that would have been served in the Temple later that day, three years ago this August. All were slain by an American white supremacist in a terrorist attack.

William Lewis Corporon
Reat Griffin Underwood
Terry LaManno:
A neo-Nazi and former member of the KKK shot and killed these three last year simply because they were in the parking lot of the Jewish Community Center of Kansas City and a nearby retirement center, Village Shalom. More violence is visited upon Jews and those associated with them than any other religious group in America.

Greg McKendry
Linda Kraeger:
They were shot and killed when a disgruntled man wielding a shotgun hit six other people attending a children’s performance of Annie at a Unitarian church in Knoxville 7 years ago. Their crime? The church supported liberals and gays.

Since 9/11 there has been a significant increase in property destruction, violence and death against those perceived to be Muslim, including many mosque burnings. According to the Washington Post, hate crimes against Muslims are still five times more common today than prior to 2011.

Carol Denise McNair
Addie Mae Collins
Carole Robertson
Cynthia Wesley:
These four young girls were murdered in a terrorist bombing 52 years ago when members of the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Another 22 parishioners were wounded. The Klan’s aim was to terrorize the black community by striking at its very heart, the church that sustained them. By this point, the African American community had already endured another 21 bombings in Birmingham in just the eight years prior to this heinous act.

And today, half a century later, we grieve over another terrorist attack against parishioners in an iconic Black church in the South, a church that is no stranger to hateful and violent actions by white racists.

What part of the American character makes it possible for hate-filled violence to be so frequently perpetrated upon our fellow citizens? Although there are myriad contributing factors, I believe that the root can be summed up in a phrase that I have come across several times in the last few days:

“Racism is the original sin of the United States.”

Our Constitution says not a word about the entrenched institution of slavery, other than to declare that African descendants were but 3/5ths of a man. Our Declaration of Independence labels Native Americans, including my Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Cree ancestors, as savages, and our nation conducted generations of campaigns of ethnic cleansing and genocide against them. And women, over half of our population, were denied the right to vote for well over a century.

If we are honest, can we not say that America was founded upon a fundamentally sinful principle – that white males were destined by God to rule this land and to expand its bounds as far and wide as possible? Our national sense of purpose, exploiting to its zenith in the mid-19th century concept of Manifest Destiny, corrupted God’s economy, one based upon love, compassion, mercy, and obedience, and instead adopted a system based upon the privilege of the few (and the white) at the cost of the many. Amos, Jeremiah, Isaiah, all of the prophets, not to mention Jesus, provided millennia of witness that such a system, which ignored the plight of the oppressed, was inconsistent with God’s will.

As we know, the institution of slavery so grieved the souls of enough Americans that we fought our bloodiest war to abolish the laws of the land that allowed men to own other human beings. But in the aftermath of that devastating war, opportunities for healing and reconciliation were squandered. Competing interests kept the promises of Reconstruction from coming to fruition, ultimately leading to Jim Crow, “separate but equal,” laws across the entire former Confederacy. In the North and the West segregation may not have been written into law, but it became standard practice due to deed restrictions, financial discrimination and other blatantly racist policies.

At the end of the Civil War we had the opportunity to atone for our national sin of determining a person’s worth and inherent dignity based upon the color of their skin, but we were unable to rise to the occasion. Rather than attending to the wound in our national soul, we covered it in gauze and tape and assumed that it would heal. But in the absence of sometimes painful cleansing and treatment, covered wounds just fester and swell. So to, in the absence of sometimes-painful self-assessment and truth-bearing, it is absurd to assume that reconciliation will happen.

The first step in reconciliation is acknowledgement of one’s sin; the second is repentance. On a national level, we’ve never truly admitted how our racist roots fundamentally corrupted our national soul. Until we find a way to do that, each attempt at repentance will just be a ripping off of the bandage only to immediately cover the gaping wound once again lest we faint from the sight of the truth.

And it’s not just in violent acts like the massacre in Charleston that white privilege and the corrupt vanity of white supremacy break into our national life. While many hoped that the election of our first black President would move American into a “post-racial” era, just the opposite seems to have happened. No white president would have been subjected to the absurd claims made about President Obama, some of which persist to this day. Even before the ink had dried on the Supreme Court’s decision to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, Southern states were clambering to enact laws that disproportionately disenfranchise black voters.

Add to this the heartbreaking number of incidents of disproportionate use of force, at times with deadly consequences, by white police officers against black subjects, and we seem to be in the midst of a storm of racial violence. Like the disciples in Mark’s Gospel today, buffeted by the maelstrom, we cry out for Jesus’ protection and guidance.

But even as Jesus chided his disciples for their doubt, we need look no further than to the families of those murdered at Mother Emanuel to see faith in action. In the midst of their deep despair their deep trust and faith in Jesus is a profound witness to what it means to be Christian. Given the opportunity to rail against the one who ended the lives of those they loved, they chose instead to offer their forgiveness and to pray for his everlasting soul.

Like Job, our brothers and sisters in Charleston have been tested in their faith. Also like Job, they refuse to abandon their faith in their grief. They summoned the strength of their faith in Jesus to calm the storm of their despair by proclaiming the Gospel, the love of God, to their tormentor.

So what is our role in the light of this tragedy? How are we to address the festering wound of racism in our culture? How can we possibly make a difference against such an intransigent and deep-seated impediment to our national aspiration that all people are created equal?

Two heroes occupy my consciousness as icons for dealing with my own struggles. One, Desmond Tutu, is in my mind the greatest Anglican alive today. His remarkable work as the head of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission made enormous strides in bringing his country out of what many thought would be an impossible situation that would lead to decades of retribution and war. South Africa is far from being a contented democracy, and their issues are legion, but the Truth and Reconciliation commission’s work and the leadership of President Mandela brought peace where many expected violence. Unfortunately many, many generations have passed since the end of the Civil War, so that precise model does not apply here. But should we not, as a national church as well as the country as a whole be tapping into the mind of the brilliant and devoted saint while he is still with us?

 My other hero today is Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the face and left for dead by the Pakistani Taliban for her advocacy of the right of girls to be educated. She happened to be John Stewart’s scheduled guest the evening after the Charleston terror attack. I don’t know how many of you caught Stewart’s comments about the murders, but it was an absolutely brilliant and brutally honest assessment of our national amnesia when it comes to seeing, much less dealing with, racism.

When asked by Stewart how one person can make a difference, she replied:

“Sometimes we wait for others, and think that a Martin Luther should raise among us, a Nelson Mandela should raise among us, and speak up for us, but we never realize that they are normal humans like us, and if we step forward, we can also bring change just like them.”

We are blessed to also have several resources that mean that we don’t have to feel like we must act alone. Our rector, Father John, has participated in reconciliation work in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting death of Michael Brown, as well as other activities locally and beyond. He’s a terrific resource right here at St. James.  Our diocese, and our national church, both have racial reconciliation ministries that can benefit from our participation. And interfaith reconciliation committees and ministries serve at the local, regional, state and national levels. We just need to raise our hand and say, “Here I am.”

I close with a prayer offered by our Presiding Bishop:

“For Clementa C. Pinckney,
For Tywanza Sanders
For Sharonda Coleman-Singleton,
For Cynthia Hurd,
For Ethel Lance,
For Susie Jackson,
For Depayne Middleton,
For Daniel Simmons Sr, and
For Myra Thompson;

Gracious and loving God,

May we recognize that you bind us together in common life. Help us, in the midst of our struggles for justice, truth, and healing to confront the evils of hate, racism, and violence that pervade the United States and the world.

Hold us as we remember lives of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters and grandchildren of those who were killed.  Comfort those whose hearts and souls are broken.

We ask this at time when the people and community of Charleston and North Charleston are also grappling with the meaning of the police involved shooting death of Walter Scott.   We look to you while communities across the United States groan over the loss of too many people to gun violence.  You remind us of the dignity and humanity of all human beings.

Grant, O God that the hearts of those who remain may be moved through your life-giving Spirit to remove the barriers that divide us so that hatreds may cease, and divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace.”  Amen 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Imagining God

It is hard to imagine the universe.  It is even more difficult to imagine what many theoretical physicists are calling the “multiverse.” String theory proponents postulate as many as 10500 different possible universes, each operating with different physical laws.[1]  The universe we inhabit, even if it is just one of many, is difficult enough to comprehend.  It has been expanding and cooling since it burst into existence with a Big Bang about 13.7 billion year ago.  Our galaxy, the Milky Way, just one small part of the universe, contains some 200 billion stars, with a diameter of approximately 100,000 light-years.  One light-year equals the distance that a ray of light travels in one year: about six trillion miles.  We cannot fathom such immensity.[2] 

Even more difficult to comprehend is the rarity of the constellation of factors that make life possible.  In March 2009, NASA launched a spacecraft, Kepler, with the mission to search for planets orbiting in the “habitable zone” of other stars; that is, planets located such that the liquid water necessary for the emergence of life may exist. Dozens of planets have been identified as possible candidates.  It is estimated that a life-sustaining planet orbits about 3% of all stars in the universe.  If this is true, then the fraction of matter in the visible universe that exists in living form is something like one-millionth of one-billionth of 1%.[3]   The fact that we are here today is itself a source of tremendous awe and wonder, a wholly unnecessary and fortuitous occurence.

It is hard to imagine the observable universe.  How then, do we even begin to imagine God?  In moving from a consideration of the universe to a consideration of God, let me be clear that I am not suggesting that God is a force or cause within nature, nor a supreme natural explanation.  This would be to reduce God to one being among other beings, one cause – even if the first cause – among other causal forces.  To do so would be to speak of the god (small “g”) that the militant new atheists reject and that modern religious deists and fundamentalists affirm.  This is the god of the clockmaker variety, who builds a world, winds it up, and lets it go; but such is not God; at least, not the God of the great religious traditions, both East and West.[4]

As Thomas Bentley Hart argues, “Beliefs regarding God concern the source and ground and end of reality, the unity and existence of every particular thing and the totality of all things, the ground of the possibility of anything at all.”[5]  God is then, the necessary logical presupposition for the existence of the universe; not the creator of the universe at some point in time past, but rather the infinite actuality from which everything that exists continuously receives its being; or in Paul Tillich’s felicitous phrase, God is “Being Itself.”

We must imagine God, because, while science can describe the shape of the universe and the relationships among its constituent material elements, it can not explain the universe’s very existence.  Existence is not a natural phenomenon; it is logically prior to any physical cause whatsoever.  Science can explain, in large part, what is but not that it is.  We are driven therefore, by reason and wonder, to imagine God. 

Our images of God derive from modes of knowing that are either acts of logical deduction and induction, or derived from contemplative or sacramental experiences that are by their nature episodic and intuitive.[6]  Classical philosophy and theology embrace both modes of knowing. Our experiences of transcendence give rise to our logical reasoning about those experiences, taking such forms as the Trinitarian symbol of Christian orthodoxy.  The adequacy of such speculative formulations is determined by whether or not they illuminate our experience.  The symbol must correspond to reality and participate in its power.

Our scripture readings today include two images of God that are well known, but whose evocative power is too often understated.  The first image comes from the prophet Isaiah’s temple vision, and the second image emerges in the course of Jesus’ ironic and ambiguous conversation with Nicodemus.  Both of these stories challenge us to imagine God in ways that may be uncomfortable and even life changing.

Isaiah was a priest serving in the Jerusalem Temple about 700 years before the time of Jesus.  He became a prophet during a time of great international turmoil, including a war between Judah and Syria and threats from the Assyrian Empire.  While serving in the Temple, he had a most remarkable vision of God that the prurient interest of translators utterly fails to convey.

Our translation describes God as seated on a throne, with the hem of his robe filling the temple.  As Lyle Eslinger notes in an exhaustive philological and comparative study, the Hebrew word sûl, translated here as “hem of his robe,” actually refers to the male or female pudenda. Isaiah reports then that he has seen God, naked on this throne, with his (the personal pronoun here is masculine) visible genitalia filling the temple.[7]  This is not an image you will find in any edition of the Children’s Illustrated Bible!

But then, 8th Century BC Hebrew prophets were not 16th Century AD English puritans.  Even so, Isaiah has inadvertently trespassed the boundary between the sacred and the profane to his horror and shame.  The Seraphim quickly use there wings to covers God’s face and genitals to re-establish the cultic boundary, reinforced by the liturgical image of smoke or incense and the cry “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”  Here again, the translators fail us by describing the Seraphim as covering their own eyes and “feet” – a euphemism if there ever was one.

Isaiah is not trying to be provocative and neither am I.  Yet, his vision does startle us out of our usual placid images of God as “the guy upstairs.”  What Isaiah’s vision is trying to communicate is the tremendous, generative power of the divine that fills the whole earth; indeed, that continuously holds the universe in being.  To come into contact with that power, even for a moment, is an overwhelming experience.  We cannot bear it for too long; it has to be covered up!  It reduces Isaiah to a sense of his being “unclean;” not because his image of God is somehow a “dirty” one, but rather because it reveals the smallness of his own preoccupations and the limits of his own comprehension and power.  Isaiah is reduced to “nothing.”

Isaiah is possessed by this image of God, so much so that he strips and walks around Jerusalem naked for three years as a sign of the impending disaster that Assyria would visit on Egypt and Ethiopia, and then Judah itself.[8]   Isaiah’s nakedness conveys both the vulnerability of Judah and the absolute power of God, upon which all contingent realities depend.   The moral of the story is to place our trust in God, not in the transient power of people or empires.

Isaiah’s vision of divine potency undoes him and radically opens him to being an instrument and sign of God’s power.  This power is not safe or predictable.  It may lead us in paths we would not choose.  It is the source of both fascination and fear.  Yet this absolute, unconditioned reality is also naked to our perception, even jarringly intimate to those who have eyes to see.  Isaiah’s vision emphasizes God’s patriarchal potency, if you will, a power that is overwhelming and distancing but at the same time strangely seductive, capable of possessing us.

In the course of his conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus offers another image of God that emphasizes the way in which divine power is in the service of universal renewal.  Here the metaphor shifts from a patriarchal image of God to a maternal one.  This is clearly the case as indicated by the literalism with which Nicodemus’ misunderstands Jesus.  When Jesus speaks of being born anew, Nicodemus wonders how one can re-enter the womb when one is old.  Jesus, of course, is speaking of a different kind of womb:  the metaphorical “womb” of God. 

Jesus, too, is speaking of divine generative power, but in a different key: not so much the power of being as the power of consciousness.  Birth by water (an allusion to child birth) and the Spirit, speaks of an initiation into a new awareness of reality (the kingdom of God).  When we are born from above (of God) we are given a new vision of the world such that our perception and reality are in alignment, no longer seen through the false prism of cultural and ideological lenses that delimit and falsify our perception.  This transformation of consciousness is nothing less than a new birth. 

This awareness is not just an intellectual insight.  It is an existential reorientation of our whole way of life such that we entrust ourselves to the power of the Spirit, a power greater than us, which we cannot fully comprehend or control.  We come to trust what we do not know.  God is the inexhaustible source of our being and our consciousness, and being born anew is the acceptance of our ultimate origin and end in God in such a way as to live more fully, freely, and compassionately.

This dying to false forms of consciousness and being given a new perception of God’s generative power leads to the insight that God not only gives being to existence; God not only gives birth to us as conscious beings, capable of perceiving reality; God also loves the world and desires us to share in the bliss that is eternal life. 

In Jesus’ vision, God is like a mother who not only gives us physical birth, but also spiritual awareness so that we might perceive that our creation is an act of love, and so come to accept this love as our ultimate origin and end.  This is the taproot experience from which emerges the Trinitarian symbol of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which shares much with the Indian idea of Brahman as ultimate and unconditioned being (sat), consciousness (chit), and bliss (ananda); or what the great Sufi theologian Ibn Arabi, describing God as absolute reality, referred to as wujud, wijdan, and wad.[9] 

It is hard to imagine the universe.  It is even harder to imagine it without God: without Being, Consciousness, and, finally, Bliss.


[1] Alan Lightman, The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew (New York: Vintage Books, 2014), pp. 18-21.
[2] Lightman, pp. 92-93.
[3] Lightman, pp. 100-101.
[4] Thomas Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2013), pp. 19-41.
[5] Hart, p. 33.
[6] Hart, p. 34.
[7] Lyle Eslinger, “The Infinite In A Finite Organical Perception (Isaiah VI 1-5),” Vetus Testamentum (XLV, 2). 
[8] Isaiah 20:2-5.  On naked prophets, see Theodore W. Jennings, Jr., Jacob’s Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel (New York:  Continuum, 2005), pp. 87-89.
[9] Hart, pp. 42-43.