Thursday, May 31, 2007

Interconnectedness, or Six Degrees of God

When we lived in Boston, I went to church with Don Hasselbeck.
Don is the father-in-law of Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
Elizabeth, famously, was on The View with Rosie O'Donnell.
Rosie was in A League of Their Own with Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks was in Apollo 13 with Kevin Bacon.

Why is it that the six degrees of Kevin Bacon works? And why, when you travel, is it common to meet someone from your hometown or who knows someone you know? We say, "It's such a small world." Why does it feel so small sometimes?

We are all connected. There is a oneness about humanity. We all share a common substance that links us to one another. It is an interconnectedness that transcends the commercialism of ubiquitous McDonald's franchises. And it is an interconnectedness that is more substantial than being able to send an instant message anywhere on the globe.

In some real and mysterious way, my life affects other people. And not just the ones I rub shoulders with. My life can influence and impact Kevin Bacon's and other far less famous people in Bangkok and Munich and San Juan. In some way, they are dependent on me. And I am dependent on them.

Talking about the interconnectedness of humanity might sound to some like eastern religion and philosophy. For them, "pagan" religion seems like an iffy place to begin a discussion of Christian theology. But I think God made us interconnected. If Eastern philosophers have recognized that, they should be commended for it. (Christian theologians need to learn some epistemological humility.)

I love the story of Paul in Acts 17. When he debated with some Athenian philosophers, he quoted a poem about Zeus that confesses that "in him we live and move and have our being." The Greeks saw Zeus as a common denominator for humanity. Paul hijacks the poem, reinterpreting it, saying that his God was in actuality that common uniting substance for humanity. In God, we all live and move and have our being.

The six degrees of Kevin Bacon, our interconnectedness, is a picture of that God. God is the oneness of three interconnected persons who live and move and have their being together. The trinity - the belief that there is one God who exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - is the centralizing belief of the Christian faith. And we can begin to understand it by considering our own interconnectedness.

God invites us into a web, a network, of relationships. The life of the trinitarian God can be my life and yours. It is a place to find love, meaning, warmth, help. But this relationship God invites me into is not just between God and me. It includes all of us. What I receive from God, I share with others. Rather than shrinking my world, my relationship with God expands it, and that makes it a small world after all.


jdub said...

ummm... so I'm using this in my sermon on Sunday. I'm going to tie it into the Image of God and the Shema.

Robb said...

Glad I could help. Want to interact with some the ideas?

jdub said...

What gets me is the simplicity of the plural nature of the word Elohim. And how mankind was created in the image of Elohim. We were created in the image of the plural but one God.

jdub said...

And how this gets even crazier is that in Col. 1:15, Paul describes Jesus as the "image of the invisible God" which could be interpreted many different ways, but is this an invitation to join the web of interconnectedness of God?

It seems as though the community of God is present throughout the bible, but that what makes us so special is that we are created in God's likeness and apart of a special type of relationship with God. After the fall the relationship is different, but when Jesus comes he bridged the gap and reinstates the community with man.