Immanently transcendent

How we can meaningfully speak today about transcendence? Traditional religious language spoke of transcendence in spacial terms, as in heaven “up there.” In his 1979 book A Spirituality Named Compassion, Matthew Fox suggested we think of transcendence as “future.” Ever since, my understanding of transcendence has been “welcoming the future” (in an Isaiah 43 sense).

Traditional religious metaphors about transcendence have become less frequently used by much of today’s population. I remember a well-meaning friend seeking to comfort the adult child of a just-deceased parent, saying, “He’s in a better place.” The grieving one’s blank stare made it clear that the old spacial understanding of transcendence had lost its currency.

I see transcendence as the way we connect with others in the broadest sense–humans and all creation (including creation’s source, however understood). Transcendence is getting past my self-centeredness and tribalism through what I call a “Jesus-flavored panentheism.” In spite of Christians’ failures (mine being at the top of the list), I agree with my friend Don that the gestalt of Jesus is worth pursuing.

I see faith as the way we experience the immanently transcendent. In the next few posts, I’ll try to unpack my understanding of the practical meaning of these two words.

From “The Transcendent is Immanent in Each Speck of Dust,” by Alfred K. LaMotte, The Braided Way, September 27, 2021

2 thoughts on “Immanently transcendent”

    1. My friend Don is a very thoughtful panentheist, influenced by John Cobb. He’s also deeply committed to the Jesus gestalt, as he calls it. So, I first thought of “Jesus-flavored panentheism” as a descriptor for Don, then I realized, that is a fair description of how I see things.


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