GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast

109. What’s On Our Mind- Bringing God Into The New Year

January 12, 2023 Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon Episode 109
109. What’s On Our Mind- Bringing God Into The New Year
GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
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GOD: An Autobiography, As Told to a Philosopher - The Podcast
109. What’s On Our Mind- Bringing God Into The New Year
Jan 12, 2023 Episode 109
Jerry L. Martin, Scott Langdon

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

Dr. Jerry L. Martin and Scott Langdon share a conversation making sense of God and religion through experience and philosophy in a retrospective glance back through the past year. Projects like the Life Wisdom Project, and Theology Without Walls, a cooperative, constructive, trans-religious theological project, will be making waves in the new year! 

Have you ever wondered: What does God sound like? Does God speak English? Why does God answer some prayers and not others? Why is there evil? If God is perfect, why is this an imperfect world? 

-Share your story or experience with God-

MENTIONS-
Dr. Jeanine Diller, Dr. Richard Oxenberg, Dr. Jonathan Weidenbaum

LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- Life Wisdom Project:
Tuning Your Radio | The Encounter With Novelty And Living Truthfully | Dramatic Adaptation: I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With | Two Philosophers Wrestle With God: The Takeaway

WATCH- Theology Without Walls | How To Pray | Dr Jerry L. Martin and The Theology Without Walls Mission | What's Wrong With Ego?

READ- Ego Is Destructive, Separatist, Defiant | The Goal Is To Be In Tune With Me

BUY THE BOOKS- God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher | Theology Without Walls: The Trans religious Imperative | On The Meaning Of Human Being: Heidegger And The Bible In Dialogue

FIND THE SITES- Theology Without Walls | The Life Wisdom Project | Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | What's On Our Mind? | What is God: An

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube |

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Questions? Comments? Text Us!

Dr. Jerry L. Martin and Scott Langdon share a conversation making sense of God and religion through experience and philosophy in a retrospective glance back through the past year. Projects like the Life Wisdom Project, and Theology Without Walls, a cooperative, constructive, trans-religious theological project, will be making waves in the new year! 

Have you ever wondered: What does God sound like? Does God speak English? Why does God answer some prayers and not others? Why is there evil? If God is perfect, why is this an imperfect world? 

-Share your story or experience with God-

MENTIONS-
Dr. Jeanine Diller, Dr. Richard Oxenberg, Dr. Jonathan Weidenbaum

LISTEN TO RELEVANT EPISODES- Life Wisdom Project:
Tuning Your Radio | The Encounter With Novelty And Living Truthfully | Dramatic Adaptation: I Ask God About The Beliefs I Grew Up With | Two Philosophers Wrestle With God: The Takeaway

WATCH- Theology Without Walls | How To Pray | Dr Jerry L. Martin and The Theology Without Walls Mission | What's Wrong With Ego?

READ- Ego Is Destructive, Separatist, Defiant | The Goal Is To Be In Tune With Me

BUY THE BOOKS- God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher | Theology Without Walls: The Trans religious Imperative | On The Meaning Of Human Being: Heidegger And The Bible In Dialogue

FIND THE SITES- Theology Without Walls | The Life Wisdom Project | Two Philosophers Wrestle With God | What's On Our Mind? | What is God: An

Share Your Story | Site | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | YouTube |

Scott Langdon [00:00:17] This is God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. A dramatic adaptation and continuing discussion of the book God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin. He was a lifelong agnostic, but one day he had an occasion to pray. To his vast surprise, God answered- in words. Being a philosopher, he had a lot of questions, and God had a lot to tell him. Episode 109. 

Scott Langdon [00:01:11] Welcome to episode 109 of God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. I'm Scott Langdon. And today we return once again to our series What's On Our Minds? In this episode, Jerry and I talk about thoughts that came to our minds as we each revisited the last few episodes of the podcast. Whether it's a dialogue with Jerry Martin and Richard Oxenberg, a Life Wisdom Project series conversation, or an email from a reader of the book or a listener to this podcast. Putting together each episode always involves challenges that lead to questions. I'm always so glad to have Jerry to talk with about those challenges and questions. Also in this episode, Jerry talks about the other work God has been leading into, namely the Theology Without Walls Project. So thank you for spending this time with us. I hope you enjoy the episode. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:04] Welcome back, friends. This is episode 109, another edition of What's On Our Minds, and Jerry, there's a lot to talk about today. I'm excited. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:12] Well, I think there's a lot on our minds this particular week because it's been a big year. Looking back at the whole year just completed, I guess, by the time this runs. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:24] As we are looking over the end of 2022, we're also looking forward to 2023. For me, having grown up in the Christian tradition and having that kind of language and those kinds of festivals and holidays in that tradition, Christmas being at the end of the calendar year has always had a place in the cycle for my, you know, being, the way that we live, you know. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:52] A kind of perfect culminating event, right? 

Scott Langdon [00:02:53] Yeah. Yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:02:55] End the year with Christmas. 

Scott Langdon [00:02:56] Yeah. And in the Christian tradition, you know, it is this hope of things being made new. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:04] Yes. 

Scott Langdon [00:03:04] With the coming of Jesus, the anticipation of that and now with Jesus, all things being made new and so forth. And then here we go into the new year, and, you know, culturally we have this closing out of the old countdowns- radio stations, the top ten movies of the year, all of the culminating things and looking back. And it's nice to do that and it's nice to reflect for a little while on where you've been as we reflect on where we want to go. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:03:34] Yeah. I always feel, especially when I was running my own small organization, as if I was getting nothing done. It would be as if I was just walking through mud and getting nowhere and I would sort of fault myself because, well, gee, it just seems like I'm getting nowhere. There's so much to be done. But each year I would write an annual report for our supporters and so forth, and I was always amazed. Oh! We did get a lot done. 

Scott Langdon [00:04:01] Yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:01] The process sometimes feels very slow, but at the end of the day, you know, in fact, I started keeping a list and I could see from keeping the list- ahh to get one thing completed, there are a lot of little steps, and these days I feel like I'm walking through mud, I'm taking all those little steps along the way. 

Scott Langdon [00:04:23] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:04:24]  But you end up getting there, you know, you end up getting there. And that's certainly what we've done. We have produced, what is it, over a hundred episodes now, and in a two year period, roughly. And that's a lot of productivity. And of course, I always credit you a lot, Scott, as the creative director of all of this and the visionary, the person who both envisions it and puts it into shape, you know, in the mind, editing and selection of music and timing and all of that. I just feel it's a wonderful result of our work together including with Laura and now Amanda on the team. It's quite a tremendous group effort and as we sometimes say, it's a kind of spiritual growth as well for all of us. 

Scott Langdon [00:05:19] Yes, that's right. And when I was looking back on this year and thinking about what we've done and I was thinking about sort of two phases of that. The first is the productivity of the actual podcast itself. You know that we've produced an episode every week all year, so 52 episodes, you know, and that's a lot. And we grew as a team in terms of numbers, right? We added Amanda to do a lot of the things that I think we all knew needed to be done but didn't know how to do and didn't have the time to learn how to do. And here comes Amanda, perfectly placed and knowing what to do and has really helped us so much. And so she's come into place and so we've developed our roles and what our roles are in terms of the productivity of the show itself. But then there's the second part, which is how I think each one of us has grown into our roles as well. I like to call, you know, God's character. Like, what is God doing with the person of Scott Langdon throughout this? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:06:28] Yes. 

Scott Langdon [00:06:29] And then also to be able to see that in me but then also be able to see it in Laura, to be able to see it in Mandi. She tells her story about how you know she was a skeptic and then experiences happened and some of those experiences were being with us in meetings and things and listening to the podcast and working with us and how we work together as a team made her reconsider her vision of God and what God might be like. So there's this personal dimension of growth that each one of us has gone through, I think as well. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:04] Yeah- we're all experiencing that, and also, we're creating a larger community. Look at the people we are now, you might say, very much in our circle of God: An Autobiography. Richard Oxenberg, with these remarkable dialogues. And I think I told somewhere how I met him at an AAR meeting and he was giving a talk on radical evil. I remember it to this day. It was a very interesting talk. And then you look at the people we're bringing into the Life Wisdom series, also people I've met along the way who've read the book. And Jeanine Diller, what an outstanding Life Wisdom 1

Scott Langdon [00:07:46] Oh yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:47] And then Jonathan Weidenbaum, I don't know if that's run yet. 

Scott Langdon [00:07:54] Yes. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:07:54] Oh, that's around Life Wisdom 3. And up-and-coming, we just recorded Life Wisdom four with Ray Silverman. Who my wife says, "Talking about life wisdom on two legs." He's a remarkable find. And again, I met him at one of these meetings and we talked and took it from there. And he had a book. I had a book. I gave him God:  An Autobiography. He gave me his book. And then we both read each other's books and had lunch, talked about them because he's within reach. Most of the people are not. But this is a community and this will go on. There are others I plan to have on Life Wisdom in future and just trying to fit each one to the episode and so forth that we're discussing. But this is a growing and large and vibrant community. And then I also started, as I was told to do in prayer, and it's, I guess like the last chapter or two of the book, to start this theological project of Theology Without Walls. And for the theologians, this is very difficult because for them theology is always defined as theology of the Lutherans or something, whatever their tradition. 

Scott Langdon [00:09:07] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:09:09] But God is bigger than any one tradition. God is even bigger than the concept of God. And so they kind of understand that, and yet... what?! They think theology kind of requires walls. You know. One understands that point of view, but it's in the end, not quite adequately, is it? To the nature of the divine. But it's a wonderful community and we're getting to know wonderful people through doing that work and people both who agree with us and wonderful people who disagree. Or only halfway agree. You know. Have a lot of criticisms, but that's valuable, too. I'm a great believer in creative tension. As long as it's civil and loving in root, you know, constructive, truth seeking. We don't all agree, but we bring different perspectives to the table and we learn from each other and Theology Without Walls is a kind of community of truth seeking exploration. And with wonderful people, people who care about truth, about these ultimate matters. 

Scott Langdon [00:10:22] One of the things that you and Richard have talked about, you and Jeanine talked about, I think you and Jonathan even talked about the idea of it coming at the point of view and coming at taking in someone else's point of view with sincerity and an open mind. And there's sometimes the folks that want to tear down for the sake of tearing down and might even believe that this is what I need to do here. My role is to tear down. That's beneficial because then if you build up, but whatever it comes from a place of, I'm just I'm not going to buy your argument because I feel like I need to be on the other side of it. In many ways we think about that as, you know, playing the devil's advocate or so forth, something like that. Something I found really interesting in life was the number three with Jonathan Weidenbaum was that he felt like he had been doing that as a teacher in a way that he thought initially would be helpful to his students to just kind of smash it, smash it apart. But then realized that there was a gentleness that he might need to reconsider, that the God book, and specifically the third episode of our podcast that's based on the early chapters of the book, addresses this gentleness. And so he was sort of changed by that. And because he came to it with an open heart and a sincerity, I think that kind of criticism and that kind of reflection can really make and bring about great change in oneself. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:00] Yes. Yes. That was a very impressive thing to see, and you saw it just almost in the course of the episode. Reflecting on a lot of the messages in the episode were about gentleness. And, you know, I was asked to I'd be telling Abigail things that upset her that came, that I received in prayer. And the answer I got back from-- was God to Jerry, "Don't break the vessel." You know, just be gentle with her. 

Scott Langdon [00:12:27] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:12:27] And Abigail, meanwhile, people kind of wondered, well, what was she thinking? And I had to go ask, "What were you thinking?" And because she didn't say much, and she explained, "Well, I didn't say much because I thought something sensitive was going on here and important, and I didn't want to create static." Well, that, again, was a matter of being gentle. And I had not connected those in that way, but Jonathan did. And he's a wonderful teacher. But it's the Socratic style where you say to the student-- you ask the student a question and the student says something and you say, "Yes, but what about this?" You know, what about what you left out? And it made Socrates very unpopular in ancient Athens. And students, I know, I've often liked that kind of teacher, but I know one case where I had a teacher like that was, again, an outstanding teacher, but one person left the room in tears. You know, to them it was too rough. And Jonathan seeing, "Well, maybe this needs to be balanced with some space for the person, you know, consideration. Even, instead of just jumping to the negative saying, "Well, yes, I see what you're saying. Now, if you develop it, you'll run into this question." You know, you can put these things more gently. And people might then get more out of it than feeling, you know, we all have fragile egos and nobody more than the student being questioned by the professor. 

Scott Langdon [00:13:56] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:13:57] And so, okay, you need a little protective savé on that.  So anyway, it was wonderful to see that in the process of thinking about what is the life wisdom in episode three, Jonathan started applying it right to his own life, and that shows, as you would say Scott, a kind of open mind, open soul. It shows his own relaxed ego, you know, because one would stiffen up if challenged about- are you being too rough on the students? But he's thinking, he's challenging himself. Am I being too rough on the students? 

Scott Langdon [00:15:15] This most recent dialogue between you and Richard Oxenberg, the 11th one, we called it the Takeaway, and the two of you reflect on kind of what is maybe the overall, not just the big picture, but what can we take away from that big picture that we can sort of use in our lives? What does that look like? And over the course of this year, we've developed, as we've been talking about the Life Wisdom series and invited guests on to talk about what they feel could be that very thing -- what can we take away from this-- but the specific work that you and Richard have done to break this book down in the way that it's been broken down. And I just want to say here, in case listeners don't know this, or haven't put it together, you and Richard did these dialogues before I was even in the picture. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:16:10] Yeah. We didn't know they'd be run at all. It was really for our own purposes. We did, of course, do it on Zoom and kept the recordings. But often the audio is poor, we had nothing going in and no conception that there would be an audience for it, but we were trying to clear ourselves. Richard had all these very excellent questions, penetrating questions about the book from day one, because he thought he was interested in the topic of revelation as a student of religion and philosophy. And he thought, well, here we have a case study. So how it started, he started with the question, "How does Revelation work?" You know, I heard a voice. What does that mean?What is God's language? You know, does God speak English? You know, these kind of very fundamental questions about what is taking place here. And we went on from there to all the big questions of life. And in this immediate prior episode, the kind of takeaway episode, I thought he made several interesting points. One was the main challenge to religion is what they call the problem of evil. Why- if we 've got this great, wonderful God, why are things so bad? Why do people suffer? And he broadened it from evil and suffering to just imperfection. Why is the world imperfect? If God is perfect, why is the world imperfect? It seems very strange. And what came through to him as he thought about this, I think it's right there in God: An Autobiography, but again, you don't always see what you're reading, and he does, he did. That it's actually the imperfection of the world that makes it meaningful, that creates the drama, that gives us action, that a kind of-- and that's because God Himself develops and we are partners with God. God is developing in interaction with us, and together we're working on the imperfect world to move it in a direction. Well, now that is a life of tremendous purpose for us and for God, a purpose and meaning and drama and significance and, you know, ups and downs, and where you can get somewhere or you can have occasional setbacks. Uh-oh, something went wrong. And so that that imperfection is a condition of the, you might say, the meaningfulness of the world. But that depends on, what I was told at the beginning, early in the book, I was told right away and I thought, "Huh!?"-- God evolves. "I evolve." Huh!? That didn't make any sense to me at all, given the preconceptions I had. But as you go through and see the actual drama that's spelled out as God is working with this culture, that culture, and that culture, all these events, then it starts making all the sense in the world that all of this is happening, working together. God is up to something and it's up to us to attune ourselves to God enough so that we can play our part in the right way, in a cooperative way. So anyway, I just thought that was one wonderful thing that Richard brought out early on, beginning of the 11th dialogue.

Scott Langdon [00:19:35] Yeah. And it really makes the idea of this partnership with God so much more, for me, something that I can grasp a little bit a hold of. And for me, I can grasp a hold of it a little when I think about it in the way we've talked about before, when I think about an actor and a role kind of applying that same sort of idea here. As an actor, I've worked with-- on new pieces, new plays. I'm thinking about this play I did a year ago, actually, it's two Christmases ago now. Where we were developing this musical, and so I was writing. The writers were in rehearsals with us and every day would be a new page and changes . 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:20:20] Oh, wow. 

Scott Langdon [00:20:20] And the writers-- so, I'm playing this character that they are writing, but I'm embodying this character. And so I'm also asking questions of the writers, "What about this and that?" And they have an open mind enough to say, "Oh yeah, I think that might work a little better," and then they'll change that. And then I'll do something and they'll go, "Oh, maybe could you do this instead?" And I'll, if I'm listening to them and sort of have surrendered to them in that sense, I go, "Oh, okay." And then I'll do it that way. And there's this partnership between the creator and the character, and it's sort of like that with God in the sense that if God is in this place where if I say, "Are you sure you want can we do this or that," God could change God's mind that God could develop. And that's not ungrounded. If you're a spiritual or religious person that's not ungrounded in scripture, you know, there are stories of God changing God's mind because people asked him to. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:29] Otherwise there's no point to praying. 

Scott Langdon [00:21:32] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:33] You know, the kind of traditional prayer, "God, please help me get through this ordeal." Well, you expect God to be listening. And of course, that's right, in Exodus. The people of Israel cried out. They're suffering. And God heard them. 

Scott Langdon [00:21:48] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:21:48] It says that God heard them. And remembered his promise to ]Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,  "Oh, yeah," you know. Well, that's a very dramatic and some people would say too anthropomorphic, but it's very real. 

Scott Langdon [00:22:00] Yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:22:00] That, okay, we say, "Lord, please help." However we address the priests, help in this situation or guide me, give me wisdom, whatever it is we very, very much need. And God is responding to that, to that interaction and learning from it. I mean, I was told, God isn't sitting there reading your mind. You got to tell God what's on your mind, what you want, what you're feeling. Any honest prayer as good as long as you're telling God. If you're angry at God, tell God you're angry and why. You know, because that-- Abraham, who immediately left wherever he was living or whatever, to go to who knows where, he didn't know where. And then later, immediately, when told, "Go sacrifice your son," leaves the next morning for the mountain of sacrifice. Later, when God is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham argues and says, "Wait, wait. You're supposed to be a God of justice." And he argues with God and he wins the argument. He gets-- God said, "Well, if there are some righteous men, you know, I'll save it." And then he gets the number down. "If there are at least ten," you know. But God is-- He's learning what it is to be a just God- right in the scripture itself. And we can't really ourselves, you and me, and the next door neighbor do better than the authors of the scripture, you know, as they told the story. So, this is the drama. That's  what I always call the drama of life- that we are trying to communicate with God. God is responding and we're learning our lines, and God is learning God's lines in a funny sense. 

Scott Langdon [00:23:59] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's-- I struggled a long time with the notion that God says, "No." And you know, when you would say, "God, please cure my daughter, son of cancer." And they don't and they die, well, God said, "No." Please cure my daughter, a son of cancer, and they are cured. God said, "Yes." I have always had difficulty with that. And the more I started thinking about that kind of thing lately, and when I think about it in terms of what we just talked about, an actor and the writer/director, let's say they're one person, you know, and the writer is also directing the play. And I say, "I feel like this story needs to... I need to do this in the story." And the writer knows in their mind- I have something else going on that you don't really know about. And so the director might say, and the writer would say, "No." And, I go, "Okay," as I have to accept that, and just because it's their show, it's their thing, you know what I mean? At the same time when something is problematic like Abraham to God, you know, "Hey, wait a minute. Whoa, whoa, whoa. I thought you were supposed to be this," right? And Abraham talks to Him that way. Sometimes there's a situation in a play, a scene, and I think, "Oh, you know, you said you wanted the story to go this way. I feel like maybe this is taking the story and the other way. Do you agree?" "Oh, yeah. You know what? I think that's right. Let's go back." So sometimes the writer will say yes and sometimes no. And if I don't take that personally and I just say the story is going to play out the way the writer wants the story to play out. I am the servant, you know. I serve at the pleasure of the writer kind of thing. I can release it more easily. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:25:56] Yes. And in the case of God in the world, this problem of why there do seem to be divine interventions--I'm not big on miracles, but there are moments where you just-- the divine hand is at work. You know, it's just visible practically. And then there are other times where you wish the divine were doing more, and doesn't seem to be doing anything at all, well, one of the facts is that God, according to God: An Autobiography, God is not quite omnipotent in that classic sense. God is not manipulating everything in the universe. In fact, the universe is a kind of recalcitrant material. It's almost more like the artist working with the material, working with marble or clay or or stone. And so the material is going to determine a lot of what happens in the material in this case doesn't just mean the matter in the universe, but includes all the causal relations and so forth. So you can't just snap your fingers and make everything completely different the way you can in the movies. 

Scott Langdon [00:27:05] Right. Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:27:06] You know, it has its own. And so we and God are always working against what I think somewhere God calls the guilty resistance of the world. Well, it's not exactly guilty. That's the way the world is. But it resists the good, often just the way disease resists health. But in a world with organic creatures, you're going to have disease. And that's just part of what it is to be organic. You know that you live and you can get sick and you can decline, you're old, you've declined, there's a life cycle and so forth. That's just part of what organic reality is like. And God is working with all of that as one kind of spiritual agent in the middle of it. So that's all a bit hard to understand and figure out. But the attitude you're expressing, Scott, is what in the end we have to do? We have to do our best part as we can understand it. And then let God do the rest, you know, so we can have our druthers. But it's a bit like having for, you know, the director or the writer of the script. Well, you have to defer them in. And so our best jobs since are going to have one bandleader is to follow the bandleader rather than just playing the tune your own preferred way. 

Scott Langdon [00:28:31] Right. Right. Going back to Theology Without Walls, that is, like we said toward the end of the book and toward the end of the podcast, that God gives you this sort of second assignment, another step forward. And this year has been a really big year for that. You and Abigail have traveled. There has been a lot of growth in that in just this one year. So as we gather and think about the year gone by, where did we get to with that and where is it going? 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:29:40] Well, it's nice. And it was toward the end of the year because the meeting was immediately before Thanksgiving, a very difficult time to be traveling. And the travel was very difficult. I say it was the best of trips, it was the worst of trips. And the worst of trips means the air problems. Both directions were terrible, but the best of meetings was the meeting itself. And in part perhaps because we've been just in Zoom mode for a while. Most people were there in person this time, which makes a huge difference to see a three dimensional person in the flesh. But also somehow the thing has been growing on its own. And so there was an almost palpable sense of a whole new level of intensity and density in the Theology Without Walls project. And it came out in several ways, I'll just mention two. One is, those who believe in theology with walls, who are strongly committed to their own traditions and so forth, and believe you can't do theology any other way than within some structure, and they are the senior old hands in the theological enterprise. We have the young upstarts who are going to be the senior hands someday. But the old hands suggested a joint panel where they can explain to us the advantages of walls, basically. It was going to be a kind of tutorial. They were offering to tutor us on how to do theology. Well, I think that was the right way to formulate this. And so we had something a little more like, well, what is the role of walls? And you know, what is their function and what is their dysfunction? And anyway, the two sides met the best heavyweight, you might say, of my colleagues in Theology Without Walls, encountering the best heavyweight thinkers, theologians of this what I call the older school. And when they really talked, because that's one of the nice things about these people, they're not just trying to show off or best somebody in the debate. They're trying to get it right. They're trying to live in tune with the divine as best they can and to think as well as they can in this frame of this truth seeking project. And as they talked, it turned out, well, the old hands,  they often have to look over the walls, too, you know. They know God is bigger than any, you know, the church in the steeple or any tradition, even the Vatican. You know, God is bigger than that. And the people in Theology Without Walls also understand the walls, the religious traditions and all they've taught and the rituals and the spiritual practices, the spiritual disciplines are enormously wonderful. Basically, we know we know about all-- any of this only because the religious traditions of maintaining them have taught them in their traditions. So, you know. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It just happens that now we're ready for a further step. And that's what God: An Autobiography-- I think that's really one of the main reasons God came to me, because there's a question, "Why do you need another revelation?" We have wonderful revelations. We got a history of the ancient revelations, various ones subsequently. Why do you need another revelation? And as a friend of mine said, "Oh, it's a revelation about revelations." We have all these traditions. In the 21st Century, we all know each other. We don't grow up in isolated neighborhoods anymore where everybody in the neighborhood is a Catholic and goes to the same church. Or I know one friend of mine, I think he'll be on a Life Wisdom episode sometime, Matt Cardin grew up in a little town in southwest Missouri, and everybody was an Evangelical. Everybody. That's what religion was to him growing up. And then later, it's always a shock, "Oh, you know, there's a bigger world and bigger world of thinking about religion and other rich traditions around it." And then you look beyond the Christian borders and you see the Hindus and the Buddhists and the Daoist and all these others, as well as the surprising wisdom one can find in the indigenous religions that just looked like superstition to the early Christian missionaries. And then they would often find, "Oh wow, these people already know. Are full of spiritual wisdom and they can learn from me and I could learn from them.". 

Scott Langdon [00:34:40] Yeah. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:40] Okay. That's a great goal. But anyway, this meeting, the two that had been... We were always kind of the outside standing in the street, looking at the people eating inside. 

Scott Langdon [00:34:57] Right. Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:34:57] They were the establishment. And we had no institutions, you might say, on our side. But this time we completely bridged that. There is a clear, by the end of it, a full acceptance of Theology Without Walls, and even probably fair to say that Theology Without Walls kind of came out on top because there's no way to-- however much you love those walls-- there's no way to say that's the whole world. 

Scott Langdon [00:35:26] Right. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:35:26] That's the whole truth of divinity is what my tradition teaches. And they don't quite mean to say that. And they-- this made them articulate that they don't mean to say that. But as soon as you don't say that, the truth is bounded in these walls, then you're in theology without walls. The other change at this meeting-- we've always had these little planning meetings. We usually just talk about, well, what topics would be good for panels upcoming? And it's a fairly low key discussion. This time it was, and it's usually a small turnout, then a handful of people will show up for the planning meeting, maybe, you know, eight or nine people, this time was two or three times that number. Many more people. An intensity of the discussion, a talk about not only what panels we should be having, but what should we be publishing. And that's a very different kind of impact in a profession. You start publishing things. And a sense that was-- it's always had some feeling people would thank me for starting the project. It was like it was Jerry Martin's project. This time it was entirely our project. It was entirely the voice was “We” not we're helping Jerry. We're interested in what Jerry is laying out, but, what we're going to do next, what we're going to do next. It was the first time I felt that if I were to step away, the project would go on. 

Scott Langdon [00:37:00] That's a big step. 

Dr. Jerry L. Martin [00:37:01] That's a very big step. A very big step. There must have been some point at which the Christian church moved to that step. You know, any new religion must have some moments when it's not just some initial input that's spiritual, but people are carrying it forward with conviction. And anyway, this meeting for the first time had that feeling. And so, there were other growths as well. Personal growths. Me, Abigail, we were working this time. Anyway, it's augers very well for the future and we all be looking at a new publishing project have discussions underway about that that emerged from this meeting that I think are very excellent. Very excellent. 

Scott Langdon [00:38:05] Thank you for listening. To God: An Autobiography, The Podcast. Subscribe for free today wherever you listen to your podcasts and hear a new episode every week. You can hear the complete dramatic adaptation of God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher by Jerry L. Martin, by beginning with episode one of our podcast and listening through its conclusion with Episode 44. You can read the original true story in the book from which this podcast is adapted. God: An Autobiography, As Told To A Philosopher, available now at Amazon.com, and always at godanautobiography.com. Pick up your own copy today. If you have any questions about this or any other episode, please email us at questions@godanautobiography.com and experience the world from God's perspective as it was told to a philosopher. This is Scott Langdon. I'll see you next time.

Introduction
A Big Year In Retrospect
Theology Without Walls | Building Community
Gentleness And Socratic Teaching | Jonathan Weidenbaum
A Real Conversation Between Philosophers | Richard Oxenberg
Making Sense Of A Perfect God In An Imperfect World
Prayer | Creator And Character
Theology Without Walls: God Is Bigger Than That
The Voice Of "We"
Outro And Contact Information