I have been exploring the use of abstract and natural images for God for two reasons. The first is a desire to contribute something to the languag eof gender equality without playing fast and loose with essential beliefs about God. Many women in the church struggle with a God who is always spoken of in male language, as if God was more real to men than to women - or that somehow women have less of a stake in God. But it would be too easy to substitute female language and reverse the problem. God is not woman or a man, God is God. How best to employ God-language is a debate that will run and run. The use of gender-free images is by no means the whole answer, but in the meantime gives some alternative ways of voicing our praise to God.
The second is that I am heartily tired of religious jargon. Contemporary worship writing seems to have a grat fear of the use of natural and abstract images for God, and stays within the risk-free and theologically explicit zone of such images as the blood of the lamb, or bowing before the throne of God ... these are valuable if we ever have the time to think about them. Too often, through, our minds get stuck in a rut because the familiarity of such phrases serves to hide their meaning, not reveal it.
We live with a choiuce - we may opt for the safety of spiritual certainties, limiting the risk factors and never having too much of a spiritual crisis. Or we may go closer to the edge, and let our faith be turned upside down for the sake of a clearer revelation of God. But the revelation, in my experience, is of a bigger, kinder, more liberating God than I ever imagined possible. This God is truly a rock in a storm, a warm breath on a frozen heart. So - Elements is my latest experiment in framing answers to the big questions: Who is God? What is God like?
God is like a rock, like water, like fire, like falling rain on dry earth. At the same time these metaphors imply their negative corollary - God is actually not like these things at all, God is God ...
So the journey goes on. Both in words and music - which can in itself express ideas which are beyond words - Elements is a fragment of my imperfect attempts at understanding God. i hope it sparks off some fresh inspiration for you in your own search.
What I like about this, is the intelligence of the theological reflection. Maggi's thinking and songs are shaped by her theology, which seems a cut above the usual worship songwriter, who's theology is so often hit and miss or simplistic. Buy the album, it's worth it. Here's hoping Maggi finds some more time to get into the recording studio.