Let’s be real.
I love pizza. And I love God.
No, like I REALLY love pizza. No trip to New York is complete without a few (dozen) visits to 2 Bros pizza, the corner shops all over the place advertising $1 slices. (And I love a good bargain, too.) And I lived on giant slices of cheesy goodness when in college in Boston, bundling up and braving 3 feet of snow to tromp down the street for a slice. I never fold it because I like to look at my food and make a mess. Also, I’ve heard of bad pizza but, the truth is–just like burnt cookies–I can appreciate even the mundane, the bake-it-yourself, the pizza chain slices. It’s all good.
I also love God. With all of the bad stuff in this life and in this world, the helpers and the mentors who have come in and out of my life have truly been Christ’s example of love. On my journey, I’m becoming able to appreciate God’s presence on my best days (lots of “thank yous” to God) and on my worst (“really, God? Why?”), too. I see God’s true nature in the hope and joy of life, in the ways people surprise you and the twists and turns along the journey. God is deep and wide and for all, no exceptions. The Bible’s guide is crucial, and God made oceans (and mountains), so God’s cool. God is the best friend who never moves away, and I love that so much.
So what does any of this have to do with Julia Roberts and the beloved 1988 coming of age film Mystic Pizza?
Well, Karl Rahner the theologian’s quote (thanks for the link, Tim!) —> reminded me of the movie —> which reminded me of the beloved pizza.
- Warm, inviting, unifying, enjoyed across cultures, ordinary enough to be a frequent spotlight on our dinner tables & coffee tables, and easily accessible for many people in the world.
- Pizza is de-mystifying (pun intended), customizable, eternal (circle shape?) and created to be shared.
Pizza IS NOT:
- Judgmental, unattainable, exclusive or ordinary.
- Pizza does not stop being enjoyed, consumed and shared among cultures in a social setting.
Pizza and God actually have a lot in common!
Over time, however, we Christians have formed God into what we want. Your anchovy-mushroom-pineapple pizza God will simply not work for me. However, my double cheese-bell pepper-olive with a side of orange juice God won’t work for you. What are we to do?
Let’s Be Mystic Pizza.
Too many hurts and confusion and opportunities for well-meaning people to take more than their fair share of power have warped our sense of God over history. I mean, God invented the people who invented PIZZA…THAT is a God I can serve. That is a God whose love knows no bounds.
God wants to be a regular staple in each of our lives, like eating pizza every day. God wants to be comforting, challenging, warm, engaging, community-building, all with a handful of love, sprinkle of hope, and a dash of justice. (Psalm 65, Zephaniah 3:17, Jeremiah 29:11, John 1:10-13, John 3:16-17, James 4:6-10)
Just as we might crave pizza on a Thursday night, I want to crave a God who I have a deep connection with and who will be with me on the couch on a tiring weeknight.
I want a God who hears me, accepts all of me, and who loves me without judgment. A God who understands life beyond my comprehension and extends grace to me and all others as we try to co-exist and even thrive on this planet together. And a God who is fun to be around, yes.
Mystics [people who seek by contemplation and self-surrender to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity/God or the absolute, or who believe in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond their intellect] have been around since the time of Jesus’ footsteps on Earth. They were an equally powerful voice of Christianity in the beginning but, as Christianity organized as a formal religion and seeped into political power, mystics moved out from the cities and into the deserts and places of solitude to uphold their intimate relationship with God. Example of a mystic belief: believing that Jesus was both fully human and fully God; most all Christians believe this “beyond comprehension” truth. = )
Their voices were quieted. As a result, mysticism is not common in church life in the US (read more here). Being a mystic is viewed as odd, suspicious, possibly heresy and “not for us” by many Christian faith communities. In its most basic state, we need to learn more about mysticism because it is about a personal, vulnerable, marvelously close relationship with God your Creator. In this era of life and global troubles, that sounds pretty good. And approaching life as a Mystic + Pizza (see traits above)?? Yeah!
How can we be Mystic Pizza? For ourselves? For others?
- Embrace a moment of silence. (Psalm 65:1-2)
- Phone apps to help you breathe and meditate in God’s presence: Mindfulness, Insight Timer, Breathe.
- Expand your view of chats/prayer with God
- Drop in to the Centering Prayer group at church, look into Contemplative Prayer practices online.
- Contemplate the ordinary things in life (like cheese pizza) and their extraordinary abilities to help you connect to God, to yourself and to other people. Share these “extraordinary ordinary things” with a friend.
- Commit to lifelong learning. Embrace the “aha” moments and times when others can teach you something. It’s so humbling and also so rewarding, making you a better human in the process. Serve and share.
Now I’m off to go enjoy a St. Louis pie (provel and coffee?). I’m so glad to be on this journey with you.