The God We Seek

The God We Seek

The God We Seek

The God We Seek


The majortopic of Professor Weiss's present work is the experience of and concern with Godin privacy and in community. His purpose is to reveal the primary nuances and distinctions essential to an adequate grasp of the nature of religion, and he seeks to isolate the pure, undistorted relation men have to God. The God we seek is thus, in Mr. Weiss's viewpoint, no distillate, no abstract desiccated element but something at least as rich and as concrete as the specialized forms of experience and concerns exhibited in particular religions- but without their bias.

Presupposing only those rudimentary experiences which are shared by everyone, Mr. Weiss focuses on that pure, rich, concrete relation which connects men and God, "a relation which is diversely ritualized and specialized by the various religions." Mr. Weiss makes evident that there are many ways in which men make contact with God, "apart from special revelations, messages, or miracles." God, he shows, is enjoyed in dedicated communities, is reached through the fissures of experience, and is present in sacred objects and in service.

Written in Professor Weiss's usual incisive, clear style and addressed to the general reader as well as to the theologian, minister, and philosopher, the work as a whole is challenging and highly quotable in its observations. The virtues and limitations of the different religions, the nature of faith, prayer and worship, mysticism and religious language are some of the topics dealt with in a fresh and illuminating spirit. Mr. Weiss's discussion of religious history is particularly noteworthy for sharply marking out an area that is neglected in most modern religious and historical studies.

An independent work, The God We Seek serves also as the capstone of Paul Weiss's entire philosophic system: a philosophic system dealing with the whole of being and knowledge, both in a highly abstract form ( The Modes of Being), and in concrete, specialized guises ( The World of Art, Nine Basic Arts, History: Written and Lived). His intellectual diary, Philosophy in Process,is now appearing in a series of twelve fascicles, published at intervals of three months.


Almost all men have been helped and subdued by family and society in the name of God, the being who remains steadfast when all else gives way. Speech and act soon overlay what was early absorbed by the child. Sometimes they correct, sometimes they skew, sometimes they pervert, but they never wholly deny to the child what had once been impressed on it. All of us speak of God in ways which reflect something of what we once were taught, almost unaware.

Some men become associated with particular institutions -- church, synagogue, temple, mosque. These provide means for disciplining and educating them. Occasionally they provide the men with companionship, or food and drink. Men understandably become loyal members of, and sometimes apologists for such religious institutions. They live in terms of quite specific creeds, rituals, books, prophets and Gods. Some even make institutional life into a career, turning their backs on other types of life to give theirs to its defense, support or enhancement.

Such men are often hard to distinguish from others who try to make effective use of God. God, these believe, is the awesome being, all-powerful. If they could control Him, channel His vast power, what wonders might they not perform! No one perhaps is altogether free from a desire to make some use of God's power. Many prayers are but plaintive requests or petitions for favors. A good deal of behavior is kept within confines in the hope of a divine reward or in fear of God's awful wrath.

If we believe that we or others can dictate the way in which God's power will be manifested, we believe in magic. If instead we vitally hope that what we are or do will make a difference in . . .

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