Success Is Not a Name of God

Many people know that Jesus taught many times using parables. A parable is a story that puts things “parallel” to one another in order to allow the space between them to illuminate what we are missing. Sort of like putting a frame around a picture. The frame is the tool the artist uses in order to show within the frame. To get focused on the frame is to miss the point of the art. Which is why we do not get hung on on the historical accuracy of the parables, we know that they are just the frame to show us something else.


Clearly I am not Jesus - on my best days I am able to be in the parking lot of his stadium. I am not a master story teller and I am working with the art form of parable, but it is not easy for me. What follows is not a parable, but an attempt to offer a frame in order to show a hyperbolic contrast in order to expose the question: What is success to God?

The frame is just two quotes. One from Dorothee Soelle’s book and the other from Jerry Falwell Jr’s twitter feed.

“Martin Buber said that “success is not a name of God.” It could not be said more mystically nor more helplessly. The nothing that wants to become everything and needs us cannot be named in the categories of power. To let go of the ego means, among other things, to step away from the coercion to succeed. It means to “go where you are nothing…” The ultimate criterion for taking action cannot be success because that would mean to go on dancing to the tunes of the bosses of this world.” - Dorothee Soelle, The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance

“Conservatives & Christians need to stop electing “nice guys”. They might make great Christian leaders but the US needs street fighters like @realDonaldTrump at every level of government b/c the liberal fascists Dems are playing for keeps & many Repub leaders are a bunch of wimps!” - Jerry Falwell Jr. via Twitter (Sept 28, 2018)

Again, I ask, what is success to God?