Thursday, October 26, 2006

Love that redeems the world

Seems to me that since the beginning of time, we've been interested in redemption. In need of a Saviour. Someone to take away our fear. Someone to make our world right. Someone to tell us we are good. Someone to show us the love we each carry inside.

Every culture has ingrained, a strong ideal about god(s). Some make claim to many, some to what they refer to as the one true God.

The problem is that god(s) is/are part of tradition. Traditions change. One does not have to look back in history but a few hundred years and see how Christianity has been molded and shaped to suit European/American culture. Dark day of burning women at the stake for sorcery over failed crops and less than satisfactory weather conditions are well documented and were carried out by great men of God. In modern day, Christianity has become a voice of programs and marketing ploys to bring the world to the feet of Jesus. I'm sure Jesus is mightily thankful for all the help. Also, still among us, we find the just plain crazies who interpret "gospel" to the letter and create their own cult rules from twisted out of context metal. Lets not forget these rules more often than not submit women to their husbands and take away their freewill to choose. Embroiled in guilt and shame, there is no way out, unless of course one can survive not being redeemed.

Yesterday I was scanning the radio and came across a Christian broadcast. "All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give, will you ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live." These are words to a well known hymn, they were not being sung but rather spoken, pleading for the listner to sign a contract with these words. "Can you in good faith, put your name to this, can you give it all to Jesus, can you surrender to him your life and all that you have." ...

My dad is a brilliant theologian. His sermons are deep and meditatively thought out, so simple you wonder why you never thought about it before. Whenever I have opportunity to listen, I'm awed and humbled and tears fall from my eyes. Not because he pleaded, not because he said you would burn in hell, not because he asked you to change a single thing in your life - he's never done any of that. But he found a nugget of gold, of ancient wisdom, that touched your heart, that made you feel all of your humanity, that opened your mind and gave you new eyes to see the world.

Believe it or not, my parents do not attend church, they haven't since my dad left ministry when I was twelve. He's called upon to fill in when regular ministers are away. I've never known him to give the same message twice. There seems to be no end to the sermons he has inside. He and my mom often have deep philosophical discussions about scriptures. They have no ego, no agenda, no position in the hierarchy.

I used to have difficulty reconciling my own lack of belief to their fortress of faith.

I know the lingo, the arguments, the call. For awhile I had guilt. Fear that not believing was a mistake. What if I burn in hell? It can't be possible that so many people are wrong about this redemption?

Now I see the entire thing differently. More like an exercise in psychology. They get you when you're young, they scare the crap out of you, they feed you to the gills with this stuff, isolate you, manipulate you - I mean religion in general here. (My parents never did any of this to me. They never took me to church past the age of 12.) And why do they do it? Because we all need a Saviour, we all need to be redeemed. They are doing the work of God, the most important work they know to do.

But here is the thing. You need saving because you think you need saving. Do you know what are you being saved from, anyway? The shadow that goes bump in the night? Is it all motivated by eternal damnation?

We ask god(s) for things in our lives. We turn our burdens over to him to bear. We negotiate our future to his service if only he will give us this one thing. I suspect he doesn't give a god damn. If he does exists - the universe is big and I am dust in the wind.

This, however, is not to say that the exercise of letting go doesn't make a difference. Perhaps it allows some to live in the present more fully without carrying the weight of this or that. Perhaps it helps some people to be good, knowing that they will be judged. I feel strongly that if god(s) meets your needs in any of these ways, then perhaps in you, the ideal of god has been fulfilled. You can call it God, even if it isn't, especially if that helps.

I'm close to labeling myself an a-theist. I have some disdain for organized religion. I have no bitterness. So many are just living the unconscious motions, certain their reward is in heaven. For them, I almost hope that they are right and I am wrong... but I don't think so.

I notice that a lot of atheist (at least those with weblogs) seem to be out for blood (oh the irony). There was a time in my life that I thought I knew God. I trusted he would keep me as the apple of his eye. It is all psychology. I can not disprove God, nor do I want to. If your belief helps you to live at peace in the world, then it is indeed a great gift. For my parents, I am certain that it is just that! Their lives often impart this gift to me, indirectly showering me with blessing of goodness and wisdom that see beyond a text to an esoteric plane.

My goal is consciousness. My experience in church is only now about enlightenment, as I can see it for what it is and was and where it has brought me. My intellect will not allow my rolling over and surrendering all to Jesus. My guess is that the enlightened Jesus would not want to be God to me but would rather me find the spirit within that is able to discern and choose wisely in the world.


Bridget said...

Beautiful post!
I'm not a fan of most organized religion either, honestly. Jacob doesn't see any point to pigeonholing or isolating/threatening people, he merely asks them to seek their faith out for themselves, for it is a deeply private, incredibly subjective adventure.

Your folks sound pretty cool. Of course, so do you. :)

Amy said...

thanks for commenting on my blog. Your blog was very thought provoking, you're a great writer! We just moved from Alberta to Louisiana, so you can imagine the shift we are going through being in the "Bible Belt" again!

serenity said...

Very thoughtful post, and very thought provoking. There is so much here I could comment on. And it is a bit difficult without drumming on and on. But I think it boils down to what is personal Truth for each one of us. I think as human beings, there is this part of us, when we strip away everything that man has decided in the name of religion and all of the baggage of power and control that goes along with that (really all based in fear), there is and essential core that tells us that we need to sort out what our belief is, what our sense of Spirit is. This, I believe, must be separated out from religion. That is not to say that there are not honest and sincere people in religion who are connecting to Spirit through their religion; in fact, quite the opposite. But what each of us needs to discover is our own personal Truth. You mention that you are leaning toward atheism, but I would ask if you are leaning that way because religion has made you turn from the idea of God? Or is your own personal Truth coming to the conclusion that there is no God? I think it is an important distinction, because regardless of what religion mankind creates, each one of us must reconciles our own personal Truth separate from anyone else's.

Peace, joy and Love be with you. And again, I offer gratitude for the time and attention you gave this post.

serenity said...

Oops. Sorry for the typos and such in my comment. I tried to delete and rewrite it, but Blogger wouldn't let me :) Hopefully you can make some sense out of it.


Smarts said...

Bridget, so lovely to have you here. I agree with your Jacob, this subject is deeply private and an incredibly subjective adventure. This post represents exactly that for me - an adventure into my own questions and difficulties. Jacob sounds pretty cool to me too.

I'm looking forward to you turning those comments back on your site.

Love a

Smarts said...

Thank you for visiting me. I love the honesty and questing in your blog. I think it so important that we seek truth for ourselves - sometimes that leads us deeper on the path we're already on, sometimes it opens forks in the roads. Either way, I appreciate your thoughtfulness as a woman, mother and wife.

I've always been encouraged to "try the spirits". Unfortunately, the Christian church frowns deeply on those who try these spirits outside the bounds of the "faith".

This subject is near and dear to my heart. I am open and seeking. One day I think I have it figured out, next day it's back to square one! I plan to write more on this subject - but be warned, one post just might contradict another.

How did you get to Louisiana? Think of me in my parka.

PS - your little girl is beautiful.

Love a

Smarts said...

Thank your for your thoughtful comment. I must say that writing this was theraputic for me and I think I will continue to write on this subject, working out both my acceptances and difficulties.

I think I understand exactly what you are saying - religiion vs. spirit. Which leads me to the question of is spirit also God?

I too know wonderful and sincere people that live and love within the bounds of religion, finding it a nuturing and connecting place for them spiritually. I have also experienced this community and at the time was very content within its walls. There have been times when I went to church and was overwhelmed by what I believed for certain to be the spirit of the one true and living God.

I'm not ready to give myself over to the athiest camp. In honesty I don't want to. But I would be lying if I said that believing comes as natural for me now as it used to.

I am so glad you and I have made connection in cybersapce. I love reading your blog. It is a very positive and enriching site.

Love A

Smarts said...

Serenity, I am the queen of first draft! You typos are welcome here.


Amy said...

I think God welcomes our questioning. I would think it makes him happy because the very fact that we are questioning means we care enough to think about it. Mindless tradition doesn't really show genuine sincerity. The Psalms are full of David raving at God, questioning God, crying out to God, loving God, and then questioning him some more. Why would those have been placed in the Bible except to say "Give ALL of your crap to ME, I can take it"?

Louisiana is home for me, I grew up here. We went to Canada to be missionaries and I think we learned more than we taught others! We lived there for 7 years, 2 1/2 in Winnipeg, and 4 1/2 in Calgary and I miss it. Especially while pregnant, I never got hot my first pregnancy, and then moved to Louisiana at 4 months pregnant with this one, what a difference!

serenity said...

As I return to your post and your comment back, it strikes me that really we all are on the same journey in Spirit. The path that we select that resonates in our hearts and our Spirits may be different for each one of us, but ultimately we are all United in our desire to feel connected in harmony with what it is that feels like personal Truth to us. Your questioning, your seeking, the fact that you have not "arrived" is precisely the point I think. It is about the journey, not the destination. Keep asking, seeking, aligning with your Core, your Center, who you know you are deep inside when you connect to the Light and Truth inside of yourself without chatter. It will never lead you astray. It is all within you.

Loving blessings of Joy and Peace!