Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hopeful Thinking - Saturday, April 22, 2017 - The Dharma of Christianity, Part I: Spiritual Adventurism

            For most of my life I have held a deep curiosity about world religions. I have participated in many rituals, both moving and bizarre. Some individual practices come from a deeply personal, introspective place. They do not flash and wave about for notice. Some appear to be trying too hard to prove their worthiness to God. Or to themselves. But each carries a thread of truth and wisdom. Good advice tends to repeat itself in unconnected ways, faith to faith.
Over the years I have noticed a consistency in philosophy among them. Where all faiths overlap, we might conclude God is most visible.
After years of spiritual adventurism I found that the essence of the very faith I was raised in, Christianity, has this thread, too. So I began pulling on it.
I tested and poked and questioned this faith for proof of its value. I don’t believe that God wants us to just take people’s word for it. We are supposed to develop critical thinking about faith. We are supposed to be asking it hard questions. What is it afraid of? People who think we should adhere to blind faith and ask no questions should give God more credit. They’re not afraid God can’t handle it. They are afraid their interpretation of God can’t.
As far as the Bible goes, I don’t make a claim regarding the miraculous. However, I do believe in miracles. I am astonished at and grateful for even the mathematical unlikelihood of our own existence. I believe people are healed by other people without explanation. I believe that there are mysteries of reality about which we know virtually nothing.
But I don’t know if Mary was a virgin. Nor do I think that possibility changes whether or not Forgiveness is a good idea. I don’t know if Jesus rose from the dead. But I’m certain that Nonresistance, Hospitality, Compassion and Empowerment are good practices to follow on a daily basis for both ourselves and others. I believe these practices are in the process of saving humanity before our very eyes.
When people say, “Jesus saves!” I now tend to believe them. But not necessarily for the reasons they are saying it. I believe Jesus was a spiritual master who knew what he was doing, practiced what he preached, and pissed people off on purpose. He was a spiritual tactician, healer, mystic, radical activist, and on-call diplomat.
But I don’t conclude everything attributed to him was actually said by him. Nor may it have been said the way it was recorded. Some of the same stories are told in several different ways in the various Gospels. A thoughtful student of the Bible would conclude that God speaks between the lines of it all. Read it and listen to your heart to discern the truth from amid the ink.
Universal Love is not linear. It cannot be read letter after letter in a series of words. It has to be lifted from the text as a whole rose bush, not a line of stems and blooms laid end to end.
To be continued.

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