Sunday, December 30, 2007

Spirituality Revisited + the Last of the Turkey

Well, dear hearts, I wish you a happy new year. I have a feeling I’m going to spend a lot of mine at the cardiologist’s office. I am now taking a calcium channel blocker for chest pains. It helps. It’s not a cure-all, but it helps.
The last essay spurred some responses, so this essay talks about those responses, embellished by my own rambling thoughts. Ramble, ramble.
We are on nearly the last version of the Christmas turkey: turkey chunks in gravy, with mashed potatoes. Rick and the boys liked it. I skipped the mashed potatoes, but did indulge in a bit of leftover dressing. I’m not sure what my grand daughter ate. She tends to ask for snacks, like a p, b, & j sandwich, or a little salad with ranch dressing.
It’s nice having the whole family here. I enjoy having the house full. Tomorrow Allysan will go back to her mom's house, JD will go home to Renton, and Drew will go to work, before heading in to the Central Tavern to see his guitar teacher's band. Rick will go to work, also, and I might go over to Lake Union to see the new year in with friend Becky on her boat, if I feel well enough to leave the house.
That’s about it for tonight. Blessings, peace & grace to all – Mary

Spirituality Revisited

Last issue our esteemed Editor Ed asked us to write about spirituality. I did so, to the best of my ability, and have received a lot of good feedback of the “amen, sister” variety from people. Thank you. Glad it resonated for you.
I have also received two complaints, both of them from people who say they do not believe in God, and both taking deep exception to my statement that, “Saying you don’t believe in God is one way of saying you think you are God.” Neither of them think they are God, they said, and they resented my saying so.
Well, I didn’t intend to get all medieval on anyone’s agnostic or atheist heinie, and I apologize to my atheist and agnostic readers who felt offended. At the same time I am pondering what nerves I have trod upon, and how much of the reaction is about what I said, and how much is about the people who reacted.
Most of the steam I was venting in that statement was my own frustration with people who (1) think they have all the answers; and (2) are militant about shoving their answers down other peoples’ throats. A Christian, or atheist, or agnostic, or liberal, or conservative, or what have you, can be a know-it-all who doesn’t listen. You meet angels and asses in every strata and condition of humanity. I’m getting old and I’m getting tired of know-it-alls taking up my time.
One plaintiff was the friend I quoted in the first paragraph of that essay, who said that God did not invent man, man invented God. He wrote with some feeling about the evils of religion as well as his rational, godless, meaningless universe, which is a comfortable place for him.
I’m pretty slow on the uptake sometimes, so it was a couple of days before I went back and re-read his email and realized he wasn’t talking about the evils of God, he was talking about the evils of religion.
Which brings me to my next lesson: religion is not the same thing as spirituality. Let me repeat that: religion is not the same thing as spirituality.
In fact, religion can be a real spirit-killer. I thought about this a lot about twenty years ago when I first began going to church as an adult. That was when I realized that it isn’t God that people hate or don’t believe in, so much as religion, or church, or the terrible things people do in the name of God. It is human beings who behave so badly. It’s no wonder that a lot of people want to spit in the corner when anyone starts talking about God. They have their reasons for feeling that way. You don’t have to be religious to be abusive or violent, but adding religion to an abusive or violent personality seems to be like pouring gasoline on a brush fire.
A more common effect of religion is that people buy into religious beliefs and opinions, and then feel threatened or afraid when they encounter a difference of opinion. The unfolding of truth is suppressed – after all, why look for the truth when you’ve already got it? Why doubt when you have all the answers? So the people who are most open to the continuing revelation of the truth in the world, the ones brave enough to face their doubts and question their God, are the ones most likely to be misunderstood, feared, reviled, and in the extreme, killed by other believers. It is extraordinary that people continue to seek their truth, considering what the consequences can be.
Religion isn’t all abuse and violence. I’ll repeat that, too: Religion is not all abuse and violence. Religions at best are communities of people coming together to learn, to grow, to support, and to serve one another, as well as people outside their community.
I still believe that where people go wrong, and by people I mean me, is when they think they are God. Whatever you believe, if you think you’ve got all the answers, and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is beneath you, well, dang, you have missed the mark.
Next time I’ll try to write something funny.

1 comment:

Charly said...

A nice note. I observed about fifteen years ago when I was defending religious zealots against charges of real estate fraud that religion can be a substitute for morality.