Saturday, March 6, 2010

Looking for God in all the Wrong Places

I very much like how Mark Townsend described his view of what a mature ecumenism looks like and – more specifically – how it shouldn't hope to amalgamate the Church in to featureless dull greyness; water down everything to its lowest common denominator. (I tend to agree wholeheartedly, as I've expressed - somewhat obscurely - in A Plurlaistic Sophia).

“...the seven colours of the light spectrum that we see inside a rainbow, a soap bubble or a pool of oil spilt on the floor. I used it as a symbol of how the pure white light of The Divine is simply too rich, too vast, too much for any single tradition to fully contain. All each tradition can do it add its own colour to the picture, so each of the colours, together, creates the big picture. I went on to ascribe the various colours to the various denomination s of the Church, stating that dodgy ecumenism tries to make us all conform – water down to the lowest common denominator, where we end up with a dull greyness. However, a mature ecumenism lets the reds be red, and the greens be green. It does not attempt the futile dream of complete uniformity. We need to see the beauty of each colour, for the colour is the colour of God. And we will see a bigger picture of the divine if we don't try to harmonize and make it all work together...” Mark Townsend, “The Path of the Blue Raven”, pg. 122

However, from my point of view, I would apply this rainbow, this light spectrum analogy to broader implications, applying it to may various faiths rather than just the Church of Christianity. (Not to say that Mark Townsend does or doesn't based upon the above quote. It must be understood that this quote exists within the context the author was speaking in at this point in his book; that context being how he used to see various denominational (Christian) differences as all being different facets of the One picture. Then to go on to say that he has moved on to see this as an appropriate way of understanding religions too. Each one adds it's own unique and equally insightful 'gemstone' to the great mosaic.)

John Churcher, in his new book, Setting Jesus Free, comes a bit closer to 'where' I'm 'at'.

“'God' is not a name. It is a three letter word attempting to describe 'Whatever' is within, about, and beyond; whatever we may call the 'transcendent and the imminent'. Human language can never define whatever it is that some call 'Ground of All Being', 'Eternal Sacred', 'Spirit of Life' and a myriad other names. We only have human language to try to describe an experience of that which is always 'ore Than' and human language is never sufficient for the task. Therefore I will use the word 'God' as shorthand for a set of eternal principles, including Perfect, Sacrificial and Unconditional Love that accepts and values people as they are. This is the Spirit that dwells within and beyond all Humanity...

...I have discovered something of this Perfect Love that I name as 'God' through the pilgrimages of faith of members of other religious groups. This god is the Indwelling Spirit summed up, in my experience, in the Hindi word 'Namaskarum' to mean 'the God in me welcoming and respecting the God in you'....This God is accessed by and knowable to the Jew as 'Yahweh', to the Muslim as 'Allah', and to the Hindu in the different manifestations of the One God... [b]ut as a Christian, the Perfect Love that I experience and name as 'God' is made known to me in Jesus of Nazareth.”
John Churcher, “Setting Jesus Free”, pg. 2-3.

If you'll allow me to link these two authors thoughts on this issue, I think we come very close to where and how I strive to “see” 'God'. However, John Churcher makes an incredibly good point near the end of this quote when he says, “ a Christian... 'God' is made known to me in Jesus of Nazareth.”
I like that, can understand and accept that, but in a sad sort of way, also makes me disheartened... because, I can't say I feel this way towards Jesus. At least not the Jesus the church places as its 'front man'. I can't help but admire and attempt – maybe hope's a better choice of words – to (pathetically) emulate.

Fact is, I don't like Christians. I wish we could still feed them to the lions. Maybe that's because I make a lousy one. I'm not good enough to be a Christian.

I had a pet Siamese cat. Every morning he would race in front of me - but just in front me me – usually nearly tripping me and always in my way. Deep down I knew my pet loved me but in the morning he's only really interested in getting fed. I'm afraid I'm more like my Siamese cat than a Christian. I'm usually not following behind Yeshua but racing in from of him. I'm sure I'm in his way, screwing things up, and tripping him up most of the time (and I do worry about my own wellbeing – being fed so to speak). The real difference is that, unlike my cat and me, Yeshua doesn't kick me when I get in his way. I suppose that a good thing.

But I have found that the Religion of Christianity has kidnapped Jesus from me.

I chose these two quotes and their authors because I know them. It's just an example, but an interesting one. I think the three of us share similar points of view (at least to a certain degree). But it is the difference that captivated me.

In an online forum (TheOoze), Mark Townsend had said, “...I love – LOVE – the one we call Jesus” (but not in the evangelical way, he later added), and that's great... but I can't honestly say that.

He then says, “I love – LOVE – what we call God or Deity or Source etc. and try had to plug into that energy by daily prayer and meditation, but it's an allusive mystery which I know will take my whole life (and beyond) to understand”.

This statement I can agree with. This is closer to what John Churcher's quote says.

Now I know many (including these two I suspect) will tell me that we all have difference paths, come from different angles or directions. Clearly (as Churcher's quote plainly states) these two come from, or through, a Christian paradigm or perspective of 'God', and acknowledge and respect other paradigms and journeys. However, I'll left to question my own.

I think, like Mark Townsend, that I love – that I'm constantly searching, for what we call God or Deity or Source, but I'm hungry for a much larger (and even confusing) picture of It. The more 'angles' I can see 'God' from, the better. I don't think I see or look at 'God' necessarily through Jesus, but Jesus as one of many facets to understanding God/Deity/Source/'Ground of Being'.

My point being (and please feel from to jump in and correct me if I'm wrong in any way) that we (potentially) are seeing two or three perspectives, which may reflect various peoples points of view; an Inclusivist's and a Pluralist's.

Is my 'journey' a legitimate 'path' to God?...and is it Christian?
I don't normally refer to myself as Christian - whether or not I really am or am not.

My 'being' a Christian is a very subjective matter. I'll let my 'fellow' Christian tell me - according to their definition - whether or not I am one.
Personally, I really don't like being called one. Far too much baggage attached to the name.