Posts Tagged ‘ god ’

Quote

Oh God, I wish from now on
to be the first to become conscious
of all that the world loves, pursues, and suffers;

I want to be the first to seek,
to sympathize, and to suffer;
the first to unfold and sacrifice myself,

to become more widely human
and more nobly of the earth
than any of the world’s servants.

 –Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

Why Christians Should Vote to Legalize Same Sex Marriage

For the purpose of this article I am going to adopt a distinctly
conservative Christian perspective and write for a distinctly
conservative Christian
audience.  I want to put forth the idea that even if you believe
homosexuality is morally wrong, a sin even, you should still vote for
its legalization.


Freedom vs. License

"Freedom and fear are at war. Freedom is not, "being able to do whatever
you want to do." That is license. If you have license, rather than
authentic freedom, your house is built on sand and will collapse.
Authentic freedom is the power to do what we ought to do; the power to
choose the good, the true, and the beautiful. That will vanquish fear
every time. If your concept of freedom is really license, fear will
come out on top every time. Freedom has to be united with truth. There
is no freedom outside of the truth: No authentic human freedom outside
of the truth. "If you are truly my disciples, you will abide in my
word. You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." True
freedom is rooted in God."

– Fr. John Corapi

As Fr. Corapi says, Freedom is not
license, it is more along the lines of personal authenticity.  If God
is both Truth and within you, then when you are acting the most
authentically and genuinely, you are acting in God's will. 
Interestingly enough, this does not mean we should forsake license, for
license and Freedom are tightly intertwined.  If it weren't for
license, we could not genuinely choose to do what is right, for we
would do it automatically.  This is why God gave us free will.  He
allows us to sin so that we might learn, grow, and come to the truth in
a very personal and authentic way.  There can be no authenticity, and
no Freedom, without license.

The opposite of Freedom is fear, and the opposite of license is
restriction.  When a society implements restrictions on its citizens,
it does not only prevent its citizens from acting authentically, it
acts out of fear itself.  Even though our intentions are good,
restricting the public to do only what is morally right harms
everyone.  The people may choose the right thing, but for the wrong
reasons.  They follow truth, but they do so disingenuously.  We are
teaching them to act a certain way out of fear of the consequences. 
And we ourselves, who put the policy in place, we are acting out of
fear as well.  We are afraid that we can't trust people, and that if we
don't exert some pressure on them, they won't choose the right thing.

When God looks at us, does He have these fears?  Well, His heart is
probably breaking all the time, seeing us choose to bury our true
selves and choose against His will.  But He does not intervene and
force us to change our minds.  He honors His gift to us of free will,
and He lets us make mistakes.  He does not act out of fear that He will
lose us.  In fact, one of Jesus's most persistent messages was "Be not
afraid."  Fear blinds us, keeps us from the truth.  And out of fear we
impose God's will on the people in our society, when even God himself
will not do that.

The Purpose of Law

Contrary to a lot of current
thought, the purpose of Law is not to uphold or enforce morality.  Law
is about enforcing the minimum standard of action necessary to be a
functioning member of society.  It is about preservation of society,
putting restrictions on license where necessary in order to prevent its
citizens from harming each other.  Other than that, it should allow its
citizens as much license as possible.  If you look at many of our
current laws (against murder, theft, drinking and driving, etc), we make acts illegal when they harm someone or infringe
on their rights against their will.

Morality calls us to a much higher standard than the Law. Christian
morality is about rejecting sin in all its forms and transforming
yourself inside and out to become more and more like Jesus Christ. 
And, as I stated in the last section, we cannot force Christian
morality on members of our society without denying them the chance to
choose it freely.  That's what makes morality such a wonderful, lofty,
and praiseworthy ideal.  It is not something you are forced to do, it
is something you choose to do.

Given everything that has been said thus far, as Christians it is
our duty to emulate God and allow people to sin, as long as that sin
does not harm another person.  It may break our hearts to see people
shun the truth, but we have to let them.  From the standpoint of the
Law, we need to allow same sex marriage.  To vote against it is to act
out of fear, and to thereby distance ourselves from God.

Calming Leftover Fears – Definitions

In order to
get ourselves to a place where we are emotionally ready to permit same
sex marriage on a political level, we need to address two major fears
that plague our hearts.

The first is that by legalizing gay marriage, we would be
corrupting an institution that God created.  I know this is a sensitive
issue, and I will try my best to treat it fairly and gently.  We must
admit that the word marriage is full of different meanings on different
levels.  Traditionally, marriage has not always been meant as a
spiritual union in the eyes of God.  There has always been a social
aspect as well.  Marriage has been used as a political tool to unite
warring factions or countries.  It has been used in order to barter out
a better life for your family line.  It has been used as a financial
safety net.  Even today, people marry for all sorts of reasons.  They
marry for money, for lust, or for social status.  Some people get
married for love, but do not associate themselves with any religious
tradition at all.

This does not in any way detract from the beauty and profundity of
the Sacrament of marriage in its religious context.  It is as if we can
talk about marriage on two levels.  There is the social/political
level, and the spiritual/religious level.  The social/political level
has changed many times over the centuries without affecting the
spiritual/religious ideal of marriage.  And so it is today.  Allowing
same sex marriage affects the social definition of marriage, not the
religious one.  As a Christian, you do not have to recognize same sex
marriages as being approved or sanctioned by God.  It is in the name of
the State only.

If this proves to be too difficult of a place for us to reach, then
perhaps we need to take another route.  Many have stated that they are
just fine with civil unions, as long as gays aren't allowed to marry. 
But what is a civil union other than the social/political level of
marriage?  Although, if we insist on keeping the word marriage solely
in its religious context, then we must be fair in how we treat it on a
social/political level.  By this I mean taking the word marriage out of
State hands entirely.  Everyone would get civil unions, and then if
they chose to take the extra step of getting married, they can do so
through their Church.

But it is imperative that we maintain equality between same sex
couples and heterosexual couples.  When Jesus dealt with sinners,
whores, and thieves, did he not treat them as equals?  Isn't that what
allowed him to get through to them?

Calming Leftover Fears – The Children

The other
major fear has to do with what our children will see and be taught with
regards to homosexuality.  We do not like the idea that schools and/or
the media will be telling our children that homosexuality is okay and
perfectly acceptable.

Before we go into ways to ease this fear, let us explore for a bit
the root of it.  When it comes to our children, we want nothing to
corrupt them.  We want the best for them.  And because we are
Christians, we want them to grow up with those same values, that they
might find their way to God as well.  But this leads us to be fearful
of letting anything "unclean" touch them.  We are afraid that the power
of evil is too strong, too tempting, and that if our children are
exposed, their weaker minds will be enveloped and there will be nothing
we can do about it.

But children can smell our fear.  And they react in one of two
major ways.  They either adopt the same fears, or they rebel against
them and challenge them.  As we discussed earlier, fear is not truth. 
Truth is Freedom.  Some children sense this on a deep level…that the
actions we take are spawned from fear, and so they reject any truth
that they might express.  Either we perpetuate the feeling of fear, or
our children take their lives in a radically different direction in
order to reject it.

There is a better way.  Do not be afraid to talk to your children. 
Do not be afraid that they won't turn out how you want them to, or that
their lives won't be as happy as the lives you imagine and want for
them.  Trust God.  By working on your own inner state, you can better
help them grow up in God's love. 

If you adopt the frame of mind discussed in this essay, talking to
your children about same sex marriage is not as confusing as many,
including the National Organization for Marriage, have made it out to
be.  By showing your acceptance of it on a political level, you do not
give off the same fear, and children are less likely to rebel.  You can
then explain to your child what I explained in this essay, that
marriage for Christians is something even more deep and spiritual and
religious than society's definition.

Should your child still grow up and choose to marry someone of the same
sex, the other thing that legalizing same sex marriage will do to help
you
is that it will drastically change the homosexual community.  With
marriage and finding someone to love seen as the end goal of any life,
even a homosexual one, your child will grow up seeing examples of gay
men in loving, committed relationships.  They will see gay women caring
for each other and their children.  If your child does end up to be
homosexual, wouldn't you rather they choose this sort of life as
opposed to one of promiscuity?

This brings me to another caveat
to adopting a position free of fear.  We must maintain a sort of
"detachment" from the outcome.  If your child does happen to be
homosexual and to choose to marry someone of the same sex, you cannot
take it personally.  It may break your heart, but to force your child
to deny what he feels is truth makes you look fearful and your child
will not respond.  To give your child a chance at Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…you must let him make his own choices.

Conclusion

In summary, the Christian life is
about transforming ourselves and emulating Christ, who is God in human
form.  In order to become like God we must follow Freedom,
authenticity, and Truth…and we must lay aside fear.  It is difficult,
and there is much resistance. The path is indeed narrow.  It is hard to
give up what we think keeps us safe.  But to do so shows that we really
do have Faith and Trust in God, that we are willing to let Him shape
events and to adopt His perspective rather than merely our own.  In our
own struggle towards Freedom, we must surrender our fears about the
paths of others and strive, by example, to be a light to the world,
should they choose to see it or not.


*As you may have guessed, I am by no means conservative.  I tried to adopt that perspective for the sake of the argument.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

God Never Changes

See the thing about this idea is that it does get at some important
things about reality, but if considered alone, gives us an incomplete
picture.

Whether you think God is unchanging depends on your perspective on what God actually is.

If
God is transcendent, outside us and outside of time, he is unchanging.
For those of you who can’t handle straight theological sentences, I’ll
say it a different way. Amidst all the change in the world there is an
essence that remains fixed. This God is the ground of being. When we
say God is unchanging, we mean that there is something fundamental to
existence that is eternal and ever present. For instance, I find that
there is a place deep within me (the place where God and I are one)
where no matter what happens to me on the outside, somehow everything
is okay. I’m not always aware of it, but when I do see it, I realize
it’s always been there, and all I had to do was let go of my own
imposed desires and fears. For instance, if you go to the forests, or
stand on a mountain, or look at the stars…the essential experience,
though outwardly different, often feels the same. There is a certain
unity of experience, a deep level where everything is one, only
accessible when your mind is still and somewhat detached from your
daily life. And this is an eternal and unchanging aspect of reality.

If
God is immanent, in everything and everyone, then he changes every
second. This God is dynamic and alive. He reacts and flows and changes
along with circumstances, always in an effort to gently push in the
right direction. This God is in contact with everything, this is the
God of the details, the God of the living organism of the universe. And
like any living organism, it must be willing to adapt and change as
other parts of the ecosystem do. This is what it means to be alive. And
we would all (well, those of us who believe in him) agree that God is a
living God, right? If you still have trouble with it, think of it this
way. God gives us what we need, doesn’t he? Well, what if what we need
in order to grow changes? He’s going to change along with us isn’t he?
This God is very much *with us* down here, in every second of our
lives, improvising with us continuously like a jazz ensemble.

Personally, I believe that God is both. Unchanging *and* ever-changing. The whole *and* the part. The heart *and* the limbs.

The
next question is: where does the dogma belong? To which category? The
eternal and ever present core? Or the outer, grounded in the world,
constantly changing aspect? Or perhaps it belongs to both on different
levels. smile.gif

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Response to some Theological Speculation

"The
free will we are endowed by our Creator is the very thing that defines
our existence– creation without free will is creation without love;
ironically, it is love, and only love, that can create life, for all
goodness rests in love. That which is not love is only for tearing down." -Amanda

Your point about love being the only thing that can create free
will…that is an interesting one.  Fear creates, ignorance creates,
but they do so without free will.  Why?  Because they are possessive,
they create only to benefit themselves.  Love creates for the pleasure
of letting go.  And this marks two ways that we as humans can create,
or approach life.  If we approach life through fear and ignorance
(which we all to often do), what we call love is really an attempt to
fortify ourselves and fill an emptiness within our hearts that we are
afraid of.  We don't want a person to be who they are, we want a person
to act in a way that benefits us.

If we approach life through love, then we are much more relaxed.  We do
not grasp at things or at people.  We love them without wanting to
possess them because we do not fear emptiness.  We have found that
emptiness is a window through which we might view love, truth, and
authenticity on the deepest level.  Love, it seems, is about letting
go.  And this letting go does imply a will to let each and every
creature or force behave as it is.

"This is what is meant of the Something More when I say it is "the individuality and unity of life."" -Amanda

You seem to be getting at something essential here.  Two components of
God.  Individuality, unity.  Others have labeled them immanence and
transcendence, or the Sophia and the Logos.  It is an ironic view of
God, because it holds two seemingly opposite qualities together.  For
me, this idea is absolutely essential to my concept of God. 

I understand your flirting with pantheism, because strict monotheism
doesn't seem to give you the same impression of cohesiveness and
unity.  It emphasizes God being set apart, transcendent.  While this
feels true to you, it doesn't emphasize how present God feels. How he
brings us together and exists in every level of his creation.

I also understand your hesitance to take on pantheism.  Christians have
long looked down on it.  You do not want to lose the transcendent
aspect of God.  But you don't have to. 🙂

I suggest you look into panentheism. It's monotheism and pantheism
combined.  The ironic God.  Both immanent and transcendent.  And the
fun part?  You can find traces of it (along with mysticism) in every
single religion.  I believe it is a more accurate description of how
God feels to us.

As far as the art and artist, I think God's presence goes deeper than
that.  To me, God is the artist, but he is also the canvas, the paint,
the will and the life of the art itself.  Once he has created, he lets
it take on a life of its own, but it is not separate, not on the most
fundamental level.  For though it does as it wills, it is made of the
canvas and paint.  It is free and separate on one level, but it is made
of God on another.  In every living thing exists a spark of God's
presence.

And on the topic of free will…I actually think that the more you
reveal this spark, the freer you are.  The more you let it become
buried, the more ignorant you are of your true nature, and the more
bound to separation you become.

So, paradoxically, I think that to be free *is* to be one with God.  To
have your will freely join with his.  It is rather ironic that in order
to become truly free, we do not start bound and have to separate
ourselves, but the reverse.  The moment we are born we are introduced
to separation, and our lives are a quest to find a way to rebind
(re-lig  the root of the word religion) ourselves with the essential
unity and become free.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Humans and their Hearts

From The Alchemist, a conversation between the boy and the alchemist:

"My heart is a traitor…it doesn't want me to go on."

"That makes sense… Naturally it's afraid that, in pursuing your dream, you might lose everything you've won."

"Well, then, why should I listen to my heart?"

"Because you will never again be able to keep it quiet.  Even if you pretend not to have heard what it tells you, it will always be there inside you, repeating to you what you're thinking about life and about the world."

"You mean I should listen to my heart, even if it's treasonous?"

"Treason is a blow that comes unexpectedly.  If you know your heart well, it will never be able to do that to you.  Because you'll know its dreams and wishes, and will know how to deal with them.  You will never be able to escape from your heart.  So it's better to listen to what it has to say.  That way, you'll never have to fear an unanticipated blow."

"My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer…."

"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself.  And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."

That night, the boy slept deeply, and, when he awoke, his heart began to tell him things that came from the Soul of the World.  It said that all people who are happy have God within them.  And that happiness could be found in a grain of sand from the desert, as the alchemist had said.  Because a grain of sand is a moment of creation, and the universe has taken millions of years to create it.  "Everyone on earth has a treasure that awaits him," his heart said.  "We, people's hearts, seldom say much about those treasures, because people no longer want to go in search of them.  We speak of them only to children.  Later, we simply let life proceed, in its own direction, toward its own fate.  But, unfortunately, very few follow the path laid out for them–the path to their Personal Legends, and to happiness.  Most people see the world as a threatening place, and, because they do, the world turns out, indeed, to be a threatening place.

"So, we, their hearts, speak more and more softly. We never stop speaking out, but we begin to hope that our words won't be heard: we don't want people to suffer because they don't follow their hearts."

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

More on the Gnostic Mass

Since the whole of the Eucharist ritual is published on the website of the church, I figured I would share a couple parts of it that I really like.

Sophia and the Logos

"And the Logos answered: "They say I came for all,
but in truth, I came for Her Who came for all.
For it had come to pass that there were those who had
lost their way and, lacking in spark, could not return
unto the Fullness.
Seeing this, She came unto them, giving her life to the depths of matter.
And in truth She did suffer and become blind.
But our Father, sensing Her anguish, sent Me forth, being of Him,
so that She might see and We be as One again.
Though they see it not, it is She, the tender Mother of Mercy,
Who is the great redeemer."

Viewing the story through the Gnostic myth just makes so much sense to me.  That the Logos would come specifically to redeem her.  That it was her who gave up everything and suffered in blindness and ignorance so that her children might have the hope of rejoining with the Fullness once again.  And like I said before in a previous post, I really identify with the Sophia and the feelings that drive her. 

Before, I felt like I could identify with God or Jesus, but only loosely.  I felt some sort of passionate longing to fill up the hearts of people who suffer, but it could only loosely translate to the story I was taught.  I mean, I know Jesus was supposed to have sacrificed his life for us, and that God is supposed to be watching us longingly, wishing he could save us from all pain but knowing that it isn't in our best interests….but there was something missing.  I would often imagine them and how they would feel watching us struggle and make mistakes. 

But this…this is exactly what I was looking for but couldn't find.  That we were stuck in darkness and that Sophia loved us so much that she couldn't bear to leave us.  That she spread herself out, buried herself deep in every heart, behind every pair of eyes…even though she knew the power of ignorance and blindness would overcome her.  This sort of devotion and unconditional love…this is what I've longed to express but never quite had the right vehicle to explain.

"I have always been with you. I have whispered your name in the rustle
of the leaves of autumn; I have called to you with the voice of the
waves of the sea. I have watched you while I hid in the clouds. The
birds have sung my messages, and I have given you echoes of my presence
through all eyes that have looked at you—for in all creatures exists a
spark of my Presence. I have waited for you, my beloved, for I have
loved you and longed to give you life."

I really hate bringing up gender when it comes to religion…but part of me does wonder if it is because this love is feminine in nature that I can identify with it so much.  If that was what was missing for me personally.  I'm not sure.

And then the Logos comes to restore her sight…to bring out the spark in each of our hearts…that feels like true salvation.  That was once buried deep under layers and layers of lies and ignorance now can burst forth and suddenly we can understand, we can see.  That we reach truth by becoming authentically us, by bringing out that deepest spark of who we are.  And that this spark is something shared by everyone and everything.  It's just so beautiful and it makes so much sense.

Keep in mind I'm not advocating a literal interpretation of the myth. It is a myth.  But it makes so much sense on a deep level, as an allegory for my own spirituality.  I make no claims of cosmology, only claims of personal resonance.

Ineffability


And we invoke That which is no thing:
That which the mind cannot grasp nor comprehend,
But only respond in ecstasy and awe, here present now and forever.

One of the problems I've had with "traditional" religion is that it is so easy to start thinking that God is this or that.  That God behaves or thinks a certain way according to what the bible or the priest says.  It's easy to forget that God is so much more than an anthropomorphism.   Saying things like this keep that fresh in our minds, and apophatic theology is an important aspect of mysticism.

There is a song we sing that has the lines "there isn't anything she isn't, and there isn't anything that she is," she being Sophia (aka the Holy Spirit?).

I love things like that.  Apparent contradiction meant to elevate your mind to a different level of understanding.

And we talk so much about Sophia and the Logos…and their "characters" but when it comes to God…to the Fullness…we don't give him a character.   We call him Father, but we do as little as possible to form him to our understanding, to shape him into us.  References to him are vague, which is good.  We cannot grasp too tightly.

All in all, I am really enjoying being a part of this community.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Keeping Accounts

In our relationships with others we usually keep some sort of mental
tally as to what we owe others and what is owed to us. We know who is
in good standing with who, etc. It's the way we work. Black marks and
gold stars on each person's record.

And
usually, we give more to people with a better record. And this is quite
natural. If someone lies to us, it will be much harder to trust them
again. But even think about the people close to you. We say there are
people who we love unconditionally, but do we really? What would happen
if this person betrayed us? Or if they consistently didn't live up to
our expectations? Usually, human love is conditional, no matter how it
appears and/or feels.

And it all comes down to that system of checks and balances that we keep for each person in our heads.

Does
God really work the same way, or are we projecting our worldly system
of love onto him? Does he keep a checklist of all of our sins and good
deeds, just as we do for others? Does he mentally place people in
in-groups and out-groups based on their actions like we do?

To
make us ask for forgiveness from one particular sin…doesn't that
imply that there is a black mark that we need to erase? Or is that not
how it works?

If God's love is truly unconditional, then it is
beyond account keeping. It has no conditions. Because of this, I really
don't think the idea of each sin being a black mark on our permanent
record until we say we're sorry is a very helpful model. It's our
system, not God's.

If that is true, what might God's love
(unconditional love) look like? What would it look like if we were to
have it in our own relationships? Is this even desirable, or do we
need to keep accounts? Is it necessary that humans not love
unconditionally like God? Why or why not?

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend