2009-01-25 02:44 pm (UTC)
I'm enjoying your reflections on all this.
"All Gods are one God and all Goddesses are one Goddess". I believe that too. Gods and Goddesses are just masks for a Divine Reality we're incapable of picturing.
This is the belief that makes the most sense to me in recent years.
I believe Paul wrote that, but I also believe that was Paul's opinion, therefore we can ignore it, if that view does not fit our lives.
Well quite. It's an opinion, nothing more- and an outdated opinion at that. Who turned Paul- or any other man or woman- into a source of infallible authority?
No single image of the Divine- whether it's the Venus de Milo or Christ on the cross can express more than a tiny fragment of the Reality that lies behind it.
This stuff is so difficult to talk about. Words fail- quite literally.
I'll admit that my studies of Christianity came to a different conclusion- Paul was a disaster for the faith, as were those who closely followed his teachings like Calvin and Luther. He was a hateful misogynist, fought with Jesus' family over the direction the new faith would take, and made a right nuisance of himself everywhere he went. A lot of this is documented in Acts. It makes the Jews look like the bad guys, but you have to wonder why they tried to kill him twice.
I read an interesting book titled "Why the Jews Rejected Jesus" which goes into depth about Paul and how he pissed off the Jewish establishment of the day. Had Christ's family won out, Christianity would probably been another sub-sect of Judaism and not a distinct faith itself.
I think that's right. The Jerusalem faction- headed by James, the Lord's brother (whoever he was)- seems to have been no more than a tiny, Jewish sect- which left to itself would probably have died out. It was Paul who took the "faith" out into the world- and is therefore to be accounted the true founder of Christianity.
I don't think Paul was a misogynist. One of his authentic teachings states that "in Christ there is... neither male nor female"- and there is evidence he had female co-workers- Prisca for instance. The teachings that have given him a bad name are mostly (if not entirely- it's a long time since I studied this stuff) from corrupt and forged texts like the Epistles to Timothy.
Your view of Jesus sounds more Unitarian than Episcoplian. Unitarians embrace a much broader view of God than do the more traditional Christian sects and denominations.
I empathize with your discomfort with "all that harping on and on about Jesus". It gives me flashbacks to my days as a young RC sitting in church on a Sunday morning being forced to pray to saints and angels and Mary when all I wanted to do was talk directly to God without all the middlemen.
Like they say, faith is highly personal.
I've sometimes wondered whether I shouldn't try the Unitarians.
My mother's family were Quakers. I feel some affinity with them too.
So many religions, so little time!:)
Quakers would work for you, too, from what I know of them.
And oh, boy, would you ever love the Swedenborgian Church on the Hill here in my neighborhood. The pastor there has had Native Americans come in to preach, a Muslim, Buddhists, Wiccans, a Hindu, someone from the Bahai temple, other pagans, RC's, as well as his own pastoral staff who follow the teachings of Immanuel Swedenborg. Although I do not fit into that congregation I have friends who are members - these include, among others, Jews as well as Christians and agnostics. Quite a mixture, with something for everyone. They are a very welcoming congregation, and keep me on their mailing list even though I do not attend their services. They also take groups of senior citizens on day trips (free of charge), and every Sunday after the regular worship service they serve a full course Sunday dinner for the congregation and their friends and families. Like I said, something for everyone.
Oh, yeah, and they dont bother people for money, either -- they own an adjoining high-rise apartment building, whose income supports the church work.
Those Swedenborgians sound really groovy.
Swedenborg himself was an amazing guy. I keep meaning to read him- then backing off.
Oh, yes, they are also into seances. I guess that Swedenborg had a thing about what happens to the spirit in between lives (he believed in reincarnation? I'm confused...). Or maybe it was "the spirit in transition".
Swedenborg spoke to angels and went on tours of the heavenly realms and stuff like that. I don't know whether he believed in reincarnation or not.
Strangely, it was the population of Heaven with all those saints, with Mary and angels and whatnot, that made Catholicism feel real and comfortable to me. Not particularly because I wanted to go through intercessors to reach God, but because it made things feel homey and crowded. Like a big family, sometimes bickering, often in each other's way, sometimes contradicting, but in the end pulling toward the same end.
And perhaps there is something to the notion of intermediaries, if truly one believes that the Divine is beyond our mortal grasp. Using the example above of the blind men trying to discern the truth of the elephant, I get the sudden image a blind man sitting on a rock, listening to a toga-swaddled saint attempting to explain (in Latin, to one who knows almost nothing of that tongue) what exactly the elephant is.
Yesterday we walked round the church identifying all the figures in the stained glass windows. Like you, I find comfort in the Communion of the saints- especially since so many of them are pagan gods and goddesses in disguise.
I believe in intermediaries- in spirit guides and angels and ascended masters. I think it would be a very chilly universe if it was just us and God.
2009-01-25 04:06 pm (UTC)
I too enjoy the possibility to "breathe" spirituality, wherever it is given freely. I only avoid places where a)Jesus b)the ONLYNESS of one or the other faith is too directly and unavoidably shoved down my throat continuously. Everything else harmonizes perfectly with my universe.
I like the atmosphere of our local church. I don't want a personal relation with Jesus, but I do want to spend time in a place "where prayer has been valid".