|On The Feast Of The Conversion Of St. Paul
||[Jan. 25th, 2009|12:13 pm]
The visiting priest who has taken the morning service these past two weeks is the non-stipendiary curate at St Anne's- the church where I used to be vicar. He arrived after my time and doesn't seem to recognise me- though he must have seen my portrait on the vestry wall back home. He keeps talking about St. Annes. It's not quite a case of "of all the gin joints in all the world"- because St. Anne's is only a couple of miles away- but it does mean I'm continually being brought up against my (in)glorious past. Maybe the Goddess wants it this way.|
Ailz finds it perfectly easy to meld her Paganism and her Christianity. As soon as we're settled in our pew she mentally erects a little side altar to the Goddess- and she's happy. "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. Still, there's rather a lot of stuff in the service that isn't to my taste- and especially all that harping on and on about Jesus. One of the great things about Paganism is you're not always staring at the One Mask. You're allowed to swap them around. It can be Hercules one week, Aphrodite the next. Jesus is lovely: I just can't be doing with him all the time.
We were celebrating our patronal festival this morning- The Conversion of St. Paul. I'm not one of those who think Paul was a disaster for Christianity. For one thing Christianity would probably not exist without him. And for another he's not necessarily responsible for the "Pauline" teachings that make modern people want to spit. For example: I Timothy, 2, 12- "I do not suffer a woman to teach etc..." Did he write that? Probably not. The Epistles to Timothy and Titus are almost certainly forgeries.
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.