Blog Archives

The Self-Destruction of Christianity

Martin Luther didn’t plan to start a new religion. He hoped to renew the heart of Christianity. But from the time when the Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion, the church had appropriated the power structure of empires and monarchies, claiming the God given right to rule, complete with the assumption of a monopoly on truth. The shepherd’s role was transformed into that of a tyrant with absolute power and no accountability. Christianity’s history quickly became one of violence against dissenters.

Even now, when violence is rejected, the lack of dialogue and openness to growth in our understanding of the gospel has become the root of the ongoing splintering of Christianity, So we continue to waste our time and energy fighting among ourselves.

Few institutional religions have adopted a democratic structure, so they become stagnant through lack of diversity and through power structures devoted to preserving the status quo. As chaotic as democracy is, it gives even the least of its members a voice and the hope of change, so that diverse people with extremely divergent views can remain united without the violence that tyranny provokes.

If humanity is evolving, so will our understanding of our relationship with God and one another. Jesus listened to diverse voices, not only responding to the needs of the outcaste and foreigner, but even allowing them to challenge his assumptions about his mission.

Unfortunately, the power structures with vested interests in institutional religion generally have kept Christianity as the rear-guard of the status quo, rather than as leaders in social change and spiritual growth in unconditional love. We still throw stones at the prophets in the name of God.

The tension between the value and rights of the individual and the good of the community calls for on-going dialogue. We witness the break-down of Christianity over and over as each new call for inclusion of those different from the majority occurs. Institutional Christianity has become about power and preserving the status quo. It is no longer the answer to our human search for meaning. Secularism isn’t destroying Christianity. Christianity is self-destructing.

You Aren’t Who You Thought You Were, Are You?

Quote from The Zen of Cats by Bernard Gunther:

“Who you think you are can’t survive, but who you really are can’t not survive.”

In my fifties I worked with a Spiritual Director in an attempt to find out who I was.  I had always been a chameleon, adapting to fit relationships, any relationship, even someone chatting in the  line at the grocery.  I’d done this since childhood, but finally decided that I was tired of  not being sure who I was if no one else was around either physically or in my head.

To discover my whole real self involved looking at shadow parts that I didn’t admit to, even though they were obvious to others. One of the ways to do this was to work with my dreams.  If we start writing them down as soon as we wake up remembering them, we can begin to discover what they are saying to or about us.   Some of the characters in my dreams and therefore in my psyche, weren’t very nice.  They were, in fact, very different from the persona I considered my ‘self.’

One day, after a  somewhat disconcerting session with my Spiritual Director, I went to visit my mother in the nursing home.  Mom was in the late stages of Alzheimer’s and didn’t even seem to notice me, never-the-less recognize me.  So, I sat next to her bed and just held her hand.  I was in inner turmoil over the possibility that I wasn’t  just the friendly, generous, caring person that I liked to think I was.  As I sat there,  I was trying to convince myself that this negative side of me wasn’t real.

Mom had a roommate who had only been there a few weeks, but in all that time she never seemed to notice me or the nurses when we came in and never responded in any way when anyone spoke to her.

As I sat there silently, rationalizing about my feet of clay, the roommate raised up on her elbow in her bed, looked straight at me, and said clearly, “You aren’t who you thought you were, are you?”

As I stared at her dumbfounded, she lay back down, closed her eyes, and never said another word in my presence.  About two weeks later she died.  We really are all connected.  I just hope God can use me someway in the last days of my life to help someone else in the tapestry.

So much for denial!  Obviously, even when I am psychologically jamming my fingers in my ears and singing Jesus Loves Me at the top of my inside my head voice, God can speak loudly and clearly when it’s needed to grow more honest in order to become more loving.

 

Follow Your Own Weirdness

The title quote is from Ray Waddle, a writer.

Poets are prophets. They can speak things they don’t know yet.  From  a talk by Shelley Warren.

Altered states are easy, altered traits are difficult. From Rabbi Rami Shapiro.

And to keep a perspective…. two passed on by my son Steve:

Shhhh!  is the sound of no one caring what you think.

and

No matter how great your sorrow or how great your pain, one billion, three hundred million Chinese don’t give a _______.

And a memory of a moment of truth from my youngest son, Tommy.  When he wasn’t quite three yet, I tried to get him to speak  for a tape recording to send to my mother, who lived in another state.  He stared silently at the recorder, so I  encouraged him to say who he was.  He not only remained mute, he became obviously upset.  Finally he burst out in an anguished voice, “I’m somebody!  I’m somebody!”

A universal cry, I believe.