Spiritual Grace

Okay.  So.  I’ve been thinking about our rapid and unsavory judgments of other people, especially in the area of spirituality.  [It spills over into the political realm, and so many others as well, but for now, I want to deal with the “religious” aspect.]

As you may already know, I come from an extremely conservative Christian background (legalism, fire & brimstone, literalism…I know, I’m lumping so much together here).  It’s taken me years to cull what seems right to me from the rest of the heap.  [The phrase “what seems right to me” will have pastors everywhere screaming!  I realize this.]  Warning: I am fully aware that I don’t know the truth.  Yep, you heard me correctly.  I don’t have the answers.  I don’t know, for sure, that God exists, or that He intended Jesus to die for our sins.  Does that sound blasphemous?  I don’t think so.  None of us were there.  None of us can prove a thing.

Does this mean I don’t believe in God?  Certainly not.  Everything I know to be true (especially in the natural world) points me to such a Being, but I’m not sure, right now, how personal He is.  Some readers might call me a Deist at this point.  Relax.  I still want to believe He understands me and calls me by name.  I just don’t hear Him all the time.  Especially recently.

If you’re trembling in your boots right now, worried for my safety (because assuredly, God will strike me down with all this wild talk!), don’t be.  I’m not.  I think, if there is a God, He and I will find each other somehow.  If not, well, I’m not sure about that scenario, because I’m not there.

I only wish a sweet camaraderie and kind acceptance would exist between all of us–despite our beliefs.  No flailing of arms.  No sideways glances.  No backstabbing.

How can any of us judge the other?

I received this e-mail about six months ago, and it disturbed me to no end.  I wish to love this person, but I don’t know how.  The author of it is disappointed in how I turned out, frustrated that I’m not reading the right types of books, listening to the right kind of people.

Here it is, in part:

“Shocking conclusions from neo-critical biblical scholars do not bother me, but their presuppositions and methodology are.  If their pre-ordered rules for scholarship have logical flaws, then their conclusions (even if they would agree with my personally-held position) should be questioned.  I think that is the most glaring blindspot [sic] that I see in you (I am not attacking now, I promise) is that you don’t have the proper training to adjudicate validity of argumentation, say between a Pagels and an Aquinas.  “How is she so uncritically convinced of a position?” I think, “Surely, she sees through this slip of logic, surely she sees how the argument has been framed.”  Again, this goes back to my historical perception and admiration of your mind.  And my pride is definitely at the epicenter of this tornado: I ask meself [sic] rhetorical questions: “Do they know Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and scholarly German and French?  Have they achieved the highest marks?  Do they have a four-year Masters?  Have they been accepted to Princeton’s Doctoral Divinity Program?”  But I recognize that my responses are often not gentle or even patient…I often think: “She can think deeper and better than that!”  I am guilty.  I know it before you tell me.  So, my conclusion is a question and a theory: “Is this because of some intellectual ‘competition’ on my part.”  Perhaps that can explain some of it, but not quite all.”

My worry is what this is saying.  I need training.  I need seminary.  I need Princeton before I can say what’s up and what’s down.

And if I don’t get training?

Then I’m going down the rabbit hole, along with Alice.  And so are the rest of you who don’t have any said training.

My gut tells me this isn’t right.  My heart says there’s a better way.

Here’s one way I’ve found.  And it seems right, in the interim of me figuring everything out, which, by the way, I never will.

I think my lovely friend Maezen is insightful in her post on “How to Raise a Buddhist Child.” It’s tenets can be applied to anyone searching for meaning, searching for truth.  You don’t have to be Buddhist.

This is what I love–how much we can all teach each other on our wild and crazy journeys.

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