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Saturday, September 18, 2010


I was just pondering the staggering diversity within Christianity. Someone once told me that Hinduism has no core theology that all Hindus must subscribe to. One might be able to say the same thing about the Christian community. The array of churches teach vastly different understandings of the Bible, Jesus, the appropriate Christian life, etc. Each have different requirements of their adherents from celibacy to full embrace of sex; different tenets from "literal" Bible interpretations to more contextual, historical & metaphorical understandings; from Jesus to being the only son of God to Jesus being the son of God just as are others, only different in his fullness of Oneness; from the historical Jesus to the Cosmic Christ; from immersion Baptism to sprinkling; on and on. Just go to any big bookstore & look at the shelves bulging with books from a huge variety of perspectives.

As I look back on the history of our religion, I see that there was diversity from the very beginning. Paul & James disagreed. Apostles went out into the world teaching from their own perspectives. Converts understood & spoke through their cultures & understandings. Disagreements arose between the Trinitarians & the Arians. The Gnostics grew & were opposed. Whoever were in power were the "orthodox" & whoever were out of power were the "heretics," in a seemingly never ending swing from one to the other. One day you were "in" & the next "out" & the next "in," etc.

Yet within the sometimes heated arguments created by such diversity, something amazing lurks. Something amazing compelled the people of the 1st century to give all to tell of the life-changing happenings in their lives when they came in contact with Christ. The first were poor, but after awhile the more wealthy were touched too. Christ quickened within each person the dormant spirituality unfed by any other.

Today's hungry souls reach out to find the touch of Christ too. Far too few find that touch. So many are turned off by churchiosity, religiosity, political messes & immorality, etc. in some of the visible church. The soul cries out. I hear so many people say things like -- Where is the spirituality? I hunger to touch the hem of the garment, to be touched by Christ, but I don't know the way. Who is there to show me?

Sometimes I think God has to find us. The rigormorale that many go through doesn't seem to lead them anywhere except in circles. For me, God found me when I was a child. Jesus became my closest friend. Perhaps what needs to be done is to become available to found. If you are wanting to be found, maybe this little prayer will help.

God of all, I open all of myself to You. I come ready & willing for You to find me. I am available to know Your Presence. I invite Christ into my very depths. Lead me to that life-changing touch of Christ. Lead me to experience what those awakened souls in the 1st century knew by Christ being quickened within them. Hear the collective cry of the humans on earth and send Christ to each heart that hungers. Let this be a time of great spiritual awakening. Thank You for hearing my prayer. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ & seal it with the ancient seal of faith as I say Amen, Amen & Amen.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fundamentalist Extremists

In recent days I've been pondering the puzzling life of fundamentalist extremists, the people on the edges of whatever it is they profess. In particular, I've been thinking about Christian fundamentalist extremists.

In fact, I was praying about one particular person who has moved to the extreme edge. From the edge, their position is the only one that is "right." All others need to be condemned and/or shunned. From the edge, a narrow view of life and religion are maintained. They think that they have the only correct understanding of scriptures, traditions and ways of being Christian. They do not explore the great Christian mystics and thinkers of the ages, because they already "know." They don't need to understand the idioms, the historical context or anything else re: the Bible, because somehow they "know." The feel justified in being judgmental of all Christians who are not on the narrow edge with them. Perhaps some are actually fanatical.

For many of them, they are unwitting followers of Darby, the defrocked Anglican Priest of the late 1800's. Darby made up some of the features of extreme fundamentalism such as the rapture & tribulation. The followers today think they are following the old ways, but instead are following the thinking of a rather strange man of a little over 100 years ago.

The shower has historically been a place of insight and inspiration in my life. Sunday morning during my shower, I had a flash of insight re: this puzzling position of some people. They are Pharisee-like Christians. The law, their view, the narrow view -- that is all that matters. Search for deeper understanding is not needed, is indeed repulsive to them. Compassion is only for a select few who agree with them.

I had a vision of Jesus scratching his head over this odd turn of belief about him and his teachings. Instead of following in love, forgiveness, generosity of spirit, healing, giving, peacefulness, the stories of the long ago Pharisees live again in fundamentalist extremism.

God of the ages, God of the universe, God of my heart & soul, today as all days I turn to You. I need Your guidance, comfort & healing hand. Help me to be able to keep rooted in Your ways of Love & not be swayed by the harshness of our world. Lead me to live as You would have me live. Help me to live with courage that is gentle & rooted in Your Lovingness. Open my mind to more & more understanding. Help me to remember that we are all unfolding from various points of awareness, so that I can have compassion for those who seem to be stuck in some place far from Your Love. Help me keep focused on Your Light & follow You always. I ask You all of this in Jesus' name, Amen.