Xianities: Exclusive or Inclusive?

Posted: January 30, 2013 by Ty in Spirituality
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The version of the flaming chalice currently u...

The version of the flaming chalice currently used as the logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You tell us fine stories, and there is nothing in what you say that may not be true; but that is good for you who came across the seas. Do you not see that as we inhabit a world so different from yours; there may be another heave for us?

And another road to reach it?

-A Huron to a Jesuit Missionary, circa 1635

 

Church & Buehrens use the expression of One Light, Many windows; Matthew Fox (defrocked Dominican Priest) used the phraseology one river, many wells. But the quintessential answer is the same, there are many ways to access the One Source, the Sacred, the Creator, The Divine, The Love…

What needs to be answered for each of us in this new Global Village is which way do we access it? A traditional religion, a non-religion, a new age, new wave, science, philosophy, politics, just being… this is the core of Universalism, there is nothing wrong in the many manifestations that we see in this world the thrust being as the Dalai Lama has recently phrased his religion to be kindness, compassion, or Desmond Tutu in God is Not a Christian, it being love the foundation.

This is the journey I have been on, a journey that has been many years (decades) in the making. Where I have worn many labels of religiousity, yet each label is only one piece of the story. Much like the Huron to the Jesuit, what makes you think that your Western European Empiricism speaks to my experience of the sacred in daily life?

This is the thrust of the journey that during my sabbatical has taken me away from institutionalized Christianities and into a journey of discovery…at one juncture it actually had me labelled a heretic by a fundamentalist school, but what else can you say…for when one does not believe in Hell, or does not believe in a manmade God of misogyny, bloodlust, hatred and exclusion. Rather a belief shaped in the imminence of paradise here, our role in building it as co-creators with the Divine, much like Jesus of Nazareth. One where every aspect of life is Sacred, and within that is where Creator exists in us, and us in the Creator.

This journey of exploration that has led me to the Unitarian-Universalist Association…more colloquially into the Calgary Unitarian Church as an exploration with the family, to read many works of thought and recently to history works Hewett’s Unitarians in Canada (1975 & 1995) and Wilbur’s A History of Unitarianism Vol. 2 (1945 & 1965) which revealed a church that has organically grown since shortly after the Easter Moment, but became denomiantionalized within Transylvania during the             Reformation. It is a story of a people called out by the Spirit when the church becomes to doctrinally fixate that it divides and excludes, instead of sets the table widely for all of the children of the Holy Mystery. A story of beyond tolerance, to acceptance that individuals and communities experiences of the Holy will be different, and that is okay, in fact it is a wonderful time where these different ways can come together with the grounding focus being transformation. Could this be why UU is the fastest growing liberal church in North America? All the liberal theologians being tired of the doctrinal asinine that no longer or never should have separated us in the first place.

Read no further until you have checked out the short journey at: http://tyragan.blogspot.com

This brings us to the reflection today, on Brock and Parker’s (2008) Saving Paradise which is an alternative history to the church we never knew. It is a challenging work that forces the reader to stare fully into the vacuum of darkness that the “church” has mired on this world.

What exactly are the Hebrew Bible prophecy books? Are they futuristic soothsayers? No, these are a people during a time of crisis simply attempting to process (p. 22). No great infallibility, just a story of survival and faith.  Texts that for the First Century CE believers then showed them ways to allegorically process the Roman Empire (for us today Materialism? Corporate rule?), especially when the rule of the Empire is then reflected back upon the same institutions that we hold “sacred”. For the whore of Babylon in Revelations is not an allegory to the Empire, but to those complicit in the oppressors and degradation of a people…the religious leaders of Israel (p.75), which upon reflection of main stream religion as stories of abuse, wars, genocides, scandals, thefts, lies, etc. in the “name of God” flood the media lines is it not an allegory we can use today?

One that was extended even within the Gospel writers metaphor, John Mark wrote of Jesus’ casting out of the demons of Legion (an Empire Allusion) to the pigs or the defiled depths (p.45) the fact that the Empire Gospel was being interpreted to destroy people, it was time for a new Gospel, one that empowered those without power. That was the Gospel of the peasant out of Nazareth that shook the world. For it is true that Gospels do not kill people (they are merely proclamations), but interpreters do (p.49). If one takes up the Gospel, they must accept that it is a sacred text and with that we must exercise our discernment and wisdom in accepting the power and responsibility that come with wielding words that we say come from the Sacred (p.49). Let us be honest, we have not done well, think of how many have been cast out of this world, destroyed emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically by the predators that have enlisted within “God’s Army”.

How far we have gone from the house that Jesus built, for his father’s house had many rooms. Did you know that the fixation on the Crucifixion did not happen until the 1000’s when the Great Schism ripped the Western church out of the Eastern Mysticism and it became more concerned with power, land, and money instead of mysticism, rebirth, and L-O-V-E. Why? The ancient church had us in one existence with many dimensions (one house, many rooms sound familiar), essentially multiple dimensions all united within The Spirit (p.88).

So if there was no Crucifixion fixation then what were earlier believers “converted into”? It really isn’t that hard to figure out, it was a counterculture movement. Baptism was more than simply a personal choice about one’s beliefs. It was a ritual that incorporated initiates into a community and its source of power. As such, it was inseparable from social and political degrees. (p.41). When one took the step of entering into the waters of baptism, it wasn’t a “out of hell free ticket”, it was entering into solidarity with those Jesus spoke of in the Beatitudes, the ones that society has cast out, and choosing to walk alongside and build a healthy community. This is what Jesus’ feeding of the masses was about, as the Emperor would feed the poor and lull them into thinking the only source of sustenance was destroyed when Jesus fed the masses and showed them the true source of all things necessary was not the Emperor, but truly ethical grace within the Holy Mystery (p.30).

Which leads John Crossan to say, “it is in food and drink, offered equally to everyone that the presence of God and Jesus is found” (p.31).

The meal shared (Eucharist) and the Baptism is truly the renunciation of Empire within one’s life, and joins a movement that drew on different well springs: wisdom, word, Torah and Spirit (p.41).  It is to be in the Spirit, to know how to distinguish good and evil required acute attunement to the present and reflection about ethical behaviours discerned through wisdom, live joyfully, enact justice, nonviolence and love (p.88).  If we seize on these values of the ancient tradition we are birthed into through water and Spirit, what comes evident for us is that we must tell the truth of crucifixion, an act of horror designed to shame, humiliate and destroy humanity.

This is the act of violence the Empire brought to bear on the peasant Messiah. It is up to us to tell the truth of this violence. To quit hiding behind theological treatise that make it okay for G-O-D to be a vengeful prick who must have seen his son beaten, bloodied, humiliated, killed for us to be loved (which spirals into its own theology of acceptance of violence and abuse). Brock and Parker on page 53 write:

To break silence whenever violence is used to shame, instill fear,

fragment human community, or suppress those who advocate for

justice is life-giving.

It is the foundation of ethical grace, to live into and out of the worst a community can experience, and speak truth. It is the power of Healing Circles, Truth and Reconciliation commissions, simple healthy community. It is the pragmatic/practical end of Panentheism. For the church is the Holy Mystery’s renewed paradise (p.89).

This is Theosis (communities that embody divine love) was a term used by both men and women, regardless of orientation, ability, gender, or societal labours were equals in all aspects of life to build the church (p.191). A church that experience Eucharist as a training of the whole person (body/soul/mind/strength) to know the world and spirit in it (p.145), “A Feast of Life” for the whole, and would/should include all the foods of the harvest (p.142).

Which is the source of offering that represented the community’s shared resources, its common wealth in the Holy Mystery (p.142).  It was not just a money thing, it was not just an anything, it was sharing of the blessedness of the whole person as a piece of the whole.

This piece of the whole, in an egalitarian world birthed another source of power. For women in a culture with no power, suddenly they discovered the source of power. That’s right, S-E-X. Just as Mary of Nazareth seized power of being-ness with her Yes to the Holy (for more of my research on this I direct you to: http://tyragan.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/theres-something-about-mary-a-liberation-theology-for-the-21st-century-free-e-book/). Yet it is in women in the ancient church first claiming their right to their virginity (bodies) that they are fully empowered (p.194). How we have abused and bastardized this in the church since, with our virgin/whore dichotomy and using both to strip power from women and make them once more nothing more than pawns of men (such an Empire move).

Another traipsing of us into the Empire’s bed is even our understanding of marriage. Do we realize that until the misogyny of medieval times, a Christian marriage was nothing more than a couple choosing to live together and declaring themselves wed? (p.195). Look at what we have done with something so beautiful in such a short span of time, how many lives we have destroyed, some even driven to the point of suicide over our own destructive use of “marriage” as a means of exclusion.

How do we realize inclusion? That is quite simply as noted earlier, in blessed community, where we are the agents, foster parents, OF LIFE that sustains communities within ethical grace (p.418). This sustaining that is rooted in, as Brock and Parker state of page 419:

The Eros of Beauty calls to us and bids us be fully in the world,

attentive to particularities, emotionally alive, open to grace,

and responsive to justice.

It is not about eroticism, or sex, it is about the actualization of the intimacy we have with the Holy, the beauty of the diversity of what builds creation. It is this love/intimacy that calls us to be within creation as its caretakers, fully active and engaged with our everything for this is how we will engage the Sacred, and the Sacred will dance within us…

This is where Paradise (or whatever term your reference gives) comes alive- –  here and now.

Are you prepared to be within the Eros of Beauty?

 

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