Articles from Soul Pilgrimage (January 22, 2013-28, 2013-site now deleted)

Posted: April 26, 2015 by Ty in Archives
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To consolidate my sites, and make life simpler, here are the postings from my daliance with Unitarianism for the Archives:

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Convergence?

It is interesting as my family continues this pilgrimage to discover a community within the Holy Mystery where we can, well be, US!

Thanks to a connection with Rev. Haffner I received some current UUA thinkers to explore, the first work I cracked open revealed a deep theological connection as to why this movement is resonating. Buehrans and Parker’s A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century correlates the growth of UUA as they continued building upon the blocks of the Social Gospel movement in the U.S.A.; knowing how the Social Gospel movement in Canada became ingrained in politics and such churches as the United Church to the point that labels of Anti-God/Christ and communist were thrown about I can see that this growth is not just one country but continent wide.

The Social Gospel is a belief system within the Christianities that has resonated with me for years, the idea of creating the world that Jesus’ taught us to. This was also a kernel that Latin American Christianities would hold onto with the birth of Liberation Theology; in areas after apartheid’s  genocides, and wars in the Truth and Reconciliation movements… all movements that main stream church movements tend to shy away from.

Yet there is also within the progression, the idea of avoiding the much abused patriarchal language, and name of God that has been used in the Progressive/post- Christianities circles espoused by such as Gretta Vosper and John Shelby Spong still more of the shaping of my soul on this pilgrimage that shows resonance with me.

But also the tying to the Indigenous wisdom traditions, which I have also found resonance within my journey and was awakened to the reality of such existing harmoniously with Christ through the work of Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox and his Creation Spirituality & Original Blessing.

So much to unpack, but instead of unpacking that which has been bottled up and suppressed, and opportunity to release my soul and fully live into beliefs actualized, with the Holy Mystery permeating through the DNA of the gathering even if the much abused name is never used.

The Pilgrimage continues…

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

A New Journey?

I have been blogging for many years, with many different sites. For my more formalized writing (fiction & non-fiction) please check out https://tyragan.wordpress.com

So why a new blog site one may ask?

Simple, this is the site for reflecting on my journey out of main stream Christianities and dancing with Unitarian-Universalism. These will be raw reflections on what joining this progressive faith is like from my own perspective.

Life is a pilgrimage of our soul, that when we journey to the centre of ourselves we discover the Holy Mystery. The Holy that exists within us, and that we exist in.  Hope you enjoy these musings.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Spiritual Rebirth?

Forrest Church’s Love & Death: Journey through the valley of the shadow enters into an uncomfortable topic for most of us. Death. The end of our own grand stories here in this reality.

It is a memoir of his own experience with the topic, and a journey through esophageal cancer, yet in the midst of it all he raises some points for us to ponder. As a Christian Universalist he touches upon which event if you could be only in church for one is more important: Christmas or Easter, for him it is Easter, because Easter is at least tied to death. Sounds a wee nip morbid I know. Yet there is more to it than that.  Church touches upon the Easter event, alluding to he is not sure if he believes in a truly physical resurrection or rebirth of Jesus on Easter morning, no, for him what is important is the spiritual rebirth of Christ’s followers.

Quite simple really, if we are always focused on celestial events, or things on the grand scheme, or splits of doctrine, we miss the true miracle that resides within our souls that exist within the Holy, and the Sacred that exists within us (yes the word God has become too loaded with oppression to easily tumble onto the page for me)…we miss the miracle of true renewal/rebirth/resurrection of us…

Continue this journey with me, as my rebirth continues I believe, but no longer in a separate corner of cyberspace…join me on my usual site, A Robin Hood’s Musings.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Reminder’s

Reading the short 104 page The Seven Deadly Virtues by F. Forrester Church (1988), part of his Humane Trilogy in response to Dante’s Divine Comedy wasn’t so astounding again, as just having some hidden gems. The one that I loved was one that I have taught, and had used in the past as a spiritual practice to find a new way to understand the Holy Mystery.

That is the reminder that we hear the story from one point of view, he uses the old chestnut, the wolves tell Little Red Riding Hood differently. It is true, sit with a legend, myth, fairy tale or sacred story you love. Then spend time writing it from each of the main character’s point of view in such a way that the character telling the story is the sympathetic one.

It can be quite difficult, but it allows you to enter into the story fully and feel/experience it as others do. Life is like this, how easily do we draw blinders down onto our own situations much to the exclusion of other’s experience? Are we able to sit with the story of what happened and then tell it from another’s point of view?

It ties into the idea of purgatory as Church lays out, one that resonates with me, it is not flames of pain, or torment, but the flames are metaphorical for whether we are trying to do good, or have distorted good (to make evil)…it is in the purgatory– the purge, that these things that separate us from existence within the Holy Mystery and the Holy Mystery within us and it is not necessarily an afterlife experience, again relying on story and pointing to the truth found within Dickens’ A Christmas Carol where Scrooge has a purgatory night and changes, or Jonah with his three days in the fish belly…all purgatory events that radically change a life in the here and now.

What is our purgatory moment that has shattered our life for the better?

Friday, 25 January 2013

Better than Chocolate…a First Contact

It has been five days since the first UU service my family attended. It was a unique first service for us to go to, as well, it was about sexuality. Which in itself is not a new topic for the youth ministries I would run, but rather, for a service of worship and discovery to be shaped around it was a new one on us. My soul mate noted the piqued curiosity of the intern minister when she mentioned it was our first time at the Unitarian Church of Calgary, the rather, what a unique Sunday to come.

The family portion was wonderful, with a full showing of the power of story through the RE coordinator leading the children in a story time around healthy love (And Tango Makes Three) about two penguins of the same persuasion that fall in love, and adopt an orphan egg as their own.

The beauty of singing blessings to our children as they departed to discover the virtue of Kindness within their own community gathering (and I admit a knowing glance as we descended the stairs and were greeted by the peace rainbow flag to which my daughter goes, “it’s just like going into our basement at home Dad”).

To the service itself, that proved to be challenging, not so much on the belief of the whole person around sexuality presented, but for us experiencing it in the context of a service and not a small group (or is it just the residual of our journey of being abused by churches that have simply left a bad taste of church in our mouths?)…yet it was presenting lived experience from those that make up this certified welcoming congregation that affirm all people regardless of any human made label to being complete individuals deserving and having a right to the ideals of intimacy, love, care, and sexuality…it was a beautiful time to be in a community that where some would see my children as the labels society thrusts upon them, what is seen is just two beautiful children that are to grow into full human beings. What at first experience seemed like a shotgun effect of information and snippets, was a wonderful service designed to draw you deeper into community by joining the groups that would connect on the topics that possibly interested you: choirs, meditation, Our Whole Lives for Adults, membership exploration, chalice groups…and the list goes on…the service being just a small piece of what it meant to be a healthy and active community.

A sense of welcome that was hard not to get over, as service ended, and I went to get the children from RE, and bring them up, just being able to watch that it wasn’t just the teachers interacting with my blessed son, but rather all the kids just simply being kids, not something I have been used to seeing…so beautiful. Upon returning to the coffee time upstairs (ah how we had missed thee with our recent churches), children playing as kids, and such a non-invasive way to connect people “if you are looking to meet new friends, please use a blue mug”… all the blue mugs were gone, but that didn’t stop the meeting and greeting of new people who authentically appeared pleased we were there.  Sharing stories, laughs, concerns, current events, chatting of the service.

Is this home? I cannot say, it was one Sunday, I know the belief structures and openness’ resonate, but I also know the bruises left upon my soul from previous church involvement had burst and left lesions that are still scarring over. But that is the pain of the past, that even though there are marks left, open wounds even, the One Light of Love is attempting to burst through, cauterize and let the fading begin.

Church is Story?

This twigged in my mind reading Forrest Church’s The Cathedral of the World: A Universalist Theology kept causing Robert Fulghum’s words about his church as a minister being the bookstores, resonating with me. This tour of society in Church’s culmination of writing’s to illustrate where his theology has grown from and into, lends itself to this idea. It is not a shallow theology, but one informed by the full blessings of humanity, the source is the one love, the Creator.
It is the marvel of story, whether we term it history, religion, philosophy, literature, cinema, theatre… there is a meta narrative that permeates us, and it is within the stories we create and live through that the Holy Mystery shines through. We exist within it, and it within us.
This is the beauty of the metaphor of the book store as church/congregation. The culmination of Our story, it is where the Holy Mystery is revealed, it is at once personal, yet also communal.
It is how I have approached my faith my whole life, as a writer, always seeking out more of the story, how I have always read scripture…yet it has never resonated so clearly…

“Humanity is not a species, it is a state of mind.” – Annie (the ghost), Being Human (BBC) season 3… or more to the point of this reflection, humanity is a state of heart.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

One Light through Many Windows

Just devoured Buhreans and Church’s A Chosen Faith it is a “quasi” primer on Unitarian-Universalism. There was no “aha” as in that really made me change direction on what I have always believed, what it more was, is the feeling one gets when they ease themselves into their comfy chair or couch after a long hard day of work, or a long road trip, that “ahhhh” as the tensions evaporate and the homey feeling sinks in.

Two highlights for me were their story on marriage, that it isn’t about the governmental certificate (which far too many Xianities have made it about), for that is just to be filed at the court house in case you do not take the vows before and in the Holy and Loving Community seriously, so you can sue for divorce. Even the sacred service is just a blessing upon that which has already been created.

And the other that truly resonated was simply the metaphor of Unitarian-Universalism:

One Light (Unitarian) through many windows (Universalist).

Like I said, it was not so much a challenging, as simply an affirming text on where I currently rest my soul.

Reflecting on A House of Hope

Buehrans and Parker’s A House for Hope: The Promise of Progressive Religion for the Twenty-First Century is quite the work and percolated some thoughts in my second post. I have to admit I devoured this short book in one sitting over a cuppa with Ellery Queen on in the background. There are many things one can reflect upon that was brought up in why the old norms of the Christianities no longer fit where we are as a species.

I want to touch on a few provocations here. The first being the concept of violence in religion, let’s be honest we have all heard the rhetoric with the war on terror, and the Al-Qaeda rhetoric back to the west, very much involved God (that word that creates images of a patriarchal controller). Yet the issue goes deeper, I had some trouble putting my finger on the source, but this work hit it on the head.

If the thrust of our salvation language is a violent and vengeful God who out of “love” causes his son to suffer, and be murdered upon a cross as a sub-human, then we have created a theology of suffering for the victims of abuse that make their perpetraitors closer to God, and that the abuse should be endured because, well Jesus suffered. Now before you balk that this is completely out of context, have you ever entered into any kind of domestic violence situation with the Xianities, how many times are sides taken because one has to be proved “right”eous or holy(ier) than the others? A winner and a loser. What if instead of this hierarchy, we had a communal circle that looked at the situation and said, GOD IS NOT IN THAT (sadly, we would need a word different from God, because well, we have given God a penis and anger, which is not what the Holy Mystery is about). What needs to be understood is that an oppressive system wanting power and control is what killed Jesus of Nazareth and it was the Holy Mystery’s love bursting into life that breathed justice into it through the story of the resurrection.

But it doesn’t end there, as we reflect back on the system that the Empire used to supplant local tribal and pantheistic deities to assert control, build power and grow control out of fear…this is not the faith of love, justice, peace, hope, and joy of the peasant labourer from Nazareth, what spread out of the death throes of the Roman Empire was a methodology to keep the masses in check for the upper classes. This is what is finally being rebelled against, in Canada we saw this as the Xianities birthed the Red River Rebellion, the Suffragettes, Social Credit, Labour Church, Unions, human rights, Indigenous as human beings, Metis as human beings, LGBTTIQ equality, ending of the residential schools, modernizing of divorce laws, children’s rights, fights to end poverty, peace movements, the addictions recovery movements, shelters, food banks, environmental healing, Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, Socialism, mixed economies, arts communities, community centers, public schools, YM/WCA’s, social safety nets, universal health care, and the list goes on and on… our liberal theology became ingrained within our public sphere so much that when our constitution was repatriated in 1982, God was added to the first line to give a nod to the spiritual drive of care that built our nation; all spirituality and cultures were given an opportunity to speak into our Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The core of these things did not start with a violent/vengeful God or even that humanity is depraved.
It began with the kernel of love and that in this love the Holy has called us blessed and beloved.
It is within this context the reordering of understanding of the character of Eve in the foundation myths of the Hebrew Bible is so beautiful. No longer the one that caused the fall, but a catalyst figure, the original theologian, a blessed questioner that bites and eats of the apple of knowledge. Much in line with what I have always seen the first three chapters (actually all of Genesis) being…a lifespan psychology of humanity… the idea that we grow, we learn, we are not cursed and thrown out in anger, rather a loving parent sees us enter adolescence and loose’s the apron strings a little so we can discover the world and learn what is right and wrong. Put into practice that which has been taught to us. Much like the system of rites of passage in tribal societies (that we as modernistic westerners are so thirsting for) that saw the mothers, aunts and grandmothers teach the children up until they went out and became adults and took their place in society. So the exiting of the garden is the vision quest for Adam and Eve entering into a new reality as they begin to internalize that which they have been taught.
These are just some of the profound thoughts rolling around, and with like all beliefs, and our Holy Mystery, nothing is static or set in stone, it is living and breathing, it is constantly changing, growing and adapting. These musings are simply a snap shot on the journey.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

UU Principles

Normally I would post the beliefs of a denomination and reflect upon them as I struggle through what I can actually agree to.  This covenant is beautiful in its simplicity, inclusion and grace, so here I share it (retrieved from: Canadian Unitarian Council, for those who know me how do these fit?):

The Principles and Sources of our Religious Faith

Principles

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to affirm and promote:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

Sources

The living tradition which we share draws from many sources:
  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbours as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centred traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support
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