Monday, October 25, 2004

Spiritual Authority II

If I have succeeded in relativizing most or all of the religious establishment, what remains for me to look to? Where is my spiritual authority?

I can only speak for myself. First of all I feel strongly that everyone's spiritual authority is unique to himself. True as long as we are individuals.

In all liklihood yours may be nothing like mine. You and I may be unique, but we do have a certain amount of congruence, some things in common. Here's what I feel may be shared by a certain number of people:

There is the initiating experience (unique, but containing shared portions), and there is the community: a group of people with whom we have enough congruence to be comfortable.

Using two familiar words already loaded with baggage we could call it the new birth and the church. I believe that all those who sincerely seek God will find what is most appropriate for themselves. Call that the new birth, or even baptism (two metaphors that have widely varying meanings).

With a new lease on life one begins to look around for fellows, people with approximately common values. We call this church, which may be as few as three people.

I try to remember that I must be born again, and again, and again. In fact it seems to be happening more frequently.

[This will contain other, and perhaps different material tomorrow.]

Onward (the above was written late at night, in an exhausted state; but let it stand:

Realizing that it's between us and God (with no middleman!) we then know that it's up to each of us to be responsible for ourselves--
our values, our behaviour, our attitudes. Everything that I have formerly discounted becomes a resource. Your conscience is baptized, and you must pick and choose.

I chose the statement of Jesus that God loves me. I believed it, acted on it, got all sorts of gracious answers. But I remained perplexed about Jesus-- who, what is he.

For me he has always been primarily the one who told me about a loving God. He is a son of God, and following his guidance, so am I.
We are brothers. Also brothers of Buddha, and all the others. We have only to love. (Love is much more than a four letter word.)

My first reaction was to love myself. Suddenly hey! I'm okay. I looked around and saw how much worse off almost everybody was. I thought I was sick. Hah!

My second reaction was to love God. Simple gratitude for what had happened to me; the desire to do things pleasing to God. I can never repay, but I can show my gratitude, and be thankful. Cultivate the gift of thankfulness.

Then, knowing that God has commanded me to love everyone else, I set out to try. 47 years later I'm still trying. But whatever little vestige of love I can achieve God accepts.

That's the whole ball game.


Marjorie said...

Yesterday, I picked up a copy of Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom and read the back cover. If I'm not incorrect, the thesis is that freedom is terrifying and man will often seek refuge in fascism. I can certainly see the application of this in the spiritual realm. I am terrified of the freedom to seek, I don't know where to go, in some ways I'd love to just go to Church and feel I'm done. But I can't, and yet, it feels like I'm doing nothing. Perhaps I'm a bit frustrated that I don't have the time and energy to read more books on the topic, but this part of my journey involves small children. Though I must say that every time I pick them up in my arms, I feel that I'm the recipient of blessings far more than I deserve. I guess thats why they call it Grace.

Stumbling along and grateful to receive the bite-size bits that keep me moving forward, Sparky

Larry said...

Ask God to show you the way. That's the only wisdom I have to offer. That's all I did (at about your age). And it led to my conviction that God and I have a personal relationship; you are to God what your children are to you. That is the way; that is the rebirth. When you take that step, and it happens, you will no longer need to look to anyone for guidance (but you will see guidance in everything you read or do). We are God's own, and nothing can happen to us except grace.

Larry said...

Re Fromm:
He is the atheist from whom we can learn a great deal about loving God. Escape from Freedom contains wisdowm, but it doesn't hold a candle to The Art of Loving. Much of my faith is based on the wisdom there.