Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Great Division

Many phenomena might be described in that way, such as white and black people (especially in my region), healthy and sick, conservative and liberal, etc. etc. We're told that all of these divisions will be (are) scratched in Eternity, but meanwhile they serve as a convenient framework for thought and discourse.

The division of special interest here is that between conventional Christians and those I call enlightened ones. (Some might debate the legitimacy of such a distinction, and that's okay.)

How can these two groups get along? We know that Jesus said that "Brother will betray brother to death......, but that isn't always necessary. Paul said the faithful may redeem his/her spouse (cf 1st Corinthians 7:16).

We can learn! There are numberless marriages between Catholics and Christian of another stripe. They may become rancorous, but they don't have to, and probably rarely do. I know hundreds of people (including a son and his wife) who can make do quite satisfactorily with such an arrangement. It calls for tact, understanding, above all love.

Love "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (I Corinthians 13, the King Jim calls it charity.)

This love casts out fear and makes all things possible. Through the years it promotes understanding, tolerance, forgiveness, and finally the ability to live harmoniously and happily with a fundamental difference.

Happily I cannot say that I've experienced it, although it was a small factor in our marriage relationship, especially in the early years. Ellie, a college junior, had more or less given up the faith of her childhood. I had done that too, but 11 years earlier, and then I had been enlightened.

Throwing out the baby with the bathtub appropriately describes a vast number of ex-christians, ex-jews, you name it. A smaller group of fortunate people have learned how not to do that.

To adopt those facets of Christian theology that inform one's life with meaning, value, and purpose is everyone's aim. People have different levels of consciousness; no one has a corner on the truth. The path of Christ is to accept people where they are, pray for them, continuously try to understand them better and affirm what they believe as much as one can.

For some people a large order. Our hearts go out to those with relationships containing conflict. Prayer may well promote the solution.


Mark Walter said...

Good post, Larry. One of the ways, in my opinion, to overcome our tendency to be divisive because of differences is to find common things we support and enjoy. I know this is not an original thought, but there are so many things in life that have a way of instantly overcoming barriers. Universal languages like music do this. So does laughter. This can sound overly simplistic, but to me the illustrations make a point... that there are ways to overcome our prejudices, and if we are out to find and apply them, we will. The best ones are the ones that no one can object to.

Jon said...

I really second Mark's comment. It comes down to the fact that beliefs and religion aren't what it's about.

Ecumenism works great in taverns and ice-cream parlors, lousy in church council meetings.

Twyla said...

Thanks for this post, Larry. You are really gifted in encouragement. Consider me encouraged!!

I_Wonder said...

One good post and three good comments!

Larry, what's your definition of "enlightened"?

Larry said...

That's a good question, Paul; I had to more or less pick a word for what I was trying to say.

By 'enlightened' in this case I meant (more or less) getting free from the straitjackets of conventional or orthodox or fundamentalist theology, what Mr. Blake meant when he referred to the 'mind-forg'd manacles'.

Speaking in general we can see it's related to the Quakers' light, which comes from above or is that of God.

Just this morning I listened to a woman telling about the many healings she had seen and experienced, although not a church-goer. I told her not to hide her light under a bushel.

Ellie contributes the fundamental truth that enlightenment is progressive and continues throughout life, as the spirit is nurtured.

Rather than believing what one is told enlightenment is a consequence of experiences (which of course may involve being told something).

In blogdom we encounter a lot of 'young' people who had bad experiences with conventional religion, and may find enlightening the discovery that there are other forms of religion (even Christianity) than what they were taught and rejected.

We are all seeking light; it will eventually and inevitably come in due season.

Thanks for setting me off again, Paul. I should call you Barnabas.

Lorcan said...

Ah Larry:
Thee would grin at Genie and my marriage... let's see know, we've been together since... 77. She is Catholic and I, thee knows... Quaker. Genie says, of Quaker meeting, "if I am not doing anything, I might as well get some work done." But it is not at all a matter of controversy, unless I buy her a bonnet and shawl... but that does not often lead to a fight, just an exasperated sigh and smile, as she shoves them into a drawer.
There are moments of high comidy, such as... " I suppose you are going to handle this like a Quaker, anyone can do anything to you and you just want to speak to them... make nice, Let ME handle it JUST ONCE! I can go to confession!"
I really endorse marriage between different faiths.

PS Except for Muggletonians. Who needs 'em. :)

PPS If there still muggletonians out there, my appologies for the joke...

Larry said...

Lor, you're probably lucky to be married to a Catholic girl; they have their purposes. My youngest son is married to one, and she has had a salutary effect on the boy, not to mention producing our only grandson. I think he might turn the world upside down much more than you or I have been able to do!!.

I don't know any muggletonians, but I'll keep my eyes out for one; lovely to make such an acquaintance; I guess I would rather meet one of those old arians, you know, the ones who christianized Europe.

Larry said...