Sunday, January 11, 2009

What I Believe

Not that it’s that important to anyone but myself – However, I’ve been giving a great deal of thought lately to my religious belief and practice. As I’ve stated in more detail in a previous entry (way back in Isaac Stolzfuts’ Journal), I gave up the church back in the 1970’s as it seemed increasingly to be interested in my income, and attaching a sizable portion thereof to it’s need for an ever larger edifice in which to incorporate worshipers by the thousands. Yes, I’m a material guy, and so is the church, so it has always been, and so it always shall be (H-m-m-m-m)! Never the less, as more and more protestants have turned to evangelical, or what passes for the institutionalized Postmodern version of that type of Christian, I have become increasingly dismayed by my own faith and turned away from the church. I canceled my religious practice and did not give it a thought for two decades. I remained spiritual, and acknowledged the presence of a higher force for good in the universe. I understood that there is evil present in the world and that, sometimes evil masquerades as the force for good. I also knew that there were extremely rare moments when the force for good or God was very present to me, though I did not know how close God actually was.

Then came Reverend Phelps and the true hate mongers of the religious right. I must thank that evil (BLEEP!) because in some bizarre fashion he has allowed Jesus Christ to come back into my life. Reverend Phelps forced me to reexamine my Christian heritage, and though I have found much to reject, I have found much more to accept. First, I no longer question that a man named Jesus existed, that he was a Jew who lived near the Sea of Galilee. Most scholars agree with me on that. At the same time, I also believe that he, Jesus was able to remain in contact with the original innocence we all come equipped with at birth, and that “Innocence” is the presence of God in our lives. Perhaps I need to stop, and define that “Innocence” as I understand it, for you see, this is an intellectual process as much as a practice of faith for me. My understanding is not something that came to me in a flash, directly from God. It is something born of struggle, much careful search, and finally prayer and meditation. I do not talk with God as some evangelicals claim. However, I do exist with God. The innocence of which I speak is what remains in us of God as we enter this world. It is free of attachment to culture of any kind, and we begin to lose it the minute our mothers and fathers name us. I don’t believe that Jesus’ birth was virginal in the sense that the institutionalized church professes. I do believe that he survived the process of enculturation that begins with being named. In that sense he was born of Mary, but not of his earthly father, since, at the time, it was the father who named the child, and dominated him/her and the family in all matters. Thus, the virgin birth is, in my mind symbolic. We are all born with Jesus Christ, in God. However, most of us lose that innocence that marks the Son of God, never to regain it, except in brief flashes of insight that transcend our diurnal existence. Instead, Jesus of Nazareth either retained that innocence from birth, or was able to recapture it as he grew in understanding of his relationship to his family, the Judean Roman world in which he lived, and perhaps a strange but divine sense of “otherness” that was the indirect cause of his remarkable life’s work.

So much for the beginning of my conflict with the belief system of ninety-nine-point-nine percent of all Christendom – I’ll continue from here, further into blasphemy next time.

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