Oct 29, Stuff

Just wandering and wondering here. Maybe a bit on the weird and bizarre side.

When Jesus says, ””You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”, he is saying, in effect, that all is one, that we are all one in God, that everything is one in God, because it is all God being God. This is not something we can arrive at by thinking, logic, or reasoning. Logically it makes no sense at all, but experientially it just is. We can come to this only by experience, an ongoing deepening awareness, perhaps not even knowing how we got here. We might notice that we seem to be accepting our reality as it is without judging it in any way, as good or bad, safe or threatening. Often this happens when we are having som kind of a powerful personal experience.  It seems to be something that is a consequence of prayer, which is not necessarily the same as saying prayers. Perhaps a different way of seeing things, a different set of glasses.

We might also become aware of an interest in how we act as opposed to how and what we believe or say we believe. And occasionally we notice we are acting and choosing in ways that might not reflect what we think we believe, or that what we say might not be what we down deep believe, and this can be kind of a shock. It certainly is something worth looking at. When we focus on what we do, we notice we are just doing what we think is right at any given time. When we focus on what we believe, we tend to judge others who don’t believe as we do, look at ideas that are different and even in conflict with each other, eg how to pray, what words to use, who can lead prayer, etc, and make judgements, usually that we are right. We pay more attention to rules than reality. We are more interested in judging what we think should be than accepting what is. We get hung up on our ideas and dogmas instead of going where they point us, and often move to a defensive mode.

We might be aware that we are moving beyond thinking and toward accepting what is as it is. Thinking is dealing with conflicting ideas and terms and deciding which is right for our purposes, usually in some sense of ordering things, fixing conflicts, and having answers, which we feel is good for maintaining our sense of control. A good question is do I really need to be in control, can I just accept what is as it is and be grateful in it?

Often how we pray, which for most of us means to say prayers, tells us more about ourselves than about God. As Jesus tells us, our Father knows what we need before and better than we do. It is good to pay attention to how we pray so we can get a sense of what we are looking for, which usually a sense of control of some sort, as well as a sense of ourself. This isn’t a bad thing, and when we pay attention to it, can help us on our journey of growing in prayer.

We might begin to notice an awareness or sensitivity to the realization that there is truth in all authentic religious traditions, and no one religion or tradition has a lock on truth or has all the truth. This gives rise to the difficulty in determining which religions are authentic. Does the God who continually is creating the entire cosmos limit Godself to just one tradition? Religion happens in, and is influenced by, cultures, and there are significant differences among cultures, and this impacts how a given tradition is received and lived.. How many religious traditions have a strong focus on control, on keeping the members in line, on imposing their version of truth through rules and penalties? What happens when someone reaches the point where they can no longer go along with some decision or action, and this questioning becomes known? Is there a sense of personal integrity? Is it a matter of pride? Is it a response to a movement of the Spirit? What about when something is declared to be wrong or sinful in one geographical area (diocese) of a given tradition and dealt with very differently and more pastorally in others, or when a particular direction by a given tradition or diocese feels like a violation of one’s personal integrity? What to do then?

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Shelby

    Jim, I wish I had the abilities to write as well as you do. There is so much that I do not agree with a lot of religious leaders I have heard over the years. Jesus went out to the worst people and that is what we should be doing today.
    You present some great thoughts to think and pray about. When I hear from some that we should do and think as they do, I am reminded of the Pharisees when Jesus told them they were into to much of the laws and rules instead of looking at the need. The laws and rules are good but they should not over look the needs of the ones that are lost The laws made them look important and anyone who didn’t do as they said were punished. This didn’t take care of the needs of the needy. So many religious people do the same today. We are not reaching out to the sinners but looking out for ourselves. Not many go out and serve the ones that need to hear the gospel.
    As for praying, I pray regularly. But am uncomfortable when asked to lead in prayer. I find myself fearing that I won’t say the right things in the right way. I know this is wrong,but that’s just me.
    I really appreciate reading your thoughts so please continue

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