Saturday, March 24, 2007

Just Making Up My Own Religion As I Go Along

I am not against people being interfaith (obviously!), or exploring various facets of different sacred traditions to see how they challenge and inspire them, but there are shortfalls to certain attitudes that often come with the "buffet style" of spirituality. And, as usual, when it comes to this kind of thing, there is no one better to rip off quote from in the interfaith/UU blogosphere than Peacebang...

Of course if the liberal church was doing its job and showing people a deep, meaningful spiritual path and giving them unapologetically directive teachings on how to transform their inner lives through prayer, study and service, yoga people might be able to keep their Thursday morning class in better perspective. That is, those yoga people who attend liberal churches might. Hey, if the liberal church was doing its job better, I have to think that more people -- including yoga people -- would be attending.

Or maybe not. Maybe the idea of disciplined religion is so ruined in the eyes of spiritually liberal seekers that they'll never embrace it, and those of us in the liberal churches are presiding over a funeral. There's never going to be anything but a tiny market for floppy, "Gee-I-dunno-what-do-YOU-think" religion, no matter how much it dresses itself up in prophet's clothes and claims to be the Truth-Telling Group.

One Truth the liberal church has been telling for years is that conservative folks Just Want To Be Told What To Believe. That's so easy, so dismissive, so snotty and so mostly wrong. All people want a religious life that actually shakes them, demands something of them and transforms them. Liberals, unfortunately, join the effort with the attitude that while this process is occurring, they should be comfortable and even indulged. They join the project with the attitude that there are no rockbound truths, so everything is relative. Who can really be transformed with a permanent orientation of skepticism and self-preservation?


I would point out that I take this last bit to refer not to openness to new possibilities, but a kind of closed-minded non-committal cynicism. I also think all truth is relative, but that merely means it has a relationship to something else, not that it isn't grounded or could just be anything that one makes up or chooses to believe. But I think I get what she is getting at. Either there is something, a principle, a truth, a revelation, that one is guided by in their spiritual exploration and investigation, or it is just a form of ego-feeding consumerism, i.e. it devolves into a bland form of spiritual materialism.

1 comment:

  1. I hear ya, tinythinker! I have a recent post over at Thoughts Chase Thoughts that I called "Buddhism and its Value-Added Boost," focussing on the idea that you've got to be open to being transformed. And being open involves not joining a club or religion that you use to reinforce what you already believe. That post, too, is related to UU teaching.

    I don't believe that all truth is relative; it's mostly not. My job is to be open to the truth, to seek it out.

    John Ishmael Ford, minister of First Unitarian Society in Newton, Mass., wrote a sermon last month that speaks of "nimbleness of mind," an idea that I like.

    He wrote, "I look inside myself and I try to find that nimbleness. And you know, I suspect I find it in myself only as I hold my own opinions lightly. Not without passion, but lightly. So, for instance, while I’m deeply committed to the pursuit of marriage equality, I try to recall how those who are opposed to it are not evil, mostly they don’t hate gay and lesbian people. Given different circumstances, I could be any one of them."


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