REALITY

scan0034Many years ago I found myself at a crossroads in my spiritual life. Having been sober for several years I began searching for an extension of the entity I called HP. Believing that sobriety had cleared my mind sufficiently to venture into the world of theology, I found what I believed to be a true path to a better understanding of God. Sincerity and fervor was not an issue; I wanted to be one of those ‘normal’ people who worshipped in churches.

A local community church promised to be the answer to my searching; it offered to me the ‘black and white’ of every issue which life raised; there were no gray areas. Promoting itself as inerrant, literal and true to the Word of God, this fellowship of Godly believers covered me with their version of righteousness.

Unfortunately, it did not accept the recovery program of AA as Biblical and I was encouraged to abandon the AA fellowship. They told me the AA program was an unacceptable theology for a true believer. In retrospect I know today that it was only by the grace of God that I continued to stay sober while worshipping in their version of godliness.

The dilemma of breaking away from AA and then leaving the church was not part of the sobriety script. It left me with a foot in both doors; neither fellowship fulfilled my need to fellowship or worship. I learned from this experience that theology, religion, and spirituality are not interchangeable words.

Theology is knowing about God or a God-belief system; religion is a personal walk with God; spirituality is the inner change as a result of that walk. Thirty years after that near fatal encounter with the inerrant literalists I joyously practice religion, graciously accept spiritual blessings, and warily keep an eye on theologians.

This evolution leads to the gist of my post: gaining knowledge about varying theologies is important to discernment, practicing religion is soul food, cherishing spiritual gifts from differing sources honors God’s inherent intelligence.

My self-identity as a Jesus follower does not ascribe me to any particular faith or theology. This journey I am undertaking has led me to revere and trust the historical Jesus as presented by numerous non-religious sources as well as the writings of early Jesus followers. It is my personal belief that when Rome established Christianity as its state religion, theology overshadowed religion and spirituality; thus resulting in the loss of the true message of Jesus Christ and the 1st century disciples.

My quest for spiritual sanity demands that I learn about other faiths and their messengers who have presented the truth of God to an unbelieving world; the God of my understanding, my HP, is universal and omnipotent using differing avenues to approach the unbelieving world.

“In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”
John 14:2 kjv

The author is not speaking in terms of the physical world, rather in the spiritual realm which in essence is what all scriptures are about. It is the spiritual manifestation of our desire for God. This verse speaks to me very clearly that my HP has room for differing religious persuasions, that there are many differing relationships with the Supreme Being.

FAITH

GRAND TETONS

our lives confined by experience,
history,
common sense,
reason,
logic,
proof,
knowledge,
truth,
spiritual desolation;
the limits of existence defined by limited words.

beyond this world’s realm is faith,
abundant,
blossoming,
empowering,
enriching,
unseen,
unknown,
unproven,
mythological;
impossible to explain within terms of logic.

we innately need to believe,
trust,
esteem,
love,
hope,
desire,
persevere,
sacrifice,
dedicate;
it is the manifestation of an indwelling God.

unknown,
unproven,
unseen,
unrealistic.

That is faith.

REALITY

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A friend invited me to a movie, said I needed to get out of the house and enjoy a few chuckles and smiles. Yes, I agreed. My brain was getting moldy spending too much time with the mundane chores of daily living and an afternoon at the cinema sounded like a good thing.

Of course when one pays $11 to $15 bucks for a show (forget about snacks and drinks) one doesn’t want to miss anything that he’s paid for. That includes previews and we arrived when previews had already started. That’s OK; twenty minutes after seating ourselves previews were still being previewed. Why not just call them “wastes of time” or “nappy time”?

However, not being one to complain, I sat through all the sex, bloodshed, violence, and cussing that was going to appear this coming summer and finally the feature presentation began. It was billed as a comedy and, indeed, the trailer showing on television as advertisement seemed to be quite comical. So, I had high hopes. The last movie my friend and I saw was “Cinderella” and I was rather enchanted that ‘good movies’ were still being produced by the industry.

I do not claim to be a movie critic. I do not claim to be main stream America. I do not claim to be hip…not anymore that is. I’m just an old fogey who wants to be entertained for my eleven bucks.

The opening 5 minutes included sexual innuendo, nudity, violence, a crashing car and volumes of blood. “OK”, I assured myself, maybe this will get better as we move along. I had even stuck my hearing aids in my ears for this special occasion so that I wouldn’t miss a word.

Bad move. The noise got louder, the violence got worse, and then the cussing began. Now, I’m not a prude and I can handle an “F” word once in a while. But my faith and religion force me to draw the line at profanity laced with the objects of my devotion. God and Jesus did not have any place in that movie script, and neither did I.

I waited outside the theater with a nice cup of coffee until my friend appeared when the movie had ended. He understood why I left and for that I was grateful. The movie carried an “R” rating. I should have checked beforehand.

But, the fact that this movie is being well received by the public forces me to realize that this type of behavior and language is mainstream America. It is no longer back-on-the farm civility and principle that rules our land. Young, pre puberty children converse with ‘F’ and ‘MF’ as if it were grammar school proper. Guns have become the common solution to difficulties which in a time past were addressed with conversation and compromise.

Which brings me to my point. Whose reality will prevail?  I refuse to surrender what is my reality.  I refuse to carry a weapon to the grocery store, to school or to my church. And I refuse to accept the rudeness and arrogance of contemporary America as normal.  Contrary to the rhetoric of supporters of our violent, sex-driven culture who adamantly declare that the movies, TV, and video games they enjoy are purely fantasy, I must counter with something my Grandpa taught me as a boy.

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little mouth what you say.

Oh, be careful little hands, what you do,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little hands what you do

Oh, be careful little mind what you think,
For the Father up above, is looking down in love,
Oh be careful little mind, what you think.

In today’s world I would condense Grandpa’s advice:

“TRASH IN, TRASH OUT.”

Matthew 6:22-23  (NIV)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!