Okay let’s get this straight my spiritual fingers are long. Not only do I have a Master of Divinity from a Baptist Seminary I also have served as Unitarian Universalist minister. I am not only knowledgeable in these two religions I am fluent in Buddhism, Taoism, and that once great religious movement the Shakers. I have had weeks of meditation in Trappist monastaries (especially Thomas Merton’s old haunt Gethsemane) and the Sisters of the Poor Mother House (Mother Theresa’s former order) and other places. I have lived in the Christian Community Koinonia founded by Cotton Patch Gospel Interpreter Clarence Jordan and visited Catholic Worker Houses and talked with Christian Anarchist Will Campbell. I live simply, am a vegetarian, try to practice non-violence and have worked and lived with the poor for over two decades. I only invest in social awareness accounts and wear no leather. Hell, I have literally been known to hug a tree. I was baptized at ten and called to the ministry at nineteen. I have taught classes on meditation, non-violence, Christian scriptures, world religions, community, and so forth. So if I wanted to be a pious prick I could but I know no one is called to Prickery. So if I hear a pious someone proclaim someone else is going to hell it only convinces me they will be the real inhabitants of hell or are at least living it here.
But I am often amazed at folks with small fingers who want to talk as though they have long fingers. Believe it or not these people can be found on the right and left ideological poles. The right are so convinced they know they are told by their God to hold judgment over gays (although most denominations have constant struggles within whether to accept gays as they are). Studies show that when these same pious folks work or live with gays they become more accepting. And do not even get me started on the hard core anti-gay preachers who later are caught with male prostitutes or being gay themselves. The right also hold claim to the answer when life starts (amazingly these folks agree that it starts at conception, or the fertilizing of the egg, or when the fetus first breathes, or when it is viable outside the body, and some even say masturbation is killing life). But they are sure beyond a shadow of a doubt. And that is their spiritual problem they have to judge and hold tight to their beliefs because they are scared of doubt. No one wants to be a doubting Thomas.
A faith that is based on doubt is a faith that is based solely on beliefs of the head and not on a relationship with God, the universe, and others. Their faith is I think therefore I am and therefore if I do not think right I am not. Oblivion waits for them beyond their belief. A relational faith while it too can be misguided has a firmer ground. It thinks God or my wife has acted this way in the past and probably will act this way in the future. But there is a probability factor there. If I become distant, hurt or start coasting in the relationship I will not be able to trust or know as much about how they may act. Yet most if not all relationships have these times of distance, hurt, and coasting. In relationships Oblivion may happen but there is strong probability there is someone on the other side of oblivion. So your experience is not one of having to hold on to truth no matter what but trying to keep the love flowing. The doubt of faith makes room for others and the ability to continue to grow. Certainty stunts growth and closes the door on the other\s in fear.
Strangely because we are becoming a more secular society those on the left find an opening to claim they are spiritual. Even though they live completely secular lives they can claim spirituality with none or seldom practice of that faith. Therefore they can say the cutest things with as much certainty as their friends on the right meeting them on the backside of the ideological spectrum. Their spiritual problem is they want to claim a spirituality without much work or pain. But to have confidence and skill in anything it has to come from practice and work. Spirituality is no different. To have a strong spirituality it must be practiced and worked. You cannot say I believe you should accept everyone when all your friends or those whose company you prefer have come from the same socio-economic-ethnic-political group as you. You cannot believe in the inherent worth and dignity of everyone when you treat those who have differently than those who have not. The list could go on but I wish to conclude with the saying no pain no gain. If we do not challenge our beliefs they do not grow strong. A wise man once said it is easy to love those who are like you but I challenge you to love those who are different from you.
We all need to check our spiritual penises at the coatroom and do those thing which help us to grow spiritually. Spiritual growth is accomplished by growing a healthy relationship with god, ourselves, the universe and the others around us. Believe me this is true it comes from a long fingered spiritual nut.
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