Thursday, March 06, 2008

What I'm reading this Lent ...

Some bits that struck me in my reading last night:

Religion has to do with leading us to an awareness of God, with giving us the tools, the disciplines to make ourselves ready for the experience of God. Spirituality has to do with transforming the way we live as a result of that awareness, with infusing all of life with a sense of Presence that transcends the immediate and gives it meaning.

Sometimes we stop at one and fail to become the other. We use religious practice as a measure of our spirituality and seek spirituality without the discipline it takes to make it more than some kind of artless escapism. One is as lacking as the other, of course, but religious practice without the spiritual development that is meant to proceed from it is the more deceptive of the two.

It leaves us in danger of being keepers of the law rather than seekers of the truth.


Religion is meant to be a bridge to God, a vehicle to understanding. It is meant to plumb the depths of the human soul to the source of the spirit. Instead, religion can sometimes an obstacle to union with God. As the wag put it, "In order to sin properly it is not necessary to break the rules. All you need to do is keep them to the letter."

Religion without the spirit it is meant to preserve can become positively irreligious: we put the weak, the wounded, the addicts, the religious "others" outside the boundaries of our perfect lives, fearful of touching what might pollute us.

Religion -- who hasn't seen this happen? -- can be a very sinful thing

Amen. Amen. Amen!
Chittister, Joan: Welcome to the Wisdom of the World (pg. 26-27)


Bruno said...

Very good indeed, Thank you.
"Religion without the spirit it is meant to preserve can become positively irreligious: we put the weak, the wounded, the addicts, the religious "others" outside the boundaries of our perfect lives, fearful of touching what might pollute us."
My partner and I experienced this recently and are now "unchurched" because of it.
The rector explained that
"maybe the person who refused to share the peace is uncomfortable with seeing a gay man in an open relationship"
thus excusing the behavior.
welcome does not mean allowing one member of the flock to chase out other members of the flock.
There is still much work to do before we can claim The Episcopal Church welcomes you.
there are many places where "to experience homophobia" needs to be added to that.
Thank you for your work

romesq said...

Bruno, I hope you won't let that person who would not share the peace with you drive you away corporate worship. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has placed you and your partner in precisely this situation to help that individual, and to strengthen your faith as well. As for the rector's comment, perhaps you could take it as the observation it appears to be, when it is read without benefit of tone and inflection or any further knowledge of the person who said it. As a lenten discipline, my partner and I resolved to treat each possible rejection as a poorly demonstrated attempt to communicate. So far, we're batting about .500, but we're still trying. Please hang in there, because without us, the +Susans and ++ Genes are out on the point without backup!


romesq ... exactly. And I can't help but imagine how different this Episcopal Church that "isn't there yet" would be today if 30+ years ago Louie Crew's reaction to experiencing homophobia in the pews had been to leave!

Not everyone is cut out for the hard work of changing hearts and minds "an inch at a time" ... but for those of you who are doing that important work ... day after day, rejection after rejection, two steps forward/one step back, let me just say that YA'LL are the real heroes and heroines ... if it weren't for you +Gene wouldn't be a bishop and I wouldn't be a priest and we sure as HECK would not be anywhere near as far down the road to full inclusion as we are.

So here's to ya ... all those who stay and faithfully engage in the evangelism of bringing the Good News of God even to those who we make "uncomfortable" by our very presence in the pew.

And while I certainly understand that there are also those who make the choice to leave where they aren't fully accepted let's be clear: they've made the choice to leave ... they haven't been chased anywhere.

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

Someone needs to reach out to Sister Joan and convince her to join the Episcopal Church so that we can make her a deacon, ordain her as a priest consecrate her as a bishop for service in San Joaquin, where there is now a vacancy.

Fred said...

It is easier to make yourselves victims, leave in a huff and blame someone else than to stay and do the hard work of evangelism. It's hard to sympathize. It looks like an opportunity was lost for Bruno and his partner. But don't think for a moment longer that you were "chased away". You could have made a difference. How sad for you. How sad for that man who didn't welcome you. How sad for us all!