5 responses

Working my way backwards…(the following are responses to comments from Kenny and Huck)

Jesus did just fine with twelve disciples and however far his voice could carry. What is called for is not more churches but more Christians; not congregants who sit in pews but people who have accepted love into their hearts. We need Saints and Bodhisattvas to awaken, we need disciples of Gospel and Dharma to arise, we need our own practice and discipline to be patient and consistent; but this has always been called for and it is still difficult to listen. It is the state of being human.

Nobody ever needs to apologize in the Teahouse for being precise with words. There is a difference between alizarin crimson and rose madder which is why we have different names for them. Reducing your vocabulary is like giving your writing a lobotomy.

That people can be taught to think for themselves is one of the pillars of my philosophy; the ideas that form the core of Buddhism and the Ministry of Christ require a person to think independently in order to actually grasp them, which is why so many churches and institutions do their level best to stifle independent thinking and doubt. Doubt is the key to faith, and the more well-developed a person’s capacity to doubt becomes the more formidable the strength of their faith will be. Teaching a person to doubt unlocks their mind.

Even as I understand the forces that produced the many flaws in their ideologies I can appreciate what Luther and Calvin achieved by defying the Catholic Church. You know how I feel about Bonhoeffer. I think all the theology we really need can be found in the Gospels and the Dharma, but I take your point and I agree that there are plenty of fine examples of unblinking compassion in the world. The problem is that religious institutions cannot transmit compassion, love, or wisdom into the world. Only people can do that.

I hope by this point I have made myself clear that the target of my ire is not the Gospels but those who abuse them for their own ends, but you have certainly earned a full reply. I am not a fan of the churches which tell people who to be afraid of and angry at, or who to vote for or buy from, or where to vacation and where to retire. The problem in America is that there is a hunger for spirituality but small appetite for truth; we prefer our prejudices be confirmed rather than challenged.

7 Responses to “5 responses”

  1. Amen. Except for a tiny little argument with this comment: “The problem is that religious institutions cannot transmit compassion, love, or wisdom into the world. Only people can do that.” I honestly think that should be the mission statement of religious institutions. If churches (I use the term broadly here) can’t transmit compassion, love and wisdom, why should we have them?

  2. Religious institutions can provide a gathering place for fellowship, a repository for relics and donated resources, a source of scholarship and history, a refuge for the persecuted, a sacrosanct space for reflection, worship, and ceremonies, and also bingo. They are like an ark that has come to us across generations, a vehicle for something precious and holy. Time and again humans mistake the vehicle for what it carries; it is not the altar that is holy but what it is dedicated to. We still need altars and sacred spaces. We need the Gospels and the Dharma to be transmitted from generation to generation. Do we need the Vatican or Church of the Holy Sepulchre?

  3. We need the Vatican, Church of the Holy Sepulchre etc. just like we need The White House and the Capitol building. They are repositories and artifacts themselves. Other than that, what we need is the church community, not simply a building. It seems we agree.

  4. I still remember the muddy and snowy spring day I took my Tao Te Ching for a walk in the woods and stopped being scared that I was going to hell for it.

  5. “Reducing your vocabulary is like giving your writing a lobotomy.”

    Love it. The final paragraph is spot on. Personally, I find that the most spiritual places are made by nature, not by humans. While I love the architecture of cathedrals, I am more moved by natural altars, such as fallen trees, rocks, and the undulating surface of water.

  6. I am a Christian and do believe we need churches. It is a place to go to worship with other Christians. No, all are not perfect, but we are forgiven. I do not believe there are ” many ways to God”. The acceptance of Jesus as your savior is the only true road to God. I’ve seen the power of prayer, several times. I’ve not always been a good Christian, I have strayed but I can tell you this – when I was at my lowest and fell – it was on my knees.

  7. […] Sarah, To begin with, thank you for reading and participating. It is the dialogue that I like best about blogging. I apologize for the lateness of my reply but my commitments to the real world have kept me away from here. My point is that we must not mistake the building for the Body. It is our fellowship that brings the Holy Spirit, not architecture; however, I think you get that. How many ways are there to Jesus? Even the most obtuse zealot among us must acknowledge there are four different Gospels; I have heard the witness of many Christians who all told me they found their way to the foot of the Cross along crooked paths. Sitting in a pew leads one to Jesus the way looking through a telescope leads one to the Moon; the telescope is useful for planning the journey but not everybody that looks through a telescope will make it to the Moon. This is not a perfect metaphor, nor do I want to be heard as saying that churches are useless; far from it, but no church matters the way people matter. […]

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