Thursday, February 11, 2010

Man vs. myth again

I wonder how many still imagine Jesus pre-existing up in heaven and coming down to earth to save us. A quick Google search tells of Greek, Egyptian, and Hindu gods and goddesses who lived up in heaven and came down to help humans (echoing the cosmology spelled out in previous post). All of them pre-dated Jesus and Christianity.

Belief in the myth is fading, and it was never taught by Jesus. In a doc’s office, someone grinned over an evangelist canvassing her neighborhood with the question, “Have you been saved?” and her neighbor’s answer, “None of your G*#%& business!”

In God Is Not Three Guys in the Sky, I ask,
Saved from what? Eternal damnation? Residence in a condemned neighborhood? Hell-fire? Few people read the ancient phrases literally anymore.
I agree with Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong:
Jesus does not save us from a fall that never happened or restore us to a status that we have never had. He empowers us to be more deeply and fully human and to enter higher and higher levels of consciousness where we finally discover that we live in God and God lives in us. . . .

I think we are headed for the most exciting century in Christian history. I anticipate that most of what we call religion today will die in the next century. Rigor mortis has already set in. Out of that death, however, will come a new beginning. I am glad that I have lived to see the birth pangs. Hard labor is ahead but a new creation is being born and in that new creation God will be newly experienced and newly discovered — not as a Being who lives above the sky, but as the presence that is revealed in the heart of the human.
In church last Sunday we again heard the familiar only-through-Jesus stuff, but the closing hymn in our service urged us to go deeper:
"From shallow waters call us, God, from safety near the shore,
And bid us launch upon the depths where faith is tested more. . .
We cannot fish the ocean’s depth with nets shrunk small by fear. . . "

The song urged us to be open to surprises, to
"launch on unknown seas and cast our nets abroad."

It’s exhilarating to step outside the box of thought placed over us in childhood.

Her Faith Is Mine     February 12, 2016
Since the 1990s I have communicated with German relatives at Christmas time. This last December Eva Igelmund wrote that their tulips were rising from the ground, almond trees were starting to bloom, and birds didn't know if they should stay or go south. I laughed upon reading this, but it also is sad and frightening to see predictions of global warming that I read decades ago come to pass.

In a later email she reported that the forecast for Christmas weekend called for 62 º F. Germany lies at a slightly higher latitude than Minnesota’s, but western Europe is warmed by the Atlantic Gulf Stream. Minnesota reaches temperature extremes because it is in the middle of a continent. Lake Superior is the closest large moderating body of water. Because of Eva's news I was actually glad that winter returned to Minnesota in January after an unusually warm December.

Eva summarized her relationship with religion and in doing so summarized mine. She gave me permission to translate her German words into English. Describing herself as a free spirit, she writes,
Although born and bred Catholic and from earliest childhood interested in spirituality, I began to question as a young child. Or did I perhaps question for that reason?

I read extensively and tried many paths, stayed away from the Catholic Church for a time, but never from God. Since then I have made my peace with the institution, knowing that its officials have the faults and weaknesses of us all.
I live an intense life of faith, celebrating daily worship by maintaining contact with the Creator/Jesus/God/One Source of all Being. From day to day, the face of this power shifts as my moods shift, depending on my experiences and sources of inspiration.

My childhood image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, now gives way to images more diffuse, ineffable, exalted, unbelievably near and trusted, but formless Being. Whatever the form imagined, uniting with it brings solace, power, joy, confidence and hope.
Eva’s words delight me, as they could be my own confession of faith. She states my thoughts and feelings as if she were in my mind. That she says them in German intensifies their meaning for me and the pleasure of having words convey thoughts.

If anyone would like to see Eva’s statement in German, email me. Hit the contact button at 


Florian said...

You don't know what Christianity saves you from? What did they teach you in the School of Theology.

You do know that it is silly for one to say, "I anticipate that most of what we call religion today will die in the next century." This is what atheists and agnostics have said every century since Isaac Newton, and it never happens. Obviously, the great religions can last for thousands of years; it is reckless to predict that they will all die out in a century. Spong says that just because that's what he wants to happen.

Jeanette said...

I agree that religion will not die and in several posts have expressed my expectations of where religions are headed. But beliefs keep changing, in Christianity as well as in other religions.