Today, Sunday, June 1, 2014, we begin the study of Rev. Dr. Galen Guengerich's book, God Revised. We will be reporting on it for the month of June and I hope that you will add your comments as we go along over the course of the month. It is a wonderful book with many wonderful ideas well worth consideration. Chapter 1 is entitled "Where we began: from Mennonite to Manhattan". In my case it was from Roman Catholic to Unitarian Universalist. I know that you have your story too. Of course, in the end we all end up in the same place, released from our bodies back to the Universe whatever that may bring.
Reverend Gugenrich writes:
"When I went to Princeton (not a Mennonite seminary), many of my relatives feared I would lose my faith. This did not happen. What I lost was someone else's faith; what I began to seek was a faith of my own. I wanted to be myself. I wanted freedom."
Galen Guengerich, God Revised, p.9
Jesus says something very similar in Matthew 10:39 "Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Osho says that the first step on a spiritual path is rebellion.
As human beings with dichotomous minds we learn from comparison and contrast, the old ying and yang of the Tao.
I like the way Rev. Guengerich puts it though, he didn't lose his faith, he lost someone else's. This freed up the space to develop his own.
Seneca writes in his seventh letter, "When a mind is impressionable and has none too firm a hold on what is right, it must be rescued from the crowd: it is easy for it to go over to the majority."
For me, I was in the Catholic Seminary back in the old days for 4 1/2 years for 10th grade of high school to the second year of college. When I told the rector, I had to decided to leave the seminary he told me, "David, I truly believe that you have a vocation and God wants you to be a priest. I believe that Satan is tempting you." This was a man who up to that point I respected, and rather than dissuade me, his words made me all the more sure I was doing the right thing. Now, almost 50 years later, I am certain I did the right thing, and smile when I recall what he said to me. I am sure from his perspective he thought he was telling me the right thing, but alas, the Spirit of Life works in strange ways, and as much as I respected this man, I new he was mistaken. There were too many "mysterious" in the Roman Catholic church for me to base a life on, let alone pretend to be an authoritative representative of. As Rev. Guengerich puts it, I didn't lose my faith I just begun to find it. I had lost the religion of my childhood. At 19 it was not working for me any more.
I don't know where I got the courage to go off on my own. I suppose, in the vocabulary I had learned at the time, I would describe it as the Holy Spirit inspiring me, that small inner voice that we can carefully listen to to help us discern God's, Life's, will for us. We grow uneasy with the old answers, the old cliched beliefs, the anxiety that there is more than what is being told and explained, and then like Dorothy, when she reaches the Oz, we realize that the mysterious, omnipotent authority is a wizened old man behind a curtain and most of what we have been taught is simply illusions to quell our anxieties and solicit our obedience to the hidden agendas of those who would benefit from perpetrating the illusion on the gullible and innocent masses.
What about you? What have the pivotal points in your faith journey that have led to where you are today? How have they manifested themselves and what has come about?
The next article will address what Rev. Guengerich calls the "plurality of options" for understanding the purpose of our existence and for assistance in creating meaning in our lives.