Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where I'm At.

I've lost a member of my 'following'. That doesn't sound creepy at all, does it? :S

In any case, I can only guess that it's because I haven't been posting as much these past couple of months. One of my readers quipped to me at lunch the other day that she comes by the site a couple of times a week, but "meh. There's nothing new." That's true: I haven't posted anything new.

Sadly (for me, that is), not having electricity at home renders self-publishing on the internet a trifle difficult. Hopefully November will turn up some more practical living arrangements, however. Not that living in the bush with no running water, and no electricity isn't practical -- it's the original practical, when you think about it -- it's just not cosmopolitan enough to warrant something so fancy as electricity.

On another note, a friend of mine asked me how my agnosticism is coming. I'd like to take a moment to shout out to Aaron. I miss your tongue-in-cheek humour, bud! Nevertheless, it would be unfair of me to leave this blog dangling, as it were, on the hooks of my last two articles. They were, admittedly, somewhat maudlin and full of serious doubts. Aaron picked up on the natural conclusion to some of my meanderings: that I seemed to be turning agnostic.

I'll admit, things have been taking a radical turn-around for me. The history of the church, of my Christian beliefs has been put under intense scrutiny this past while. I've had questions about inspiration, inerrancy (I plan to buy that book, Ed!), the legitimacy of dogmatics, ecclesiology, the efficacy of prayer, the nature of truth, epistemology and revelation, illumination, the list goes on. In a nutshell, I've been re-visiting the truth-claims of my faith.

Some of them I've found wanting. For example, the purported necessity for a hierarchical church structure. I used to be Lutheran. I used to believe that a very definite, rigid structure needs to be in place; one ruled, as it were, from the bishop down through the clergy. While I agree with the biblical precedent for the necessity of elders, bishops, and deacons (the office I was ordained into in 2004), I disagree that the laity is under the rule of said 'servants' of the Church. In short, bishops, elders, and deacons are to serve the Church (i.e., the people of God) without reservation or prejudice toward certain faith traditions, and without jockeying for lordship amongst themselves (e.g., the Roman church's apotheosis of the bishop of Rome to a jurisdictional authority over all other bishops). The needs of the people should always outweigh bureaucracy. In the same way, the true servant of God always considers the needs of the people as irrefutably more important than the polity of his ecclesial (church) community.

Recognizing that, I could never be a sold-out, hardcore Lutheran. Nor could I ever be a friend to Roman Catholicism -- except to be the kind of friend who is willing to take scorn for attempting to correct a wrong.

Given that example of changes in my beliefs (not to mention many others), where am I as regards the Christian testimony? Well, rest-assured Aaron, I'm not agnostic. Nor am I an atheist. One wit I read about called himself a 'recovering Christian'. While I can appreciate the humour of his sentiments, I think that kind of terminology can be misleading: I'm not casting off an addiction; I never had one to begin with. I'm compelling myself toward the true, amorphous nature of oecumenism -- that is, wholistic Christianity. I'm not hemming myself in by divorcing principalistic authoritarianism (e.g., Roman Catholicism) from real flesh-and-blood people. I'm pro-actively moving away from the apartheid mentality of Christendom; that is, Roman Catholicism cannot commune with Lutherans, Lutherans cannot enjoy the free-spirited nature of the Anabaptists, the Anabaptists cannot espouse the rich cultural and intellectual heritage of Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Enough. Grow up! The Western world got past the subjugation of peoples according to race -- thanks, in part, to the Church. However, the Western church cannot seem to get past its wanton need to subjugate its own people to this-or-that other faith-tradition. I refuse to take part in it any longer. And to a large degree, that will bring into question, if not stark contrast, my views about God, Jesus, and the Christian community. I'm prepared to answer those questions.

So, if any of you are interested, this is the place to ask those questions. I'm open to dialogue. And thank you, Aaron, for prompting me to write an answer to your question. I'm grateful for your concern, and humour.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of wholistic Christianity ...
I believe that is how God always meant it to be: we are not part secular, part holy. We cannot separate spiritual and secular; the flesh is not evil ... and I love my dog (oops, sorry, where did that come from? Oh ... I guess his cute little face is right beside me).
God meant us to find joy in this journey, although there are certainly periods of great struggle, of wrestling, of great trial.
And I seem to shoulder some of the struggle of others ... but in a way that keeps me bringing it before the Father because I have recognized that it is not my struggle and I cannot carry it.
There is a part of me, though, that longs to me like Onesimous, to be refreshing in the lives of others as he was to Paul.
The butterfly would never emerge if it weren't for the struggle.
J

Nick said...

Chris, a while ago; some years now, we had a discussion about a book called "The Celestine Prophecy". It was not a very long discussion. You gave me your impression of the book then. But there was not much exchange in discussion of the book's ideas. I wonder what your impression or thoughts on the book would be now, after reading it again?
When our friendship was still very new I noticed how very different our views were regarding faith matters. Over the years I've seen a progresive alignment; not your views to mine, or mine to yours. But likely somewhere in-between where we began. Noticing this, I'm curious and a little excited to hear your thoughts now on the ideas in the book.

Christopher said...

Nick,

"The Celestine Prophesy" is codswallow wrapped in tripe. I'm no more a fan of it now than I was then. In fact, since my understanding has grown, I'm a prime candidate for a Ph. D. in dislike for the novel. It was poorly written, it was incredibly illogical, spiritually vapid, emotionally unengaging, marinated in 2-dimensional character sketches, and plotted out to the best of a poor story-teller's ability.

"The Tenth Insight" had a little more chutzpah, but was just as much (ill)literary masturbation.

Given my opinion of the books, I feel free to say that any thoughts I may have had on them in the past, I've summarily forgotten. Any newer thoughts would require a desire to think about the books again. And since I'm happy to forget them, I'm not going to think about them.

I can't offer you more than that on this topic.

"When our friendship was still very new I noticed how very different our views were regarding faith matters."

To be honest, Nick, I think our views on faith matters are still very different. We have not had many prolonged discussions about where each other is at as regards religio-spiritual matters. Most recently, those that we have had have been quick and a matter of setting out the semantic ground-work for continued discussion -- at some undisclosed, undetermined point in the future.

So, I'm not sure that our views are coming into alignment, or striking a balance between, or what have you. Determining that would require having the discussions we have not, so far, had (to the best of my remembrance). Which leaves me in the same place I was before: under the impression that our views on religio-spiritual matters are 'very different'.

Take care,
Christopher

Nick said...

"So, I'm not sure that our views are coming into alignment, or striking a balance between, or what have you. Determining that would require having the discussions we have not, so far, had (to the best of my remembrance). Which leaves me in the same place I was before: under the impression that our views on religio-spiritual matters are 'very different'."

First, when I used the word alignment, I did not mean it in completeness. I meant it in a developing alignment. Our views can still be very different but still show progressive alignment to some degree. I do see some of this whether you do or not.

Since the book I mentioned is of no interest to you, I'll put the related question aside. I'm mostly interested in where you are at, what you believe about religio-spiritual matters that are important to you, what ideas you are newly exploring, that sort of stuff. I'd like to begin "having the discussions we have not, so far, had". But I will need you to begin because I am not sure which discussions you think would help to determine the progress of our alignment.

Christopher said...

Nick,

I will respond to you with an article.

Christopher