8/03/2009                                                                                       View Comments

The baby, the bathwater, and transcending Christianity

by JahFe

Many people can go through trauma - initially through the experience of growing up in the Christian Religion, and later through the experience of breaking away from it.

The trauma sometimes means that people move from a pro-Christian worldview to an anti-Christian worldview.

I rejected Christianity very early in life. It took me many, many years before I un-rejected it.

This doesn't mean that I adopted Christianity again - definitely not. But I can now appreciate the good things about Christianity – both the teaching and the institution, while maintaining my criticisms of both.

I am very much interested in the Bible as a quasi-historical document also loaded with myths. I like to interpret the symbolic mystical knowledge of many of these myths. (But some myths are just naïve collective creations originating in early societies without the benefit of modern science or the culture of critical thinking). It is 'mystical' or 'hidden' precisely because the message is symbolic - not to be taken literally. I feel sure the majority of people of two and three thousand years ago understood these stories in their symbolic form and would possibly be amused at the present day literal interpretation.

These days I like to draw from many religions, cosmologies and philosophies. I am now comfortable talking of ‘God’. But now my interpretation of God is not so much a personified God, but a God that represents ‘All is One’, a Godhead, a Source.

I have read many comments in thus forum where people talk about an indifferent universe, as opposed to a caring God that knows each and every person personally. But while accidents and misfortune do occur for no apparent reason, the mystical experience, the experience of Enlightenment, the state of Higher Consciousness - however you wish to describe it - shows us that All is Good (hence the expression which has come into popular usage in the last decade or so - 'it's all good').

'All you need is Love', 'Love is the fabric of the Universe.' Perhaps many who have recently rejected Christianity who perhaps now see themselves as aetheists, or non-theists may not agree with the Love thesis.

Sometimes I utilise a personified God simply because I have no better alternative! For example, I like to say ‘Grace’ to ‘God’ or ‘the Lord’ before meals (not always) because I like to acknowledge my own gratitude in a humble manner (I don’t recite, I speak authentically each time from the heart). I could thank the Universe or the Divine Spirit, but God is much simpler.

Similarly I like to pray – to put it out there, and again to show my gratitude. It is a way to transcend the ego. A year or so ago I was not able to say Grace or pray to God because of my rejection of Christianity. Now I can do it knowing that there is no personal God and knowing I am not a Christian.

I am not a Christian because my experience tells me there is no such thing as Evil, and most likely no such thing as Hell.

(When my very Christian mother-in-law sincerely referred to my beautiful daughter as ‘evil’ to me and in front of her – my daughter was 9yrs at the time – I knew then that something was definitely wrong with the concept, the religion, and the mother-in-law!)

There are certainly some terrible acts committed by some very freaky people in the world but each one of these people and acts has a story which can help us understand why such terrible acts came about. Labelling them as ‘evil’ diverts us from the story and the understanding, and therefore the lesson and the potential to help prevent such terrible behaviour in the future (eg in a more loving, caring and enlightened society).

It is perhaps this view above all others – no Evil and no Hell – that distinguishes me from Christians. I have had some good conversations with Christians of late. Perhaps I have sewn some seeds of doubt?

And although I criticise the Catholic view on contraceptives (here in the Philippines it is an effort to track down a condom. Many pharmacies, presumably under the thumb of the Catholic Church, do not sell condoms) and where we draw the line on abortion, and stem cell research, and a host of other issues, and although Christianity has a lot to answer for back in history, I can also appreciate that it has helped promote admirable values and virtues in most countries around the world. Yes, a common sense of decency and set of values can be achieved in a community without any religion – Christianity does not have a monopoly on virtue. But I can see where it has had a positive impact.

As most people would agree even on this forum – the basic set of principles ascribed to Jesus of Nazareth – constitute a darn good philosophy on how to lead one’s life (love, compassion, forgiveness, service, charity, help the poor, etc etc).

The Buddhists don’t believe in God (but for a culture that doesn’t believe in God they sure do seem to do a lot of praying! – or maybe it is just reciting mantras). The Dalai Lama talks of Love and Compassion.

To me ‘compassion’ speaks of pity. Of course it also speaks of understanding and empathy. Understanding and empathy are wonderful virtues. But perhaps we should talk of Love and Caring. The Universe may be indifferent, but if Human Civilization were more Caring, then a part of the Universe at least would be less indifferent!

So when you reject Christianity be sure you do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Instead of ‘opting out,’ you can ‘transcend’ Christianity. That is, take the best of what Christianity has to offer as well as what you also know from science, from the social sciences, from other religions and philosophies, and from your own experience, and use that to find your source of Love and Caring, and to then set about emanating Love and Caring, and making your contribution to humanity in whatever way feels best for you.

Have you found Love?

“Now that we’ve found Love what are we gonna do – with it?!”

In Peace, Love and Light,
JahFe



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