And now I’ve come to the one that scares me most. For one reason: Mom and Dad. I invited both of them to read this blog, and I know they strongly disagree with me on my premises here and, most of all, I realize that this is not an issue of differing opinions but of spiritual salvation.
I understand their concern.
However, for the selfsame reason I cannot casually abandon that which I understand to be God’s own Truth, for the sake of a comfortable religion. Not even for the sake of Mom. It hurts.
In the same vein, I have higher hopes of productivity from this one conversation than from any of the others. For, though I will likely never overthrow a government or practice practical sorcery (or even wizardry, but I’ll come to that later), Theology is one of few realms of philosophy in which a concentrated effort to achieve higher understanding may, in fact, significantly improve one’s life. Know what I mean? Quite simply, if I figure THIS one out, it actually makes me a better person.
So, for those reasons, I won’t hide it, and I even invite Mom and Dad to read and argue with me on this. If they do, and you find yourself reading their comments, please bear in mind (as I always do), that they are speaking to their only son, concerning his salvation. That’s…a significantly different thing from most philosophical (even Theological) conversation.
I believe in, as we called it in college, an Infinite-Personal God. I confused Daniel with that once, because he hadn’t taken the same classes I had. By Infinite, I mean the usual: Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnibenevolent. By Personal I mean an actual Person. Not a human (for how many of them are Infinite?), but a distinct Person, with Personality and, more importantly, identity. I’ve got no patience with a vague concept of Nature Spirit or Life Force. Without the Personal, it might as well be evil. So say I.
I believe in an interactive God, as well. One that actively participates in our lives and responds to our prayers.
I believe in Christ, and the power of his rising. Specifically, I believe in the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. That is, I believe it to be true, and of great significance in a personal, historical, and universal sense.
I believe God made Man in his image, and by this I primarily mean…well, the whole Greatness conversation. Social Constructionism is the “image.” God made Man capable of making worlds. We do it every day. We are Creators, every bit as much as the first God. However, we have exhibited a tendency to constantly chase after pathetic shadows rather than recreating a perfect existence…ack, I’m getting into my Genesis story already, and that’s several articles all by itself.
I believe in Miracles. That’s not a big step, for a Social Constructionist. Faith is the name of the game, there. If we create our own realities, naturally they should be a certain kind of fluid, given a faith-induced flexibility on the part of the Creator (e.g. “us”). Miracles are some of my favorite aspects of my theology: they are exciting, pleasant, potent, easy to accept, and don’t tend to upset anyone.
I haven’t said much upsetting yet. Here’s this: I believe, with religion, we have consistently through every iteration returned to the pre-Christian state that necessitated the existence of a Christ in the first place. I feel we have sanitized Judaism by removing the sacrifice (and, with that sanitation, robbed it of the gold and fire that kept our hearts entranced), but maintained the cold, fictitious feel of rightneousness. I feel every human religion — and in this I include every subtle brand of Christianity — every human religion eventually attempts to place God precisely at arm’s length.
My father’s religion doesn’t do that. My mother’s religion doesn’t do that. But their church’s does. That’s a very important point.
What, then? Ack. I can’t possibly answer every question (not even touching on the basics) in one post, but I can’t do justice to any point without answering every other.
I read in every word Jesus spoke a call to a personal relationship with God IN SPITE OF the governing religion — the religion handed to the people directly by God. This is the story of Jesus. He started with Judaism as a foundation (and I won’t deny the whole canon of Christianity that I use as my own foundation), but he called his followers away from it, to something better. He defied it, for something better.
Not only did he, but all of his followers as well. It was his command.
What does this all mean? I don’t know yet. I certainly can’t say yet. I’ll get to it. I don’t ever see someone going to church and think, “That person is evil for what he’s doing.” Rather, I see this thing, this shadowy, vacant social club, and know what it could be, and grieve that it’s not.
That’s much like what I said in Government earlier. I don’t hate America for being a terrible thing — I grieve that it is only what it is, when it has such potential. I feel the same for the religion of Christianity. It’s not a painted clown (I have far more respect for it than that), but it is also no Christendom, no glowing firebrand to sear the heart and capture the eye. It’s an accountant’s rulebooks, and a mumbled answer, and a carrot on a stick.
I haven’t finished. I haven’t even properly begun. I feel like I’ve said enough to get myself in trouble, but not nearly enough to explain anything. You’ll notice I generally feel that way, throughout these posts — I feel that way at the end of every conversation like it. I’m a Born Christian, and the guilt is strong in me. I often let it get in the way of making my point, which is unfair to me and to those people trying to understand. It’s part of why I’m doing this (and part of why it’s so hard).
Bear with me, please. As I said, this is the most important bit TO me.