We’re all familiar with a certain chasm that makes a mockery of organized religion. I’m referring to the chasm between the church’s ethical ideas and its real-world practices. No matter what religion you’re talking about, this chasm appears to be as wide as the Pacific. But perhaps the most commonly used example is the gulf between the pacifism, egalitarianism, anti-materialism, and tolerance of the Gospels and the hard-right ranting of the evangelists and politicians who purport to speak in
Recently, though, I have come to notice a second form of religious schizophrenia. I wouldn’t exactly call it hypocrisy-based, but I find it nearly as troubling as the chasm described above.
I was reminded of this newer type of religious chasm when I attended a meeting of my new religious community – the one that formed when my old
At this last meeting, however, we did more than simply sing or pray. We also discussed. In particular, we discussed the draft report of the Vision Committee, which set forth ten principles of a vision for our new community. The draft report was, for the most part, a very nice set of principles that all liberal
For some people, there’s no question that the word “sacred” evokes divinity. For others, however, it evokes any place, concept, or event that seems to transcend in beauty and majesty the normal vicissitudes of life. Thus, for example, there are plenty of atheist American
I won’t restate the entire conversation that followed, but I must mention that my suggested fix – leaving out the term “God” and inserting instead the more compound term “God-wrestling” – met with resistance as well. Even after I pointed out that my own Spinozistic deity is hardly “supernatural” and surely did not “will” the Holocaust, my suggestion that we mention God-wrestling in the vision statement continued to meet with some resistance. I had already known that merely invoking the concept of divinity has become anathema to the minds of many
Schizophrenic, but not hypocritical. There is no hypocrisy in regularly attending services where you chant Hebrew melodies that praise a God which you yourself don’t believe in. Personally, I’ve been doing that for years; in fact, I’ve been doing that for decades. I no more worship the Cosmic Santa Claus that lies at the heart of
What I found so notable at the community meeting was the fact that there exist members of the community who regularly attend
Clearly, if there is a God, “He” had better change his Marketing Director … and fast. I have no doubt that the current marketing plan is working well with the fundamentalist communities. But like I said, those communities have their issues with an older form of religious schizophrenia – the hypocritical kind. If I had a choice, I’d choose the new split-personality in a heartbeat. Hopefully, though, we won’t have to choose either. We can all figure out a way to broaden people’s conceptions of God – in other words, to make people more tolerant of the idea that God can mean many things to many people, and not all of them are morally responsible for the Holocaust.
For me, you can live without God, but you can’t live without the sacred. And if I must reach out to “the sacred” in order to grasp her, I’d rather do it armed with an idea of divinity than without one.