There have been many discussions over at Quaker Quaker between Christian and non-Christian Quakers. Most of the time, I find that Quaker Christians are pretty universalist in perspective and "get me". Lots of times they "get me" better than other Neo-Pagans. It is not for nothing that I attend a Quaker meeting and not a coven. :-) I'm at home among Friends.
However, on more than one occasion, the message I've received has been that if I do not accept Jesus as my Lord and if I do not accept the literal reality of the resurrection, then I am not going in the same direction they are going. I guess that depends on where they are going. If they are heading toward a world united by Love and Equality, a world that the meek shall inherit, then I'm going their way. If they are headed for a land where justice will run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream then we heading toward the same place. Like it or not, I'm your traveling buddy, Friend, and I'm here for the long haul. I'm on your side. I'll take your part. You can piss me off but you cannot stop my love for you. My faith in the Light is too strong for you to dissuade me. I will not abandon the path.
I was reared and educated within the liberal Christian context. I have no quarrel with it apart from its claims of exclusivity and superiority. When I became a Neo-Pagan, I did so not in rejection of the faith of my childhood but because I began to find the Truth I honored as a Christian in so many other places that I thought it would be dishonest to pretend to possess an orthodoxy that clearly does not belong to me.
I am glad I left off calling myself a Christian and became something that many find offensive. As a Pagan, I was subject to rejection I would not otherwise ever have experienced. It was a good thing to experience because it allowed me to see a spot in need of healing. When I joined the board of an interfaith group, the president of the board resigned her position. When I went to a graduate school seminar to begin my doctoral work as a "Goddess woman" studying feminist thealogy, another student quit the program saying he could not be enrolled in a program that would recognize people like me. It was a Christian church that first rejected my family, even when we were still calling ourselves Christians. They did not approve of my father's support of gay people in his congregation.
All of these things hurt me but none of them turned me against the faith of my childhood. I began to realize that those people who would utterly reject me do not practice the faith of my childhood which is one of unconditional love. The faith of my childhood calls us to stand by the weakest, the most vulnerable, the least loved and to call them beloved. Many Christians, for all their insistence upon the finest points of doctrine, do not have enough faith in Jesus to try to follow his commandments.
Some of them think that faith means a stubborn denial that the Exquisite Radiance can shine outside of the theological and historical narratives that make up the Christian tradition. They would put God in a box. But other Christians know the Light when they see it and don't fuss over labels. What of it if someone calls the Light "Darkness"? What if they say "Goddess" instead of "God" or if they say "Compassion and Rationalism" instead of "Love and Truth"? Have faith that we were all meant for each other. Are we to quarrel with each other over noises?
When I think of the Christian belief system as a kind of narrative of the victory of "the least among us" through love, as passion story of the resurrection of hope in the midst of oppression and death, then I'm on board. This is the story I tell when I celebrate the Pagan holiday of Yule. In the time of darkest night, in the dead of winter, we light fires and sing out of joy to teach the Sun to Rise again. A peasant child may be King. An enslaved people may rise to victory. The Red Seas may part. Out of Death comes Eternal Life. The words change but I know the story when I hear it.
I recall my father telling me that it shouldn't matter whether or not Jesus ever lived. The story itself is so good, it is worth living for. It is a weak faith, he told me, that depends on the fact to give credence to the Truth. Fundamentalism and orthodoxy are dangerous to those who insist on them because such things are brittle and vulnerable to doubt. One little archaeological investigation can bring such a faith crashing down. They mistake the words for the Story.
I see myth not as "lies" but as "truths deeper than fact or fiction" These are the stories that sing out beyond, beneath and between their words. We know them when we hear them. The story of Jesus is among them. I will not say it is the greatest of these stories for all people but it has been for many. I know from witnessing it, (oh, so many, many times!) that when practiced with humility and compassion, Christianity works. It works! It works when it has no business working. So do other religions and spiritualities because although their words may differ, the Story is the same. Maybe, more importantly, this Story works across cultures because we are all human, not so different from each other despite our cultural packaging.
I'm a Theosophist so predictably, I tend to look for a transcendent Truth interwoven throughout the greater spiritual world. But I'm also interested in finding our disagreements and differences, not as a means of driving wedges but as a means of increasing our connections to the Divine. It is all very well to hang out with those who see the world just as I do but what good does it do me? I like to be around someone who is tuned into a different frequency than I can receive. I like to be close to them when they are occupying their holy spaces. I'm drawn to spiritual people and places like a cat to sunny windows. I need their take on Truth and they need mine. Divinity delights in diversity.
I guess I see the Truth as something never given to any one of us all at once. (How could any one of us bear it alone?) So here is my ministry. I am among you because I was called to be here (just as you were called) and the Divine calls each of us by name. I belong to you and you belong to me. Do not mistake your revelation as the Infinite Truth. It is a slender thread. Find others and weave together the Story. Do not mistake your illumination for the Source of All Radiance. It is little light. Find others and illuminate the world. Do not mistake your song for the Chorus of the Spheres. It is a humble bit of melody a child can pick out on a toy piano. Wed your song to others' and the Earth will reverberate in Joy. Deny the Truth that others carry and all you wil have will be a broken thread, a sickly light,and a silly tune. But at least you'll have your pride. And you know what they say about pride...
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