Friday, August 30, 2013

Over and Under and Through

Preface:  It’s time to build a bridge

Can the worldviews of the religious and the secular be reconciled in Western thought?  Can we loosen the knots of our language and ideologies enough to share greater collective meaning, but not so much that we lose the meanings we already have?  Indeed, in our global world today can we really afford NOT to?  Can we underestimate the need for the world of science to understand faith?  At the same time can we dismiss the need for theology to fully reckon with the fabric and patterns of the natural world?

Is such a unity even possible?  I, for one, believe this is a bridge we can build in our time.  Indeed I believe the foundations are already here for the mantle of philosophy to again take its place between the knowledge and mysteries of the world and the mysteries and knowings of our hearts.

And I believe Christianity is a prime candidate to place a bid for this bridge-building project.  Of all the major world religions, Christianity was the first to let go of its tribal God and embrace a God of all.  And in spite of Papal stumblings in the centuries that followed, Christian culture became a nursery for all of modern enlightenment and science that we value today.

So, is there a secular way to adequately describe God?  Is there a religious way to accurately appreciate the facts of science?  Is there a unified structure for us to hang the data and experiences of both our outer and inner worlds?  I think there is, and I’d like to share my own view of it in short.

Granted it requires a loosening of supernatural claims on the side of religion, just as much as it demands a letting go of material reductionism (reducing the world to just bits of matter) on the part of science.  Crudely put, both sides have their own portions of denial that must be overcome.  Religion in general is in denial of certain realities and rules about the natural world.  And at the same time most of the physical sciences are in denial about certain distinct qualities and vitalities of inner conscious experience.

But I believe that with contemporary courage and skill a bridge can be built, one that will open up a whole new territory for humans to finally share our deepest and greatest meanings of life and faith.

I invite you to consider the following sample summary.  And then consider for yourself if it helps or hinders the core assumptions of both science and religion.  Can you see space for the physical and human sciences?  Can you find room for the spiritual and symbolic aspects of religion.  To this end, I try to use plain Christian language to encompass some of the most plainly accepted things about reality: like existence, consciousness, and human values.

You be the judge whether such material might have the right properties and proportions to build a bridge that can span the distance that divides our world today.

Over and Under and Through

by:  D. Bradlee Grim

We experience God around us.  God as Father is the expression of the sacred outside of us.  We experience this ultimately as the universal embrace of existence.  But we also experience the Father in the blessings and beatitudes of life in our world.  The Father is the external embrace of all existence.

(Note:  This does not necessarily require an exclusive belief in the Hebrew tribal god Yahweh.)

We experience God within us.  God as Holy Spirit is the expression of the sacred inside us.  We experience this as the in-most spark of consciousness of our minds.  And we also experience Holy Spirit in the positive qualities of things like love, joy, peace, and kindness.  Holy Spirit is the inner embrace of every heart.

(Note:  This does not necessarily require a belief in ethereal spirits or ghosts.)

We experience God between us.  God as Son, as Living Word, is the expression of the sacred within our human form.  We experience the incarnation of the Son in the example and teachings of Jesus.  We also experience Jesus as Christ in the subsequent living body of his Kingdom of love.  Christ the Son is the harmonic embrace of our humanity; a reconciliation of the sacred between our inner and outer lives.

(Note:  This does not necessarily require believing in miracles, biological resurrections, or an afterlife.)

This is a universal, non-exclusive, non-literal view of the sacred that does not require any supernatural beliefs or spectacular claims contrary to nature.  It rests only on the faith to experience and share the sacred in existence, in our hearts, and through our humanity.

It is said that in Jesus was summed the Hebrew Law and Prophets.  Likewise in Jesus’ Kingdom today is summed the Christian Gospels and Epistles.  In this way Jesus’ Kingdom can be shared globally and universally.  For just as we need not trivialize Gospel by legalizing a set of religious rules, likewise we need not trivialize Christ by literalizing a set of sacred stories.

All are accepted and embraced by existence as Father.  All possess the conscious inner spark of Holy Spirit.  And because of this, the good news exclamation is that ALL have the capacity to know and express human goodness as the presence of Christ in our lives in spite of the crosses and turmoils we face.  This is our salvation and feast!

In Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, [neither religious nor secular, neither believer nor skeptic,] for you are all one in Christ”  –Galatians 3:28.

Friday, August 23, 2013

This I Trust

This I Trust

Why must I believe certain spectacular or supernatural things in order to participate in Christian gospel?  Can’t the fullness of Christian gospel be preached also in secular tongue?

For I trust the experience of a divine embrace in the universal embrace of existence itself.

I trust the experience of a holy presence in the still and profound inner light of my soul.

And I trust the experience of healing in life through the teachings of Jesus and the stories about him.

In short:  I trust the presence of God in the temple of existence around me (as Father).  I trust the presence of God at the altar of consciousness inside me (as Spirit).  And I trust the incarnation of God in the blessings and on the cross of the human condition (as Son).  Moreover, I trust the rebirth of life that comes from connecting the divine centers of our hearts to the work of our humble mortal hands (i.e. Resurrection).  And I trust that all humans share some kind of faith like this for the collective cause of creating more compassion, justice, and peace in our world (as Kingdom).

So I ask, what set of spectacular beliefs could make this salvation more complete?

Indeed, trust even in a blessed afterlife if you choose.  But surely that would be found likewise in an open experience of trusting, not as a reward that can be earned for holding certain sets of beliefs.

As for me, I plan to embrace death as I have embraced life, with trust.  At the end of a lifetime of experiencing the sure but always tentative embrace of existence and consciousness I hope to experience death with the same full and open trust which I have found to transcend all guarantees in the first place.

For I have found that the promise of Christian gospel is in the experience of trust itself.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Holy Spirit, in Every Tongue

Holy Spirit invites us to get past the pissing contest between Jew and Gentile, between my religion and yours, and just start living out the universal way of Love that Jesus lived.

Those who wish to once again limit Holy Spirit to Pharisitical litmus tests do a disservice.  They reduce the Love of Jesus down to the size of their own. But that’s okay, love is still love regardless. Better some love than none. Yet, better still FULL love than just some.

Holy Spirit takes the compassion, justice, and peace for which Jesus died and names it and resurrects it in every tongue and tribe. In this way the Spirit and Gospel of Christ is spread to all the corners of the earth, not by making doctrinal ditto heads, but by making his universal Love grow in ever greater diversity.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Faith is like having sex

Faith is like having sex
You gotta feel it to do it
And you gotta do it to feel it
Anything less is just fakin'.

Do you believe in God?

Do you believe in God?  Great!
What if I told you that I believe in God too
Just not in the way you might
Would that be okay?

But what if my belief in God
Is too different
From your belief in God?
Would one of us need to give up rights to the term?

Are you an unbeliever?  Great!
What if I told you that I don’t believe in God either
At least not in the conventional sense
Would that be okay?

But what if my unbelief
Was more nuanced
Than your unbelief?  Or yours more than mine?
Would one of us have to concede a belief in God after all?


Yet what if belief or unbelief is completely irrelevant
To the reality of God’s existence or nonexistence?
What if faith still works like faith
Regardless if we believe in a God or not?

What if right is still right, wrong is still wrong
Grey is still grey, and “beats me!” is still “beats me!”?
What if hope is still hope, love is still love, and trying is still trying
No matter how we use our faith?  –as long as we use it

What if faith is as universal
As our limits and shortcomings
And learning to love was the only real choice we ever had in the first place?
Would that give us an all-inclusive meaning to the struggles of life?

Would that pretty much describe God in a nut shell?
Or humanity?
Or grace?
Or all of the above?

In the end words DO have meaning
And ‘God’ is no small word
Question is, is there a Word
Bigger than how we might think about ‘God’?

If there is, do any of us really have the right to define it?
To color it?  To wrap it up in a box?
Postmark it for Jews and gentiles
But not for heathens or heretics?

Given what “God” means simply by us saying it
Isn’t it still the holy grail of human language?

An utterance for every knee and tongue
Too sublime to bow or confess a thing
Other than what faith would give us
In the very moment of its sudden and glottal stop!


So what if faith took living
Rather than believing?

And God took faith
Rather than confessing?

Perhaps that would give us all
Only one thing left to do:

Live by loving others
Die in the throes of struggle
And hope to God that that was more important
Than what we believed.

Immovable Text

Scripture is not authority
Its inspiration
Why keep quoting it and not just do it once and for all?

I know the love of Jesus
Not because the Bible tells me so
But because I feel it in my heart

No book can do that
It just so happens
That what I read resonates
With what’s already in me

In deed, Divine Love transcends
Not only scripture
But the Christian story itself

So to be truly inspired
Holy Word must be borne in every trough
It must bear the deepest and darkest plot of love
Not just for some stories, but for all

And when this Love has done its work
We nonetheless insist that it must die
On ink and paper, buried inside immovable text!

And yet the Gospel truth
Is that between the blowing and crinkling pages of life
This Word rises to live again and again
Each day in our hearts.

Faith is a Two-way Street

To be clear
We atheists don’t reject
All the truly amazing and wonderful things about God
We just feel
That all these amazing and wonderful things
Are freely available without a God

If you want to accuse us atheists
Of still believing in SOME kind of God
On account of this
I suppose then we DO have the right
To say critical things about God after all

All in all, faith is a two-way street
What you praise
I might scoff
And I’m sorry if that rubs a sore spot
But the rules say we all got to drive here
So let’s at least mind the center line shall we

By the way, what if ‘God’ is the road itself?