Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Blasphemy Day

Being, as some readers are aware, a church-goer, it may seem less than obvious for me to post about Blasphemy Day as a good thing - yet I have this compulsion, as a Christian, to dismantle RELIGION as opposed to FAITH - and the spiritual.

Religion is nothing more than a system, a tool - the regulated means by which we humans grapple with the ineffable to see if we might not eff it after all.

Of course, there is effing, and there is effing.  I can't say I believe we honestly have the right to eff the ineffable, no matter how much we want to.  I look at myself, for instance, and think - what makes me think I deserve answers?

And so, necessarily, the dogma and tenets and expectations (and, yes, even the congregation) of religion are, for me, not merely secondary but outright beside the point.  As a bishop-blessed Episcopalian, I have a three-legged stool (scripture, tradition, reason) - and, while I belong to a faith with more "trappings" than all matter to me most deeply, I have also applied some of those physical and verbal fixtures of religion to my belief in ways that are relevant.  What's interesting to me is that, as many more rules and particulars as my chosen religion has in  practice, it has far less concern for *dogma* than I was familiar with.  Its concern is not to have knowledge, but to honor the desire to learn - even if spiritual knowledge may, in the end, be impossible to attain.

Here lies my blasphemy:  I belong to a strongly trinitarian community of faith, and I have never, not once in my life, understood the point of, believed in, nor seen any need for the trinity at all.  This "holy spirit" thing is meaningless to me, in the most profound way - if it is possible to put it thus.  For me, the important - the *wondrous* - core of the divine is that G-d came and LIVED amongst us.

This is, for me, spiritually, the bit I'd run into the house for in a fire.

Crossing myself, the Nicene Creed, formulated prayer, the calendar - it's all good learning material, but it's all like the workbooks they gave to us in grade school - it's not what we need to know, but the exercise that helps us find that.  What we need to know is that G-d so loved the world that He extruded Himself (and, please understand, my liberal readers, that "he" is for me non gender specific in this context - I think that assigning biological plumbing to the divine is reductive beyond countenancing) into our life, our population, our *flesh*.  And then sacrificed that flesh.

Christ.  As demonstrative goes, that's the G-d for me.  Who takes us on to the point of taking on our skin and bones and pains.  The ultimate expression of divinity - in our own *stuff* ...

For most Christians, I have to think that that incredible identification with the divine is very deeply the point of accepting this faith.  A certain vanity - G-d in OUR image, as we in His.  A certain reassurance - that we are not alone, that whatever it is we don't understand is closer than we thought.  A relationship with G-d.

I adhere to religion not because I have faith, but because I need somewhere to PUT that faith, some container, some structure - some community in which to express it, to share it, to learn from, and to give to.  Discipline ... disciple.

I had all kinds of faith (rather literally) for years and years before I placed it into the hands of an established church.  And the church I chose, I didn't come to because some magic fish led the way or the wizard's beans grew up to heaven and led me there.  I chose it because of Betty, who sat next to me my first time.  I chose it because the building is beautiful, all wood and brick, and it felt unquantifiably AND quantifiably comfortable to me.  The beauty of the place mattered, and I was blessed to come to know a few wonderful people, and then we got our priest, who now has just left, after too short a time - but, apparently, the right amount of time.  I have faith in that not because religion is infallible and miraculous, but because I am open and we all must be, and it's not like the Devil's going to trot in where a fine, fine priest has vacated.  Life doesn't work that way; we have a good interim, the same man who presided when I first came to this church.  And I trust the church to give our opportunity to someone fine, once again.

The expression of my faith is entirely anathema to most religious people throughout the world and our histories.  My approach to religion disrespects it, even discounts it.  I'm infidel in as many traditions as concern themselves with blasphemers.  As with religion itself, I bypass this and attach my motivation to the interest of G-d, above any worship.  My chief prayer, "May I bring YOU satisfaction and joy."

But my second, importuning, wish:  "May we all bring one another satisfaction and joy."

That's what most of us want, really.

Happy Blasphemy Day.  How will you celebrate ... ?

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