Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ten Truths about Religion the Most Religious Fear

I am on retreat in South Carolina, sharing my thoughts with a few dozen Protestant folks. Lovely place, wonderful people. This morning I listened to the Rev. Marjorie Thompson talk about Sabbath time. It was a deep exploration of the Sabbath drawn from several sources including the work of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. 

As Rev. Marjorie spoke she began to slip one radical idea after another into her talk, really challenging the audience. I watched the crowd for reactions and I didn't see what I expected to see: fear, anger, disbelief. I didn't see much of a reaction at all. May be I wasn't hearing what they were hearing. 

After the talk we have an hour for quiet reflection. I walked the labyrinth. As I stepped onto the path I set me intention, and asked the Divine to clarify what I heard in simple words. By the time I stepped off the path I was shaking. I grabbed pen and paper, and quickly jotted down what I had heard in the labyrinth. This is what I heard:

1.       Religion at its best is revolutionary. Religion is rarely at its best.

2.       Revolutionary religion makes us fearless. Normative religion makes us afraid.

3.       Revolutionary religion worships God not Caesar. Normative religion worships Caesar as God.

4.       Revolutionary religion frees us for God. Normative religions conforms us to its image of God.

5.       Revolutionary religion crosses boundaries. Normative religion strengthens them.

6.       Revolutionary religion reclaims the power of myth and metaphor. Normative religion reduces both to fact or fiction.

7.       Revolutionary religion is non-zero play. Normative religion is zero-sum competition.

8.       Revolutionary religion pushes the envelope. Normative religion tapes it shut.

9.       Revolutionary religion seeks to transforms this world. Normative religion seeks to transcend it.

10.   Revolutionary religion awakens us to who we are. Normative religion keeps us asleep to both self and God.

This afternoon I taught these ten points rather than my assigned lecture. So far the reaction has been positive, but the week is young.


Sue said...

Revolutionary/Normative ... a dichotomy full of potential. Thank you for this.

Raksha said...

This is just amazing...I guess I know which side you're on!

Jane Myers Perrine said...

This really makes me think. I HOPE I'm a revolutionary CHristian but have a great deal of changes I need to make in myself.

Jane Myers Perrine said...
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Tom O'Brien said...

Amen and amen!

Gordon G said...
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Gordon G said...

Such a pleasure to read! I think that reading your ten truths shows how much their is a need within our globalizing world to build bridges and learn from one another in order to build a world that Yahweh, Jesus, Allah (Subhanu wa ta'ala), Brahman or whoever/whatever you believe in, would want. Its a shame in that instead of building bridges we're burning them and erecting walls. I suppose with conversation, awareness, and prayer we are able to, as your fifth point states, cross boundaries and learn from one another.

I take solace in the words of Judges 13:18 when it says "Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding." We should focus on contemplating on the messages of God/Yahweh/Allah (SWT) instead of fighting over what name He has.

Thank you for this enlightening post.