Tuesday, February 17, 2009

examining a symbol

So there I was, watching Link TV, a cable channel I have a kind of love-hate relationship with. (They talk about global issues and show a lot of different cultures and news from other cultures ---which I like. But they also have a kind of arrogance toward Christianity and they tend toward a syncretist view of religion...which we Christians simply are commanded not to have.)

So there I am watching it when a little spot comes on with Bede Griffiths. Bede is one of these venerable monks who started out as Christian and like Merton started getting into Buddhism. He now is in India with his own ashram. If there is nothing this station likes it's holy folks in holy garb (or sometimes secular garb but with a title such as sister this or cleric that) talking about syncretist spirituality.

So Bede holds up his hand and --pointing to each finger-- says something like: The great religions are like this. Christianity is the thumb, then there's Islam, then Hinduism, then XXX, then Buddhism is over here at the little finger. Buddhism is as far from Christianity as possible. But as you get deeper into each religion and into the hand...you all find the center.

Oh brother! Oh come on! First of all, those religions are so totally diametrically opposed at their center that I doubt they have a common center. But if one goes with what he says...that for those who go deep into their religion, yadda yadda....

First, the subtle dig here is that he is deep and can find the common center...unlike the shallow fundamentalists like myself.

Second, that Christianity is just one of many ways of finding the center.

Honestly, hubby and I just kinda sat there attempting to discern and puzzle this one out. On the one hand, it is quite true that God can be found no matter what religion we are....if the holy spirit draws the adherent. But honestly, there are folks who are deeply in the fundamentals of their religion who still haven't found God.

Also true in my opinion is that the religion we modern Christians know as "Christianity" probably doesn't have all the richness of the religion Christ taught his disciples. Jesus taught that there is a world of spirit and a world of flesh and the senses, that these worlds fight each other in the mind of the believer, that he is God made flesh, a unique being created to show what true man should be like -- flesh and spirit. And that he was God. Modern Christianity kinda doesn't even know the first thing of trying to be spiritual or to see spirit. Nor does it even understand how the incarnation of God as human flesh shows the purpose of God as to a creation that is both of flesh and of spirit.

But there is that dratted symbol. Some ignorant person who thinks he's deep will latch onto that symbol. The amount of damage the right appropriate symbol can do! Especially when it's a symbol made up or used by someone in clerical garb! I looked at this man and thought: How many deceived educated and wise people I see these days! Let this man meet a real demon at his bedside or see a vision of the folks in hell (And ALL religions speak of a terrible place of punishment!) and he'll see how deceived he has been... no matter how well-intended he is!
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