Posts Tagged ‘Unity’

Moving Beyond Tolerance

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

In teaching for years in a public schools, “tolerance” was a word often bandied about as a key goal of secular education.  But there is more.  There is an embracing that can take place that allows for a wide inclusion of perspectives.

From a Christian New Church perspective, we are to live in such a way as to “draw unity out of variety.”  That includes the life of religious organizations.  The key however lies here – to be within God’s plan, we must have variety in order to have unity.  ”When doctrine or worship varies, then God, working by means of loving service, affects and acts on each of us in  a way uniquely suited to our personality.” (Secrets of Heaven, 1285)  Faith then differs on many levels – denominationally, church-to-church, and individual-to-individual.

What is it then that brings us together?  Mutual love, one for another.  That is more than tolerance.  It is heaven and not heaven there-and-then, but heaven as a here-and-now transformative experience in which the compelling demands of faith can be met with with great joy.  It is why this church must bring numerous voices to bear.  That is the next step beyond simple “tolerance.”  What we do to exclude voices today will look every bit as dated in 40 years as a picture of segregation does to us today.  What we do to include those voices is the way forward.

 I close with these words from a interview on NPR between Sister Pat Farrell and Terry Gross.  They speak to the need noted above.

GROSS: Do you feel like the church is removed from those real-life situations?

FARRELL: I think elements in the church are. And of course we all – within the church there are different roles. And a bishop, for instance, can’t be on the streets working with the homeless. He has other tasks. But we can be. So if there is a climate of open and adequate and trusting dialogue among us, we can bring together some of those conversations.

And that’s what I hope we can help develop in a deeper way, the kind of relationships and climate of dialogue that will make it possible for the different perspectives and roles and positions in the church to be in greater interaction and dialogue with one another, really for the good of the whole church.

GROSS: So I don’t mean to put words in your mouth. So correct me if I’m being presumptuous here. But what I think I’m hearing you say is that you think nuns are in a position to actually educate bishops, to educate some of the church hierarchy about what life is like for women today, about what family life is like, what sexual life is like, because you work with women – and that the bishops don’t want to listen; they want to tell you what to do.

FARRELL: I think that teaching and listening and discerning together is something that belongs to the whole church. The bishops and the hierarchy have a more specific role as teachers and defenders of the faith, but that can’t happen in a vacuum, nor can our lives with people on the margins happen in a vacuum. We are one church. We are the church.

So the dialogue for us is critically important.



Experiencing Intense Gratitude

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Given the events of the past two weeks, I am struck by what we are to each other.  The image that comes to mind is of a summer time rain – the warm kind of rain, the kind that actually is joyous to get “caught” in.

Drops of gratitude, grace, kindness.  They fall on our lives and at times, actually pour down, all over, to be felt, experienced, danced in.  (Scary thought!)  I like to think that that experience is always available but I know pain keeps the drops at bay.  The noise of such pain can at times be so great it understandably eclipses much of Life.

Brian McLaren wrote of how we move towards a time of radical simplicity, a time when we come to discover the oneness of God not as a singular entity but as a relational oneness, the oneness of trees to a forest, the oneness of a drop to the rain, a oneness of experiencing what we are to each other, what God is to us, what God is through us, what God is through others.   It is Jesus’ prayer of oneness in the Gospel of John.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  (John 17)

God’s Oneness is a Relational Oneness.

What If?

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Views of church evolve.

For many of us church begins as the bastion of law, order, tradition.  Religion then plays out as morality, as codes, as creeds, and as attendance.  What if though church, like our faith, was designed to evolve?

Christian New Church theology is filled with numerous references to what can be described as “mutual indwelling.”   In the Gospel of John, Jesus offers a wonderful prayer of oneness, or as one theologian phrased it, of “cascading unity” that speak to mutual indwelling – unity with Him and the Father, with us, with those who will know Him in the future.   The unity literally spills out of the prayer.

In our faith system, that very unity spills out again into areas such as marriage, work, service – all areas where the unity can be experienced.  It is also experienced in our connection with the spiritual world, not a connection of soothsayers and swamis, but a connection of heart and thought.  When experienced, “belief” in a dogmatic sense becomes less a priority and caring and the wisdom growing from it gains its rightful seat.  Morality, codes, creeds, and attendance follow a similar path – giving way to compassion, simplicity, intuition, and engagement.  Divinity becomes grounded in our humanity.

What if?  What if church evolved to a celebration of the mutual indwelling we have with God and with one another?  Such a shift is not without pain – I am absolutely convinced that opening to God and to others actually opens us to more synchronicity in terms of pain.  Likewise it opens the joyous space for co-creation.   And such a shift may be just where the Christian church is headed.

Losing A Thought, Gaining Your Soul

Monday, September 27th, 2010

I was listening to a priest today who made a fascinating point.  He talked of what occurred when the idea that we are separated from God dies.  When that thought goes, so does our separation from God.

Emanuel Swedenborg wrote of attention to the spiritual being attention to what was real.  God is omnipresent – is everywhere.  As the Bible so beautifully words it – Where can I can go Lord that you are not?

I think many have those moments in which the thought of being separated from God disappears.  We are in the moment and that moment, at times, is pure heaven.

That is the essential unity of creation.  We move away from dualism, from separation, to unity, to the oneness spoken of by Jesus in the Gospel of John.

The priest went to talk of moments near death, moments when the brain “stops”, the chatter “stops”, when the thought we are separate from God “stops.”  What decision is left but to fall into the loving arms of God.  As one dear friend said on his deathbed, “It is all so perfect.”