Sunday, September 12, 2010

Seeking the Truth

It might be incorrectly inferred from my last post that I am defending the Catholic Church. Well, I'm not even Catholic. Still, I don't believe they deserve to be demonized because someone has a difference of opinion. I have actually been Episcopalian for 15 years, despite a six year journey into New Age spirituality. I've considered becoming Catholic many times, but I have some differences in beliefs that fit better with Episcopalianism.

It is more important to deal with our psychological issues around religion than it is to decide who's right and who's wrong. Being human, we are each going to have our own interpretation of everything, including the Bible. Almost every church I know of believes they are right and everyone else is wrong. Some even go so far as to call others “false teachers.” On the other end of the spectrum are New Agers who believe no one is wrong and that everyone is right.. unless, of course, the organization is drawing attention to moral issues, judgment and guilt. That, most New Agers would agree, would be wrong.

There is a sense of inner security to be found in both positions. If I am right and everyone else is wrong, I can feel confident in my faith. If no one is right or wrong, then I am free from examining my motives and be guided by “what feels good,” which obviously isn't guilt-based. Realizing that we are all humans trying to find our way is not a “feel good” or secure position. Everyone, regardless of where they fall on the continuum I outlined, is afraid of being “misled.” So, we recoil in fear and blame others. Also, we are often drawn to beliefs and faiths that meet psychological needs, whether to feel safe or to mentally escape a lifetime of perceived oppression and judgment.

The Catholic Church has a 2000 year history. Protestant churches are babies by comparison. Like Buddhists, Catholics have a rich history of practicing meditation and preserving this tradition. This is something I do not find often in Protestant churches. When Protestants do meditate, they seem to start from scratch, which to me is like re-inventing the wheel. But, I am not talking about beliefs here, but practices and stances toward meditation. As far as beliefs are concerned, the Catholic Church has admitted being wrong many times through the centuries and made changes to remedy problems. Still, they preserve the best of what they feel is truth. So, I am not angry at them for not changing it all on a dime because someone disagrees.

Just because an idea is new and fresh does not make it better. Religious Science, to me, is a case-in-point. But, being humans, we can only express opinion, as I am doing here. Ultimate truth is known only to God. Most seekers, whether they be Christian, Buddhist or New Age, do sincerely seek the truth. There are those who intentionally mislead others with profit motives, or who encourage violence in the name of God. These, most would agree, are true False Teachers with capital letters. However, many times New Age followers are led to believe that profit motives are good. At that point, a wide range of abuses may occur, and because judgment is a no-no, there is no way to sort out what to believe.

I do not believe Matthew Fox is a false teacher. His philosophy is ripe with life and creative energy which is very good. He just doesn't tell the whole story of Christ as I see Him. Also, his beliefs do not oppose the basic catechism of the Episcopal Church. His areas of difference with Catholics are not considered critical to the Episcopal catechism. So, both he and I have found a home. But, I may awaken one day and discover I'm wrong, just like Fox felt he was wrong. I may be fifty and switch religions. I don't feel animosity towards him for differences in opinion. I merely see in him an anger at Catholicism and an insistence that they change for him which permeates his website. It concerns me. But, what concerns me now is that I am working through anger at the New Age Movement. I feel the victim of other's selfishness, but what's important now is strengthening myself so I'm not fooled again. So, today, I'm feeling more at peace with it. I'm not going to insist they change for me.

A thought occurred to me this morning: There is no threat to the Truth. None. We really have nothing to fear, because the truth will not be tainted by our mistakes in our sincere searching. We can't damage it. We can damage ourselves, true, but we can learn from it and move on in our awareness. It is most harmful of all to avoid questioning, acceptance of our humanness and the desire to grow closer to God as we see Him.

1 comment:

  1. Powerful and incisive notions here that we would all do well to consider regardless of which end of the religious spectrum we tend towards.
    I'm really enjoying your writings, Laura, and looking forward to future posts.