Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lenten Desert

I said this Lent would be a trip into the desert. Reading “Jesus Interrupted” (Bart Ehrman) I find myself even more stripped of clinging to the dogmatic Jesus. That is, when I write, I usually use the term Christ or Christ consciousness because I find it more socially acceptable than to stick to an unknown abstraction. I do this because of a lingering fear of what my Christian friends might think of me. I truly am tired of being dumped because of religious differences. What if I stopped trying to be acceptable to Christians? I’ve known since reading “In Memory of Her” (Elizabeth Fiorenza, dean of Harvard Divinity School) that only about 20% of the Bible can be said to accurate or valid. Her book had a historical and research focus. Ehrman’s book focuses on things that can be clearly seen in the Bible without going anywhere. If I study A Course in Miracles, I have to admit to myself that I don't know how accurate the information is. Whether I read the Bible or ACIM or the Bhagvagita or any sutra or any philosophy, it is always devotional because they all break down if approached analytically.

Ehrman's book would be risky for a basic denominational Christian to read; yet its information is standard fare for seminarians. The seminarians learn this material but they never mention it from the pulpit. It causes me to return to my frequent self examination. I return to the question: If no one had told me anything, what would I believe? And: Is my desire for God a call from God or obedience to social conditioning? The answer to the question is faith; faith determined by experience. How do I determine God for myself since the world only offers shifting half truths?

God’s revelation to me is through all my life experiences. These experiences lead from one thing to another, but always away from the various dogmatic or religious approaches. Each experience strips away some piece of social programming and leaves me with nothing. In my opinion, the only place these experiences can lead is to the Great Silence, which is why I call my Lenten journey a desert. Exploring solitude and silence has been something I learned about in the monastery, but have continued ever since.

Silence, stillness and quiet are just that. In the Bible, and other places, it says God is light. Light is silent. It doesn’t say anything. Pure light cannot be seen without reflecting off something. So if you see light, whether in the world or in your mind, it is reflecting off something. What are you perceiving if you see or hear or in any fashion detect light? Can it be God if you perceive it? Anything that you say about silence is not factual but experiential.

So I return to my practice of silence. If I am hearing God, I cannot say. The desert is silent, period.

Personal statistics: I ran 4 miles today. My legs felt great even though I ran 26 miles yesterday. I tried out my new "Olathe Marathon" hat and it was like Sampson's hair as far as I am concerned. One year ago, I broke my arm. Since that day, I had to use my left arm to hold the coffee cup. Today, I officially transferred the cup back to my right arm.

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