My college roommate, Putzer, the attorney was with me for a few days this past weekend. When I referred to the current political primaries as “March Madness,” she told me that phrase actually referred to basketball. You could have fooled me. I’ve been following the political clown show via computer and inevitably I travel down the roads to religion. The scent of sanctimony from the candidates, the bloggers and the commenters causes my computer to crash and I have to take time to re-boot and make a cup of tea. While I’ve waited for the tea to brew, I’ve thought about religion, and specifically, Christianity because that is the religion I know the most about.
Spirituality is a rabbit warren of meaning with “ten thousand several doors” for us to make our entrances and exits. When we’re young and fearful (or immature and terrified), there’s a waiting room where we can believe someone has all the answers. Depending on where we are in life, we can curl up in one room or the other until we get curious about what else is there. We can wander out of the Christian rooms and see what they’re doing in The Wiccan. We can make macaroni necklaces with the Muslims, finger paint with the Buddhists, and star-gaze with the astrologers.
We can wander into hidden places that have no address. We can find ley lines and vortexes. We can be transported by mystery. We can gather what has meaning for us, make our own rooms, and put in skylights.
Christianity, in this country, has become one big holding zone where the lowest common denominators are grubbing around in the muck, throwing sewage at each other, and imagining they are the warren. The word Christian is now a political statement not a descriptor of one’s orientation to the mystery of life. It’s a statement that one belongs to a fraternity with a really cool leader who makes him feel safe, important, and entitled to pretty much anything he wants, including the right to infiltrate the minds and bodies of other people.
When Jesus was alive there was no such thing as Christians. Christians created their club after the really cool leader was gone and no longer had immediate jurisdiction. Any future difficulties were neatly covered by the concept of the Holy Spirit who is endowed with qualities which conveniently give backup to whoever holds power. Boy, was this ever a case of a parent who left a convoluted trust, secure in the belief his guileless heirs would sort it out fairly. Two thousand years later, the heirs are still fighting over who is executor.
I cover vast territory when I say that one of the most condescending phrases to crop up in the past decade is “people of faith.” I don’t know who coined it, but ironically, it’s been co-opted by the muddy folks in the holding zone. When a “person of faith” has conquered his way to the top of the pit, he needs all those muddy people below to hold him up. Whatever once passed for faith is supplanted by fear that they won’t. Meantime, everyone is still covered with mud.
When we stake our lives on the belief we are right, and that we have the Truth, and when we sit complacently in our own self-righteousness, we don’t need faith. A more accurate descriptor in this case would be “people of doubt” because instead of our faith supporting us, we need everyone in the world to prop us up.
We are all people of faith. We all have faith in something. But there is something in life– a power, a mystery, the wind, a lump in the throat–that can’t be seen directly and which evades definition. Everything else is language. Language evolves. When politicians get a hold of language, it dies. But then it’s reborn at another address.
Meaning resides in those hidden places that have no address. How we make meaning within ourselves makes all the difference in the world.