Thanks for stopping by, whether you got here by a link or hitting "next blog" -- I am glad you are here. I've also done some writing on homeschooling, and what I learned thinking I was teaching.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Ways of Saying Old Things –Part I

  . . . I have a problem with religion or anything that says, “We have all the answers,” because there’s no such thing as “the answers.” We’re complex. We change our minds on issues all the time. Religion leaves no room for human complexity. (Daniel Radcliffe, aka Harry Potter, Parade, January 8, 2012.)

In my twenties, I wanted to have answers – answers to racism, poverty, and war. I seriously thought my generation could and would end all the pain.  So much for not knowing what God said about man and his complexities. (See Ecclesiastes, or Proverbs 30.)

Religion seemed impotent – having  no answers to human complexities I saw: the riots and Vietnam war – or the fall-out from “Free-love.”  Of  course I couldn’t say for sure how irrelevant it was, for I rarely attended any church. But when I did, I heard an Episcopal priest in Union South Carolina, a former IBM executive who had recently been ordained, speak of preparing for life after life.  That’s all I heard. 

Human complexity, meet death. 

Slowly, I came to grips with my mortality. Having read Dante, I knew about Hell and Purgatory. Was there no “Get Out of Jail” card?  Which religion offered the best price for such a card?

I attended the Episcopal Church again – even though its search of relevancy drove me nuts. Who in their right mind thought the General Confession needed a contemporary rendition?
A General Confession.
¶ To be said by the whole Congregation. after the Minister, all kneeling.
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer 1928)

What I needed to hear in plain language was The Declaration of Absolution, or Remission of Sins.

So, I wandered on – looking for a connection to religion and my life. But keeping it all to myself, lest I demonstrate ignorance on matters that never seemed to bother all those complex people in my life.

Because of family issues, I wound up in Al-Anon, and there met folks for whom a higher power was real, and operated quite apart from organized religion. This higher power, the god of their understanding, had no trouble sorting out the complex problems these folks faced. My new friends suggested I borrow their higher power until I found one for myself. 

Later I screwed up the courage to go to Bible Study Fellowship, looking for answers to questions my “complex” life generated. I still wanted to know what would happen after death – and how could I help our son avoid the snares into which I stumbled as a young person: drugs, sex and rock & roll. The Bible had the same answer the program did: I can’t, God can.

Maybe that kind of simplicity answer exasperates Mr. Radcliffe? It annoyed me when I did my first Fourth Step.  It still bothers me. But like Peter, where else could I go, but to God? (John 6:68)

 Solomon and Agur  -- (Ecclesiastes and Proverbs 30 and 31) -- didn’t pretend they had all the answers. But they had a few -- their simplicity explained many of the complex issues of the 1960’s, and a few of the personal issues that upset my family:

  “ . . . If you play the fool and exalt yourself,
               or if you plan evil,
                           clap your hand over your mouth!
For as churning cream produces butter,
               and as twisting the nose produces blood,
                           so stirring up anger produces strife.”  (Proverbs 30:32-33)

  • ·      Whenever a man talks loudly against religion,-always suspect that it is not his reason, but his passions which have got the better of his creed.--- Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy.
  • ·      Most people are bothered by those passages in scriptures which they cannot understand. But for me, I always notice that the passages in scripture which trouble me the most are those that I do understand. (Mark Twain)
Artwork  by Jim Sutton

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