sunday sermon

Pietro Cavallini, Detail of mosaic in the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome, 1291.

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” ~ Teilhard de Chardin

from: please don't squeeze the shaman

" I’m not a big fan of anyone pushing religion or atheism in people’s faces. Just like anything personal, there’s a time to share what you value and know and there’s a time when it’s just not helpful. It’s like when I was a kid and spent a couple days at my cousin’s house. I went to her kindergarten class with her, but because I was already in 2nd grade, I would yell out all the answers, RED! 5! and the teacher said, 'That’s nice you know the answers already but the others are younger than you and need to learn.'

If someone likes believing that life is a Disney movie, you get a treasure chest in heaven if you don’t use birth control or that science is a demon, there’s not much you’re probably going to be able to do to convince them otherwise until their brains or hearts or cultures grow big enough to get it, and the way we grow is usually through patient dialogue and living examples. If we live an atheist or religious life that seems meaningful, connected, intelligent and caring instead of shouty, hatey and eye-rolly, it will influence others. Right now I’m enjoying the belief that somehow we are reunited with people we love after death. Someone insisting to me that this won’t happen might be correct, and maybe this belief is holding me back, but if they know me, they’d just shut up and let me do my own learning, just like 2nd grade me in that kindergarten class. "



Anonymous said...

"If we live an atheist or religious life that seems meaningful, connected, intelligent and caring instead of shouty, hatey and eye-rolly, it will influence others."

I've been having this idea for a while but have not come close to boiling it down to one sentence. Well done!


Pauline said...

Uh huh. I feel the same way - we learn best when we listen instead of shouting out the answers. Happy Christmas RDG!

PointyHeeler said...

Hm. Not that I'm going to dare shouting "RED!", or "5!", but.....

Isn't it a bit telling that you left out the shaman's self-contradictory bigotty eye-rolly, shouty, haty last couple of sentences?

It spoiled the moment, for me, realising that the shaman's not embraced a life of peace, and contentment.

goatman said...

I was once accosted (and I know that is a loaded word, but that is how I felt at the time) by a Jesus freak on the beach at Galveston. Nothing would do for this fellow but that I would bow down and accept his rendition of the savior of us all. He may have made a pledge to convert a certain number of us, given the attendance at the beach. I went for a swim and, sure enough, there he was waiting for me. I almost hit the guy -- and I have never hit anyone in my life. That is the sort of annoyance some can be when they are the receiver of the true belief and others must surely hear the word and be joyous unto the lord (word).
Maybe I should have determined the sound of one hand slapping??

red dirt girl said...

Hi Dave !!

Even though the words are not my own, I agreed with the basic sentiment: we each have the right to personally define our spiritual beliefs, as much as we have the right to say, Let me learn this on my own.

Glad it struck a chord with you.

you're the best, Dave!

red dirt girl said...

Pointyheeler ~

Isn't it a bit telling that you left out the shaman's self-contradictory bigotty eye-rolly, shouty, haty last couple of sentences?

Well, telling in what sense? I found something that I liked and basically agreed with. Not all of the Shaman's sentiments were in accordance with mine. So yes, of course I left out the bits that I did not believe in/ agree with.

As I pointed out in my comment to Dave: the basic sentiments of 1) I have the right to define my own belief system without needing to shove down someone else's throat and 2) Let me learn my beliefs on my own - stand true for me.

You will have to come to your own conclusions. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater just because Shaman still has some 'learnin' to do.


red dirt girl said...

Dearest Pauline ~ Bless you for wrapping it up succinctly into one beautiful statement:
we learn best when we listen instead of shouting out the answers.

Merry Christmas!

red dirt girl said...

Goatman ~ I certainly can feel your pain. While I was in college, a number of my peers in the same course as I, found Jesus. I was harassed and 'witnessed' to endlessly by these well meaning? jesus freaks. It's not the way to go about spreading the good news! I resisted completely and felt, as you did, like slapping them. Eventually, I dropped them as 'friends.'

I've since received the news of the good word from countless other acquaintances and well meaning family members.

This form of harassment just doesn't work. All of those witnesses would have better served God and me if they had just put me on their daily prayer list - plant the seed, let God do the rest.

I know what is true for me. I would never dare suggest that it is truth for another human being. We must all stop shouting out the answers and learn for ourselves what is right and true.

I just hate it when Christians judge others. It is so hypocritical.

I would have definitely applauded the slapping of the offender. He could have racked it up as Suffering for the Lord!


red dirt girl said...

There is not one big cosmic meaning for all, there is only the meaning we each give to our life, an individual meaning, an individual plot, like an individual novel, a book for each person.
~ Anais Nin


Adullamite said...

Repent woman!
Or I will send my bug over to you.....

soubriquet said...

That's the spirit, Adullamite, A plague of Volkswagens on the unruly wench!

Never have I seen a more unrepentant specimen. And I'll bet she was stealing all the red crayons in kindergarten.

Alberto Granados said...

Every religion tries to say people what to do ornot to do, what is good or bad, when, why, when and who one must love, pet or make love with. When can one have meat or when is Lent or Ramadan...
If people follow their rules, will submit to the priests, the sacerdotal, class and the individuality will disappear and die.

...and no religions too... sang Lennon. He was right, I think.


goatman said...

And the priest dies if no money is contributed.
But I do like the spired churches, mosques and meeting places which were assembled as places to congregate and celebrate a common belief -- places of God indeed.
I just wish I could believe and contribute but, sorry, my belief is personal and needs no contribution.

red dirt girl said...

Oh Adullamite,

I've ALREADY repented. I have to repent daily as I have a rather rebellious spirit. Put me on your prayer list. The good Lord will do the rest!

ps. Are you attempting to curse me with the man plague??

red dirt girl said...

Hi AG ~ I do believe in spirituality, in that I do believe we each have a spiritual quest. But for all the RULES ... I can't do that. Somehow the 'need to control' button gets pushed and voila' we have RELIGION.


red dirt girl said...

Hi goatman ~

I've tried organized religion. I truly have. But I've experienced pain at the hands of the 'faithful'... At the last church that I belonged to, I was a member of the Worship committee brainstorming ways to use the arts in worship. Until I filed for divorce from my husband. Suddenly, I was no longer needed. Not one person from my church family called me, offered me prayer or solace during the painful 3 year
process. When I confronted the members of my group, they said, "Well, we just thought it was your bi-polar disorder ...." I never returned.

Since then, I've been quite wary of joining any church family. I believe in the power of communal worship, I do ~ wonderful things can and do happen. All too often, however,
communal worship becomes communal judgment and that's where I disagree.

Another example: During the first years of my marriage, we were transferred from Los Angeles to a very small town in east Texas. I met a wonderful lady who established a home for people dying of AIDS. It was the 'last stop' on the train for these patients. They had no other place to go to die. I volunteered and worked with her. We were often picketed by the less tolerant churches in the community. The only religious leader who entered the doors of our house was a young, rather rebellious, Catholic priest. He never preached. Just offered comfort and acceptance - love to all who asked. I learned more about love and God during my short time there than I have in all the countless bible study classes I've attended since. Dotty, wherever you are, thank you for the unconditional love you gave.

Sorry. I still get choked up when I think of her and the men I met at her home.


red dirt girl said...

Soubry ~
OMG! It's raining VOLKSWAGENS over here!

ps. I steal GREEN crayons, too.

red dirt girl said...

And just to twist things up a bit (as though I haven't done so already ...)

"A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him, than can a lunatic put out the sun by scrawling the word “darkness” on the walls of his cell."