The voice of reason seems to have fallen out of favor here within the United States. With the latest mass killing in San Bernardino, which is in my own backyard, the rhetoric being played back on the NBC news is far more frightening than the prospect of being singled out in wherever the next mass killing might occur. Just last night Donald Trump called for renewed racial profiling, targeting the families of terror suspects, and waterboarding (torture) of terror suspects. Next I expect he will call for all Muslims to wear badges featuring the Star and Crescent as the Polish Jews were required to wear the Star of David just prior to the pogroms of WWII. But, as frightening as this may be, what is even more terrifying is the number of people who claim that a Holy War be carried out against Islam in the name of Christianity. My friends, welcome back to the Dark Ages and the Holy Crusades.
As a child my family had no transportation and so we walked. My mother, who was raised Southern Baptist, took us to the only church within walking distance of our short legs. It was a Pentecostal Holiness church where the men and women spoke in tongues and writhed like snakes across the floor of the sanctuary. There I was introduced to God, a bearded old white man who sat upon a throne of gold and inflicted harsh judgement upon all of us sinners. It was an image of God that I rejected by the age of eleven and replaced it with the concept of Wakan Tanka, translated by many as the Great Spirit into English but is, in reality, better translated as the Great Mystery.
Whatever you may choose to call the Great Mystery; God, Allah, The Light, El-Shaddai, the Creative Force of the Universe, or any of the other nine billion names is, in my opinion, placing a limit upon the infinite. Likewise, by placing a label upon ourselves is also limiting our scope and power. When we call ourselves Jews, Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, et al, we place ourselves within an infinitesimally small Venn circle of all there is. Why then do we label ourselves in such a manner that we create conflict with one another? How can Jews, Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, and the others all worship the God of Abraham and bear such malice toward one another?
I wrote before about the two delightful Mormon missionaries who would often visit me for pleasurable discussions of religion and spirituality. On the occasion of their first visit they asked me what I thought about their faith. I told them I had friends and acquaintances who were Mormon and very nice people and then delineated three reasons why their faith did not appeal to me. Over the course of our ensuing discussions they demonstrated the purpose of two of their tenets and I dropped my objections to them leaving only one exception. The one objection that I could not get past was that their faith was the only true faith and all others were false. My friends, I feel that it is that one tenet: I’m right and you’re wrong, that causes much of the violence that we see occurring around the world.
Most people I know see God as the infinite force of the universe and so, being infinite, how can something so finite as a religious faith be the one true way? The late Reverend Joan Bacon, a dear friend, taught that one should take what spiritual or religious tools worked for them, use them for only as long as they made sense, and then move on. It’s a good lesson.
The Great Mystery is the universal spiritual force behind all that is or ever will be and, should one open their eyes to it, they will see that it loves infinite variety.