Monday, April 19, 2010

Observing

I wasn't feeling too well Sunday at Disciple Bible class. Not contagious or anything -- likely caffeine withdrawal, lingering headache, general malaise and tiredness.

So I didn't feel up to my usual high level of participation, and this created an ideal condition for me to practice observing the class. This is an important part of my spiritual practice -- disconnecting from my judgmental self, or the self that feels the need to endlessly defend my beliefs and views and stick up for those without a voice. The self that completes other people's sentences and jumps ahead with a response.

I was trying hard just to be present in the room and truly see the other people as they were, with loving, nonjudgmental eyes. OK, so that's tough. Julie is still very much present in the room, with her preconceived ideas and dislikes. Before someone even completes a thought, I'm often way ahead of what I think they are going to say.

Luckily, people are endlessly surprising. The depth of mystery in a single human being is profound. I haven't learned to anticipate my own husband's thoughts and reactions. So the people at this table who I have spent three-plus hours a week with since about last September are mostly strangers, except in the ways they reveal themselves through their words and behavior. My mind does not recognize that, though, and tries relentlessly to label them.

I'm thinking of inviting them all over to my house for a post-Disciple party. This is sort of a motley crew of people with beliefs all along the political spectrum. As far as the religious spectrum, I guess everyone is fairly close except for me, maybe. True spiritual beliefs are so intensely personal, that I suspect people who call themselves "Christians" represent a wide spectrum of ideas. Some are in it for the salvation, others because they can't bear to live in a world without Jesus. I represent the latter view.

A result of this in-depth Bible study, at this point in my life, is that I am having more problems with certain aspects of the Bible. It is certainly a dappled thing, as Gerard Manley Hopkins would say. That's a generous way of saying it has all kinds of prejudices codified into it. Against women, slaves, non-Christians, homosexuals ...

I came to the realization that almost our entire Christian Bible was written by Jews. The Christian religion would not exist, and would not be a worldwide phenomenon, without the supreme passionate devotion of a number of Jews. We owe our entire religion to God's original "chosen people."

Which, by the way, I also have an enormous problem with. God is not in the business of preferring one group or ethnicity over another, surely??

2 comments:

  1. Have you ever seen Letting Go of God? I have it if you want to watch it. There is a bible study segment where she has a hard time with some of it....and the results of trying to talk about the priest with it. I TOTALLY related to that part of it. In the end, she becomes an atheist - which I'm trying to avoid but getting closer to every day. I think the only thing that keeps me from crossing that line is the knowledge that I really DON'T know everything. I don't necessarily believe in the God of the Bible (okay - so I totally DON'T believe in the God of the Bible) - but I know there are mysteries out there that are beyond me and unexplainable that tend to hint at the supernatural....so that keeps me from totally becoming one of "them" :D

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  2. Sardine Mama, you and my Buddhist podcast bud Gil are alike in views about god! He doesn't get the "god" thing either, but he's also totally rational and likely does not believe in much that is supernatural. What I like about Buddhism is there is no pressure to "believe" something. It's about self-improvement, leading to improving the world. I am suspicious of religion's need to convince everyone else. Meantime, I don't think I will ever leave God/Jesus behind (Holy Spirit too). They are a deep part of my life.

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