This week: Walking the WalkEdited by: Sophy
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Hi, I'm Sophy ~ your editor for this edition of the Spiritual Newsletter.
The Rev. Scotty McLennan, author of the book Finding Your Religion, compares humanity's innate need for spiritual searching to climbing a mountain. In his view, we are all endeavoring to climb the same figurative mountain in our search for the divine, we just may take different ways to get there. In other words, there is one "God," but many paths. I honor whatever path or paths you have chosen to climb that mountain in your quest for the Sacred.
Walking the Walk
Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe.
(4th Point of Progressive Christianity)
What if we shifted the framework away from:
This Religion versus That Religion
This Belief System versus That Belief System
This God versus that God
This Creed versus That Creed
This Jesus versus That Buddha versus This Mohammad versus That Abraham, versus… etc…
What if we stopped asking questions like:
What is your religion?
What are you beliefs?
What is your doctrine?
Where do you go to church?
What if we started asking questions like:
Are you free from suffering?
Do you see God in all things and all people?
Are you participating in the liberation of all beings?
Are you an instrument of compassion, wisdom, and love?
In a seminary theology class I was introduced to the notion of orthodoxy versus orthopraxy. Orthopraxy is derived from modern Greek (orthopraxia) meaning correct action or activity, an emphasis on ethical conduct. This contrasts with orthodoxy, which emphasizes correct belief or faith. It may sound more familiar if you compare it to the “faith versus works” argument which was part of the Reformation when the Protestants split from the Catholic Church. What it means is that for some it’s more important what you believe IN to prove your true commitment to God, while for others it’s important what you do and how you behave.
For me, whatever our religious beliefs or spiritual path, I believe that our behavior is more important than what we say we believe in or the creeds we recite. We know more about the Jesus of the gospels from the things he does rather than the things he says. The Jesus we meet in the gospels is a man of action who heals, demonstrates compassion, takes a stand against injustices, loves unconditionally, and tells his disciples to go and do likewise. And when he does speak, his words echo what he believed to be the greatest commandment – to love God and your neighbor as yourself, which is just what he did.
Nowhere do we find Jesus suggesting that before we extend ourselves to help someone in need, or before we love our neighbor, we should first ask them to articulate their theology or belief system to see if we agree with them before we act. Which suggests that our acts of compassion are more important than the expression of our beliefs. Putting behavior ahead of belief in a hierarchy of values, followers of Jesus are called to treat the rest of creation with kindness and respect. Given that the "golden rule" is the same in all major world religions, I'd suggest that followers of religious practices different from my own would say the same.
Ultimately, you can believe all the right things and still be a jerk. Conversely you can be a “non-believer” and be a saint. It’s not about belief – it never has been. It’s about practice, about doing something for the well being of another, not just talking about it. And it has nothing whatsoever to do with reciting creeds or affirming a list of beliefs one must have to truly be considered a person of faith. It has everything to do with being the neighbor, feeding the hungry, quenching the thirst of the parched, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.
Whatever spiritual path you embrace I invite you to consider who has made an impression on you by demonstrating spiritual values that they put into action, and how do those actions relate to or reflect their spirituality? In other words, how do their actions reflect their values and spiritual core? Write something in answer to these questions and share them with me and I'll highlight them next month.
Below you'll find some spiritual offerings from other WDC members. Please let the folks know if you read their piece by leaving a thoughtful comment or review.
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Here are some responses to my last newsletter "Spiritual Newsletter (January 10, 2018)" about "Home By Another Road:"
From Mary Ann MCPhedran :
When I was a child I was waiting for the band of hope doors to open amongst a crowd of other children and when the doors was opened by the lady who was inviting us into the hall, a boy said, "Miss she's a catholic" meaning me, and the lady looking at me said, "That's alright dear, God accepts you wherever you chose to find Him."
Thank you for sharing.
Mary Ann MCPhedran.
Thank YOU for sharing this, I love it!
From Editing with purpose :
I find both sides have their inspiring people. It's the perspective of the observer that deems it positive or not. I too am tired the rhetoric. The constant jabs from the left constantly and vocally berating. The push from the Right to defend their side. I don't listen to the news unless hubby is home and it's one 17/7 he does sleep. I leave home as much as I can or go elsewhere. I'm glad I work. I find that even what you posted to be only positive when you believe in the people speaking. I feel bad for Chelsea. She doesn't have a choice. If she disagreed with her parents, I don't believe people would be hanging on her every word. Its just sad all over.
Thanks for sharing your perspective. It is bad from both sides - wish we could just all be on the SAME side!
From: Elfin Dragon - poetry fiend :
I love you've had such an epiphany. I've always believed kindness and love is the way to help others. A kind word goes a long way.
Yes indeed, thank you!
Thanks for all your comments - keep them coming! Until next time, Sophy
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