Sunday Morning Musings: Someone asked me if I would be remaining with The United Church of Canada now that I am retiring. At first the question seemed strange but as I pursued it with the person asking, I realized that the question came from a place of concern about whether or not my “theology” would allow me to remain within the confines of a religious denomination.
My answer seemed straight forward – yes. On the other hand, I was intrigued by a comment I also read wherein the author had said: “I don’t believe anymore.” At first, I had no problem agreeing with the comment as I don’t believe anymore either. But as always there is more to what one sees and says.
What I believe now is not the same as I believed 40 years ago or 6o years ago. If it is the same, then I am in trouble. Belief cannot become or remain stagnant. I do not have the same belief and understanding of “God” as I did as a 10 year old. For the most part I believed what I was told. In terms of faith development that could be called being in the “affilliative” stage. Such a stage is liked by the church hierarchy because it keeps “believers” in control. Sadly, there still are church leaders today that want their followers to “trust” them. (I have a lot of problems with the minister who tells his followers that God told him to buy a 50 million dollar jet – more with those who “blindly” listen to their minister than the minister themselves).
I strongly believe that we must move past this type of belief. Of course, to move on and start to question and think for ourselves does not always feel safe and comfortable. In the non-religious realm the next stage feels dangerous. Some have referred to the next stage as one of myth-busting. Immediately, I am at odds with those who cannot understand that myths are also part of the very Bible we read. A few years ago my grandson asked if I thought that one could really lose all his powers if his hair was shaved off like happened to Samson in Judges 16. What is the truth not is it true or not?
If we fail to think for ourselves, if we fail to question (yes, even the Bible) then we do a great injustice to our beliefs and to our faith. Too often we have been led around by those who have claimed they are the ones to be followed. It has happened again and again and sadly is still happening today. Even Jesus was put to death for questioning the religious leadership of his day.
I don’t believe anymore those things that keep me from “doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God” (to quote Micah 6:8). We don’t have to agree on the meaning of even these things but we must keep doing that which gives life and love. It is important that we all have teachers, but not teachers that expect us to follow them, rather ones who support us to ask the questions and explore the various answers. A Chinese proverb I read on FB this week said: “Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself”. As scary as that may sound it is true, but remember, as you enter this new world, you will never be alone.
That is something that I do believe.