One Body

We have now adjourned from the time of Advent, exited Epiphany, and are now fully in the incarnation of Christ living amongst us. I can’t think of a better time to contemplate what it is that “incarnation” looks like and what it could mean for all of us (not just Christians), this union of God and humanity.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.

John 1; 1-5, 14 (emphasis mine)

If there is one thing which I truly loathe in this world (and there is definitely more than one), it is the idea of arrogant and elitist exclusion. The notion that there are special snowflakes set apart from the rest of us plebs who feel entitled to better treatment, especially if it’s to the detriment of others, is infuriating. It brings to mind that nineties SNL sketch where the whole bit was Kevin Nealon responding to every perceived slight with that Jersey attitude of, “What? You think you’re better than me?!” While not nearly as impulsive or aggressive, that reaction is not terribly unlike my own regarding the arbitrary divisions that have been built between clergy & laity (arbitrary divisions of all kinds that hurt others are not okay, but I’m trying to stay on topic). Any religious institution which divides its members into class systems and places more value on one than the other is not one whose religious foundation can claim to be built on the love of God. Why? Because such distinctions which put clergy in a position of unquestionable authority and sanctified power over “regular” people breeds environments that more easily permit abuse & corruption. Hierarchy has no place in a truly loving & healthy spiritual relationship. Furthermore, Christ did not put himself above his disciples, above the prostitutes and tax collectors, above children, or any other class of people. Our modern church power structure is not one modeled on the life & ministry of Christ as he lived it while he inhabited our world. Everyone was equal in the eyes of Christ regardless of education, wealth, nationality, sex, age, or social standing. The longstanding divisions that have been created between the “holy” and “profane” have manipulated the dominant theological opinions held by so much of Western Christianity which proclaim that everything of human origin is by nature evil and wholly cut off from God. This kind of theology professes that you, in your current earthly state, cannot be good enough in God’s eyes no matter what you do. Which is precisely why you need other, better, men to talk to God on your behalf and you may just luck into Heaven after all.

I resent and resist that kind of theology. I believe that we are all capable of meeting God and being met by God and we do not have to have a specialized degree, or title, or collar, or building in order to do so. We can employ sacraments and engage in sacred spaces wherever we feel the Spirit, no matter how mundane or “profane” a space we happen to be in, because God is both transcendent and incarnate, not in spite of our natural circumstances. God dwells amongst us at all times, not in some remote and far off place apart from our messy existence. I feel that is the big-picture message that God was trying to communicate via the Incarnation – that God can and God will come down to our level in every facet and form we can imagine. That there is not, actually anything inherently obscene about merely being human, but that there is, in fact, something sacred that can be drawn out from our human experiences.

I mean, how can you believe that God was willing and eager to take on human flesh; live amongst us AS us; live and love the diseased of mind & body; undergo brutal violence and shameful death, and yet would somehow NOT treasure these fleshy vessels we each carry with us? How could our fragile beauty not be held as something precious & valuable by the one who experienced it firsthand? Surely our God who continues to live with us now could not regard this earth as anything less than sacred. Surely every inch of light and darkness is imbued with that Holy Spirit.

We wouldn’t bother to remember Christ’s own physical incarnation each week through communion if there wasn’t something holy about being in human skin. I believe that we are born wearing all the qualifications we need in order to be in communion with that same God simply by virtue of inhabiting these earthly bodies. I see no need for any intermediary between myself and my God. I have no use for divisions between secular and sacred. Neither did God when taking on human form nor as the Holy Spirit dwelling amongst us all now. The Incarnation was an eternal communion between Spirit and humanity that continues even now. One Body, One Blood, One Spirit. Amen.

+ Katie +

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Female Trouble

 

How we talk about God matters. Pretending how we address the Divine as if it were only a minor issue does a huge theological disservice to us all. God is not male, and yet the preferred pronoun used for God has long been He, with the assumption that this was a wholly accurate title. The exclusive use of male-gendered language excludes the feminine from being considered holy & sacred, and therefore can be used to diminish the role of women within the Church. Women have been excluded, degraded, demonized, abused, and shamed in the name of “tradition” for centuries. This entire charade has only ever been weakly bolstered by claims of divine male authority/appointment by cherry-picked Bible verses used to illustrate the inferior (and often diabolical) nature of women and our bodily existence. It’s our fault we’re in this whole mess of humanity, right? Male hierarchies relish in the power from their self-appointed position of rulers of the universe, yet don’t seem to want to share any of the responsibility for any of the resulting consequences. If you’ve been in charge for the better half of human existence, you can’t really blame the oppressed when the proverbial shit hits the fan.

But I am digressing slightly. The main issue at hand this: Why does the usage of female pronouns and metaphors make so many uncomfortable? What is it about the implication that the feminine can also be sacred that elicits accusations of blasphemy & heresy? What is ultimately so offensive & awful about just being female that it can’t be seen as holy? And what are the larger implications for women in the world who aren’t permitted a God that relates to their experience?

In fact, this aversion to referencing the holy as feminine is not without its consequences. There are so many denominations within Christianity that place undue and unhealthy shame on women’s bodies by convincing them that their only worth is in their sexuality and in the strict control of that sexuality. Phrases such as “modest is hottest” imply that only girls & women who maintain the imposed ideals of sexual virtue through chastity are valuable and godly. No such similar ideals are forced on boys and men. Teenage boys are not pressured and shamed by messages of “protecting” their virginity at all costs. Teenage boys are not discouraged from wearing certain clothes because they might be “distracting” to the girls. Teenage boys are not threatened with ruined reputations and titles like “whore” and “slut”. While men & boys are certainly exposed to harmful and unrealistic ideals of masculinity, it is not equivalent to the level of body & sexual shame that women have instilled in them their whole lives. In many faiths, the idea that women are entirely responsible for how men view & treat their bodies is inextricably linked to the notion that their bodies are more sinful, deceptive, dirty, and tempting, and should, therefore, be covered prior to being considered acceptable not only socially, but spiritually as well.

These kinds of restrictions also extend to the structure and leadership of the church. If it is believed that women are less trustworthy, less intelligent, less capable, and more prone to sin, then they aren’t going to be entrusted with any power inside the church. After all, it even says in the Bible that women aren’t supposed to teach or speak up, right?

If you bring up the injustice that is presented by treating women as though they don’t matter and are in fact lesser humans than the males in the church, many fundamentalist Christians will often invoke their misogynist mascot St. Paul and treat you to such verses as:

“Women shall remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.” – 1 Corinthians 14:34

“I do not permit a woman to teach or assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” – 1 Timothy 2:12.

I mean, it says it right there in the Bible y’all! However, I would like to point out a few things that weaken the foundation of the good ‘ol “women in the kitchen” philosophy.

First, let’s discuss the issue of authorship of the Pauline letters. There are, in fact, only 7 letters in the Bible which are universally agreed upon as being authentic letters of his: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Those are what are referred to as the undisputed letters of Paul. Then, there are six letters whose authorship is called in to question and it is not certain whether Paul actually wrote them or not, his authorship is only traditional: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus.

Then there’s how these letters were written in the first place. Many of Paul’s letters mention co-authors. That, of course, begs the question: How much did those co-authors contribute? Consider also the fact that scribes were often employed in the process of letter writing during this time. Most folks who are even remotely familiar with Biblical history will probably be familiar with the notion of scribes, professionals who were hired to do the cumbersome task of putting ink to parchment. Interesting fact though: while some of these scribes took dictation and then copied word for word what they were told, many of them were just given broad topic outlines and left with the freedom to choose the specifics of the composition themselves. Isn’t that crazy?

Now certainly one would think that before an important document got disseminated bearing a certain someone’s mark of approval, that the individual actually reviewed said document and authorized its contents before release. That could certainly be the case. But knowing that the individual doing the transcribing had the freedom available to them in some cases to make editorial decisions, and knowing that we have no original copies of these letters, I think it’s entirely possible (and indeed very likely) that the versions of scripture we have today contain many differences from the original texts.

Secondly, let’s consider Paul’s own actions when compared to the verses quoted above. When trusting a person to deliver a letter to a community, you were choosing someone to act on your behalf. They would have to not only present the letter to the intended recipients, but also answer any questions posed by the community about its contents, and even defend it in debate if needed. Essentially, the person who delivered the letter was delivering the message and served as a kind of instructor for those on the receiving end. Paul chose such men as Tychicus and Epaphroditus to bear some of his letters (Ephesians and Philemon, respectively). However, the person that was chosen to deliver his letter to the Romans was a deacon in the church at Corinth named Phoebe – a woman. Not only was this woman already serving in a position of spiritual leadership in the early church, but Paul even deigned her fit enough to deliver one of his letters of spiritual guidance to a church community he had established. I find it very odd that a man who is attributed to phrases encouraging the silence and invisibility of women would also be a man to recognize and encourage their participation and leadership. One of these things isn’t like the other.

Indeed, Phoebe wasn’t the only woman recognized by Paul. Karen L. King, a professor of New Testament Studies and the History of Ancient Christianity at Harvard points out additional information about the roles of women in the church provided by Paul’s letters:

He greets Prisca, Junia, Julia, and Nereus’ sister, who worked and traveled as missionaries in pairs with their husbands or brothers (Romans 16:3, 7, 15). He tells us that Prisca and her husband risked their lives to save his. He praises Junia as a prominent apostle, who had been imprisoned for her labor. Mary and Persis are commended for their hard work (Romans 16:6, 12). Euodia and Syntyche are called his fellow-workers in the gospel (Philippians 4:2-3). Here is clear evidence of women apostles active in the earliest work of spreading the Christian message.

Paul’s letters also offer some important glimpses into the inner workings of ancient Christian churches. These groups did not own church buildings but met in homes, no doubt due in part to the fact that Christianity was not legal in the Roman world of its day and in part because of the enormous expense to such fledgling societies. Such homes were a domain in which women played key roles. It is not surprising then to see women taking leadership roles in house churches. Paul tells of women who were the leaders of such house churches (Apphia in Philemon 2; Prisca in I Corinthians 16:19). This practice is confirmed by other texts that also mention women who headed churches in their homes, such as Lydia of Thyatira (Acts 16:15) and Nympha of Laodicea (Colossians 4:15). Women held offices and played significant roles in group worship. Paul, for example, greets a deacon named Phoebe (Romans 16:1) and assumes that women are praying and prophesying during worship (I Corinthians 11). As prophets, women’s roles would have included not only ecstatic public speech, but preaching, teaching, leading prayer, and perhaps even performing the eucharist meal. (A later first century work, called the Didache, assumes that this duty fell regularly to Christian prophets.)

Women having full participation and leadership in the church is nothing new. In fact, without women’s involvement starting from the earliest days of the faith, we may not even have a church today at all.

To discount women as not being important contributors to the church, to restrict them solely to “traditional” roles associated with mothering and childcare, and indeed to actively shame them into submission does a massive disservice to all parties involved. Not only that, but it’s wholly baseless and dishonest to do so, completely ignoring the historical evidence proving the contrary, and disregarding the rest of the words and actions by the man who’s alleged to support that whole mindset (Paul). If women aren’t allowed to explore and realize their full potential as spiritual and community leaders, then not only are younger girls discouraged before they even try, it also creates a void for the whole community to lose out in hearing the voices and visions of those that are silenced. How can the body of Christ possibly be complete if entire limbs of it are severed and tossed aside?

Both women and men need to be valued wholesale for their gifts. Both the masculine and feminine need to be recognized as being equally sacred and equally worthy of praise. The bodies and minds of women need to be given the respect due to them, their humanity being recognized and honored in doing so. We need to become so comfortable with these things that should someone refer to God as “She” we will no longer go into fits of insolence – we won’t even bat at an eye. Hopefully, one day we will truly recognize that God is present in all of humanity – male and female alike.

+ Katie +

On the Alternative Atonement

St. Francis by Seth Fitts

St. Francis by Seth Fitts

Atonement.

No, I’m not about to discuss that terribly sad movie with the memorable library scene. Rather, I’m going to address the issues I have surrounding the traditional beliefs surrounding atonement and put forward an alternative.

The traditional theology surrounding the atonement, where Jesus Christ was sacrificed as payment for humanity’s sins, has never set well with me. Growing up outside of Christianity this was always a major barrier for me as I started to look into the religion as a teenager. How could a God of love and forgiveness need and want the death of his son to make up for his own creation’s shortcomings? If there was something inherently wrong with humanity, why did God make us that way in the first place knowing that we would be lacking something in order to fully receive some form of salvation? That seemed illogical and cruel. Further, if you were to hold the Trinitarian viewpoint (believing that Jesus was the physical incarnation of God) that would present an even stranger and more upsetting notion that not only God deemed it necessary to murder his own child, but that God was actually suicidal to boot. (Frankly, I find trying to apply any logic to the Trinitarian concept of God gives me a headache, but I digress.)

The more I learned about Christianity (and indeed the more I continue to learn about my faith) the concept of blood sacrifice was not one which spoke to my head or my heart in my understanding of what kind of deity God is. In fact, the entire theological concept of Jesus’ death being required as a blood sacrifice on the world’s behalf doesn’t even really jive with what’s in the Bible. God was decidedly anti-human sacrifice at the conclusion of the story of Abraham and Isaac. Nowhere in the New Testament is human sacrifice demanded, encouraged, or condoned, by God or Jesus. Jesus was, in fact, very outspoken against violence of any kind. When confronted with violence that was considered necessary and required by ancient law he rebuked those demands and instead showed mercy. Why would a God who made a point of showing love, mercy, and grace to all in existence actually mandate the torture and murder of his own son? The writers of the Gospel were coming from the same Jewish background as Jesus and were, therefore, approaching the crucifixion within a framework where sacrifice and quid pro quo in their relationship with the Almighty were regular occurrences. While early believers may have had a limited scope of experience in order to understand what happened with Christ’s death and what it meant, we are not so limited.

Though atonement theology has always been something I have disagreed with and didn’t believe in, I was concerned with voicing this belief as I had always understood that blood atonement was considered a central tenet, if not THE central tenet, of Christianity. In my experience, I have found that it is not an uncommon opinion or belief that without Jesus having died for our sins, there was really no point in being a Christian at all. The intertwining of original sin with Jesus serving as humanity’s scapegoat to save us from our own inherent evil nature are beliefs which have become so imbued within mainline Christianity that it’s hard to believe that there exists a faith without them.

I wondered: Could I still really be a Christian and not believe in this atonement theology?

Actually, yes.

This past week I was introduced to the “alternative orthodoxy” of St. Francis as presented by Fr. Richard Rohr. This “alternative” orthodoxy is one which falls in line with other orthodox Christian beliefs & doctrines, but rather than the emphasis being on the “stain” of Original Sin and Jesus’ death serving as payment for that, Franciscan orthodoxy postulates that God’s creation is inherently good. A radical notion eh? St. Francis believed that it is through us and through the world (God’s Creation*) that God expresses his love (Franciscans actually call creation “the mirror of God”). Franciscan theology does not separate God from creation into categories of holy and profane, good and bad, but rather sees the presence of God in every aspect of life: in the dirt, in trees, in the sparrow & the wolf, in suffering & the sick. Since God was the center of an interconnected world, to Francis all of life was kin to him, which he expressed in sentiments used for his environment such as Brother Sun and Sister Moon. To Francis, God’s Kingdom was not an abstract & otherworldly place, it was here in this tangible and tactile reality now.

Since there is nothing profane about God’s creation, humankind does not need someone to suffer and die on their behalf in order to receive the love and grace of God. God loves us in spite of ourselves, with no strings attached, with no caveats, with no exceptions. As I heard it phrased from Richard Rohr quoting another theologian:

Jesus did not come to change God’s mind about humanity, he came to change humanity’s mind about God.

Christ saved us by being the living example of God’s love in this world and showing us how to live our lives serving as instruments of that peace in this kingdom – not through grisly torture and execution.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have a personal theological issue suddenly settled by your favorite saint. I must admit that despite feeling that this “little poor man” was responsible for leading me to Christianity in the first place, and identifying him as my patron saint because of that, I’ve been lazy in researching much in his own personal theology above the “lite” version we’re all familiar with. How remiss my soul has been in not finding this information sooner. How delighted my soul now feels in finding affirmation and reassurance of God’s love in this “alternative” orthodoxy.

“My soul in an excess of wonder cried out: ‘This world is pregnant with God!’ Wherefore I understood how small is the whole of creation- that is, what is on this side and what is beyond the sea, the abyss, the sea itself, and everything else- but the power of God fills it all to overflowing.”
– Angela of Foligno

+ K +

Regnum Dei

KingdomGod1

“And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.”

+ The Gospel of Luke, 17:20-21 (ERV) +

Today is the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, my own patron saint, and the beginning of my absolute favorite month of the year. Down here in the South the days have not yet gotten into the 70s on a daily basis, but we’re well on our way to sweater weather and Halloween is just a few short weeks away. As I look forward to crisper temperatures, changing leaves, and scary movies, I’m also reminded of the shorter days and longer nights ahead. Seasons of increased darkness in many cultures and religions have long been associated with increased spiritual reflection. As our evenings begin to linger with us longer, and I think about this time of introspection, I am drawn to write on a topic I have been thinking about for awhile.

Several weeks ago now as I was listening to a podcast on Christianity, one of the hosts said something to the effect of, “the Kingdom of Heaven is like…” This spurred a thought process for me. I started repeating that phrase in my mind over and over, trying to find the words to complete the sentence, mulling over what that phrase even meant. I’ve contemplated writing a poem along that line of thinking, but that is for another day. For now, I’m considering a less literary question: What exactly is “The Kingdom of Heaven” or “The Kingdom of God”? Jesus himself never actually defined the term, though he used it often. Additionally, scholars have never reached a firm consensus on what the term is actually supposed to mean either. So what are we to make of the term? According to Paul, the kingdom is not a physical place here on Earth, nor does it pertain to physical actions that a person can take, but it is instead a state of being.

“The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

+ Romans 14:17, (NIV) +

Given Paul’s opinion and the inference of Christ’s statement made in Luke that he indeed does not refer to a physical place capable of being seen, I too would have to think that the phrase refers to one’s spiritual condition rather than a location here on Earth.

I can’t help but wonder though, what would our world look like if everyone found that little piece of heaven inside themselves? Through seeing the peace and love of God inside one another, how would that change the way we treat our neighbors? How would that change the way we treat our enemies? Could we somehow manifest the Kingdom of God here on Earth first through our own inner transformations? I do understand that may sound a little wide-eyed and naïve to many out there who say the world doesn’t work that way. However, the world is in the state it is right now because of us – we made it this way. Our short-sighted, self-serving actions have created the political, social, and environmental reality we now live in. We’ve been cultivating our lives with malice, greed, fear, and envy to where we can hardly see the beauty we live in for the bullets and smog. Many pay lip service to creating a better future for ourselves and for future generations, but there aren’t many out there truly making an effort turning that vision in to a reality. Creating a world that is more positive and affirming may not be easier or simpler than the way things work now, but it would certainly be better.

This is a challenge I issue to myself on a daily basis, to take a deep breath and and try my hardest to remember the humanity in the other, that they are me and I am them. I fail and I succeed at this challenge every day, but I keep trying because the alternative would be to make this world a little less bright with quick and easy cruelty. That is how I see God’s Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heaven. Not some far off place, not a literal reign on Earth by some celestial ruler, but a state of grace made manifest among us by our own mindful dedication to ourselves and one another in kindness and humility.

Where do you see The Kingdom of God in your life? How do you try to manifest that goodness and grace yourself?

+ K +

Original Sin, No I Don’t Think So

As a little girl I can remember references to “Catholic guilt” from films and TV and, despite finding the jokes amusing, was still quite confused about what it all meant. What did they have to feel guilty about? Had they all done something wrong? Being raised in a secular household, the idea of someone carrying around loads of guilt for no apparent reason didn’t make sense. It wasn’t until I got older and began to learn more about Christianity that I understood what the phrase “Catholic guilt” was actually describing: the concept known as Original Sin.

For non-Christians or Christians unaware of its meaning, in a nutshell, it is a philosphy that says all of humanity is inherently broken, bad, twisted, evil, profane, and incapable of taking any action on its own to remedy this sorry state. It was first alluded to by Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons in the 2nd Century as a rebuke to Gnosticism. Irenaeus believed that by Adam’s commitment of sin through eating the forbidden fruit, he created the “original” source of human sinfulness and enslaved all of mankind to death (mortality) and bequeathed all future generations with a fundamentally sinful and guilty nature. As a sidenote, I find it rather interesting that Irenaeus is linking this blame more specifically to Adam’s eating of the fruit rather than Eve, but I doubt he held her blameless either.

 

I think most of us, though, who have heard of this concept associate it with St. Augustine. St. Augustine was a man who in the late 300’s was wrestling with his own shortcomings and was having a difficult time resolving his own self-loathing in a theological way. How could he, a mere man, be able to help his own soul? How could God possibly love and forgive the miserable wretch that he perceived himself (and everyone else) to be?

 

Augustine took the notion of individuals being born sinners and ran with it. He proposed that since all of humanity was present in Adam when he sinned (in his opinion) that therefore all have sinned, and this sinful nature is passed down person to person via sexual reproduction. Hence, as sinners, “humans are utterly depraved in nature, lack the freedom to do good, and cannot respond to the will of God without divine grace.” (Which is where the twisted idea of unbaptized babies who die end up in purgatory came from – if you’re already born a sinner and die before you’re baptized, then there’s no way you’re able to enter Heaven. Obviously.) Clearly, St. Augustine was a man who had a lot of issues surrounding sex and sexuality to decide that such physical actions would be so loathsome and evil in the eyes of God.

 

In Augustine’s opinion, not only is all of humanity fundamentally bad, but because of our natural dispensation towards evil, we are incapable of choosing good on our own and therefore unable to do anything to remedy our flaws for or by ourselves. The natural world and the products of that natural world (us) were inherently deficient because of this inborn corruption we inherited through simply being born. He taught that it was only through God’s grace that we had any chance at all of being “saved” or made whole again. This is a belief that has snaked its way through modern Christianity and permeates throughout much of mainstream churches. Even in my own Episcopal church I’ve heard sermons from my priest and deacon, one of whom has publicly announced their disbelief in Original Sin, about the inherent “brokenness” of people. I could not disagree with this doctrine more.

 

Humanity is flawed, there is no doubt about that. We are capable of unimaginable evil, unabashed selfishness and greed, hatred, and so on. But I don’t for one second believe that we are, at our core, fundamentally broken and ugly. The word “broken” implies that there is somehow a way to be “fixed”. Some might argue that there is a way to be fixed and that’s through Christ. However, how many Christians do you know that are flawless? How many people belonging to any faith do you know that have reached any state resembling perfection or wholeness? Clearly just identifying as a person of faith doesn’t solve any problems or make you a better person. Original Sin tells you that you are powerless in your brokenness, that there is nothing you can do to make yourself a better person, that only God can do anything for you, you worthless worm. It asks you to pray, and beg, and plead, and hope for God to take pity on you and that hopefully with Christ’s mercy you will be “saved”. Maybe.

 

The other implication with using terminology such as “broken” that I find objectionable is that it communicates on some level that there is something fundamentally evil about the natural state of humanity (imperfect). It creates a thought process whereby we start to disassociate ourselves from the body and nature because those things which are “worldly” and physical are corrupt and sinful. We start to view the land and creatures which dwell on this planet as “things” which we must conquer, tame, and destroy if necessary to further our own misguided goal of trying to achieve a state of perfection.

 

Furthermore, linking the responsibility of our “fallen” state to the actions taken by a woman has created an entire culture whereby women have been historically and systematically debased, controlled, beaten, objectified, and humiliated as some sort of warped consequence for actions taken in a Biblical creation myth. Women’s bodies have long been associated with earthly desires, women as objects which are not to be trusted, because our foremother ate a piece of fruit she was told not to and so brought all our misery and suffering upon us. I can’t help but see the connection between our global culture’s attempts at controlling women & their bodies and attempting to control and destroy our natural resources as well.

 

How strange, how silly, how sad that so much of this self-destructive behavior seems to be rooted in a theological idea created by an unhappy little man in the fourth century. Original sin isn’t even Biblical, and yet so many people seem to be unable to separate their faith from this harmful doctrine. As Matthew Fox states from Living the Questions 2.0,
“Jesus never heard of ‘Original Sin’.” The term wasn’t even used until the 4th century, so it’s “strange to run a church, a gathering, an ekklesia — supposedly on behalf of Jesus — when one of its main dogmatic tenets, Original Sin, never occurred to Jesus.” Sadly, Western Christianity is dependent on and chronically “attached to Original Sin — but what they’re really attached to is St. Augustine. The fact is that most Westerners believe more in Augustine (and his preoccupation with sex) than they do in Jesus.”

 

How unfortunate that so many Christians would rather choose to believe the absolute worst about themselves rather than perceive themselves as beautifully flawed creatures capable of so much good. I find nothing uplifting, moving, or beneficial as person of faith or as an inhabitant of this world in being told that I am broken, fallen, and helpless by my very nature. I find such messages to be positively insidious and degrading. I am capable of doing things and taking steps in my daily life to become a better person and to nurture my relationship with the Divine. We all are capable of doing that. I refuse to believe that on top of my culture consistently bombarding me with messages of never being “enough” that the Divine would hold such a similar viewpoint as marketing agencies.

 

We are perfectly flawed and perfectly loved. Don’t listen to anyone trying to tell you otherwise.

 

+ K +