serial killer

serial killer cartoon drawing by nakedpastor david hayward

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How many of you have gone through something like this?

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • http://www.mikebravener.com Mike Bravener

    Not going to “Church” is heartbreaking! – heartbreaking for those who take up the collection

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I’d be upset (not distraught) if my kids told me they were leaving church. A real church where the Word was proclaimed and the sacraments freely given.

    I wouldn’t be upset if they were leaving a ‘holiness church’ where the focus was constantly upon them, and what they should, ought, and must be ‘doing’.
    I’d probably celebrate that departure.

  • Carol

    I had the good fortune to be raised in a non-church-going home. My father, an agnostic scientist and my mother, who had an intuitive rather than a theological faith, cared more about a person’s character than his or her religious affiliation.

    In fact, it took dear ol’ Dad almost 10 years to accept the fact that I was an adult convert to the Christian faith. Perhaps *resignation* would be more accurate than *acceptance* to describe my father’s final response. He just sighed and said, “Well, it least it didn’t make you mean.”

    Mother did convert toward the end of her life through a home bible study and joined a Methodist Church to receive Communion and participate in communal worship. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer before conversion and told me that she was glad she was so sick because it gave her an excuse for not getting involved in all the “stuff” that goes on at Church.

    I am uniquely Christian in that I live my faith out of the Trinitarian and Christological Mysteries to the extent that my particular strengths, weaknesses and circumstances of life permit. I am also polydox in that I believe that “all truth is God’s Truth” and I find authentic insights (and errors) in every Religious Tradition.

    Jesus really raised the moral bar, though, when he commanded his followers to “do to others that which you would have them do to you” and not merely AVOID doing to others “that which you would not want them to do to you.” Jesus made us aware that there are “sins of omission” as well as “sins of commission.” Perhaps that is why, for all its “faults and failings” *Christianity* has inspired so many progressive humanitarian movements while simultaneously, in its institutionalized form, opposing many attempts to reform unjust civil ruling structures whenever there has been a risk of social destabilization.

    “The Institutional Church (ecclesia) has killed only two kinds of people: Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who do.” — Will Durant

    ‘Nuff said.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    I go to an “institutional church”.

    Our focus is to keep people centered on Christ and His finished work for us. To remind people that they are truly free in Christ.

    Free to do whatever good in this world that they may do. And totally free and forgiven when they do not (as we so often do not).

    You’re not going to hear that at the mall, or the Moose Lodge, or the park.

  • Carol

    I go to an institutional church, also; but I am an “active non-member” because I have learned that there is less expectation of herd mentality confomism from non-members.

    I am very “Traditional” in my core beliefs; but rather unconventional in the way my beliefs direct my faith practice. Either doctrinal or cultural non-conformity usually evokes often abusive responses from both/either clergy and/or lay co-religionists. For some reason people of faith raised in the eccliastical sub-culture are less threatened by non-conforming non-members than they are by non-conforming members of their faith community.

    I am willing to “suffer for my faith” if the only other option is to compromise my faith; but I see no reason not to practice strategies to lessen the chance of unproductive suffering. Unnecessary suffering is not only stupid, it is “harmful to your health.”

    Have you ever disagreed with a core collective belief or practice taught by your Church? If not, I don’t think you really know how much *freedom* you have there.

  • Richard

    It’s a shame that a cartoon can ridicule the tears of parents because they see the value of “church” and raised their children to see value there too. To me Jesus is the Creator of the universe and to contemplate His love for us is beyond measure. He created the “church” to convey His love to all people. None of us deserve His love. Yet the “church” and some of it’s leadership do convey it in sometimes faulty fashion. Who or what else does?

  • Larry

    Dear Richard, how about some concern for the daughter instead of ‘look what you are doing to us?’ That is what the drawing says to me.

  • http://www.dwnomad.com Dustin Williams

    I had a conversation pretty close to that with my mom after I dropped out of the seminary. Initially she was just curious as to what else I quit, but by the time she called it a “delayed teenage rebellion” the conversation was over.

    Fortunately, we still have a great relationship and can freely talk about anything.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    the point of the cartoon was inspired by people on my other site, http://davidhayward.ca who have been rejected by their families for leaving the church. that hasn’t been my personal experience.

  • A Different Michelle

    I can SO see this happening with/to some people I know, if their children grow up and leave church (or possibly even just the family’s particular denomination). I think you are dead-on.

    But the institution of church is not God. Jesus did not come to Earth to start another religion. The idea of attending church and being active there without joining appeals to me.

  • Mar

    I get concerned by your posts, Steve … You seem extremely reliant on the system and its sacraments to keep your faith afloat … Hope if that ever crumbles for you, you’ll figure out there is a more solid place to stand.

  • Kris

    I am glad my parents are not religious…they ask why I don’t go to church anymore simply because it was a part of my social life and identity. But they would never be upset with me for leaving and they did teach me to make my own decisions and respect them.

    When I get ready and see a church I am comfortable in, I may start going again. Honestly, I think this cartoons depicts a lot of situations where parents feel like this.

    And for those who think we need to always be guided by clergy; I have found that many times it was my fellow parishioners that helped me grow in faith. Leadership is good, but they are not God and I did not always agree with my religious leaders.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    This kind of heart-break is real and works in so many ways. I have a friend, an older lady (older than myself :)) who was a Hare Krishna most of her life. She has said a million incantations and followed the rules the best of her abilities. She also married a Hare Krishna. At some point in her life she realized that all this rule-keeping and bowing before idols, as she sees it now, was not giving her any peace. She now trust Christ and his promises given to her in the sacraments (ad Mar) and her husband has been distraught ever since. Very, very distraught. He thought that in their retirement the could have disciples in their house and mentor new Krishnas, etc. His whole legacy is out the window he feels.

    I think parents feel this way, too. They have invested in nothing as heavily in their lives, ever than in their children and their faith, and to lose them to the world, a cult or a different religion, or atheism… is the most keenly felt loss possible.

    None of which excuses coldness, drama, shunning or threats of punishment. That’s ridiculous.

  • Bettie

    I didn’t go though that. I just got divorced so they’d kick me out.

  • Carol

    First-hand religion is based on direct experience of the sacred, also called mystical experience. Second-hand religion is based on another’s experience, authority, or dogma. This distinction is often framed as the difference between spirituality (first-hand) and religion. (second-hand). –John Davis

    In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the
    assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the
    disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram – impersonal and unattainable-–the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive. — by Evelyn Underhill – MYSTICISM (Chapter One)

    “The Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will not exist at all.” –Karl Rahner

    “Grace is everywhere as an active orientation of all created reality toward God.” –Karl Rahner

    Once we take our eyes away from ourselves, from our interests, from our own rights, privileges, ambitions – then they will become clear to see Jesus around us.–Mother Teresa

    ‘[The world] has reached a major watershed in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will demand from us a spiritual effort; we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life, where our physical nature will not be cursed, as in the Middle Ages, but even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon, as in the Modern Era.’ –Alexander Solzhenitsyn, ‘A World Split Apart

    All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether. – Dalai Lama

    A moral theology built on the authentic Gospel will be a far cry from a stoical morality built on duty and obligation, both deduced from some cosmic law of nature.–Fr. Joseph Oppitz, C.Ss.R, Autumn Memoirs of St. Alphonsus Liguori

    The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us. –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

    “Core moral concepts, such as freedom, conscience, obedience, and fidelity, can have very different meanings and importance. These differing meanings depend on if our concern is with conformity, fulfilling norms, and subordination, or instead if our focus is radical thinking infused with the spirit of God blowing as it wills and marked by grown-up, freely affirmed responsibility.” –Bernard Haering, The Virtues of an Authentic Life (1997), p. 53.

    “Reforming Church governance is not about shared power but about mutual empowerment in the Holy Spirit.” –Fr. Patrick Collins, from his essay on “Thomas Merton on Ecclesial Reform and Renewal” in Commentary.

    We should be less concerned about making churches full of people and more concerned about making people full of God. – C. Kirk Hadaway and David A. Roozen

    The spiritual challenge of our time is to realize our sacred humanness,
    that there need not be a conflict between the natural and the supernatural,
    between the finite and the infinite, between time and eternity,
    between practicality and mysticism, between social justice and contemplation,
    between sexuality and spirituality, between our human fulfillment and our spiritual realization, between what is most human and what is most sacred.
    –Kabir Helminski, The Knowing Heart: A Sufi Path of Transformation

  • http://www.iqbalselvan.tumblr.com iqbal Selvan

    That’s so funny. But many parents react like this way only.

  • http://recreatingmyworld.wordpress.com Karen C

    Wow! This one hits pretty close to home. The conversation didn’t go quite like that, probably because I was not quite 10 when I told my parents that I didn’t want to go to church on Christmas Sunday. My dad’s response was that if I didn’t want to go to church because I didn’t believe any more, then he guessed they would be returning the bike they had already bought as my Christmas present and that there wouldn’t be any point in me participating in the family Christmas celebrations. He then left it up to me to decide whether to go to church or not. I went and learned to be the “good little baptist girl”, because what other choice was there at that age. When I knew I had to walk away from the church in my late 30′s because it felt like I was losing my soul, I really wondered whether I would still have a place in my immediate family. Thankfully they’ve lightened up since I was 9. Though my dad still doesn’t understand the damage he did with his response back then.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    wow. what a story karen! thanks for sharing that.

  • BW

    Brigette, I had the same experience as your friend, but it was the Christian church I ultimately found gave me no peace. I too said a million prayers that went unanswered and followed the doctrinal rules. No peace found there for me.

    It happens to many different people in many different ways, and it helps to know there are people who try to understand and not condemn.

  • LouiseM

    @ Carol, I appreciate your story and the quotes shared. Thank you.

  • http://postmormongirl.blogspot.com postmormongirl

    I don’t know what upset my mother more – that I left the Mormon Church or that I chose not to follow any religion. In any case, my parents’ reaction was quite bad.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    that must’ve taken a lot of courage. good for you!

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    @Carol: I enjoyed your list of quotes because they represent a mind-set and makes distinctions that are not part of my usually way of thinking, but I know is the way others think and talk but may not be explaining it that clearly. A lot of it could still be taken in a lot of different ways and thus it still is not really clear, as perhaps it’s not supposed to be. In terms of mysticism and other related forms of looking inward and finding the collective unconscious, the over-soul, the transcendental, god or God… in its vagueness it leaves out the forgiveness won for us by Christ, and that, I guess, on purpurse. We want to be “spiritual”, not so much without dogma (clarity?) as we do want it without a messy salvation or being real sinners and that daily and on-going. And it’s not quite fair to people like Mother Theresa to bring her in here. She saw Jesus in the most lowly, she heard him speak through the begging leper at the train station “help me, feed me…” , an actual call for work and action, not a feeling or experience mainly or simply. Mother Theresa was a strict Catholic who took the sacrament daily with reverence and full of need for her strength. There was no artificial distinction between dogma, feeling, experience, and work, or Jesus as Savior, nourishment, teacher, or brother to work with or for… I go back to Luther talking about his mystical time. He heard the singing but he did not know if it was the devils or angels singing. That is this lack of clarity and certainty which does not really help but bring us back to ourselves and our experiences and deeds rather than trust in the proclamation of grace. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, he did not care whether it was the angels or devils, from above or below, he had to be true to what’s inside (or something like that. It could be found and quoted properly). Yes, I believe in intuition and using your mind, too, but I also know that what’s inside me is often not too pretty and I need the feedback of others of words and texts to keep me in something like a straight and narrow…

    @BW. I just looked up at what Hare Krishna actually has to perform. There need to be 16 rounds of 108 beads to chant each time:
    Hare Krishna Hare Krishna
    Krishna Krishna Hare Hare
    Hare Rama Hare Rama
    Rama Rama Hare Hare

    And if you read on the internet there are many ways of doing this incorrectly, for example when you are having a time of illicit sex (not simply designed for the conceiving of children. So really none of our gay friends could be chanting right and be real Hare Krishna), or if you are not under the guidance of a certified guru, your chanting is also not going to be right. There are other things, 10 fallacies of chanting is what the googling came up with at once.

    I think I would gladly stick with praying something sensible like the Lord’s prayer or nice morning and evening prayers and songs for protection and help and giving thanks, also for our neighbors… Any day.

    I’m not sure how that relates to the topic anymore, except thinking about the praying morning and evening and table prayers, brought down through the generations, makes me think of my parents and grandparents who taught them to us and prayed them with us, diligently and who certainly would be hurt by our going from them to a thousand Hare Krishna’s every day.

  • BW

    @ Brigette – yeah, I don’t want to be a Hare Krishna either… I do like what you say regarding thinking about your parents and grandparents teaching you the prayers – nice sentiment there even for folks like me who don’t pray anymore.

  • Carol

    Brigette, I hear you.

    I became an adult convert to Christianity in the MS Lutheran Church and I read a lot of Luther’s writings in addition to the Bible and the Book of Concord. Actually, the Book of Concord is, in many ways, more Calvinistic than Lutheran. Melancthon, who was very instrumental in translating the biblical scholar Luther’s thoughts into theological categories was also on very close terms with Calvin, a lot closer than Luther realized some people believe.

    What I love about Luther, besides his rather curmudgeonly and down to earth personality, is his emphasis on forgiveness rather than perfection in life between now and our complete restoration in the fullness of Eternity. Of course, Luther also believed in living our faith as fully as we can, given our personal strengths, weaknesses and circumstances of life. For many the emphasis on forgiveness has become an excuse for “easy believerism” or “cheap grace.” If the “old Adam” does not die, the “new Adam” (the true Christic self) cannot be reborn/resurrected.

    “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer,The Cost of Discipleship

    Luther’s teaching on forgiveness, when preached apart from the context of 16th century Catholic emphasis on perfection, can easily lead to a retarded spirituality of sin, claim your forgiveness, sin, claim you forgiveness,. . . and a retarded spirituality where sanctification becomes an eschatological hope and no more than a legalistic fulfillment of the Law. Fulfillment of the law may make a good citizen; but it falls far short of the life of a saint-in-progress.

    To be redeemed is not merely to be absolved of guilt before God, it is also to live in Christ, to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, to be in Him a new creature, to live in the Spirit.~Thomas Merton

    A moral theology built on the authentic Gospel will be a far cry from a stoical morality built on duty and obligation, both deduced from some cosmic law of nature.–Fr. Joseph Oppitz, C.Ss.R, Autumn Memoirs of St. Alphonsus Liguori

    The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us. –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

    Another thing I love about Luther is his understanding of *sin.* The Catholic scholastics taught that sin was man turned downward toward the earth rather than upward toward God. But Luther said, “No, sin man curved inward toward himself rather than outward toward God.” Luther described egoistic narcissism centuries before Freud and his “cure,” focusing on Christ rather than the imperial self, is a lot simpler and more effective than Freud’s.

    Where I disagree with Luther is where he and Calvin agree, that the bondage of the human will is total rather than disordered/wounded. If redemption is about Grace alone, with no place for human nature, than how can there be a relationship between the human and the divine? Relationships always require at least two parties. I think that is why Protestantism has no Marian Tradition. Mary was definitely added her “yes” to God’s plan for salvation. As one preacher rather boldly put it, “The Holy Spirit did not rape Mary.”
    Monergism was a 16th century Protestant theological innovation. Both Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy are synergistic. Of course, it is necessary to maintain the Divine initiative. We seek God because he has first sought and found us. Our role in the Divine/human dance is to follow, not lead.

    If you haven’t read Luther’s commentaries on Romans and Galatians or his Bondage of the Will, the one with which I disagree, then you do not know Luther. No one who has read Luther’s commentary on Galatians with understanding can fall into the Calvinistic error of Pharisaic legalism. I doubt that many MS Lutherans have read Galatians. It is available online, so you don’t even have to buy it:
    http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/luther/gal/web/gal6-01.html

  • Carol

    Bonhoeffer was a truly Lutheran Christian.

    Who Am I?

    Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “Who Am I” just one month before he was executed. This is an English translation of the famous text:

    Who am I? They often tell me I would step from my cell’s confinement calmly, cheerfully, firmly, like a squire from his country-house.

    Who am I? They often tell me I would talk to my warden freely and friendly and clearly, as though it were mine to command.

    Who am I? They also tell me I would bear the days of misfortune equably, smilingly, proudly, like one accustomed to win.

    Am I then really all that which other men tell of, or am I only what I know of myself, restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage, struggling for breath, as though hands were compressing my throat, yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds, thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness, trembling with anger at despotisms and petty humiliation, tossing in expectation of great events, powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance, weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making, faint and ready to say farewell to it all.

    Who am I? This or the other? Am I one person today, and tomorrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others, and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army, fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

    Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

    Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine.

    Alternative Translation:

    Who am I? They often tell me
    I stepped from my cell’s confinement
    calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
    like a squire from his country-house.

    Who am I? They often tell me
    I used to speak to my warders
    freely and friendly and clearly,
    as though it were mine to command.

    Who am I? They also tell me
    I bore the days of misfortune
    equally, smilingly, proudly,
    like one accustomed to win.

    Am I then really all that which other men tell of?
    Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
    Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,
    struggling for breath, as though hands were
    compressing my throat,
    yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,
    thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,
    tossing in expectation of great events,
    powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
    weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
    faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

    Who am I? This or the other?
    Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
    Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
    and before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
    Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
    fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
    Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
    Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

    STATIONS ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM

    Discipline

    If you set out to seek freedom, then learn above all things to govern your soul and your senses, for fear that your passions and longing may lead you away from the path you should follow.

    Chaste be your mind and your body, and both in subjection, obediently, steadfastly seeking the aim set before them; only through discipline may a man learn to be free.

    Action

    Daring to do what is right, not what fancy may tell you, valiantly grasping occasions, not cravenly doubting—freedom comes only through deeds, not through thoughts taking wing.

    Faint not, nor fear, but go out to the storm and the action, trusting in God whose commandment you faithfully follow; freedom, exultant, will welcome your spirit with joy.

    Suffering

    A change has come indeed. Your hands, so strong and active, are bound; in helplessness now you see your action ended; you sigh in relief, your cause committing to stronger hands; so now you may rest contented. Only for one blissful moment could you draw near to touch freedom; then, that it might be perfected in glory, you gave it to God.

    Death

    Come now, thou greatest of feasts on the journey to freedom eternal; death, cast aside all the burdensome chains, and demolish the walls of our temporal body, the walls of our souls that are blinded, so that at last we may see that which here remains hidden.

    Freedom, how long we have sought thee in discipline, action, and suffering; dying, we now may behold thee revealed in the Lord.

    –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
    Lutheran Pastor
    Martyred by the Nazis in 1945

  • Carol

    BW, I am not suggesting that Christians should convert to other religious Traditions, only that we should realize that God has “other sheep not in our pasture” and recognize the validity of all spiritual wisdom and experiences that result in the “fruit of the Spirit” in their lives.

    An Adequate Faith

    “If I, as a Christian, believe that my first duty is to love and respect my fellow in his personal frailty and perplexity, in his own unique hazard and need for trust, then I think that the refusal to let him alone, to entrust him to God and his conscience, and the insistence on rejecting them as persons until they agree with me, is simply a sign that my own faith is inadequate.

    My own peculiar task in my Church and in my world has been that of the solitary explorer who, instead of jumping on all the latest bandwagons at once, is bound to search the existential depths of faith in its silences, its ambiguities, and in those certainties which lie deeper than the bottom of anxiety. In these depths there are no easy answers, no pat solutions to anything. It is a kind of submarine life in which faith sometimes mysteriously takes on the aspect of doubt, when, in fact, one has to doubt and reject conventional and superstitious surrogates that have taken the place of faith. On this level, the division between believer and unbeliever ceases to be so crystal clear. It is not that some are all right and others are all wrong: all are bound to seek in honest perplexity. Everybody is an unbeliever more or less.”~ From “Apologies to an Unbeliever” by Thomas Merton

    The Law of Allowing

    “I am that which I am.
    While I am that which I am,
    I allow others to be that which they are.”

    Von Huegel, in one of his letters, writes of W.G. Ward (“Ideal Ward”) as an “eager, one-sided, great, unintentionally unjust soul” who on his deathbed saw the mischief of his life–he had consistently demanded that all others be like himself! This is the root of inhumanity!~Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

    October 1, 2012

    Observing Evolution:
    Allowing Others to Walk Their Paths

    by Madisyn Taylor

    It is important to allow others to walk their own path because it is just that, their own path.

    Watching a loved one or a peer traverse a path littered with stumbling blocks can be immensely painful. We instinctively want to guide them toward a safer track and share with them the wisdom we have acquired through experience. Yet all human beings have the right to carve their own paths without being unduly influenced by outside interference. To deny them that right is to deny them enlightenment, as true insight cannot be conveyed in lectures. Rather, each individual must earn independence and illumination by making decisions and reflecting upon the consequences of each choice. In allowing others to walk their paths freely, you hon or their right to express their humanity in whatever way they see fit. Though you may not agree with or identify with their choices, understand that each person must learn in their own way and at their own pace.

    The events and circumstances that shape our lives are unique because each of us is unique. What touches one person deeply may do nothing more than irritate or confound another. Therefore, each of us is drawn to different paths?the paths that will have the most profound effects on our personal evolution. If you feel compelled to intervene when watching another human being make their way slowly and painfully down a difficult path, try to empathize with their need to grow autonomous and make their own way in the world. Should this person ask for your aid, give it freely. You can even tell them about your path or offer advice in a conscious loving way. Otherwise, give them the space they need to make their own mistakes, to enjoy the fruits of their labors, to re vel in their triumphs, and to discover their own truths.

    The temptation to direct the paths of others is a creature of many origins. Overactive egos can convince us that ours is the one true path or awaken a craving for control within us. But each person is entitled to seek out their path leading from the darkness into the light. When we celebrate those paths and encourage the people navigating them, we not only enjoy the privilege of watching others grow? we also reinforce our dedication to diversity, independence, and individuality.

    DailyOM Website: http://www.dailyom.com/

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    Dear Carol, you quote like you know what you are talking about, lots and long, but you don’t really understand, I am afraid that I must say.

    I have read the entire Bondage of the Will. I know what it is about. I have read the commentaries on Romans, Galatians and the Book of Concord. I have also read tons of Bonhoeffer and his Letters From Prison are on my fireplace mantle right now. I also have read a 1000 page biography of Bonhoeffer. “Life Together” is one of my very favorite books.

    Most of all, among all the mix-ups, here, though, we can see that you still have nothing definite to say about Jesus, and that’s what Luther was all about, saying something definite about JESUS, our dear Lord and Savior, in whose mercy we live. The monster of uncertainty is what Luther was slaying. If a part of me needs to contribute to salvation then all is lost and Christ died in vain. The church all along battled Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. And we can, of course, go back to St. Paul. The “Bondage of the Will” just reinforces the gift of grace. WE cannot make it happen. It is entirely a gift from front to end, A to Z, Alpha and Omega… Thanks be to God for his great mercy. In him we live and breathe and have our being. Christ is Lord.

  • http://nakedpastor.com nakedpastor

    I think more accurately many think it should be “Jesus Christ is Lutheran Lord”.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    BW, thanks for the sentiment.

  • http://thoughts-brigitte.blogspot.com Brigitte

    NP, I was just reading about Tolstoy and Dostoyevski in relation to Swedenborg (I’ve lately been somewhat fixated with Swedenborg).

    This little thing I clipped from a longer article on the internet, just now:

    Dostoevsky himself, or that part of him which turns against his skeptical characters, “would rather remain with Christ than with the truth,” and thus yields the field, in reality, to the so-called scientific Weltanschauung. The juxtaposition of faith and reason has behind it an old tradition, but the juxtaposition of faith and truth is a desperate novelty and dangerously favors any self-imposed deception.

    The juxtaposition of faith and reason vs. the juxtaposition of faith and truth. The charge is that the juxtaposition of faith and truth leads to a self-deceptive arbitrariness. I think there is something to this. But it also seems to lead to a real aggression against everything “doctrinal” and “dogmatic”, or even text, any text, does not have to be the Bible. But we all want to somehow hang on to Christ. Only–who is he and what has he done and what was/is he for?

  • Carol

    Brigitte, it would seem that you are a Lutheran Christian, while I am not only a Lutheran Christian (with some serious reservations); but also a Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Sufi, a Hindu, a Bahai, etc. (also with reservations) person of faith.

    But that’s OK because we are beloved by God not because of our religious beliefs; but because unconditional love between the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity and for their creation is the very Nature of God.

    I identify more as a Christian than I do with other religious Traditions because the Christian Mysteries are the core of my theological beliefs. The Trinitarian and Christological Mysteries shape my perceptions of reality and guide my moral choices. I believe that God has not been absent from the lives of those who lived before the Incarnation or those who live after without an explicitly Trinitarian theological faith. I don’t believe that God rejects anyone for any reason; but that S/He does give us the freedom to reject the transformative gift of Divine Presence/Grace.

    Luther was not as Trinitarian I would like him to be. Perhaps that is why I do not find his teaching to be wholly satisfactory. I was a bit taken aback when a MS Lutheran said to me, “I don’t need the Trinity and all that other stuff, I just need Jesus.” I think a lot of Evangelicals are “Jesus Only’s.”

    The Catholic theologian Karl Rahner has commented and written at length on the loss of a Trinitarian perspective in Western theology.

    Scripture, especially in Colossian, reveals the Cosmic Christ as Jesus, the Savior of the world. Catholicism emphasizes Jesus as the Savior of the Church and Protestantism teaches Jesus as the Savior of the individual. The Latin/Western churches have a dumbed-down Christology, IMO.

    We seem to have a persistent habit, collectively as well as individually, of conceiving a *God* in our own image.

    Ideal Christianity doesn’t exist because anything the human being touches, even Christian truth, he deforms slightly in his own image. Even the saints do this. ~Flannery O’Connor

    If God created man in his image, we have more than reciprocated. –Voltaire

    You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do. ~Anne Lamott


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