On Facebook recently I engaged in a dialogue with a reader named Aaron who commented on my post Letting Go of (Our Limited Image of) God. This reader describes “druidry” as “his main private practice,” although he remains connected with progressive Christianity as well.
Our conversation explores the idea that sometimes, we not only have to let go of a limited image of God, but we also may need to let go of a faith community which seems to be holding us back spiritually as well. While we are largely in agreement with one another, there’s enough give-and-take here to warrant archiving this conversation on this bl0g (with the reader’s permission, of course).
Spot on. I think Cynthia Bourgeault had a similar sentiment where she was essentially stating that “in the end all god talk is metaphor, and we have to find the metaphor which best opens up our heart to god.” I think that is spot on with your conclusion:
“do we love God enough to allow our image of God to keep growing and expanding, to become more inclusive, more compassionate, more loving, more just, and — most of all — more mystical”In the end some people, me included, reach a point where their experience of god and metaphors of god eclipse the church. We have a profoundly deep love of an expression of god and choose to follow that life giving and enriching expression (while recognizing it too is still metaphor), and it leads us to other places of profound tradition, faith, and religion to better express our new understanding and metaphors (I think my favorite spiritual writer Alan Watts is a good example here).
So do we love god enough to allow our image of god to keep growing and expanding? To become more mystical? Yes! But I would add to it, do we love god enough to allow it to grow out of a particular metaphor/religion, because it too in the end is limited? Because, in the end, god isn’t owned and operated solely by one religion, with one truth. Truth is a pathless land, krishnamurti says. Leaving Christianity, for a time, or permanently, is okay. Because the Christian god is no more real, authentic, or truer than any other religious conception (fundamentalist god notwithstanding of course). Christianity is merely one metaphor among many, that offers a path, a language, and way of encountering the divine in a (hopefully) deeply intimate and meaningful way.
And like Cynthia says we need to find the best one that nourishes us. Whatever it is. And rather than defend the religious institutions, we should instead allow people to search to find the best expression: Be it Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, or pagan. For in the end we all tread the same path regardless of how we talk about it, and they are all equally valid if tread authentically. And that is my prayer, that we can live with such authenticity.
To quote the Bard, “to thine own self be true”