Why I Am Probably Leaving United Methodism

Why I Am Probably Leaving United Methodism September 8, 2021

[Update: Read the first comment. I think it gets at the heart of what I’ve been missing in my understanding of God as Trinity.]

I have been largely dormant on my blog over the past year of pandemic largely because of the post I am about to write that I have been dragging my heels to write. My heart has been heavy with grief for the state of the United Methodist Church and the institutional church in general.

There are so many amazing United Methodist pastors and denominational leaders who are trying so hard. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that my understanding of what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do is incompatible with continuing to be an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. The main reason I am probably going to leave United Methodism is that my understanding of my spiritual goals is too far afield from orthodox Christian theology and leaves me without any investment in perpetuating the institution as it currently exists.

I believe that we are going through an epochal transition right now from the age of theism to the age of divine embodiment. I interpret this as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Revelation 21. It’s not a change in how things are, but a leveling up in how we perceive our reality. God has never been a discrete individual subject wholly disentangled from our subjectivity standing outside of our reality looking in as much popular Christian theology seems to think.

I think God is indeed “among us” because God “is” us, but we are deluded into alienation from our divine rootedness which is what our “fallen nature” describes. And when I say we “are” God, I mean in the same way that my fingernail “is” me. I am divine but I am only one of an infinite array of anointed temples of the Holy Spirit.

I do not believe there is a God or devil outside of me that I have to fear. God and the devil are terms that describe the light and shadow sides of consciousness that manifests itself into bodies at every level of reality from microscopic to cosmic. The reason God “lives on the praises of his people” is because the word “God” actually describes the contagious joy people experience in their bodies when they praise God. God is more like a song or a dance (perichoresis) than a person. God is the synchronicity that is constantly reconciling the universe into deeper connection. This synchronicity is a very real witchcraft that does things like making tree branches grasp my hand while I’m praying, planting feathers in front of me on the ground, and sending me on wild goose chases on back roads to find murals on the side of gas stations.

The divine trinity describes fractal patterns formed between bodies throughout the universe and humanity which create “God” containers, such as source, logic, breath; parent, child, love; father, mother, child; grandparent, parent, child; etc. It also describes the water/outer space (father), light (son), and wind (spirit) that create the world in collaboration with its animate and inanimate matter. The trinity is one paradigm for describing God. Other religions have others that are not wrong but simply illuminate other qualities.

The words for the devil, Lucifer, Satan, and Diabolos, describe archetypes that can possess communities or individual people. Lucifer (diva) is the narcissist from the point of view of his inflated ego. Satan (hater) is the narcissist from the point of view of his hate for his rivals. Diabolos (terrorist) describes the chaos that the narcissist causes. In our present world, many white men are socialized to be Lucifers, that is covert narcissists. I discovered myself to be a covert narcissist but it seems I can be healed of narcissism to the degree that I experience divine embodiment and avoid defining my life by people’s responses to me, which is why I have discontinued my use of social media.

Now here’s a place where I think I’m very much at odds with contemporary United Methodism. I think grace must be an entirely embodied experience or it is meaningless at best and a tortured farce at worst. When grace is an idea that people think they need to believe in to be in communion with God, then church becomes a place of performative orthodoxy where people banter in correct theology while never telling anyone about their private addictions and terrors. Grace happens when I feel so deeply loved and safe in my bones that I gain the somatic state of secure attachment described by psychologist John Bowlby’s attachment theory in which I am undisturbed by the volatility of other people. I believe that secure attachment is also the same thing as buddha consciousness. My spiritual goal is to deepen my embodiment of grace, not to perfect my articulation of Christian doctrine.

Regarding Jesus’ cross, I don’t think it’s primarily about the individual forgiveness/punishment of sins and it’s definitely not about an afterlife other than this life. It is primarily an invitation to be crucified and resurrected with Jesus perpetually, knowing that we are always both the victims of other peoples’ sinful judgment as well as the sinners who crucify Jesus in other people. Jesus’ cross is mostly for the poor and the marginalized to know that God is with them and it’s secondarily for wealthy, well-established insiders to know that we must take up our cross and join the pueblo crucificado in the streets.

Jesus’ cross fulfills its function by casting a spell on the world and creating a meme that we can use to explain reality. Any time I grow through doing hard things and/or getting humiliated through failure, I am crucified and resurrected with Christ. All of life is constantly being crucified and resurrected. It’s simply the cycle of decay and new birth that never stops. But I think the most important message of Jesus’ cross is God’s commitment to rebel against and overthrow religious authority, which is constantly sabotaging God’s work like the way that the church became identical with the religious authorities who crucified Jesus.

This takes me to my interpretation of Genesis 3 which is probably enough for a clergy trial and revocal of my United Methodist clergy credentials. I believe that the serpent in the world right now who is tricking humanity into eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil is the church. When theological truth is packaged as discrete abstract knowledge of good and evil rather than perpetual intuitive encounter with the divine, then people are alienated from experiencing the full shekinah of God’s presence and filled with anxiety about their own permanence. I don’t think that sitting in pews and listening to speeches about Bible verses is as useful to regaining my intuitive bodily connection to divinity as swimming in a lake ritualistically and making impermanent visual art with the sunbeams reflected on the water in an interaction of light, water, and wind.

Here is where I get even more problematic. Western culture has divided church and drugs into two opposite choices for experience. In indigenous cultures throughout the world, the way to connect to the divine is through plant medicine which is often the same material that gets industrialized into recreational drugs but it’s used in a ceremonial way at much lower dosages. The way that plant medicine like mushrooms, cannabis, and ayahuasca help people connect to the divine is by muting their inner monologue and default brain patterns so that they have raw sensual experiences of the natural world and also by putting them into visionary trances in which they access the underlying spiritual world more directly.

I don’t think people should use drugs as escapism, but I think just about everything that got corrupted into a drug is derived in a plant God put on earth for people to use in structured trance-inducing ceremonies with him like whatever the Israelites were doing with the cannabis archeologists have found in ancient Israelite altars. The primary obstacle to divine embodiment and intuition in our western culture is the disembodied rationalism we are socialized into adopting which is an epistemology the church has perpetuated uncritically. People who are alienated from the land and their bodies by disembodied rationalism become anxious, addicted self-medicators instead of responsible shamanic practitioners of plant medicine.

Let’s move on to heaven. I think that heaven describes life in the transfigured world Jesus showed his disciples on Mt. Carmel which is the same reality as the Eden of our earliest ancestors represented in the Adam and Eve myth and the reality I am seeking to enter more deeply every day. An Eastern Orthodox priest in 2011 told me to “seek the uncreated light” so I have tried to follow his advice.

Eden never stopped being here. We just turned the garden into a plantation and filled up the world with so many toxic demonic memes that few people see the “uncreated light” anymore. The curse of Genesis 3 is that the “knowledge of good and evil” the serpent offers Adam and Eve alienates them from intuitive, instinctual divine synchronicity and creates a hierarchical authoritarian civilization that oppresses and alienates people in ways our hunter gatherer ancestors never experienced.

The reason we were immortal before the curse of fallenness that has become civilization is because we’re still immortal today but we’ve been tricked into thinking that death in one individual lifetime means our obliteration. The fear of death rules the world and is the core of the terror that causes us to sin. I believe that resurrection and reincarnation are the same thing. We resurrect over and over again throughout eternity as we climb to higher levels of transfiguration into the divine consciousness. In this sense, I’m really a Kabbalist, not a Christian.

I suspect Christ has come back incognito over and over again over the past two thousand years in varying degrees of intensity. I’m not sure if we resurrect neatly from one body to the next or if the cloud of ancestors inhabiting bodies that we think of as individual people can be remixed in various ways between different incarnations. Also it may be that the cloud of witnesses can travel in and out of us so that we “channel” different ancestors at different times, mostly unaware of the shifts in our personality.

Where I see myself going is evolving into a facilitator of a community that seeks divine connection through embodied practices in nature. I am on the wisdom council of the new Order of St. Hildegard which will be creating practice-centered communities of divine embodiment. I will always filter my experience of reality through Christian theology, but I cannot commit to seeking to convert other people to my terminology when there are many other mythological systems with plenty to offer. In fact, I’ve been encouraged by fellow “witches” to broaden my horizons and incorporate other deities into my practice. Honestly, I think Hindu theology may be more mature than Christian theology which makes sense because it’s thousands of years older. On the other hand, Jesus has always been enough for me and I don’t feel inclined to make anything more complicated than it needs to be.

I believe that all specific deities are archetypal memes. Allah and YHWH are not different people. They are different filters for describing the same impossibly mysterious divine reality. So they are not “beings” as such; they are filters for describing being. When we attribute “emotions” to them, what we’re describing is the way the ecosystem reacts to us. Right now, God is pouring the seven bowls of wrath on us. We are living through the book of Revelation. But it’s not because there’s a being who is angry. It’s because the ecosystem is being blasphemed and it’s shot through with anxious energy that produces more erratic weather patterns.

I think I am still following Jesus though I understand most United Methodist leaders would disagree. I also think that at times I have channeled Jesus in my writing. I’m definitely not the one unique avatar of his second coming, a delusion which I strike down vigorously every time it arises, but I think the phrase “second coming” just describes the moment when we realize we are all actually anointed with divinity and a hidden family emerges from the shadows as the children of God whom all creation has groaned with eagerness to greet in the wedding banquet that the world will be when our empire and our market finally lose their power.

In 2012, I received a prophecy in which God showed me that he was going to overthrow the world order as it currently exists. And I was distressed but he said there would be no bloodshed since “no one will resist my will.” And I keep on asking him how that’s possible. And he keeps on giving me clues that trigger me into manically composing long, clumsy facebook rants, thinking that I could personally cast the spell that will uncurse Christianity of its disembodied rationalism and moralistic authoritarianism. I understand now that I cannot cast the spell on my own. God has commanded me to retire from social media and live a quiet, ordinary life waiting for his Spirit to complete his promise.

If you would like to hear a poetic version of what I’ve written here, I made a series of spoken word songs at the beginning of the pandemic here.

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