Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Religion, Faith, Etc. continued.

Back from lunch, and trying to dodge coworkers who seem to just want to vent about their personal issues. I, for one, would kill for a nap. But that's just me, and it's probably why my last post seemed so disjointed. At least it did to me. But anyway, I promised I'd continue, so here we go.

So after One Ring and I had our discussion regarding my issues with implicitly treating what I interpret as non-factual, mythological stories as accurate depictions of real life events, we then talked about how I left the Tibetan Buddhist temple in Nashville after only three visits. "Same problem," I said. "Instead of talking about one God who protects and helps the faithful, they were talking about a whole myriad of divine beings who would do the same thing. It's the same thing, just different packaging." So that took the discussion off in the direction of naming the differences between lay religion and monastic traditions in Buddhism.

Yeah, we actually talk about this stuff at night.

The view that I seem to have right now - and this has been created out of my experience as a chaplain in hospitals and as a parish minister, where in both places I've seen more than my share of horrific events - is that the stories told in the Bible regarding a Supreme being who intervenes in human events simply aren't true. Sure there's ways of working around it; God inspires people to act in his (or her) stead, or God is the basis of reality (Tillich's ground of all being). But these theologies do not always mesh with the scriptural stories that have formed the basis of faith for countless generations. So what do we do with them?

And, more importantly in my opinion, how would this view - one that places experience over tradition - affect religious life, both mine and others? I mean, existentialism (I think that's the proper philosophical term for this view. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong)isn't new after all. But the struggle to find a way to bring tradition and experience together isn't easy, even after 12 years of doing this thing, most of them professionally and full time.

I'm glad I left that career. Ethically, I couldn't be in this place and continue to provide religious leadership to others. And examining other religions, though fascinating, hasn't really gotten me any closer to the answers I've sought, though I have to admit that Zen seems to be the most compatible. Of course, Zen is more a philosophy than a religion, and it's been watered down and Westernized from its Indo-Asian origins.

Well, there aren't going to be any answers today, so I'm going to get back to work. But if any of you wondered what's on my mind, and why I didn't sleep last night, now you know. And knowing is half the battle.

Speaking of that, the GI Joe movie comes out this summer. It's live action. Scary, huh?

No comments: