Monthly Archives: August 2012

Religion as Language

If you’ve read any of my posts up to this point, you will likely remember that I’ve been struggling for quite a while with finding a church home and a religious label.

Well, my husband and I joined Christ Church, which has Methodist foundations.

So I’ve been getting used to calling myself a Christian.

Not that the label in itself felt wrong, just that I didn’t want to be associated with the hateful things done in Jesus’ name. The things I believe about Jesus are not very well reflected in many of the actions and words of people who claim to be Christian, so I thought that distancing myself from the whole thing was the best way.

The church we found seems to be based on just the things I do believe, such as love, enthusiastic faith, supportive community, a thriving children’s ministry, and other positive moves forward into a life of meaning and service. So I feel pretty comfortable aligning myself with this group.

I had a great insight into the label issue the other night when I’d decided to kill two birds with one stone by practicing my Spanish and praying at the same time. For a split second I thought to myself – does Jesus even speak Spanish?

I had a good laugh over that one.

But then it occurred to me — a religion is like a language. If I feel inspired to do something, I can phrase it as, “I feel called to do this.” As though God herself had spoken to me and pointed the way. I might also say, “My gut tells me…” which is acceptable secular speech. I could say, “The energy feels right,” which is the same thing translated into a New Age kind of understanding. Similarly, I could insert any sort of divine name and express my belief that this Spirit was indicating the correct path.

Each statement represents the same feeling in my heart/mind/center that a certain way forward is best. Is one a lie and the other the truth? Is English more true than Spanish?

After this realization, I came to the logical conclusion that, just because I’m a Christian, doesn’t mean I can’t study Buddhism or Taoism or Sufism anymore. Just like I don’t have to stop learning languages just because I’m fluent in English, but I can go on to become bilingual and trilingual, as many as I have the time and inspiration to learn.

The Great Spirit is not limited to one language, nor to one religion. God is bigger than all of our constructs.