I quit the Catholic Church when I was 13. Hadn’t really been into it for a few years at that point.
Just joined a Christian church, which is essentially alternative Methodist, a couple of weeks ago.
How much responsibility can I take for the horrors that have occurred in the name of Jesus?
My mother has been a devout and practicing member of the Catholic Church since she joined as a teenager.
How much responsibility must she assume for the horrors done by the decrees or the turned eye of the Pope?
The guilt of the individual as member of a religious group is something I hadn’t considered until recently.
First let me state the ways in which I feel I myself have been harmed in the name of Christianity (mostly by way of Catholicism):
- soul-crushing guilt
- a very dysfunctional and unhealthy view of sex
- an image of a demented, angry, vengeful God who is an old man bent on tricking, coercing, threatening and bribing people to bow down before him. Or else.
- the fear that truth comes from outside, that one cannot listen to one’s own inner voice, that one cannot trust
- the guilt and hopelessness that come from the belief that any negative/bad/unpleasant thing that happens is my punishment for being so wicked
- a focus on the negative, hell, the evil one, sin, the essential badness of humanity, etc.
I’m sure there are other effects I haven’t even thought of. But I have lately read enough about Jesus by people who seem to genuinely understand him to realize that throwing Jesus out with the bathwater is wasteful for me. For me. Allow me to emphasize, for me. I do not and will not subscribe to the belief that it’s my way or the highway. It’s my way for me, your way for you. If there is some kind of a judgment day, I’m going to have to answer for what I’ve done, and that’s going to be a big enough task without my having to answer for what others have done.
My goal in aligning myself with a Christian church at this point is to have an outlet for the deep desire I have for togetherness, for observable manifestation of Oneness, for the opportunity to serve the community at large through established channels. As much as I profoundly enjoy my solitary study and communing with the One, I know that I must at some point enter the world and apply what I have learned.
Just this morning I read this in the Hua Hu Ching as translated by Master Ni, Hua-Ching:
“My venerable teacher, should one spend all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation in order to remain above all worldly conditions and maintain absolute mindedness?
Kind prince, one who spends all of his time and energy in quiet sitting meditation for this purpose is establishing his mind to do something in a certain, definite way. By doing this, he clearly does not practice absolute mindedness, but instead demonstrates the narrowness and partiality of his mind. He cannot reach anywhere or become any kind of super-being. You see, the practice of absolute mindedness is not the practice of stiffness. That which is stiff belongs in the company of the dead, whereas that which is supple belongs in the company of the living. The mind should be like clear water that is always flowing smoothly. One should not designate a specific time or place in which to practice absolute mindedness, but should practice it in all aspects of life, whether essential or trivial.
My venerable teacher, should one intentionally and completely avoid all worldly troubles and activities for the purpose of practicing simplicity and keeping the mind clear?
Kind prince, if there are no worldly troubles and activities, where can one practice simplicity? Simplicity is the key to handling the troubles and activities of daily life. Simplicity is the law; the manifold, multiple forms are the events. Use the law to govern the events. This is the meaning of simplicity in the larger sense.
I want to expand my spiritual studies out from the realm of me, sitting in the early quiet hours of the morning by myself, reading and contemplating, and put them into action in the realm of Us.
Christ Church is, from my current point of view, my best option to achieve this goal.
But I recognize that by entering into association with a group, I am assuming responsibility for things done in the group’s name. Past things I had nothing to do with? Present things that I wasn’t in on the planning of? Future things that my input is not solicited for?
An interesting issue that I will revisit as more insight and information becomes available.