Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bishop Spong Q&A

Shirley Krogstad from Hendersonville, North Carolina, writes:If you had to name one "belief" of yours that has evolved or grown the most over the last ten years, what would it be?

Dear Shirley,

Since my whole belief system is deeply interrelated that is not an easy question to answer. I like the story told about an elderly bishop who remarked, "The older I get, the more deeply I believe but the less beliefs I have." That is exactly what I feel.

To answer your question more specifically, however, I believe it would be the way I think about God. God is no longer a person, a being or an entity to me. God is rather a presence in whom, to use words attributed to St. Paul, "I live and move and have my being." The "old man in the sky" was the first image to go, then the heavenly judge who kept record books and finally the father figure who desired praise and whose mercy I implored. The invasive, external heavenly deity faded and new images began to intrude themselves into my consciousness.

The interesting thing to me was that while these old images were fading, the God intensity within me remained steady and steadfast. Today I am a God-intoxicated person, but my definition of God is anything but crisp and well defined. I struggle to find words big enough to use when I try to talk about God. God to me is now more of an experience of transcendence, or perhaps the source of life, the source of love and the ground of all being. An experience to me is vastly different from a being who might be described externally. People hear these concepts sometimes as simply words. I hear them, however as a call to transcend all human limits and all human boundaries. God to me is a call to live fully, to love wastefully and to be all that I can be.
A redefined Jesus still stands at the center of my God experience. He is not the one sent to be my savior, redeemer or rescuer. Jesus is not to God what Clark Kent is to Superman, a deity masquerading as a human being. He is rather a God presence through whom I am empowered to be open to the life, love and being that flows through me.

I now call myself a mystic because in my understanding of God I have gone beyond words into a kind of wordless wonder, awe and mystery. This is not where I was a decade ago. I doubt if it will be where I am a decade from now, but it is where I am today and it represents the evolving, growing frontier of where I was ten years ago.

Thanks for asking.
– John Shelby Spong

barry e

Friday, September 4, 2009

Imagine for a moment...

Imagine for a moment that there were no religious writings. That such things as the Bible, the Torah, the Koran and other religious writings did not exist. Imagine that mans knowledge of the ancient world came exclusively from history books.

Then imagine that we, the people of the 21st century, were to decide that it was time to sit down and write an epic of our world and of the human race.

Ponder that thought, an epic of the human race, as seen exclusively through the eyes and the worldview of the people of the 21st century…. An epic that would try to explain, as best we could, the origin of the earth, the universe and life on this planet.

Knowing what we do about the cosmos and the formation of galaxies, planets and stars, do you think for one moment we would postulate the idea that a supernatural being of some sort, standing out on the edge of space, creating all that exists?

Knowing what we do about biology and the functions of the human body, do you think for one moment we would suggest that a supernatural being (of some sort) impregnated a young virgin and she gave birth to the son of this supernatural being?

Do you think we would suggest that this supernatural being, by virtue of its omnipotent power, controls the weather? That it speaks to people from the clouds, causes disease to punish, cures disease to reward?

If we were to write the history of the universe, the earth and life on earth from the point of view of an intelligent adult of the 21st century, do you think for even a nano-second we would hypothesize such nonsense?

And yet millions of otherwise honest, well-meaning, intelligent people believe these things to be literally true.

What does this say about the maturity of the human mind? What does it say about the power of the Church to control human thought patterns?

The Church can and should be an agent for change and truth in the world and it should start by becoming intellectually honest about it doctrines and dogma.

barry e

Please visit my book site - Christian beliefs - GIVING VOICE TO THE SILENT PULPIT