Proud to be a Christian (?!). The statement in question is bound to evoke a response: the good, the bad, the ugly and the indifferent. In this post I’m attempting to address the ‘elephant in the room’ of my work, and my life. It may, or may not, look like what you were supposing…
In society, labels are what (simply) put us in our respective (or irrespective) place. We are naturally prone to such, for that I am not proud. In some ways, I am the person I once judged. Once you live a little, and get a few life-experiences under your belt, you realize that neither you, nor anyone else, is perfect. (I’ve learned to ‘Never say never’! Such a stand will come back and bite you in the butt!). In spite of that, I can humbly say, ‘What I’m most proud of today is…ME’. I am more accepting and compassionate of myself, and therefore of others, than I ever have been.
My association with Christianity is, and has been, good, bad, ugly, AND indifferent. The topic still makes me nervous and uncomfortable. You know what they say, if you want to keep the peace in the family, don’t mix business with pleasure, and never discuss religion or politics. Sometimes silence gets stuck in your throat. You eventually have to cough it up, and deal with the consequences, rather than die of suffocation! I know the realities, and they are many. Being the hugger that I am, they get all squished together…
I was raised not just Christian, but Catholic. I attended daily mass, prayer meetings, catholic school, ducked into the confessional, said the rosary, grace before mealtime and bedtime, wanted to be a nun. All I really understood was the goodness, and the rules (though not the dogma, not in the larger context). That goodness is what shaped me. It’s what I have so many fond memories of, and gratitude for. My upbringing afforded me a sense of stability, community, routine, tradition, faith, hope, love, compassion, caring for the needy, believing in something bigger outside of my little self, and having a friend in Jesus 24/7. It was kind of like belonging to a special club. I still find that when I come across a fellow person who was raised Catholic (still practicing, disavowed, or not), there is an instant unspoken camaraderie. No matter where I’ve been in the world, I can go to a Catholic Mass, and feel at home. (Not to be sacrilegious, but It’s like going to a chain store, you know generally what you’re going to get, the only discrepancies are based on demographics and location).
Jesus is someone I still consider a guiding Light and guide. I’ve just broadened and added to my list of supporters, my spiritual family of beliefs, none of them contradictory. Energy is dynamic, not static. The energetic heart of spirituality is unchanging, constantly beating, always and forever. Religion and it’s followers, must grow and change, like it or not, we ARE of this world too. Thus change, in that way, is unavoidable and imminent. Religion is a man-made institution (literally), thus it is imperfect because WE are imperfect, not God! The common denominator that everyone can agree on, theoretically though not in practice, is Love. That concept gets lost in the cultural details of human-created time and space. (Give mysticism a chance, it’s message has been a part of every religion throughout time).
I grew up to study anthropology and to travel. Such endeavors were bound to open up new worlds, previously unknown to my sheltered self. (This is precisely why conservative fundamentalists avoid letting their kids do such things). This is the where the ‘indifferent’ part comes in to play. It made me realize more of who I was, how I fit in, and that the entire world wasn’t Catholic (!) and that it was okay. It was a shock at first, but I became more indifferent to what others thought of me (at least that’s what I thought, though not necessarily what I felt). This is the time I became a temporary hairy-legged hippie, but a lasting liberal, vegetarian with an Indian Teacher. But I was always a good girl; never smoked anything (not so much as a cigarette), done any drugs or drank more than a half a glass of alcohol, and have only ever had two boyfriends (one of which I married).
As I went along through life, I began to notice more of the ‘bad’. I began to see how the more severe Christian rules did scar my mind (puritanism, denial of nature/physicality, views on birth control and the role of women). Also, Christians have done so much good around the world, but why do they always feel the need to try to convert everyone along the way? Isn’t just doing a charitable deed sufficient, in and of itself, no strings attached? Today that means that you get a dose of Christianity along with your English language lessons, or a knock at your door. Historically, it meant punishment, imprisonment, torture, and death. It still means war.
Being made aware of the violent history of the church was beyond my imagination, as was the recent exposure of sex scandals in the Catholic Church. I had to come to terms with that. This is the ‘ugly’ part. It doesn’t seem fair that a few bad bits of fruit have the power to contaminate the entire bunch. So, I decided not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’. Most of what happened had nothing to do with Christ, nor was it condoned by Him, I’m sure. What is conveyed in the Bible is up for interpretation; is it literal, allegorical, or both? Divinely inspired or not, it had numerous authors over time, and it must be duly noted in it’s cultural and historical context. Like so many other Catholics around the globe (the numbers of which are dwindling), after careful consideration, I’m going pick and choose what I feel is best for me, and then keep it to myself. (Shhh).
Now that I’ve become an Energy Medicine Practitioner, I am faced with labels again. The Fundamental Field (of Advanced Energy Medicine) is the name of an actual energy field, a universal atom-like pattern of life-energy, which my mentor, Dr. Metz discovered. We address it therapeutically in our work with clients. We have been asked why we decided have the descriptor, ‘fundamental’, in the title. Several folks have suggested that they didn’t think it was a desirable name because, “You don’t want to people to be confused and think you’re a group of fundamental Christians!!” I’ve replied by saying, “I DO have a problem with fundamentalist zealots of all kinds (religiously, spiritually, politically, socially…). But I don’t have a problem with Christians, and in my opinion, they needn’t have a problem with me.”
In liberal, new-age circles, ‘conservative‘ and‘Christian’ have become bad words, as have ‘liberal’ and ‘new-age’ among Christians (as I’ve spoken about in a previous post). I AM also proud to say that my friends are comprised of about 1/3 Christian, 1/3 agnostic, and 1/3 new-age metaphysical types. I manage to relate to, and respect, all of them. I AM all of them in some way or another.
One meaning of the word, ‘fundamental’, is ‘a return to the original tenets’. I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. It’s when people expect and demand that everyone else be like them, or suffer consequences, that situations rapidly deteriorate and become deadly. I think that’s more a function of dogma, ego and fear of long-held traditions breaking down. It’s a classic case of xenophobia. (That, and the imbalance of power and resources which exist worldwide, resulting in various individuals/groups trying to (re-)establish a sense of control. That is a whole other critical topic unto itself…The natives are getting restless…).
I’m a semi-rebellious traditionalist, uncomfortable with change and not being able to predict or have absolute control over my future (thank God). So, I can understand fear as a personal and cultural phenomenon. However, from a spiritual standpoint, fundamentalism is good if it means a return to the foundations of a basic truth. That’s where Dr. Metz’ Fundamental Field of Life-Energy and Advanced Energy Medicine comes in. We named it such, because we believe that the very basis of life is pure love and light…Spirit as expressed through the laws of science and the fundamental forces of nature. To me, that is fundamentalism of the highest order!
Fundamental Field Theory/Therapy has its basis in traditional medicine modalities, combined with modern science, such as physics and systems theory. Traditional indigenous societies didn’t see spirituality and nature as separate from medicine and health, but as one in the same. Nowadays, science is catching up to spirit, and is able to explain a lot of what traditional societies already knew, while at the same time, is able to rule out things that were based more on cultural taboo and superstition. It sounds like a good union to me, an obvious one that is finally and slowly becoming a part of mass-consciousness. Fundamental Field Theory/Therapy is an equal-opportunity health care provider. You can come at it in whatever way suits you best: spirituality, science, both/none, and it will still work.
I have come to a time in my life where I want to embrace the roots in which I grew up in AND the branches which have grown up in me. I want to return to a place of innocence, of a belief that all is loving and good. Not to a place of naive innocence, rather to one of informed innocence.
“Through our own recovered innocence we discern the innocence of our neighbors.”
(Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), U.S. philosopher, author, naturalist. Walden (1854), in The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol. 2, pp. 346-347, Houghton Mifflin (1906).)
More quotations from: Henry David Thoreau
I’m going to give you a disturbing example of my early innocent naiveté (aside from the obvious one of finding out that my parents had been lying to me about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny). I used to think that if it was in writing it must be true, because NO ONE would ever lie, especially in print for everyone to see. There must be someone that oversaw to that fact. I also realize now that a lot of the world still feels that way: unquestioning of the history, the politics, the power, money, greed, and ego from which so much is generated. Unfortunately most of the world doesn’t have access to learning, or the willingness to practice, those kind of critical thinking skills. (The advertisers, et. al., see to that, and play into it).
There are as many biases as there are people (and frighteningly, world population estimates are approaching 7 billion!!). Every one of us starts out at the mercy of all the subcultures we are a part of in our tiny corner of the planet (family, friends, school, church, town, state, nation). It is part of the human design to take in and process information, based on our own personal ‘wiring’. (In this regard, the recent book by an acquaintance of mine, Rio Olesky, Manual for the Modern Mystic, would be an interesting read). It is part of our human responsibility to at some point reflect and question those biases, and at least become aware of what we would like to keep, let go, and change.
True happiness also comes from realizing and accepting that we all have our place in the grand scheme. Whether one considers themselves a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, faith-based, rational-minded, atheistic, agnostic, any or all of the above…it don’t matter ’cause we’re stuck here together, so you better get used to it! If you continue to work the puzzle, things add up from all points of the equation. Everything fits together somehow, some way, even if we don’t see the whole for the pieces. At the end of class, the whole lot of us are destined to find out the answer…who was REALLY right? 🙂
It is good to question, even if we never find the answers we seek. When we listen to others, we don’t have to agree with them, but we just may learn something about ourselves, and the world in the process. How can that be a bad thing? Unbelievably (even to me), I can get behind what both of these men are debating on this particular clip. I can hold these views at once. I know for certain my OWN truth. As Bill Maher says, “No one really knows anything for sure.”
Individual uniqueness is something that we all share, yet it’s precisely what sets us apart from one another. This is something to be celebrated, not squashed. But non-conformance makes people anxious, such a thing would be chaos! There must be some kind of social order! (They kind of have a point :)). Sadly we don’t live in an egalitarian world, if we did, we’d have heaven on earth.
Fortunately, uniqueness does have the appearance of being in fashion these days, and leave it to the artists to start the revolutions. Michael Jackson was the icon of his day, one of the first musicians to bring people together, of all ages and backgrounds, onto the same dance floor. His legacy lives on. The torch is being carried by the responsible reigning queen of theatrical self-expression and social harmony, Lady Gaga. How exciting! (This video interview with her is worth watching all the way through). Michael Jackson was raised a Christian, Jehovah’s Witness surprisingly, and Lady Gaga, unsurprisingly…a Catholic. (Not unlike her predecessor Madonna). When Catholic girls rebel, they tend to do it in a big way, yet never seem to truly abandon their origins.
As the saying goes, you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time. We are most at peace when we decide what we believe, and then work to have our internal and external worlds be in sync. (I wish it was as uncomplicated as iphone to computer, just plugging in and clicking ‘sync’!). That is true happiness. It’s not that easy though, especially if you’re a sensitive sort. Being in this world is like walking on broken glass. We must have sturdy soles (pun, fully intended). To protect ourselves, we must be tough…too calloused and we have the opposite problem on our hands. Tread softly, but don’t be afraid to stand your ground (even if it’s a hand-stand!), and carry a big stick…(just don’t use it!). 🙂