Sunday, June 10, 2007

A ________ Manifesto

My religion on facebook changes frequently, depending on what's the latest way I've come up with to attempt to put words to a thoroughly unorthodox religious sensibility. Currently my religion reads: I'm in a cosmic lesbian relationship with Sophia. Previously it's read: AgnosticGnostic. For a short period, because this one really didn't amuse me too much: No, I'm actually not an atheist. That one was the result of realizing that virtually everyone I knew thought that I was, in fact, an atheist. I blame the Christian Fellowship on my campus -- a group of very nice people who drive me up the wall with incessant optimism and the rare incident of bigotry -- and the short-lived campus Atheist Fellowship who together have managed to create a false dichotomy between the vitriolic atheist and the happy-happy-joy-joy- Jesus-loves-me-and-I-believe-everything-my-church-tells-me Christian Theist. And, well, the fact that I'm at a loss as to what to call myself probably doesn't help.

I'm not a classical Theist by any stretch of the imagination, so in some sense and by some definitions, I suppose I am an atheist. Unfortunately for those who would probably like to label me an atheist and ignore, I have some deep belief that there is something, entity, force, being, mystery, whatever, that is thoroughly infinite and to which the term Divine may be correctly applied. And, I'm not a deist -- this divinity is not only thoroughly transcendent, but immanent and expressive in nature, in music both sacred and profane, in poetry and theology, in high church Christian liturgy, and low church congregational singing when I can make it past years upon years of resentment, in the chanting at a Hindu temple, looking out through the eyes of a thousand saints in an Orthodox church, speaking through the Upanishads, and the Christian and Hebrew Bibles, the Koran, and a priest's simple sign off of "forgive" in an email. And the numerous theophanies I have neglected. Too big for any single representation.

And each representation is constructed by or filtered through human hands and imperfect and limited -- "artifice chokes inspiration to death" (Aleksandr Blok). I believe that many persons receive a glimpse of the Divinity, and that it is the human task to struggle with all the glimpses and the metaphors created to express them. To take the Divine seriously enough that we continue constantly to question and refine our understanding, embracing the revelation that has been handed to us and listening to revelations handed to others. Because there is something of God everywhere and in everyone if you can be willing to look hard enough. And, after all, we were given the ability to think critically and analytically and even synthetically -- were we not then intended to use it? And, sometimes, I must confess, I'm not willing to look hard enough and would rather write people off as just nutters -- probably my greatest actual sin.

So, what's my religion again?

1 comment:

Dw3t-Hthr said...

A while back on a message board I read, someone started a thread that went something like, "Okay, if I were to take up a religion, which one should I adopt?" I think they were expecting a whole bunch of, "You should do mine, it's the one true whatever thingy".

I replied with something to the effect of, "Which one is most in accord with your experience of the universe? Failing that, which one helps you best to become the best person you can be? Failing that, which one do you find the most beautiful?"

Alas, as is often the case in that sort of discussion, my response wasn't argumentative enough for someone to actually acknowledge it existed. Or perhaps was too far out of paradigm -- I get that a lot in religious discussions.