Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Am I a Christian? Part 2

Your Own Personal Jesus

“The vision of Christ that thou dost see,

is mine vision’s greatest enemy.”

William Blake

What was it that one of my professors said in class the other day: When you try to look at reality closely, you lose the ability to describe it.

I’m fond of Jesus. And I’m most certainly culturally a Christian – it’s the symbol set I’m best acquainted with. I can proof-text with all but the best (and give me a crack at the best, and I’ll take up the challenge). Christianity is the main force that shaped the lense through which I view the world. Not feminism, not libertarianism, not even my beloved Dostoevsky – Christianity. I’ll even admit that I’m very strongly marked by the Restoration Movement. Everything went downhill from Constantine on. Augustine – please, must we? Are you really certain you need an ecclesiastic hierarchy? But I’m a bad Church of Christ girl, because I don’t believe the Bible is the full, complete, and inerrant Word of God.

A chorus of voices in my head are asking right now just how I’m going to know Jesus, if not through the Bible. Welcome to my skull.

Is it enough to think that J.C. ain’t a bad example of the Divine incarnated in humanity? (Russian has a word for this: bogochelovechestvo -- Godmanhood/Divine Humanity/the translators are still playing to get the nuances into English.) Can you be a Christian if you happen to believe that even if J.C. is an extremely good example of bogochelovechestvo, he isn’t sufficient on his own? That we need other images the Divine within the human.

I’m also someone who has a tendency to be fond of various Hindu deities and the Buddha. And I’m developing a strong belief that all churches should have icons and lots of them, because one image of divine humanity just isn’t enough. Not even Jesus. My first remembered instance of religious-themed sarcasm was when I giggled to myself at the preacher talking about how J.C. had experienced all possible forms of human suffering. Jesus PMSing and cramping? Yeah. Right. Sure, he got much more acute physical suffering – but was he ever really trapped in his body the way I am? Trapped in a body dubbed the weaker vessel that revolts on a regular basis?

(I’d be a bad Hindu too, by the way. Karma, reincarnation – yes. Dharma – not so much.)

Can I be a Christian and take offerings of fruit to Sarasvatti? Can I be a Christian if I prefer other images of the Divine? If I light candles for Mary of Egypt and ask her to guide me? If I burn incense before an image of Sophia? If my soul has never wanted to dance more than before an image of Vishnu called by the drums and bells? Not to the exclusion of Jesus, but . . . you get the picture. If Christ is in the name, does Christ have to be the main image?

Maybe the reverse is more important. Can I be anything but a Christian when ultimately Christianity is the dominant force that has shaped my thinking?

Perhaps, I’ll start telling people that I’m an Origenist and see how that goes over.

1 comment:

waterdragon said...

I was browing for images of Sarasvatti for myself and found your blog. And amazing enough, your delimma is my delimma. Further down the road, however, I discovered the Divine One, God, is the focus and the images, whichever we are relating to now, are just aspects or energies of the ultimate Source of Love. Love is the Ultimate Truth at the heart of Creation. Thank you Dr. Chopra for that quote.