Grandfather Tree

Now having come to understand that we are all spiritual beings who have chosen to temporarily live a physical existence on this planet, certain musings are inevitable, and shared here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I am a Cultural Catholic

I invite all you folks out there who grew up in the Catholic faith and are no longer "practicing Catholics" to begin to call yourselves Cultural Catholics. We grew up in a significant sub-culture in these United States. There were wonderful things and awful things about that cultural and religious experience. If I no longer adhere to the dogma, if I no longer embrace the theology, I still am daily and minutely influenced, positively and negatively, by its culture. Many folks say "I am a recovering Catholic." When I first heard that term a decade or so ago, I thought it was cute, and I used it myself a couple of times. But I was uncomfortable with it, and stopped using it. It renders invisible all the powerfully influential and beautiful aspects of what it meant to grow up in that environment. Cultural Catholic on the other hand acknowledges the possibility of gleaning value and meaning from those experiences.

Who or what is God and what does it mean to worship her?

I am a little inspired by an excellent discussion on Peace Bang's blog so I thought I would type in a few thoughts. I really think that we in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim world are a bit too preoccupied with the notion of belief and worship of some kind of Supreme Being. For a good Buddhist, the question has little importance. Yes, he or she may or may not have a belief that there is a god-realm, but it is no great desire to become one or to worship those who are in that realm, due to the fact that they are a bit stuck and actually have a much more difficult time achieving enlightenment than a human being. In fact, to have been born into a life as a precious human being presents by far the best chance to reach enlightenment. So from that standpoint, “human potential” is something to be incredibly thankful for. I would not suggest that one worship “human potential” but to be a little in awe of it may be appropriate.

But I do not pretend to be a Buddhist.

If one were to interview the "average person" if there were such a thing, in the United States, about his or her religious beliefs, he or she would say something like "Well, I do believe in God of course." If this person did not have a strong religious affiliation, he or she might also say something like, “Well all religions believe in the same God."

So somehow "belief in God" has become synonymous with being religious. A friend pointed out to me that if that is the main criteria then Satan would be one of the most religious beings.

I am not suggesting that believing and worshipping are the same thing, but I must confess I really don’t understand what worship really is. I suspect it has something to do with “standing before in awe” or “acknowledging superiority of,” neither of which has a great deal of meaning for me. Perhaps I worship trees. I do stand before them, the great ‘standing people,” in awe often. Trees have inspired me for a long time as long as I have a need for “groundedness,” for they sure got that one covered. They just stand there, and stand there. Talk about patience.

Do I believe in God? I cannot answer unless I know what is meant by God. When Carl Jung was asked the question he answered, “No, I do not believe in God. I know there is God” or something like that. (Which would probably be Satan’s response as well). By the way, Jung also said he was so happy that he was Carl Jung so he wouldn’t have to decide whether to be a Jungian or not. I tend to think that Jesus was also glad he was Jesus so he wouldn’t have to decide whether to be a Christian or not.

I do believe that there is a power greater than myself, but that I share in that power. I actually believe that I am a spark of that power, that Oneness. I am God also. You are God also. I am interested in enlightenment, of awakening from this dream, from these many-layered illusions. I am interested in claiming my sovereignty as the creator of my life. I am interested in living this life I chose, fully and intimately, even though it is a dream. If I wake up, then it isn’t a dream anymore. I am interested in choosing each moment to be alive, and to experience this incredible miracle of spirit living in biology.

So how does this have anything to do with a Unitarian Universalist worship service? I guess I have no clue really. It may have nothing to do with it. I go to a Unitarian Universalist church every Sunday in order to experience the entity that is that church. There are moments when I can actually feel that entity. Yes it is made up of all the members and friends of the church. But it is more than that. I am a cultural Catholic and growing up I learned that the Church is the “body of Christ.” Well the church I go to has a “body” in a sense. There is an actual entity that exists separate from all of us who attend. Well, not exactly separate from us, but in a strange sense, independent of us. We created it. No, we are constantly creating it and re-creating it. My presence contributes to that creation and re-creation. That is why I go to church. I want to be with that entity, to have social intercourse with it.