Monday, January 1, 2007

Love thy self, self divinisation, Orthodox Church and Spong

I wonder if I can really love, accept and embrace others if I do not truly love, accept and embrace myself. I don’t think so. To love God with your whole being and love thy neighbour as thy self; what does this mean? I suspect and and am really beginning to believe it actually means, to know and love yourself for from within will flow that which will bring peace and happiness to our world; love and acceptance of all creation. We must meet ourselves in our common humanity, and love it in totality and from there we can meet others at that same gutsy and gritty level of self acceptance. I suspect from that not only will I be drawn more to others of all shapes, sizes, tastes, likes and dislikes but they to me.


God is within and without, in all and nothing He is. I cannot deny this it’s my reality He just is. That ever present creator helping us to be co-creators. The Trinitarian nature seems to prevail in life. More on the “order of three” another day.


I’m very interested in the connection between sexuality and spirituality. Are we at the core sexual or spiritual? Is it one, two or many things? I wonder if the banquet of sexuality actually includes a range of fine delicacies; including spirituality; the connection of ourselves, God and others but also the physicality of the sexual, emotional connection and communion with others generally and that special one specifically.


The creativeness of which we exist in is quite amazing. For we are co-creators with the supreme creator who is ever creating; creating our very existence our very own divinity. I’ve just finished reading a book on the Orthodox Church, fascinating book “The Orthodox Church” by Timothy Ware 1964. I feel like it’s clarified that which I’d begun to realise in the past twelve months that my draw to the “east” and wanting to explore more the Buddhism and other eastern and also pagan religions actually already exists and may actually provide fullfillment for me within my own Christian tradition. The mystical is there in the Anglican, Roman Catholic and now I’m finding the Orthodox. Not that I’m not interested in knowing more about Buddhism and even paganism and the Celts but my basis in which I’ve chosen and works for me is ultimately Christian, it’s my grounding.


So back to deification. I’d always wondered and struggled over the answers I was given to the various references in the bible to us becoming gods. It never seemed to sit right with me if God one God and he’s one who wants total allegiance then what’s this stuff about us becoming god’s. Such joy to find within the Orthodox tradition that they seem to have an answer for this and actually a large part of their theology. P.236 “Basil described man as a creature who has received the order to become a god;” Athanasius said that God became man that man might become god. What a wonderful thought. Not only is our purpose to become fully human but fully divine, we become god, not equal, not the same and not worthy of worship but a god, divine. Interesting that the Church teaches that Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Maybe the incarnation is actually the second act of creation or the finishing of what was started which culminates at the end of time in the second coming?


Another interesting thing I found in this book on orthodoxy is another view of Sin and Adam and Eve. In recent years I’ve struggled more and more with the concept of “original sin” and the “total depravity of humankind” it just doesn’t sit right and seems altogether negative. But p228 says “Each new human being is born into a world where sin prevails everywhere, a world in which it is easy to do evil and hard to do good”. The human will is weakened by desire. The orthodox picture of fallen humanity is far more positive than the Augustinian and Calvinist view. I’d like to read further. P. 230 Sin blocked the path to union with God. Since humankind could not come to God, God came to humankind. I still struggle with the word Sin!


Something else I found interesting was about Jesus and why the orthodox say he came. P230. The incarnation is an act of God’s love towards all humanity {I’d add in question whole of creation?}. He says many eastern writers looking at the incarnation from this aspect of love say that Christ would still have become man even without the fall. Because of the fall the incarnation is not only an act of love but also of salvation.


While I’m rambling, about a month ago I finished reading John Shelby Spongs auto biography. What an amazing man, he seems to me to be a man of great integrity and love for God, people and the Church. If what he’s written is true how wonderful and lucky is the church to have had such a man. To have helped bring hope, love and practical assistance to the needy and rejected members of the church and society at large especially the Afro Americans, Homosexuals and those Gay or Straigh couples who choose to live together rather than formal marriage and Divorced people. Yes it seems he’s brought controversy but it’s always helpful to rock the boat and ruffle the conservative feathers. It’s not the questions that bring death but the way in which we live out the answers or even the way we respond to the questions themselves.  I’ve not read any of his other stuff, but I now have more of an idea of the kind of stuff and controversial idea’s he’s put forward. I was brought up being told he was bad and a heretic. Well his views may or may not be 100% true or helpful but I do look forward to reading some of his stuff in the future. We all need to be constantly challenged and questions must always be asked of ourselves and the Church. Why we do this? Why can’t we do that? Why do we believe this? What does this mean now that this or that scientific or historical records have come to light? Spong is a product of his time and saw a need within his local Christian community and wider community where he found that the Christian message; view spoke. Some havn't liked what he had to say but others did. We can’t please everyone and we all just have to get on with life hoping that we create and do more good than bad. I say good on him and bless him and all the good that he has done thus far.


May peace prevail within and without you in 2007 and beyond and let us all love ourselves more and more.