Sunday, March 28, 2021

Christianity Contradictions

Two terrible, awful, no-good contradictions in Christianity (I've covered this ground before - see postings tagged "Christianity" - but it's my Slog so I'll flog if I wanna).

1. There is only one God...and don't you dare worship any other!

If they'd taken a sec to rectify this flagrant contradiction, two thousand years of crusades, inquisitions, and general brutality and intolerance wouldn't have happened. Frowny face.

If there's only one God (and you did insist there's only one!) then we all - regardless of the hat we're wearing; and the day we pray; and the nametag we stick on you - are brothers and sisters. So it's all love and tolerance, just like that Jesus dude said, after all.

2. Surrender! Surrender! Surrender! Surrender! But, of course, you won't....

A distinguished and wizened old Indian swami I knew who otherwise despised western culture and theology adored the evangelical Christian credo "Let go, let God". He considered it as good as anything in the Vedas (and to a smugly intolerant old prick like him, that was the supreme compliment).

Surrender is a theme throughout Christianity, and this delicious credo points to the essence of that. Yet there's virtually no guidance. There's this thing you must do, but we won't tell you how to do it. Nor will we offer a glimmer of what to expect once you've done it ("The Lives of the Saints", et al, describe outer phenomena, not inner experience). It seems un-Christian (i.e. overly prideful) to seek to emulate the complete surrender of Jesus. A couple millennia in, this appears to be the boil-down: "Adore the guy who did the thing we're all enjoined to do but surely can't/won't." Ah, sigh, if only 'twere possible....[eyes turn heavenward as harp music swells].

Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Shaivism, Jainism, and even sclerotic old Judaism offer some technology for surrender, while Christianity just hands you a single word: the tissue-light concept of "prayer", which seems like a placeholder someone threw into the book, intending further development, but, Gutenberg had a strict publication schedule and needed to go to press, pronto.

There were a few stillborn efforts over the centuries to fill it out. None ever reached anything close to mainstream recognition...with one odd and indirect exception. Some of us jumped down the rabbit hole opened in Salinger's "Franny and Zooey" by reading "The Way of a Pilgrim", and following its references to "The Philokalia" and other mystical works of the early Eastern Orthodox fathers. It came as no surprise (because I, too, am a smug yogi prick) that it's mostly reinvention of the ancient practice of mantra meditation. But kudos to those truculent bearded fathers for striving to actually practice the preaching!

If this stuff, from this framing, holds interest for you, you might enjoy the classic "The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta". Also, the vaguely Zen-oriented spiritual teacher Adyashanti has a couple of excellent books on Christianity through the mystic's perspective.

No comments:

Blog Archive