That’s a bit of a paraphrase of something Fr. Richard Rohr says in his book Immortal Diamond. It has been my experience, too. It seems the more aware I become of the Immortal Presence, the wider my heart stretches to include all persons…all faiths…all traditions.
Without judgment. With love.
It also seems the more threatened some religious people become toward me, especially regarding some of the conclusions to which I’ve come and comments I make on Facebook, as well as through both my Huffpo blog and BeliefNet blog.
You should read some of the emails I get. Especially from threatened Christians…the very persons whose leader was the most inclusive, ever-expanding person when it came to others, especially those the rest of the world distanced from themselves.
It could all be very discouraging to me were it not for the equally expanding compassion I feel toward those whose faith is so weak, misplaced, and confused. Instead of it strengthening them, they mistake a catalogue of beliefs for the context of authentic faith. So, rather than their faith broadening and becoming more inclusive, their beliefs and belief systems seem only to narrow more and more into that which is stifling and stuffy even to them.
Know this, my friend…
Whenever you attempt to put your God into a straight jacket, it is you, and only you who will feel its insufferable effects. God will not be incarcerated by your beliefs, no matter how hard the little ego in you tries to cling to them and vigorously argues for their correctness and their rightness over the beliefs of others.
You would be much better off not being fooled by your own fragile self who confuses authentic faith for beliefs and then hides behind oft-quoted, but dismissive clichés, as in, “Oh well, I (we) just believe the Bible and accept by faith.”
What the fragile little ego in you really means is that you and your tribe believe “your version” of the Bible. What it cannot admit is that equally sincere people of faith do not accept your version of the Bible but believe instead a dramatically different interpretation of the same Bible.
All of us should be a bit more humble in what we say and how we say it when it comes to our faith and beliefs. Otherwise, the religious world just becomes a war between collective egos. This is, in fact, much of what the religious world has become.
Furthermore, when people say, “I just accept things by faith,” what they often mean by that…too often, in fact…is this – “I can’t handle ambiguity…the contradictions in my own faith…I feel unnervingly uncertain when I’m forced to face indisputable discrepancies in the Bible…in my own faith…So, there is something I find comforting in hiding behind a pillar of my faith.”
All structures…all pillars of faith….in other words, all beliefs are uncertain, temporary, and they are not…I repeat…they are not the source of authentic faith…
…if authentic faith is what you seek.
Faith is authentic…genuine…most real…when it has nothing upon which to stand. Which is why I’ve always liked the picture at the top of this page. It is neither what you say nor what you claim that determines the genuineness of faith. It is instead your willingness to let go of everything…even every one of your closely held beliefs…and take a step into the oblivion…
…the Oblivion that IS God.
When you can do this, my friend, you will no longer need anything to hold you up. No belief, no confession, no creed. For you will have made the grandest discovery of life – the Eternal in yourself. It is THAT who takes hold of you.
The step you fear taking IS the step you need to take into authentic faith.
So, let go of all attachments. Fall INTO the authenticity of your own inner doubts. You will not go wrong. You will not lose your faith. You will, paradoxically, find it.
So said Jesus. “He who would lose his life will find it” (Matt. 16:25).
I know. I’ve been there.
I took that step, not certain where it would go, unsure of what would happen to me.
What I discovered, however, is that the very thing I thought I’d lose, I actually found.
This, my friend, is the REAL good news.
Even Your Best Life Now!