Wednesday, July 18, 2007

imagine the divine

"You mean being 'religious' is not merely a matter of conforming to massive rule books handed down by generations of legalistic scholars? I actually have to think about things like 'manifesting the beauty Divine' in the here and now, not just follow a crime-and-punishment logic to please Grand Inquisitor God?"

"To seek the living manifestation of spiritual and ethical values themselves, regardless of the label they come under, is to discover unexpected kinship with persons from utterly different social and religious backgrounds. In this view, faith is no longer a matter of allegiance to a specific community or identity, but a ceaseless search for the beautiful ways to realize the human potential in every given age and place."

Both of the above quotes are from Mohja Kahf, writing about growing up Muslim in America in an essay, "Around the Ka'ba and Over the Crick"in the book Face to Face, edited by Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson.

I love the essay because Mohja's struggle is my own. It is the struggle that defined my "growing up" as a child - as I sought a way to live truly to my faith while at the same time standing up for justice and equality in ways that were contradictory to the dogma I heard from Conservative Christians who permeated my community.
And yet, when I finally believed I had mastered such an act I came to college and was heartbroken by the conflict, close-mindedness, and rigidity I encountered in a campus ministry that claimed to come from the same faith in which I was raised. It was enough to make me seriously reconsider my invovlement in any religious body - something I am still struggling with, still trying to figure out.

The thing is though - as humans I think we were created to yearn for intimacy, both with one another and with the Divine. And the best place I found to encounter such initimacy is a community of faith - for me a church. I struggle with this yearning for intimacy as well as with a deep objection to any group who wants to tell me what I should or must believe or do in order to be a "good Christian," or a "good person," or in particular a "woman of God."

I don't believe that people were created to conform to specific rules - either of who they are allowed to be or how they are allowed to believe and love and conduct themselves. I believe that there is Divinity and Dignity in every single person, because every souls is a Creation from God. And if that is true - then I think our goal is to honor and love and nurture the Divine that is in each person, rather than to subscribe to a bunch of rules or to condemn our neighbors because of things that are different - things that scare or confuse us.

But as I say these things I realize that there is a Truth more important than what "I believe". That truth is manifested in so many ways, in so many things. It is manifested in the beauty of Creation, in the joy of each individual relationship, in humor, in art, in suffering. That Truth permeates the universe - it is all around us all the time. I believe we are happiest and most at peace when we take the time to appreciate that Truth - in all its complexity and confusion -wherever and whenever we are. One of my goals in beginning this blog is that it will be a place where I can reflect upon things that I am truly grateful for, whether they be people or moments or opportunities. In delving deeper into these things, I hope to engage in a certain aspect of worship - that is - appreciation of the sacred.

As Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson write in the Preface to their book:
"The original meaning of the sacrifice is "to make sacred," but we can make sacred without focusing only on sacrifice. We can sing, dance, study, and include all other sentient beings in our definition of holy. We can 'imagine the divine' . . . "


Since all my friends are apparently switching to BlogSpot (and by all my friends, I mean Micah and Abby) and the only person left on Xanga is going to be living with me next year, so I'll probably be pretty up-to-date on her activities, I decided to give it a try myself.

I think it's important for me to be more reflective. To write more - and express myself and my thoughts - and think things through. I think it's really good for me to have an outlet.

so . . . welcome.

You are welcome to read this blog - my thoughts on God and life and justice and dancing and what it means to be a woman and what it means to be Myself. But realize that mainly, it is for me - a place where I can play and share and explore - a place to discover, and re-discover my dreams values and fascinations. A place to hash out the inner conflict between growing up and trying so hard not to.