Wednesday, November 12, 2014

This Thing I Wrote

This is a "Thing" I wrote for my CPE program.  It's really my statement of faith, I suppose; a statement of my theological understanding of the world.

God is Love is at the center of my spirituality.  I understand God as “that which created us, fills us, and connects us all.” God is All That Is.  As I seek to reconcile my Christian education with my “alternative” religious experiences, I have come to understand the concept of the Trinity as Creator (the Creator of all things), Christ(the most perfect reflection of God’s Being in human form, known to many as Jesus – yet I believe there have been others), and Holy Spirit* (The continuous flow of God’s Presence that is beyond the physical, yet can be experienced, felt, invoked, and directed.  It is known as the Christ, the Holy Spirit, Spirit, Energy, Chi, Power, and many other names).  Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves.  His actions and his parables reflect his expectation that his disciples would see all other human beings as our neighbors, no matter who they are or what they do.

John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, reinforced these teachings of Jesus.  While I am no longer a United Methodist, I find the Wesleyan approach to understanding how to apply the teachings of Jesus to life very helpful.  Wesley encouraged the study and reading of the wisdom of other faiths to understand who our neighbors are.  He held that scripture is the first place to look for answers, but that experience, tradition, and reason were also to be taken into consideration when making decisions about right actions.  Further, he wrote of the universality of God’s love as the core of ALL faith.  St. Francis and John Wesley both found God’s creatures to be worthy of honor and respect.  In fact, Wesley approached health and the environment in a holistic manner.

The new/ancient practices of Neo-Paganism & Wicca draw on similar interpretations of the place of humans in the world.  After so many years of practicing as a Wiccan Priestess and wrestling with my upbringing in Christianity and my study of other cultural expressions of the Divine, I come to the conclusion that at the core of it all is the ineffable Something we cannot describe.  I do not wish to describe that ineffability through the Via Negativa approach (by describing what It is NOT); therefore, all I can say is that It IS Love, though of course this is not sufficient.

I honestly feel the connection between myself and all other creatures, particularly my human brothers and sisters.  This sense of connection, along with my experiences in life, is the foundation for who I am becoming as a pastor and as a chaplain.  Using Wesley’s approach to decision making, I reason that my reading and understanding of scripture (which includes, but is not limited to, the collection of books we call “The Bible”), my experiences in life that have led me to understand pain, fear, isolation, anger, etc.; my personal mystical experiences which allow me to see beyond boundaries of denomination, religious and cultural context, etc., and my inherited tradition of Protestant Christianity and adopted tradition of Eclectic Wicca all come together to make me a potentially excellent chaplain.

In fact, it is as if I have been called toward this position all along.  I am able to speak to most “versions” of Christianity, including Catholicism, and speak with, pray with, or just sit with patients and family members who practice any of these traditions.  I am able to openly discuss spiritual concerns of practitioners of Neo-Pagan traditions, and have done so in the hospital.  I am not uncomfortable being present with those who claim no religion, and feel no compunction to talk them into adopting a faith.  My interpretation of what some Christians call “The Great Commission” is not to proselytize but to actually be a disciple myself and an example of the kind of life that Jesus lived.  In seeking to do this, I become a better person and a better pastor/chaplain.

*Changed from Walker (a generic term for the human who lived among us, shining the Christ Light upon us)
*Changed from Spirit, originally assuming the "Holy," but desirous of being fully understood, that I believe the Holy Spirit is a Christian term for that Spirit that goes by so many names, culturally and experientially identified.

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