After yesterday’s post, I thought I might take this question “Why Are You Hanging On?” just a little bit further beyond the question of denominational brand loyalty. Before doing that, however, I want to make it clear that yesterday’s post was not anti-denomination/association/fellowship, etc. I support the core values of MCC and I am fully on board with the principles and sources of UU faith. The good news–at least to me–is they are not mutually exclusive.
I see denominations/associations/fellowships, etc. as the structures which, when effectively administered, provide the resourcing, training, support, community, etc. needed for member groups to live out their highest values. My point is, I believe our ultimate loyalty is not to these structures, but to help creation live into its highest potential, which some people might call bringing God’s realm into clearer focus in this world. And if these structures help us to do that–great!
There are, however, other ways of looking at the question “Why Are You Hanging On?” For purposes of inclusion, and realizing this example will not apply to every reader, I’ll modify the “You ” to “We.” So with that in mind…
Why are we hanging on to the idea of an all-knowing God who has an individual plan for each of our lives? If that is the case, then we cannot claim free will. Every decision we make is part of God’s plan–even the heinous decisions made by world dictators, child abusers, murderers, and so on. Even if you believe in a personification of evil called “Satan,” and that Satan influences human decisions and actions, it is still part of God’s plan. If that is not the case–if we do have free will-then we have to start questioning other aspects of God’s character which we’ve affirmed in the past, like being all-powerful.
And perhaps that is why we hang on to this image of God; that is, letting go of that image requires us to look at ourselves and accept responsibility for our less-than-wise decisions and actions not only as individuals, but also as communities and as a nation. Or perhaps we look at some of the craziness in the world around us, feel helpless and our hope lies in an external savior coming to clean up our mess one day. Then if we’re “good” (which is defined and debated by our various religious traditions), we will experience eternal peace; and questioning characteristics of God just might put us on that “other” list of people who will experience eternal torment. I understand both lines of thought, too, because I’ve held them at one time or another in my life.
Here’s a thought (and it’s even biblical). If, as scripture records, we all come from the same Source (whether you see that as an external God, evolutionary processes, etc.), and if we all return to that Source (Ecclesiastes 3:20), maybe the “plan” is for us to live our lives as fully, peacefully and as cooperatively as possible while we are on this planet–and no one but us can make the decision whether or not to do so.
And what is the role of the world’s religions in this “plan?” Well, I like the words of Andrea Lerner: “Our faith is not interested in saving your soul–we’re here to help you unfold the awesome soul you already have.”
Just something to consider…
Blessings on your journeys!