Monday, May 27, 2013

Goodness and Grace

"You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain

Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will, oh what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire..."

~Jerry Lee Lewis, 1957. Lyrics by Otis Blackwell & Jack Hammer

The conservative 'hard line' of both the Protestant Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches are recovering from monumental blows delivered by their prelates. Both His Holiness Pope Francis and The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church,  have managed to outrage the more traditional element of their respective faith traditions by delivering statements which not only go against their respective dogma, but negates a few of the Christianity's most flaunted tenants.

First, the Presiding Bishop, speaking to a crowd in Venezuela on May 20th, told the gathered faithful, "Salvation comes not from being cleansed of our sins by the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, but through the divinization of humanity through the work of the human will."[ ]

Wait... are these the words of the leader of the Episcopal Church, or is Bishop Katherine actually sounding a lot like Aleister Crowley? ( "Love is the Law, Love under will.", Liber Al vel Legis [Book of the Law,1904, L 1:57] However you feel about Crowley as a human being, he was an intelligent, well-read and gifted man. I will admit that I personally find some of his habits ( and resulting attitude) repugnant, but, were some of Gandhi's [].

Whatever has lead Bishop Katherine to this new definition of salvation, it is spiritually deep and personal; you don't just toss centuries of dogma aside when you are the supreme leader of a large religious movement...even if it is badly constructed dogma. Especially if you do so knowing full well and good that it will cause more anal puckering among local diocesan Bishops and clergy than a lemon enema.

What The PB actually did was make the distinction between atonement and salvation. In basic Christian theology, atonement refers to the pardoning of human sin (forgiveness) through the crucifixion of Jesus, therefor reconciling Man and God. Salvation, on the other hand, is the protection or deliverance of the individual from consequences either by the grace or whim of a deity. When the sacredness of humankind is recognized as equally important as that of a god, then the role of co-creator with Divinity is put into its rightful place. The Divine is seen in people, and is know by their actions toward each other and Nature.
That is what I believe was meant by the Presiding Bishop's statement. It is a simple truth when the embroidery is stripped away.

Three days later, on May 23rd, Pope Francis stated that being an atheist is fine- as long as you do good.
There is an innate goodness in all of us. No human being begins their existence as an evildoer; it is the choices and path that individual follows later in life that defines them.

Holy Schism, Batman, two of Christendom's major players just mouthed the same words many Pagans have been saying since the first of us crawled out of the primordial bog. We are not only not afflicted with 'original sin', but we are good people from the start, and because we are ourselves divine. God/dess is within us. We are not reaching outside ourselves, but looking in. If that which you seek you cannot find within, you will never find it without- isn't that what Doreen Valiente was trying to convey in the Charge of the Goddess? Look inside, examine the heart, and you will see not only what is inside the heart, but the soul.

Goodness is the birthright of humankind. What an astounding revelation, given what we've been lead to believe through our formative years. There is goodness within us. Great balls of fire, the flame just leaped up and caught hold, and the chaff was burned away....

AmethJera,copyright 2013