I can either write a small book or I can break this into installments.
From my last entry. “I believe it was Eckhart who said that to find God you had to give up God. You have to give up the God fashioned in your own image. The God small enough to fit your imagination and look for the God that exists beyond our understanding.”
Lisa said “I arrived at the same conclusion as Eckhart some years ago. How could the Creator of the universe be as small, venal and human as It is painted by many of the world's religions? Our imaginations are so sad and limited. What is wrong with us?”
Bless me if I know. I am going to post most of the rest of the quotes I’ve been working from, but I’ve noticed some common themes. These folks say I a lot and seem to be a set of real control freaks. One gal basically said (this is a paraphrase) “I’m going to make sure that my kids are so thoroughly indoctrinated that they’ll believe my version and ignore their science teachers.” Good luck with that honey.
Fear? Lust for power? Control? For over forty years a preacher named Criswell pastored the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Forty years. Plenty of time to carve out a tidy little fiefdom. I mean, several thousand people hanging on your every word (and filling the collection plate) has to be down right addictive.
The Methodists used to get around that by moving their ministers every few years. Last I heard the Pacific Northwest was the last conference to try to follow the traditional rotation. Let's face it families like to keep their lives stable. And there aren't as many ministers as there used to be. Or as has happened with mom's church their pastor is actually working with two churches. Both have small congregations and can't really afford to fill a full time position. Times change.
The old Silent Meeting for worship Quakers got around it by not having a paid clergy at all. Still didn’t stop even them from fussin’ and feudin’ over what they were “supposed” to believe. This from a group of believers basically made up of mystics.
Back to Criswell. Southern Baptist. One of the foundations of Baptist belief and inherent in Protestant belief is Soul Freedom. The right, before God to follow the leadings of the Spirit. Now I have to admit that some folks got lead along some strange, to my way of thinking, paths. But, as long as they aren’t hurting anybody else, who am I to say that my path is the only path. However, in my opinion that anybody else includes the rest of Creation from Marbled Murrelets to great whales so that does narrow the field. A lot.
Anyway, back to Criswell. Back in the eighties Bill Moyers, an ordained Baptist minister BTW, did a documentary on the rise of the fundamentalist right. And on camera, right there before God and everybody else, the good reverend Criswell denied the right of his parishioners to soul freedom. Because, after all, if you allowed folks to try to figure things out for themselves God only knows where they’d end up. And you, reverend could kiss your tidy little fiefdom, those overflowing collection plates and your friendship with the likes of Ronald Reagan bye bye.
End part one