Posts Tagged 'religion'

Happy Hybrid Easter!

Hybrid: a result of cross-breeding. Easter: a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Christ — celebrated the Sunday following the first full moon of the vernal equinox.

Wait a minute. Easter is famously Christian, but its timing is completely earth-centered, ruled by nature, which is to say it is pagan. Easter is a hybrid holiday. Christianity has been shown by scholars to have deep roots in the earlier earth-centered religions, described well by Viola and Barna in their book Pagan Christianity.

I find Easter joyful. I also find working the earth joyful. The hybrid thing is in me, body and soul. I have a both/and life of going to church and also being earth-centered. The first art-show I ever did, back in 1993, was actually called Pagan Christianity (long before the above book was written).

Every year in church I sing the centuries-old hymns like “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and feel a deep, swimming flood of connection to all things and all people. I don’t worry about details of dogma or theology. There is so much we share in common. We all have our struggles, our dark nights, our joys and little victories. We all eat food that comes from the earth; we’re all dead without that. We all seek hope.

Jesus being resurrected after his crucifixion, his conquering of death, carries the same archetypal principle as the life-giving spring (the vernal equinox) emerging victorious from the bitter, death-dealing winter. This is not just a Christian principle, but a life principle.

Hybrid cars, very popular these days, are powered by a cross between electric batteries and a combustion engine. Like many agricultural cross-breedings, a hybrid car uses scarce resources more efficiently, more wisely than either of its parents. Maybe Easter, hybrid that it is of pagan and Christian truths, has equally good things to offer us.

Confession: I Love Church

Most of us have a closeted part of ourselves, a part we don’t readily reveal. For some, it is sexual orientation, or political beliefs. But for me, it is the fact that I love church and love to worship God there, with others.

Why am I shy about this, when I am not known for shyness in general? There’s more than one reason, but just one I can tackle before I walk over to my Methodist church at 6161 SE Stark (I’m writing on Sunday morning).

A progressive church-lover in Portland, Oregon (that would be me) is somewhat like a black person in a white school — prior to integration. There are few of us, and we find ourselves on the defensive. Our progressive friends associate church with political stances toward the poor, for example, that are the polar opposite of what Jesus actually taught. My friends are outraged. And I am too, but at those political stances, not at Jesus or God.

My confession here to the secular blogoshere is that I believe with all my heart in a loving Creator that cherishes you and me and every living thing on earth. At church, I’m practicing that belief. I feel it most strongly while singing the hymns (and if you want to experience some kick-ass lyrics, just pick up a copy of the New Century Hymnal and start reading).

I tell you, a person can find both comfort and fierce joy in this church thing. Anne Lamott, one of my favorite writers, describes it well in her nonfiction books, and even makes us laugh in the process.

I am a churchgoing believer, at the same time that I’m committed to sustainability and progressive politics. That is my confession. I’ll be delighted if you post a comment. I’ll publish it after I walk back from church. Related post: Consuming Jesus and the Diamond-Cut Life.

I Have A Dream — 2008 Update

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream: that America could rise above the selfish institution of segregation. The dream seemed hopelessly idealistic. Too many people in power benefited from segregation, and were willing to violently defend it.

What if Dr. King were alive today? I am convinced his dream would embrace sustainability, i.e. living in a way that ensures future generations can also live. Everything he stood for supports such a vision. Yet this ‘2008 dream’ seems hopelessly idealistic. Americans — 4% of the world’s population — are too busily consuming 25% of the earth’s resources, while global warming marches forward, essentially unaddressed by our government.

Dr. King’s original dream turned out to be surprisingly realistic. As we all know, segregation ended. Less well known is the cost of realizing Dr. King’s dream, which was sacrifices all around. King’s followers had to sacrifice their safety as they used his disciplined tactics of nonviolence even as they were attacked. Those who benefited from segregation had to sacrifice the privileges they enjoyed at the expense of others, and ought never have had in the first place.

The reality of dreams: no sacrifices, no dream fulfillment.

Willingness to sacrifice is a holy fire, and Dr. King carried that fire. While I don’t know exactly what our nation’s sacrifices for sustainability will look like, I know in my heart that we are capable of tapping into the holy fire that consumes our selfishness in service to the greater good.

Dr. King said he had a dream that one day America’s children could be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their characters. I say the updated 2008 dream is that people, and also companies, can be judged — and motivated — not by their wealth but by the well-being they create for future generations.

That the idea of sacrificing any of our material wealth for such a dream currently feels so foreign and unattractive to us is an indication of how far we have to go. But look at the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream of integration to see the joy and justice that sacrifice can yield.