Monday, October 30, 2006

New Thought With An Edge

I'm a New Thought person. I mean, my idea of God is monistic (I believe there is one Substance and It is spiritual), my preferred method of prayer is to affirm something until I feel it is undeniably true and then trust that it will unfold in the best possible way, I don't believe in an eternal after life place of torment, I do believe that our thoughts and attitudes influence how we experience life, and I believe that no religion has all the answers but that there are many religions that are good and help people become their best selves. So, this non-theistic, universalist, mind over matter way of engaging life fits into the positive thinking philosophies that are often summed up by the term "New Thought." 

I should add that I'm a New Thought Christian, because I dig Jesus and I spend a lot of time and energy with the Judeo-Christian scriptures and I was born into a Christian family and culture and I have been educated in Christian seminaries and I have been baptized, confirmed, and ordained in expressions of Christianity. I do not, however, believe that Jesus was predestined to die for my sins (or anyone else's), nor do I believe that a violent act of atonement was the only way for people to be in relationship with God. I don't believe that Christians are better than non-Christians or that Christians have a better shot at "eternal security." I'm a Christian by choice and chance and not because I am hoping this 2000 year old, evolving tradition will save me from damnation.

Now, who cares? Well, I do. I have hitched my wagon to New Thought and this brings a few questions to mind. New Thought philosophy is positive and optimistic and generous and wonder so many people turn to Unity, Divine Science, Religious Science, Universal Foundation for Better Living, the Swedenborgian Church, and A Course in Miracles as well as to Positive Thinking parishes within mainline denominations and Twelve Step groups that share many New Thought ideas. But since New Thought is so positive, why do our practitioners so seldom speak out against racism, sexism, homophobia, war, exploitation, environmental abuse, and other "negative" conditions?

I know we want to be “nice.” I know we want to have the sweet smiles and even tones and serene demeanors. But we also want to bring healing in the world, and healing discordant conditions means naming them from time to time. I don't think we are abandoning our New Thought heritage to say that unjust wars are tragic mistakes. Aren't we about correcting errors in our lives? I don't think we are being negative when we insist that all gender identities and all sexual orientations and all ethnicities and all races and all nationalities be treated with respect and offered equal opportunities.

Perhaps New Thought would be even more effective and relevant if we claimed our place as promoters of social justice and equality. We aren't dimming our light; we are sharing it with those who have been denied it for too long.

1 comment:

kel said...

Actually, I find a lot of satisfaction in living out loud & out of the closet spiritually. I think it's a duty of those who are not sleepwalking to speak out & "name discordant conditions". On a deeper level, we all participate & have a place in The Dance. You know that as well as I do. But if we choose to define ourselves as "New Thought" people, I think that includes being outspoken. And I don't think it makes us the bad guys.