Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pentecost as Pluralism Sunday

I’m very excited about Pluralism Sunday, May 27th. At my church, we will hear the words of our Christian scriptures, hymns, and Communion liturgy, of course. But we will also hear poetic and prayerful words from the Jewish, Muslim, Unitarian, Native American, Hindu, Buddhist, Sufi, and Earth-based religious traditions.

Now, I know that talk of pluralism can make us nervous, especially if we come from traditions that insisted that only certain groups, vocabularies, or opinions were valid. But we always need to remember that the churches that told us other churches weren’t “legitimate” or that other religious traditions weren’t valid often were the same churches that told us same-gender love wasn’t real or that same-gender attraction was disordered. Luckily, we re-examined the beliefs we inherited about sexual orientation. But if the well meaning but mistaken people from our past got it wrong by trying to change, exclude, condemn or dismiss same-gender loving people, shouldn’t we consider that they were also mistaken in trying to change, exclude, condemn or dismiss people who worshiped differently from us? If God is big enough to allow for human love that transcends gender norms, whatever would make us think that God isn’t big enough to allow for love of the divine that differs from the tradition we find most appealing?

We will be celebrating Pluralism this year not to diminish the importance of Jesus in our lives nor to diminish the importance of our church or scriptures, but as an act of faith; that is, we will celebrate the joy of trusting God to be accessible in ways beyond how we came to know and love That which we call “God.”

The God we find in the human search for meaning recorded in our sacred texts and in the life of Jesus whom we call Christ is described by one New Testament writer as “Love.” Do only Christians love? Could the Source of all life love only Christians? The God that is love could no more restrict Itself to Christianity anymore than It could restrict Itself to heterosexuality! The God we have encountered in Jesus Christ is an all-embracing, all-inclusive, unconditional, limitless Love. We celebrate this truth week after week within the liturgies, traditions, and texts of our inherited (or chosen) Christian faith.

On Pentecost Sunday we will feel the unfettered spirit of God blow again through the words and devotional thoughts of people beyond our faith tradition. We will be reminded that the God who loves us just as we are loves all people just as they are. We remain grateful to the one in whom we first encountered the Divine, Jesus our Christ. But our devotion to him need not exclude or condemn those who have encountered the Divine in other ways.

1 comment:

Samuel Maynes said...

If you are interested in some new ideas on religious pluralism and the Trinity, please check out my website at www.religiouspluralism.ca, and give me your thoughts on improving content and presentation.

My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or "Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the "body of Christ" (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

* The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

For more details, please see: www.religiouspluralism.ca

Samuel Stuart Maynes