What is Christian enough? And who gets to decide? It seems no one can agree. Liberals aren’t Christian enough for conservatives, children aren’t Christian enough for their parents… no one wins in this game. And yet we play it all the time. So I want to ask once and for all: What is Christian enough? And who gets to decide?
Is Christianity a binary thing? Do you want me to pee on a stick and see if it’s positive or negative for being filled with the Holy Spirit? Throw me in a tank of water and see if I sink or float?
Or is it a matter of degrees? On fire of the Lord enough that I can bring the pot of holy water to a boil?
Has walking with Christ suddenly turned into a field sobriety test to make sure I haven’t gotten too intoxicated with yoga and Buddhism and Eastern thought?
I believed Jesus when he said that you will know his followers by their fruit. If there’s any kind of test it ought to be this – is there fruit of radical love, acceptance, and welcome? Caring for the outcast and overlooked? Breaking down walls instead of building them up? Expanding the message of love?
If, however, the fruit you’re served tastes a lot like, “That’s not how we do things around here,” or like it’s trying to give you a test on their interpretation of the scripture, that fruit seems a lot more like it fell from the tree of the Pharisees…
I believe we would all do better to live more like the ways Jesus lived. I believe in the things that Jesus believed in, and I speak about what Jesus spoke about: love, poverty, equality, inclusion, awakening, and transcendence. And so, yes, I speak more about what Jesus spoke about than I speak about Jesus.
I’ve recently realized there are acceptable and unacceptable ways the Spirit blows in the Church.
Apparently the Spirit isn’t supposed to blow from the East.
Because people keep wondering if I haven’t gotten a little too “into” yoga and Buddhism and all that other stuff…
Can I help it that the messages of compassion, empathy, care, concern, enlightenment, connection, and community that Jesus held up are the same messages that Buddha spoke about hundreds of years before?
That these are similar tenets to what yoga asks its practitioners to put into practice? That these are what Jewish mystics and people throughout time, on all sides of (and on no side of) religion have aligned themselves with?
Is my loyalty to a particular brand the most important qualification I have as a spiritual leader?
“There are two ways to understand our relationship with God. I’m going to say right up front that they are both just metaphors. Relax. Just metaphors. The first one — picture a big circle, and the big circle represents God. And then picture below it a very tiny, little circle. And that represents you in the world. And because the big circle is above the little circle, it’s naturally hierarchical, and, therefore, it’s generically masculine and welcome to Western religion…
“Same big circle that represents God, but the only difference is that the little circle that represents you and me is inside the big circle…And the goal in that model is not to pray to God or have God tell you what to do, but to realize that you have been, all along, contrary to all of your illusions, a dimension of the divine. And in moments of heightened spiritual awareness, the boundary line, which is the little circle defining you inside the big circle, momentarily is erased, momentarily is blurred, and it’s no longer clear where you end and God begins.”
I want to learn about what it’s like when that line blurs – not what the line is called or who drew it or how it should be drawn.
I’m a mystic, in the way that Jesus was and Buddha was Rumi was and Hafiz was and Rabia was and Mirabai was and Ghandi was and Mother Teresa was and Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King Junior was and Terry Tempest Williams is and Clarissa Pinkola Estés is and in the way that everyone, throughout all of time, has tried to huddle closer and closer to the fire of insight and truth.
I’m not going to pretend that we aren’t all warmed by the same fire, that we aren’t all aspects of the same divine.
If my inability to align directly within a tradition prevents me from being a professional spiritual leader, so be it.
I can’t imagine any of these leaders telling me to warm myself from their body instead of the heat of the fire they sit around. I can’t imagine any of the teachers we follow reprimanding me for not including more doctrine and dogma, for being a little too heavy on the personal practices and self-inquiry, a little too much on equality and social change. And yet, this is what I get from the institutions who steward these traditions.
I’m too Christian for the yogis, too Buddhist for the church, too religious for the atheists, too hippie for the suburbs. Maybe the Nones and Dones will take me.
I can see so clearly how the beauty and meaning and transformation that I experience and nurture and invite fits within these varied forms of spirituality, but I’m consistently amazed at how so few of them can see it at all.
Underlying the truth, whatever that is, is unity. The conviction that love is the best way to move in the world. That the practice of gratitude and generosity are fundamental. That none of us are free until all of us are free.
I cannot deny this unity any longer. If that isn’t Christian enough, if that excludes and divides me from institutional religion and their communities of faith, so be it.