Monday, March 8, 2010

Gleanings From "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter" (Part I)

In my (rarely humble, but why should it be?) opinion, I do believe that this book is a must-read for all women, as well as for the men who are ready for it. And I am honored and wildly excited to know SO many men who are indeed, ready for it. You know who you are -- and you are called to such a time as this.

I would like to wrap up my synopsis of it, however, as I've read 2 other books since this one, and I'd like to TRY to get *current* in what I'm seeing, as it unfolds ... though it often feels like keeping up with a whirlwind, LOL! It's hard for me to get all fired-up and enthused about something I just read/realized/remembered, and then have to waaaaaaaait 'til I get caught up in blogging what I read a few weeks back! (where IS my clone, and how do I get a few of 'em?)

So, I'm going to hit the highlights of how this book enriched me, and trust that those who would benefit from reading it, will be led to do so. And so, in no particular order (that I'm aware of), I'll share the gleanings:

~ In the traditional rendering of the Genesis/creation story, woman is blamed for bringing sin into the world ... because of her association with the serpent. Her punishment, tradition says, is that she would now suffer in childbirth, and be subservient to man. HowEVER - in ancient times, the serpent was not seen as evil, but as good ... in fact it symbolized feminine wisdom, power and regeneration. The serpent was the main symbol of sacred feminine energy. How did the serpent, out of all the creatures, come to symbolize the epitome of evil, in Judaism and Christianity? Why was the snake selected to portray the "devil/satan"? Is it possible that the patriarchs in control sought to intentionally downplay this former symbol of the feminine divine? Was the point to put "enmity" between woman and the source of her innate wisdom? What has it done to women, to have separated her from her source...?

~ Women have long been forbidden to express anger. "Be nice." Even if it kills us. And it does kill us ... anger turned inward is depression... the bitterness of depression is the root of many diseases. If the emotions are not expressed, the body will take them on. And since we never deal with the *root* of the diseases, merely managing the symptoms that physically appear, we keep ourselves entrenched in the diseases ... imagining them to be "real". We need to face the injustices, and even get angry about them. We need to honor the awareness of the damage done. And THEN, we need to use that anger-energy to do something constructive. Anger doesn't have to manifest as either depression or destruction ... we needn't either deny it, or lash out in it. We can use anger to challenge and question patriarchy. We can use it as a means of finding compassion ... to move from exclusion to all-inclusion ... to move from fear to love.

~ The Bible is not our ultimate authority. Do not allow anyone to enslave you to this unbiblical notion...! Contrary to the traditions of man, our ultimate authority is our Self... our Higher Self ... that union of God-and-Us -- the Divine Voice within our own heart. And nothing else. The Kingdom of God is within -- THAT is our authority. Settle for nothing less. (& don't expect Christianity to back this up -- it knows that once you know your True Authority, it has lost all control over you ... in fact, it becomes superfluous, unnecessary ... which has always been the truth -- we don't need training wheels -- we only THINK we need them.)

~ The female soul resides in the *gut* (intuition), not the head (logic).

~ We must be true to our own spiritual unfolding ... and trust that our example will one day help others (including our own children) be true to theirs. We each have an internal guiding Spiritual wisdom ... we must each hear it, heed it, and trust it.

~ We have sole responsibility for our spiritual lives. There is NO one, and NOthing, between us, and our Divine Source. Don't allow anyone, or anything, to be an idol.

~ As women, we have to come to understand ourselves as central, not peripheral. We have to depend on ourselves/Selves (keep in mind our always-real connection to Source/God/dess). But this cannot be done *against* men ... this is collaborative, NOT competitive.. Women must find their way with or without men ... but never *against* men.

~ Why do we prefer the security of cages, rather than the challenges of freedom...?

~ When we cannot go forward, and we cannot go backwards, and we can no longer stay where we are without killing off a real and vital part of ourselves, then we are on the edge of CREATION...! Joseph Campbell says, "The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts ideals and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand."

~ Sue Monk Kidd writes, "In some ways, spiritual development for women, perhaps unlike that for men, is not about surrendering self, so much as coming to self." Perhaps, because of men's propensity to a stronger ego, men have to "die to self" ... whereas women, who have long suppressed self, must re-discover self..? Something to ponder ... it rings true for me.

~ When we're in a significant juncture of transition, the outer events, circumstances, meetings, conversations, dreams ... are often overflowing with meanings that need to be heeded. Listen. Pay attention.

~ We come to an unimpeachable knowing: Who we are, what we are experiencing, is Okay. Good. True. Real.

~ Pay attention to "sensory intuition" ... when the body quickens with a knowing truth ... tingling, vibration, waves, goosebumps, warmth, or your own variation of sensation, may indicate that the soul and body are realizing (or remembering!) something that the mind has not yet grasped ...!

~ Awakening precipitates awakenings ... we are agents of contagion. Live it, be it ... it spreads like a beautiful virus!

~ Patriarchy wounds men too ... and men must make their own spiritual journey for healing ... for freedom ... to discover Who They Really Are. It's delightful to make this distinct-yet-connected journey *together*.

~ Read what Naomi Wolf says about men's healing choices:
"The world of men is dividing into egalitarians and patriarchalists - those men who are trying to learn the language and customs of the newly emerging world, and those who are determined to keep that new order from taking root. The former group welcomes these changes, seeing that though they are painful in the short term, over the long term they provide the only route to intimacy and peace. But the latter group sees only loss ... The patriarchalists' world view, shared by women as well as men, is battling the emerging egalitarian world view, which is also shared by people of both sexes."
(I see this resistance to change in *every* discussion forum I participate in ... and it's institutionalized in religion, which must retain patriarchal status quo in order to survive ...)

~ Any marriage, or relationship, is meant to be created, and then endlessly re-created. As we change (& we must, or die), so too do our relationships change ... they are living, not taxidermied monuments to what was. All good marriages are re-marriages...! ;)

~ Growth-fostering relationships share five characteristics:
1. Each person feels a greater sense of vitality/energy.
2. Each person feels more able to act, and does act.
3. Each person has a more accurate image of themself, and the other person.
4. Each person feels a greater sense of worth.
5. Each person feels more connected to the other person, and a greater motivation for connections with others beyond those in the relationship.


~ Synchronicities: Those times when an outer event resonates mysteriously and powerfully with what's happening on the inside. Synchronicities are more prevalent while we're mid-shift ... we can let them show us what they symbolize, and what they reveal. They will illumine the way for us.

~ Labyrinths are fascinating! Originally, they were a symbol of the Divine Womb, and they were walked in a ritual of rebirth, transformation. As the initiates moved to the sacred center, they were surrendering to a symbolic death, shedding old, unfitting, non-working thoughts and beliefs, and mindsets. IN the center, they became centered ... they intuitively received/realized/remembered truth. As they walked out, they manifested rebirth. (Here's the fascinating part for me ... long before I read this book, I woke up one night with a clear image of a spiral ... the background was a blazing riot of vivid colors ... superimposed over it was a black and white "path" ... I saw this image clearly, and even told Mark about it ... I knew I had to paint it. And I painted it onto two stools. Then I read this book ... and then, yesterday, at an art show, I had the two stools with me ... and people were drawn to them -- 3 different women exclaimed, "Look! A labyrinth!" I looked, and all the dots immediately connected in my mind -- I almost choked on the pear I was eating! I had received the vision of the labyrinth before I'd read about them, before I'd painted them ... and I saw that the black and white represents the superimposed mindset of rules/religion/regulations that I thought represented God ... and I walked that path to the center ... then, I walked out, on the colors that had been there all the time, but I was blind to them..! BTW - both of those stools sold yesterday ... and I *shall* be painting more!)

~ This shedding process happens continuously, over and over - rarely (if ever) is it a one-time-and-it's-over deal. And it happens both outwardly and inwardly ... externally, we confront patriarchal patterns in our marriage, religion, career, culture ... internally we must confront the patriarchal patterns and voices we've internalized. The voices that censor, silence, devalue and criticize, demanding perfectionism and unrealistic ideals that were never our intended identity. Etty Hillesum wrote (while in a Nazi concentration camp!): "Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others." What we see is our mirror ... and the destruction is more like absorption ... Light absorbs darkness ... Love absorbs fear.

~ Sue Monk Kidd writes about how she dreamt of a "bishop" who forced her to eat when she wasn't hungry ... she needed to vomit, but he wouldn't let her ... she was trapped in the bishop's house. She writes, "I woke up nauseated, depressed. I came to realize that my urgent necessity to vomit symbolized my need to expel the whole patriarchal ideology that I'd swallowed and that was now making me sick." This struck me "in the gut" ... all the years that I was bulimic ... two decades of it ... after years of being force-fed patriarchal rules and restrictions ... being told I was less than, and I needed to accept it and "be nice" (get in line). I have to wonder ... was my body manifesting my need to purge myself of all that sickened me? Was I trying to rid myself of that which was denying/choking the life out of me? Did I misunderstand the body's message for so very long...?

~ In freeing ourselves, we free the world...!

~ Entelechy: the scientific name for a goal-directing energy we each have ... that which seeks to bring the "seed" of our being into fruition ... that which pulsates and vibrates within us, seeking to complete who we are uniquely meant to be. It will not be denied ... it is inevitable. Most of us ignore it, or thwart it ... and we pay for it ... our entire culture is testimony for HOW we're collectively paying for it.

~ We can find our inner-wisdom again ... we can be still, and remember Who We Really Are (it's there, under the noises of distraction) ... we can listen again to our heart, to our inner wisdom ... we can give ourselves permission to follow it ... and if that's too hard right now, then we can find someone who will *give* us permission to do so, until we find our own permission again. We each need at least one "permission-giver" in our lives ... and then we can become a permission-giver for others! (Great fun!)

~ In this awakening journey, we can feel like a *shocked observer* at times, when we question what the HECK we're doing/thinking/believing...! We can hear the voice of our father/mother/pastor/teacher/other, wondering how in the "name of good sense" we got HERE! But the deeper/knowing part of us will know that we've been led here by All that's Good, and that there's no going back to numbed-out blindness.

~ We must BE who we are discovering ourselves to BE! We cannot act in ways to please others, to sell something, to get success, or fame, or money, or anyTHING else of the ego ...! We must simply and purely express what is true for us, AS it unfolds. We must write out of our Self. The Deep and True place. Just do it! (Fascinating how Nike chose the Goddess of Victory as their inspiration!)

~ Those of us who choose this route (& really, it feels more like a shove off the cliff, than a "choosing"!), must prepare to be called "dangerous women". And those who spew the words, do not intend them as a compliment (even though they've come to sound sweetly powerful to me!). It's real to me that the world will one day owe its very survival/thrival to subversive and dangerous women, who have all found their voice, and will no longer shut up ...! ;). Until women have discovered their sacred divinity, they cannot be whole, and the world cannot be whole. Yeah, it's *that* important.

~ God is she, he and neither. Why this insistence that God is male...? Do we really think that God has a penis...?

~ As humans, we cannot conceive of the formless ... in this state, we need forms and images. This is our current reality. And YET - we have allowed these forms and images to become idols to be worshipped...! When only one image for God is allowed, THAT image becomes idolatrous ... it comes to be viewed not as a symbol, but AS God. No longer a mere helpful description, it becomes a god to be defended. That which is transcended (as "God" is), always transcends all the symbols used to describe it ... including the term "God". That which said, "I am that I am" is neither male nor female exclusively, and yet is both in a way that transcends the physicality of either gender ... in order to comprehend God more fully, we must no longer assign only male attributes to God, but must *also* embrace the Divine Feminine. As long as the feminine is missing in the Divine, men will continue to imagine themselves as deserving entitlement, and women will continue to be prone to self-doubt, and dismepowerment. And we, as a people, will continue to suffer from paraplegia (paralysis of half the body).

~ If we are BOTH made in the image and likeness of God, then shouldn't God be referred to in BOTH male and female ways...? Is it not so plainly obvious?

~ Have you ever heard this one? "God isn't male or female. He is Spirit!" Sigh ...

~ So where does this leave me? Perhaps you? I find myself going through the gateway of "beginner's mind" ... approaching everything with a mind that's receptive and free ... ready for anything to unfold, open to everything, trusting in the leading of the Divine. No more mandates (from without or within), saying, "don't touch, don't think, don't explore" ... no more heeding the "Danger-Danger-Danger" clamoring of the ego. Approaching all of creation, of all of reality, with wide-opened eyes ... permission to go wherever I am led.

And y'know, it's taken me in some pretty wild places so far ... I can barely fathom what else I'll discover ...! :)

Shalom, Dena

14 comments:

MysticBrit said...

Rise up, Adam, and walk, run, dance, jump and sing! Throw away those crutches (they make you walk funny), rejoice, and embrace your true nature, which you have so long forgotten!

To Life, pressed down and flowing over!

Dave said...

"~ The Bible is not our ultimate authority. Do not allow anyone to enslave you to this unbiblical notion...! Contrary to the traditions of man, our ultimate authority is our Self... our Higher Self ... that union of God-and-Us -- the Divine Voice within our own heart. And nothing else. The Kingdom of God is within -- THAT is our authority. Settle for nothing less. (& don't expect Christianity to back this up -- it knows that once you know your True Authority, it has lost all control over you ... in fact, it becomes superfluous, unnecessary ... which has always been the truth -- we don't need training wheels -- we only THINK we need them.)"

You're right that Christianity will not back this up. And it doesn't have to do with authority or control... but truth. Thankfully, Truth is a Person - and His name is Jesus (Way, Truth, and the Life, actually). And He came to not only show us how to live, but to redeem us - buy us back. Seems that God thought the self needed some saving... Now, I've read all of your comments on the Fall/the Ego/ etc... and I'm sure you've read everything from my perspective, too. I just... disagree. But I love you anyway! :)

Dena said...

Hey Dave -- I love you too ... we go way back, and have shared much. I'm still me. :)

Yes, we disagree, and I'm OK with that -- we're both humans, groping in the dark, with finite minds, for the Infinite. Along the way, we're sure to make less-than-absolutely-accurate assumptions ... much like our children do, while they're still learning and growing. I notice that I, as an imperfect parent, still not only love my groping children, but delight in their progress, even laughing at their mispercepetions. The Perfect Parent would do no less ...

(Benji, the resident 3 yo, still thinks that Daddy shrinks and goes into the phone, each time he takes a business trip -- for now, at this stage of awareness, that's his "truth" -- as he grows, so will his ability to grasp more truth ... as Jesus told his followers, he had "much more" to show them, but they "couldn't bear it yet" ... I see that many today cannot bear the "much more" that the Spirit wants to lead them into ... but it will come, when each is ready).

As for "buying us back" ... who do you imagine was holding God hostage? To whom was the "price" paid? Who was above the God who desired that none should perish...?

I just no longer believe that God had to kill God to appease God. It doesn't pass the straight-face test for me anymore.

(and I quit looking for Christianity to back up my journey a while back ... BTDT, outgrew that)

I choose to focus on the love -- and let others walk out their own adventurous journeys.

Dave said...

I agree that God has more to show us... I just think it will be consistent with what He's said in the past. In other words, the further truth will be harmonious with what He's already shared, not dissonant. What you have been sharing is dissonant with Jesus' teaching. As you yourself have said, you have left Christianity behind.

You asked about the "buying back" - the death of Jesus on the cross was Jesus being the sacrificial lamb of God on behalf of all humanity. As you know, sacrifices were made every year for the sins of the people. As the writer of Hebrews says, Jesus became this sacrificial lamb - once and for all. The context for His death was to deal with our fundamental problem: sin/brokenness/shame/guilt. These were conquered by his payment on our behalf. But this time it was different: the sacrifice came back to life because he was life. As Jesus said, he had the power to lay it down and take it back up again. Therefore, by the resurrection, Jesus not only paid our debt, but he conquered the power of sin/brokenness/shame/guilt. All of which equals the "Good News" which is the gospel! Is it any wonder that when Paul went into Roman cities he could proclaim this message and people with NO Jewish background received it? Why? Because it's Truth about the Way that leads to Life. No bible background was needed to respond. The same is true today because the deed done by God on our behalf slices through the fabric of time/space to our need now.

Hope that helps...

Dena said...

Dave - do you honestly think I spent 35 years entrenched in Christianity, without hearing the traditional message(s)...? ;)

I taught what you preach. I just don't buy it anymore. Remember when I got kicked out of church for promoting that God invented (& likes) sex, and that it was good for me to desire my own husband...? In the aftermath of that, I was reeling, and prayed, "Start me over! Show me what's of man, and what's of God -- I want nothing less than Your Truth!"

I highly recommend that prayer ... but prepare for the wild ride which shall commence ... (& if we think we already *have* all truth, we won't follow the Spirit into all truth).

I notice that you didn't answer my question: Who held the power of the ransom? Who did God have to pay, to release us...?

Yes, I have left Christianity behind (though it is my background/history, and continues to have some influence). I don't, for a minute, believe that Christ is limited to Christianity. I no longer believe that Jesus began Christianity -- man did. The goal wasn't a new religion ... the goal was to call us out of all manmade religions, to set us free from our "measure-up" system, into the Life that is our inheritance.

You might want to explore the foundations of that 'sacrificial system' we (Judea-Christian mindset) clung to, and which we then super-imposed onto the death of Jesus. Fascinating study.

There is much that man has declared "God hath said" ... with utter sincerity, and yet with utter error. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of God, which had nothing to do with God. Much of scripture is written from the perspective of the ego, rather than the Spirit.

"Reading the Bible for the First Time" by Marcus Borg is worth the perusal, if you've not yet read it.

One more observation ... if what you call the gospel, is that Jesus paid our price on the cross, then what was the gospel that Jesus told the disciples to spread, long before he died, or was resurrected? And how was Jesus declaring people saved (as he did), before he ever died or resurrected..?

Many things to question ... much liberation to discover ...!

(but in the middle, it's tough! many things fall away, including relationships...)

Dave said...

"Dave - do you honestly think I spent 35 years entrenched in Christianity, without hearing the traditional message(s)...? ;)"

Of course not...

"I taught what you preach. I just don't buy it anymore. Remember when I got kicked out of church for promoting that God invented (& likes) sex, and that it was good for me to desire my own husband...? In the aftermath of that, I was reeling, and prayed, 'Start me over! Show me what's of man, and what's of God -- I want nothing less than Your Truth!'"

Yes... I remember... and remember I created a short-film called "Oversold" about a pastor that is called to marry a stripper, Hosea marries prostitute Gomer style? How I befriended a real-life former porn star (Crissy Moran) in the process and had her take the main role? Yeah... I am pretty sure that the same folks that kicked out you and Mark would have thrown me out on my ear, too. That "version" of Christianity is false. Many call Him "Lord, Lord!" but the Lord doesn't know them. I liken these folks to be in that group. They bear false witness about God and the Gospel. Galatians 1 is their lot.

"I highly recommend that prayer ... but prepare for the wild ride which shall commence ... (& if we think we already *have* all truth, we won't follow the Spirit into all truth)."

Do you honestly believe that I've not prayed that same prayer, Dena? Do you? Or do you believe that I haven't prayed it as fervently as you did? That my eyes haven't been opened like yours? The truth is, I have... and the Truth I found is the Person of Jesus.

"I notice that you didn't answer my question: Who held the power of the ransom? Who did God have to pay, to release us...?"

Dena, as you know, there are many salvific illustrations that Jesus uses to describe what He did for us on the cross... paid ransom as one and redemption being another. His last words on the cross according to John was (in the Greek) "tetelstai" - which was a Greek term for "paid in full." The same imagery would be used today if we paid off our house, or car. The account is "paid in full." In our case with Jesus: All debts. All sin. All guilt. All shame. PAID. So, yeah... who did he "pay?"

In our court of law, for instance, someone has to "pay" for wrongdoing. Who does he/she pay in that instance? Does the accused pay the judge? If so, that would be bribery. Would the accused pay his lawyer? Well, he does that anyway... but only for services rendered. The state? Sort of, maybe? But the State is just vague, isn't it? Sure, they all get paid, but not as the crime suggests... no, what is paid is the debt of justice. Justice: a wrong must be made right. And because the murderer cannot conjure up the dead, a debt must be paid to justice for the crime (time in jail, for instance). The same is true for the debt paid for us with Jesus.

But this illustration is not the only one. In other instance, Jesus speaks of being the Good Shepherd that lays down His life for the sheep. John the Baptist spoke of Him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world!" In another, Jesus says speaks of Himself as like a seed that if it only remains a seed does nothing, but if it dies... it becomes many. Every single instance for which Jesus speaks of "The Hour" (or His purpose in being here) meant He was headed was for the cross...

All of which makes me ask, Dena... if we have all the truth we need already... and if I'm ok, and you're ok... why the cross?

Dave said...

"Yes, I have left Christianity behind (though it is my background/history, and continues to have some influence). I don't, for a minute, believe that Christ is limited to Christianity. I no longer believe that Jesus began Christianity -- man did. The goal wasn't a new religion ... the goal was to call us out of all manmade religions, to set us free from our "measure-up" system, into the Life that is our inheritance."

The way I see it, Jesus left His disciples to continue the work - he left it to broken, sinners, that were saved by grace. People like you and me. Has man made a mess of Christianity? Yup. You and I have both experienced that. And the point of the gospel is that none of us measure up on our own account... the Good News is that we don't have to. We are saved by grace, through faith... and this not of ourselves.

"You might want to explore the foundations of that 'sacrificial system' we (Judea-Christian mindset) clung to, and which we then super-imposed onto the death of Jesus. Fascinating study."

Yeah. I have studied that! :) Even in the original languages. Fascinating study, indeed which brings us to this very discussion.

"There is much that man has declared 'God hath said' ... with utter sincerity, and yet with utter error. Many atrocities have been committed in the name of God, which had nothing to do with God. Much of scripture is written from the perspective of the ego, rather than the Spirit."

Dena, you have just successfully strawman-fallicied the entire Bible. Is that possible? Yes, I believe you've done it. :) You are constantly attempting to back these claims up by your posting here in your blog as you process this journey you're on. Yes, it IS true that many atrocities have been committed in the name of God. It is also true that many atrocities have been committed in the name of Allah, Buddha, The One, Truth, Ego, Nirvana, Mysticism, the New Age, Gnosticism, and even in the name of LOVE. I would consider the picking and choosing of Scripture of one's liking to be more centered in ego than the writing of the Scriptures themselves. You've recommended several books or background studies to me.. may I suggest one? It's "How to Read the Bible for All it's Worth" by Fee and Stuart. It's an excellent resource on how to interpret the many genres of Scripture (Narrative, Wisdom, Apocalyptic, Poetry) as well as social issues like the ones Paul is so vehemently despised for in 1 Cor and the Pastoral Epistles. In my opinion, EGO comes to play - not in the Scripture's writing, but when it is twisted to accommodate self (religious elite wanting divorce, woman caught in adultery, James' rebuke of showing favoritism to the rich).

Dave said...

"One more observation ... if what you call the gospel, is that Jesus paid our price on the cross, then what was the gospel that Jesus told the disciples to spread, long before he died, or was resurrected? And how was Jesus declaring people saved (as he did), before he ever died or resurrected..?"

Salvation has always come by faith, and faith in the promised Messiah (Jesus was foretold throughout Scriptures). So, when Jesus proclaimed the Good News before the cross, it was to believe in the grace He provides and would ultimately offer on the cross. How many times did Jesus speak of His coming death/resurrection? Many, many, many times... it was His message. Those that believed were saved... just as we are today. The event of the cross and resurrection are timeless. God who is timeless, stepped into space (incarnation) / time (eternal) for us. Just as the event of the cross and resurrection can be applied to us today because of the timelessness of it, the same is true before the cross for those looking ahead.

"Many things to question ... much liberation to discover ...!

(but in the middle, it's tough! many things fall away, including relationships...)"

You haven't lost me. I hope I haven't lost you.

Forever your friend, Dave

Dave said...

And about that false Christianity you and I have experienced... I'll quote the following from my mentor:

We have looked at our relationship with God as contractual. We project our "view of self" onto "view of God" which makes God look like us so we can have self preservation. This, in turn, makes God "propositional" as we are, basing Christianity on what is familiar to us and what we do, resulting in a "cultural Christianity." God still blesses because He is God, and people are saved. Jesus starts out bigger initially, but eventually our relationship with Christ is overtaken by the culture we have created (traditional church, emergent, etc) and gradually becomes behavior driven (don't enjoy sex with your husband!, etc) - pushing for compliance. Over time this wonderful covenantal relationship with God becomes a "contractual" and "propositional" relationship, our behavior overshadows the cross, resulting in "selfish Christianity" that seeks to make sure it is OK rather than living from a life that has been set free, based in love. This God is "out there" or distant from us experientially and contractually becomes the God that rewards merit and of course, punishes when the contractual obligations have been broken. The result or fruit of this is unfortunate "cultural Christianity" is that there is no change in culture. We wither create our own sub-culture that hides from the world or the dominant secular culture infiltrates the church and shapes the church more than God's presence.

Dena said...

Dave - got to keep it short here ... life/God beckons me elsewhere today. I'll respond only to that which seems helpful to me.

First - what your "mentor" said resonates ... perhaps not 100%, but that's no longer a requisite for me. I glean truth wherever/however it appears -- so thanks for that offering.

Second - Now, I don't have your credentials and education, re. theology (I've been spared ;) ) ... I just approach God in a child-like fashion ... trusting God to lead me, reveal to me, and speak to me ... trusting that I will indeed go through whatever I need to (& whatever will most delight me), in this life and beyond. So, when I check out the Greek word for "it is finished", in Jn 19:30, I don't see the word "tetelstai" -- I see "teleo". And I notice that it is used 26 times in scripture ... and that it's only twice used as "to pay" ... the other times, it's "finished, fulfilled, done, accomplished, performed or expired". My hunch is that man has superimposed the prevalent theology onto the meaning of the word here. And, I do go by my hunches. :)

Third - I don't know what you've prayed, or what you haven't, or how deeply the prayer went for you. For me, I had lost everything I had previously stood on. The system I had been founded on crumbled around me, and I was utterly flailing. The institution of Christianity was revealed to me for what it was (though it took some time for me to see that, more fully ... transitions take time). It is gone for me. I see that you are not only still in the institution, but that your livlihood depends on it. I can only imagine that it has more bearing on you than you may yet realize. But -- that's my opinion. And my opinion of your journey has no bearing on you (so rejoice in that freedom).

Fourth - why the cross? I'm mid-shift with that one. I don't claim to have all the answers ... I just share my process, outloud, trusting that the Spirit leads each one into all truth. I *really* trust that. My hunch is that it had something to do with showing us the unreality of how we view death - that life is eternal, and death is an illusion. And, to put an end to our futile sacrificiali mindset. As in, "you insist on a sacrifice? Ok, I'll give you the ultimate sacrifice! No more gods demanding a sacrifice ... here's the concept of God who IS the sacrifice -- may that blow your circuits!" Instead, we put the overlay of our sacrificial understanding UPON Jesus, and used him to justify our egoic thinking all along ... (which we've continued). Also -- status quo always kills that which is a threat. No exception here.

Fifth - Thanks for the book recommend. I read "How to Read the Bible for All it's Worth" a while back ... it was somewhat useful, but overall, it didn't resonate for me.

Sixth - (and most important!) my perspective is not up for debate, Dave ... it's not yours to "fix" or manipulate. I will happily walk this journey alongside anyone, including you (I do not throw away relationships, though I let people go, who feel they must go). But I will not be "under" any other human, or any human system. I'm not meant to be.

I am no longer as unduly influenced by externals -- including what other in-process humans think about me. What you (or anyone) think about me is really none of my business. And I can't be bothered by what is not my business ... got enough on my plate to see, learn, explore, discover, remember and enjoy...!

I notice that there is no shortage of folks wanting to help me come back to that which the Spirit has led me out of. I'm following the One within me ... and I will continue to encourage everyone to do the same.

Jesus asks each one, "What's that to you? You follow Me."

Dave said...

"Sixth - (and most important!) my perspective is not up for debate, Dave ... it's not yours to "fix" or manipulate. I will happily walk this journey alongside anyone, including you (I do not throw away relationships, though I let people go, who feel they must go). But I will not be "under" any other human, or any human system. I'm not meant to be."

Dena, it is clear that you do not REALLY want ANYONE to journey along side you unless they AGREE with you. I find this fascinating, since your new found road seems to embrace *all* - I did not come to "fix" or "manipulate" you. I came to dialogue, and yes... to challenge. Much like you did by asking me for clarification as well. THAT'S what people on journey together DO. Friends challenge friends, stimulate discussion, support, and love... But I can see that you only want to journey... well, only so far.

On what little of the journey you allowed me to travel with you, you resist me because you see me as one of "those" - clinging to Ego, a man-made religion of control, and manipulation. Your words suggest that if I prayed as you do, I'd see the light. That though I'm educated and answered your questions, you are better because you keep things simple. You make it sound like I am the enemy. To me, you are a friend - I've always trusted that the feeling is mutual. And friends dialogue, converse, challenge, and build up. Didn't Jesus do that with His disciples? God with His prophets? Yes.

The one thing you do not know about me, Dena... is that I was once on the SAME road you are on. You didn't know that, did you? My dad is a post-modern, existential, pantheist. (Try saying THAT 10 times, fast!) He was a major influence on me spiritually. What other kid has a dad that discussed how the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle could be applied to spiritual matters? What kid is taught the ways of transcendental mediation? Or the depths of the New Age movement with touches of Jesus' teachings mixed in (his background, too)? Or how rules and religion work against the greater good... Or that God is in all? That we have all the truth we need because we are already a part of the "one" - that really, at the "fall," we weren't struggling with sin... that sin is an illusion, that evil is an illusion. Sound familiar? It should...

That was a part of my journey long before you knew me. I fully embraced it. If you want to know my whole story, I'll gladly share. I just get the feeling that deep down, you don't want to hear anything contrary to your experience at all. Instead, you seek only what will back it up. When people say they are worried for you, you lump it up like all the rest - like you have me (I guess it's easier that way). What you are failing to realize is that beyond the belief differences that become the topic of discussions, the biggest concern is this pattern of only wanting to hear what you want to hear. When Christians do it, it's bad, too. Heck, when ANYONE does it, it's bad. It's a part of ... you guess it... the ego. I suppose it still lurks, doesn't it?

I love you, Dena. I do believe that if you seek, you will find. Blessings on your journey.

DCCowan

Dave said...

Clarification, "fully embraced" might be a stretch. Maybe seriously considered" would be better. Just to be fair and clear. :)

Dena said...

Yes, friends build-up (edify/encourage) each other. That would be nice to receive. :)

Friends also dialogue ... AISI for the purpose of mutual sharing, mutual learning, mutual growth, mutual benefit -- to understand each other better.

From there, perhaps our definition of friendship differs. AISI, friends do not challenge. Friends encourage. At least, friends do so if they truly believe that the Spirit *can and does* lead us into all truth ... and if they truly believe that no one comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws them ... and if they truly believe that Christ draws all wo/men to himself.

I trust that to happen, and that it IS happenING. Here and now, in my life. No escaping, no resisting ... totally inevitable. HOW we experience that journey is totally up to the beliefs/thoughts we entertain -- the stories we tell ourselves.

So, friends encourage each other to follow the One who is within the at-hand/within-us/in-our-midst kingdom. They are cognizant of what is "my business, your business, and God's business". And it's best if each of us stays in "my business."

Friends also keep in mind that orthodoxy is only in the minds of the orthodox.

I have many friends (& family) with whom I do not see eye to eye, spiritually. Mark and I have varying viewpoints on some things. I have dear friends who believe in a literal/eternal hell, that Jesus is going to return to initiate an earthly utopia, and that we are separate from God, and they do nothing but love me where I am ... for they see fruit and evidence of God's presence and leading in my life. They know me, they trust God. They can afford to let go of the controlling messages, and just enjoy a reciprocal relationship. Neither of us sees the other as a "threat".

Your assessment of me thinking myself "better" than you is viewed through your own lens, your own projection. It's just not my reality. You could perhaps be misconstruing confidence (& passion), for arrogance. It happens.

Why do you think I need to be "challenged" to reconsider that which I experienced (i.e., embraced fully) for over three decades, and found wanting...? I didn't just visit Christianity ... I was an apologist for it. I was entrenched in it. I experienced it from the vantage point of many perspectives (evangelical, orthodox, liturgical, charismatic, pentecostal, mainline, cutting edge, emergent, traditional, denominational, nondenominational, institutional and house/simple). All of it, I experienced as a manmade system, which squelches God. It is but one vantage point of All Truth.

I followed God *out* of all that, initially kicking and screaming. I'm not about to follow any human being back into what God led me out of. I won't do that to God, nor to me (which I see as redundant). ;)

(Looks like this will have to be a Two-Parter)

Dena said...

Part II)

No, I didn't know about your background. Fascinating! :)

And it brings clarity to this conversation...

FTR, my perspective is not that of pantheism. AISI, God is not limited to what I can see, to the universe. I would be more aligned with panENtheism ... God IN all. Lines up nicely with scripture, AISI - God is All in All. God's truth is everywhere ... and I fully trust the Spirit to continue to show me what I need to see, meeting me where I am, leading me into what I can next bear for the Spirit to show me.

I have come to trust the God I am experiencing, within me (where the Kingdom is), more than the God that others tell me about. I don't believe I'm meant to settle for knowing God vicariously.

I had to let go of the idol of the latter (the one I heard *about*), so that I could hear the Still Small Voice of the former. And I will follow this One, however I am led - through whatever, to whatever.

How do you imagine I got here, without hearing/entertaining that which was contrary to my former experience...? ;) You have no idea of what I read, consider, hear. That you imagine I go looking for things to back up what I *want* to believe is humorous - I'm startled on a near-daily basis. You don't lose half your hair, a lot of sleep, and many friends, by considering only what you *want* to believe ...

Dave -- this is honestly quite wearying, not to mention predictable. Part of the Christian package is the notion of "shepherding/accountability." BTDT, ad nauseam. I try to keep in mind that Jesus told them/us to not lord over each other ... and so I do not do it, and nor do I allow it. This is my boundary. Challenging another assumes a position of one *above* another ... which neither of us can be. My putting up a personal boundary, preventing you from putting yourself above me, does not imply that *I* put myself above *you*. I assume that you're having the journey you need, for yourself. I assume that the Spirit is leading you into all truth, and I don't imagine that I'm a key player in making that happen. You don't need my challenge - the Spirit is able.

I'm here, writing my blog, for myself, and for anyone who wants to read what I'm thinking/seeing/believing. The position you're offering is quite available & abundant ... this is an alternative, for those who find it to be more akin to what they're also seeing. It's no threat to you. I notice that I'm not on your blog trying to get you to see the error of your ways. :)

You're not my enemy -- I have no enemies. But you've crossed the boundary into my business. 'Tis not your place, my friend.

Yes, I'm aware of the presence of the ego, for every human. You've not read very many of my blog posts if you think I think otherwise...! :) Mine shows up daily.

I'm aware that you, and all my Christian friends/family, are concerned/worried about me. Given the paradigm you're in, I appreciate that this is the very best you have to offer me. I get that. I did that, to others. I now know (that when I did it) that it was a demonstration of my lack of trust in God's ability to be God, for each one. We're all here to learn ...

So, I thank you for offering me this gift, out of your love for me. And so, I receive it as the gift you intended it to be.

It's just that I notice that it's not the best fit ... so I'll be looking for how else I can use it -I trust the Spirit will show me. Life is my mirror.

So, please feel free to keep praying that I will be led into all truth -- I welcome that!