Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

A Kernel of Truth

May 24, 2023 by Larry Jordan, in Christianity

One of the unexpected joys of writing a book is participating in some interesting conversations surrounding the book -- at author talks, in book clubs, and online. Yesterday, I had an online chat about organized religion with a Facebook friend in Africa who is reading my book.

The church in Africa is ultra-conservative (like the church in Texas) so he asked me some probing questions to see where I was coming from.

"Do you attend church?" he asked. Haha, well, yes and no. We belong to a Zen Buddhist community, and we participate in Bible studies, book clubs, and discussion groups at a number of churches. 

When we are in Crestone, we attend services at a number of spiritual centers, including an ashram, a Buddhist meditiation group, a Catholic community, a Shinto center, and a Sufi circle. 

"When you chant to Shiva, pray to Jesus, or whirl for Allah, do they answer your prayers?" he asked. Haha, well, no and yes. My view of Ultimate Reality is impersonal, and personal gods are ways to access the impersonal Godhead, so "no," Shiva, Jesus, and Allah do not answer my prayers.

At the same time, I believe that everyone is related, and everyone is connected. We are all stitched into the fabric of the Universe, and when we pull on the threads, we can shift the cloth, so "yes," often, my prayers are answered. We answer our own prayers with our actions and our intentions.

Think about it. If we all prayed for peace, then there would be peace, not because a god willed it, but because we ourselves willed it. In fact, unless we will it, organized religion is not able to bring peace, and our gods have chosen not to bestow peace on us, even if they are able to do so.

(Many Christians believe that we have free will, so God cannot bestow peace on us unless we will it. I do not believe that we have free will or that God is unable to bestow peace, but that is another post.)

"Is there any value to organized religion?" he asked. Yes, there is Truth, and there are religious truths, and sometimes religious truths approximate Truth. There is a kernel of truth in almost all religions, but there is not Truth in any of them.

On Easter Sunday, I attended Mass with a large group of people from all of the spiritual centers in Crestone. The priest talked about resurrection, and he talked about it in a Truthful way, not in a truthful way. The message was meaningful for all, not just those who believe in Jesus' resurrection.

It is Truthful to talk about the importance of renewal and transformation. In Christian terms, the Holy Spirit was present, and Spirit spoke in many tongues. It is truthful, but not Truthful, to talk about one particular god, one particular supernatural event, or one particular worldview. 

At a creekside service on a crisp spring day, everyone present was a follower of Jesus, no matter who else they might be following in their everyday life. Everyone was inspired by the example of Jesus and the power of his message. If the Gospel is not about this, what exactly is it about?