Larry Jordan

Everyone is related, and everything is connected.

What is Your Spiritual Practice?

Dec 03, 2022 by Larry Jordan, in The Way
After I sent my manuscript to several spiritual writers, I heard back from a progressive Christian author with 350,000 Facebook followers, who wants to endorse the book. "What is your spiritual practice?" he asked me.

Good question. I belong to a Zen Buddhist sangha in Dallas, and I have a meditation practice. Sometimes, I attend Bible study at the Methodist church and discussion groups at the Unitarian Universalist church. Also, I belong to a book club at the Unity church and a Zoom group at a Disciples of Christ community.

When we visit Crestone, we attend Catholic mass, we meditate at a stupa, and we visit a Hindu ashram, a Shinto center, a Sufi circle, and a Buddhist center. Annually, we support many of these communities in our charitable giving. Also, we volunteer at some of these places and at a lot of other places. In total, we probably spend half of our money and half of our time helping other people, including our family, a few charities, and several young African men and women.

"OK, so you really walk the walk," he said admiringly. Well, yes, I certainly try. After all, I wrote a book that integrates religion and science and reconciles Eastern and Western worldviews. In the book, I say that almost everyone who pursues a broad and deep exploration of other traditions will be moved by the compassion of Christianity, the devotion of Islam, the intellectual rigor of Judaism, the earthy practicality of Buddhism, and the rich vocabulary of Hinduism.

Yes," you might say, "but what do you believe?" My author friend asked about practice, which is "walking the walk," not about belief, which is "talking the talk." All belief is opinion, because all theology is speculation. There are basically two types of theology -- orthodoxy or speculation which is widely accepted and heresy or speculation which is not widely accepted. (Of course, I have beliefs or speculation or theology, just like anyone who has explored spirituality.)

Recently, I engaged with a Christian theologian on a Christian womens' website, who was extolling the importance of theological purity in church community. "Why would we have to share the same beliefs to attend the same church?" I asked her, because I will commune with anyone who will commune with me. "Why would you want to attend my church if you don't share my beliefs?" she responded (which is not really a response, but a deflection.)

"Well," I said, "I'll tell you what my old Christian pastor told me when I was considering leaving my old Christian church over theological differences. 'Anymore, the pews are filled with atheists and heretics,' he said, 'because most people do not attend church in search of theological purity. Most people attend church because of the fellowship or the music or the sermons or the service opportunities. You are always welcome here, my friend.'"

If you want to know what happens when churches place theological purity as a centerpiece of Christian community, think about the same-sex marriage issue. As soon as the churches decided that they would not marry everyone, then everyone (not just gay people) decided that they would not be married in churches. Coincidence? Not likely. Marriage is now a civil ceremony, performed in back yards and bars and beaches, not a religious ceremony, performed in churches.

"Would I be welcome at your church?" I asked the deflective Christian theologian. No response. "Would I be welcome at your church?" I ask you.