I weekly enjoy attending and participating in a group of several retirees who are mostly scholars, educators, counselors and business owners. Our discussions topics are voted upon week by week and the topics are generally philosophic, scientific or otherwise requiring thoughtful consideration.
Being one of the more recent attendees of this group, I have experienced growing discomfort about a dynamic taking place week after week. There are a couple of people who must preface their comments with the fact that they are “Christian.” There are also several people, not without faith or spiritual inclination, who are immediately irked at the weekly referral of “differences” as if anyone beyond those deemed “Christian” are automatically heathens. This has become a distraction, as each week there are obvious barbs back and forth inching more and more to an insinuation that one group is simply wrong in their thinking.
I realize this is the theme of what is going on in our country and in our world, and throughout centuries. But I am sad to realize that this diverse, intelligent group, representing many countries and cultures, is apparently not above demonstrating a lack of basic respect and tolerance toward each other. Instead they are exactly reflecting, in their own way, the problem.
Last week Richard Rohr wrote similarly in his daily posting: “Trinitarian theology offers us perhaps the best foundation for true interfaith dialogue and friendship… making mutual respect and intelligent dialogue with other religions easier and more natural. Up to now, we’ve generally used Jesus in a competitive way instead of a cosmic way, and thus others hear our Gospel at a tribal, “Come join us—or else” level. This is a far cry from the Universal Christ of Colossians ‘who reconciles all things to himself…in heaven and on earth.’”
“Once Christians learn to recognize the Cosmic Christ as the original metaphysical identify of the second Person of the Trinity—an identity much larger than the historical Jesus—then Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and spiritual-but-not-religious people have no reason to be afraid of us, nor we of them. They can easily recognize that the Cosmic Christ includes and honors all of creation—including themselves—from the very beginning of time.”
“Unless Christians can begin to make this paradigm shift, we are more a part of the problem than the solution. Courtroom scenes and penal systems do not inspire or change the world for the better. They are totally inadequate to communicate the Divine Banquet and God’s gracious invitation; in fact, they make it largely impossible to imagine. It is not about being overtly religious. We have tried that for centuries with small results. It’s about being quietly joyous and cooperative with the divine generosity that connects everything to everything else (see Romans 8:28).”
If we are unable to resonate compassion, tolerance and love toward others, by our very judgment we are resonating intolerance, focusing only on our differences, contributing to a larger frequency of unrest, and heightening violence in our world. It isn’t “out-there.” It begins “in-here (heart).” It isn’t just about one particular state or country. It’s about each one of us. Each of us is accountable now. We can make a difference. We must make a difference.
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