Face of Faith

I came across an article recently about how some people have recently claimed “Jedi” to describe their faith on an official census, and it got me thinking. For quite a few years now, I have been reading about a burgeoning religious movement in Western countries, founded on the precepts outlined in Star Wars for the Jedi Knights. There is also a huge fear among many fundamentalist Christians that the Harry Potter series or His Dark Materials series are directly responsible for the resurgence of practitioners of witchcraft and magic. I know that I, personally, have found an immense amount of wisdom and insight from reading and rereading the Dune series and the Canopus in Argos series of books. I was thinking about all this, letting it mull around in my mind, as I drove to work today. As I did, I wondered to myself what is missing in mainstream faiths that so many of us reach outside any defined, main-stream faith for answers?

Then I realized that, for myself, it isn’t really all that complicated. I see everything as having a spiritual significance, whether it be the honor guard of red-winged blackbirds that escorted me down the road or the sense of connection I feel to the works of Frank Herbert and Doris Lessing. More and more, I reject the concept that I am not allowed to embrace all of my life as being part of my spiritual path. For this reason, fiction writers who express spirit in their work appeal to me. The more they make me think, the better!

I don’t claim to know for certain if this is the case for anyone else, but I do think it reasonable to assume that this refusal to be limited by the boundaries of other people’s belief systems plays a role in the current explosion of spiritual exploration. I see it as similar in some ways to the Gnostic movement of early Christianity, where the inner gnosis (knowing) is unique to each person and to be honored for the guide that it is. The gnostic movement was initially crushed by the catholic (universal) movement, and the Catholic church was born. They could not have been more different. One defined the connection to God as unique to each individual. The other said that the connection to God is so mysterious that only the initiates (priests) could guide people and interpret that Truth, thereby setting up a hierarchy that has lasted straight through today.

The pendulum has begun swinging the other way now, and the idea that I need someone else to facilitate my connection to God seems downright silly to me. Many of us who believe similarly could probably be considered gnostics. I believe that God is all around me, inside me, within every breath I take … why in the world would I need someone else to help me connect to that all-pervasive Divine Energy? If anything, I just need to get out of my own way and the connection is simply THERE. This could be considered a very “gnostic” sentiment.

I believe that this awareness that Divine Energy is truly everywhere is rising in the world. With it comes a scepticism that we can or should segment spirituality off to one day a week, or certain hours of the day, or even to certain segments of the population (as in ‘my truth is the only truth, so you must believe like me’). There may have been people in every era who believed in the sanctity of all life and the deep inter-connection between all that is, but what makes things different now is the fact that there are so many people all over the world who are willing to literally step away from the confines of their church, mosque and synagogue and openly embrace the idea. They may or may not still want the membership of a faith group and the rules / dogma that frame a belief system. If they do, they create one that is more embracing of this ancient truth become new again, even if they have to reach into ancient history or fictional worlds to find a suitable template.

I find this all to be completely fascinating. From my reading and research, I understand that most indigenous cultures never really had a “church,” per se. Spirit was woven into the very fabric of every day. The Western culture imposed the concept of a specific place and time for acknowledging spirit on every group they encountered. It seems a bit schizophrenic, but it is necessary to segment off the inter-connectedness of all things if one wants to create a culture of greed and competitive enrichment. Pulling back from that greed, we have to reach for a different belief system, so I find it wonderful to see that the indigenous spirit may be rising from the ashes. Indigenous peoples are reigniting their original cultural fires. Westerners are awakening to the idea of the ever-present numinous as never before. As each of us finds a way to connect to Spirit as authentically and persistently as possible, we bend or break the dogmatic rules that have surrounded us and we allow the energy of the Divine to infuse more and more of our lives.

I am not saying the mystics haven’t always existed in mainstream religions, but the idea that we are a thread in the whole web-of-life-that-is-Spirit and that each thread is just as important as any other is a dramatic shift from the concept of God as something outside us, with the spiritual hierarchy reflected in the physical world hierarchy, as well.  This concept changes our outlook on our own lives and our perception of the world around us. “Magic” in the form of the miraculous is reborn as we realize that the other is an illusory concept. As we perceive the world differently, we naturally start thinking differently. Those that feel they need the old paradigm to be able to navigate life are terrified of the change they see. As a friend once told me, “What if you walk outside the walls of organized religion and you fall down the slippery slope to the abyss?!?” This is a very real fear for many. From my perspective, he would rather be safe than free.

The irony is that I see no problem with him staying within his walls until he is ready to walk outside them, if he ever is. Unfortunately, the existence of those of us who walk outside those walls is perceived as a threat to those who are within them. “What if the children and other impressionable souls see you and want to emulate you? I want them to be safe and that means they can’t go out where you are!” Like the dieter who throws out all the temptation in their pantry, the most conservative expressions of faith don’t want to even see that there might be another option. Frankly, it is a control issue.

I believe that this is the crux of the energetic shift taking place across the world right now. There is a tug of war taking place between the old and new paradigms. The Divine Reality hasn’t changed one whit. It is our perception of that Reality that is evolving. All this triggered in my thoughts by a simple article on the rise of the Jedi among us … because everything really *IS* connected.

What do you think? Am I full of beans? Does this resonate with you? Let’s talk …

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5 thoughts on “Face of Faith

  1. No, you’re not full of beans, Didi. For me, becoming a Quaker, meant I had a place to practice being present to Spirit once a week for an hour with like-minded souls. I like it that there is no preacher, no liturgy, no singing, no prayers out loud. Only silence…as that allows each of us to practice being present to Spirit in whatever way makes sense to us.

  2. I think you’ve hit it dead on. I’m both a member of Temple of the Goddess (a Pagan church) and of a Center for Spiritual Living (new name of Religious Science Churches that follow the metaphysical Science of Mind philosophy). Both have no dogma and both welcome others who follow other paths. I like having a community which is why I’m a member of these organizations. There is nothing like a community to help you grow. In fact those communities that want you to conform, restrict your growth. I can see why many people have fallen away from the traditional churches. Humanity is awakening and while we need each other, we don’t need to held back by one another.

    • I have loved the times in my life when I found a circle of people to support me and push me when I needed it, so I know just what you mean! I guess it is another spin on the idea that “it takes a village.” I love the last line of your comment, too: “Humanity is awakening and while we need each other, we don’t need to held back by one another.” Yes!

      • Yeah…”it takes a village” or “no man is an island” etc. I have to laugh when some people who live in cities say they are independent and can survive on their own. I have to say, “You live in a city…city dwellers are probably the most dependent people on the planet. Where do you get your water, food, etc.” Anyway, I rant. 🙂 Thanks for posting such a great article.

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