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The Lamp and the Mirror
Illuminating Personal Theology
3rd-Apr-2006 02:25 am
Hello to everyone. I am glad to be able to join this experiment. I am not sure what I will be able to contribute but the unlikely path through a friend's comments that I took to get here makes it an easy chance to take--the convergence of my finding this and the start up being right now is another good reason. Some of the relevant details about me.
I was raised Lutheran-Missouri Synod in Minnesota and Iowa, an area where the type of Lutheran was important. The Missouri Synod was as close to high church as there was. I took comfort as a kid thinking that we practiced a "purer" Lutheranism--whatever that was. What was instilled me that survives to this day was a deep appreciation of the lonely heroics of Martin Luther against the Church/State as an expression of his personal quest. His translation of the Bible into German and his preaching of a self-directed journey of faith inspired me, then and now. Where I struggled was understanding the morality of religious imperialism being practiced at that time and the chain letter math of a out-spreading of converts. Little did I know how it would become national policy in my lifetime. Oh, I am a grumpy left-wing Democrat on a pragmatic day. A disaffected silence on a bad one.
I have had several personal illuminations or reconciliations of faith with the Lutheranism that I remember, even though I can no longer invoke them. At the ages of eight, eleven, thirteen, and seventeen. I have been mentally arguing with sermons since the age of eight or so, once I realized it would keep me awake.
My practice of faith is shaped by zen stuff and an active seeing presence, my devotional work is based on contemplation of Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer and understanding the edge that is my consciousness between good and evil, horse flies and hummingbirds, sadness and joy, acceptance and anger. Making that list is one of the ways I pray. As is making and eating a good meal or being a seducer and the seduced. I have been without a church since college, although I recently have been attending Friends' Meeting and am drawn to sharing "waiting for the light" with these like-minded people. Their activism scares me in that my own sense of political activism is reactionary and might not even drive me if Bush and the Christian Talibanate hadn't been elected.
Since high school, my primary expression of faith has been self-directed study, decidedly non-academic or structured, that goes where I want to go. I have read some texts cover to cover: Merton, Watts, Castanada, Eliot, Dillard,Jung, William Irwin Thompson among others. But my primary reading is cherry-picking from sources like Psalms, I-Ching, Bhagavad Gita, R.H. Blyth, many poets, some theologians and philosophers, etc. I am deeply aware of how much I could read that I will never even know about.
If you believe, as I do, that the nature of God/dess is inherent in everything and everybody, including me, there is always something close by that I can turn to to further my faith and understanding. I believe that thought and contemplation are my highest use.
There is so much that I could say. This all sounds so self-centered and self-satisfied, but I hope that is really due to trying to be brief and clear. Neither are strengths.
I am attracted to this group because of the use of the word "Personal". I have misled myself during my lifetime in pursuit/no pursuit of personal faith, considering or embracing almost every apostasy, heresy, or speculation possible. I should mention that after thirty years, my use, once upon a time, of psychedelics still unshapes the world for me. I have no desire to add to the experience base anymore, though.
I also would like to add that the book The Sword of Constantine profoundly affected me about four(?) years ago. I did not read the final sections on the internal issues faced by the Catholic Church.
I hope that this will help form an image of me. I am sure that as soon as I send this, I will be thinking of all the missing things that have to be said. I guess if they are relevant later, I can add them later. This is long enough.
4th-Apr-2006 02:02 am (UTC)
This may be a dumb question, but is "Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer" the same "Serenity Prayer" that is used in AA (and seen other places)? If not, would you please share what it is? Thanks!
4th-Apr-2006 02:10 am (UTC)
yes it is one and the same. I am inclined to go with the AA abbreviation that is so well known, but the entire thing was an interesting discovery for me a while back. http://www.skdesigns.com/internet/articles/prose/serenity_t.html

thanks for asking.
4th-Apr-2006 07:29 am (UTC)
Cool (to both comments) and thanks. I think I vaguely knew that the guy who invented AA didn't write that prayer, but I had no idea what the original source was.

(That is, of course, not to knock AA--it has done much good for many people--but I don't think it is the "one size fits all" solution that many people claim it to be.)
4th-Apr-2006 02:52 am (UTC)
I wanted to add that I like referring to the Serenity Prayer as being from Niebuhr because I think it has been overly identified with AA and AA's franchise.
4th-Apr-2006 10:45 pm (UTC)
Well, now, we have some common interests....

1) I was raised Missouri Synod
2) 'My practice of faith is shaped by zen stuff'
3) Constantine's Sword also profoundly affected me
4) I also have been mentally arguing with sermons since the age of eight or so
5) Rosanne Cash --- Nice!

4th-Apr-2006 11:12 pm (UTC)
I am pleased to meet you. Did you also reluctantly have UConn in the Final Four? That would be really scary. hah!
And thanks for not commenting on my misspelling of Collette. Just noticed that.
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