Monday, February 8, 2010

Fidelity and Nuclear Fear

I've never "known more" in my life than I did when I was in my early twenties and an evangelical, non-denominational, non-religious, unadulterated Christian. Luckily, how ever it came about, I strove to always be willing to let God be God; which caused me to learn that God doesn't always show up like "God". Which brings me to the point of this post: Fidelity. I didn't grow up churched. My attraction to Christ was something organic; his life gave form to my own felt experience of what life is all about. In college, I found the evangelical expression suiting my sense of fidelity and jumped in.

Let me just say something for the moment: we consider nuclear energy to be the most potent; and the nuclear bomb to be the most destructive. I would argue that even more powerful is Human Being. And one of the more powerful forces, even nuclear in nature is fidelity: as a "strong force" it's involved in the holding together of all the particular aspects that make up the "selves" we feel ourselves to be. So when we encounter something that looks to threaten our fidelity, the threat involves a loosening of a "something", that feels crucial to the holding our "nucleus" intact; and knowing what chain of events a disintegrating nucleus can begin, we work to ward off such triggering threats.

That said- as I got into my thirties, this is one thing I learned: The Christianity in which I trafficked valued fidelity with "God" and summed all the problems of the world, up to a lack of fidelity to "the truth". What they failed to realize however, was that they didn't have a corner on "truth" nor did they hold it on fidelity. I found plenty of non-Christian people who with "all their heart minds and souls" were seeking not just "the truth", but more importantly, a human presence in this world that could be called truly generative. Ironically, people who weren't part of Christianity, were acting in the way of Christ more than Christians themselves, who for the most part, were only interested in "treading water" while living in "this crappy place" until they could get to the "good place"- Heaven. I didn't see Christ in this Christianity: however, the fidelity that Christ exhibited, was the fidelity to which I aspired.

In the context of my experience in religion, I have raised the issue of fidelity and involved it metaphorically with the strong nuclear force. But the metaphor extends to other contexts- even science. I think the physicist, Peter Morgan wrote well about our difficulty of fidelity under the last post, and I'd like to quote a paragraph here:

"With the increased complexity of our varied allegiances, it is difficult to be part of different groups. The commitments required in some churches are surely incompatible with the commitments required in some Physics departments. If one has a passion for a number of things, finding mutually compatible groups in which to exercise all of them fully may be very difficult. It may require moving to a different country to find a place where varied ideas can be pursued together in ways that are more-or-less compatible."

What I see through Christ's insights, is that fidelity entails fidelity to Life more than fidelity to forms; and that the essence of "idolatry" is adhering to a form instead of Life: even if the form goes by the name of Christianity. I wonder- how much of our incompatibility stems from our fidelity to forms over and above fidelity to life?

If we are to remodel what it is to be religious, it must be a place where all inquiry is supported, and Trueness is prized more than "the truth" as we seek to understand our lives of being human in this Life.

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