Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

18 June 2008

The Freedom of the Laity

In the Christian traditions, the clergy and the laity together constitute the Church. The clergy act as symbols of the unity of Christian doctrine. The laity, though, function in a slightly different manner. Whereas the clergy must publicly adhere to Christian doctrine (because the function of the clergy is to shepherd the laity), the laity themselves are not bound to such public adherence. Whereas the clergy are "professional" Christians (such that, if they do not publicly adhere, their clerical status may be revoked), the laity are "personal" Christians (such that, if they do not publicly adhere, their ability to participate in various Church activities may be revoked, but their status as Christians can never be taken away). Indeed, the "personal" Christian need not publicly adhere to any non-central doctrine or idea that his well-informed conscience rejects. The cost of being such a "personal" Christian may, of course, be too high for many to bear -- a "cross", if you will, too soon on the horizon.

That leads to the very appropriate question of whether it makes sense to enter into a Christian community as a "personal" Christian who rejects certain doctrines of that Christian community. I think this question confuses the issue. The purpose of entering into any community is not to be confirmed into a particular ideology. The purpose of entering into any community is to participate in that community, regardless of the ideological differences one or more people may have. Community is not simply ideas, but physicality, emotional-connections, mental engagement, and spiritual transmission. Last, but not least, community is about forgiveness, acceptance, and understanding -- beginning with oneself, and radiating outwards. To look for community initially as outside of oneself, is to miss the glory of community.

When it comes to Christian communities, the purpose of entering into any one Christian community, is to participate in the life of Christ, however truncated or abridged the clergy have defined one's participation. The life of Christ can be lived in many different ways: Vedic, Buddhic, Judaic, Islamic, Scientific, just to name a few. The life of Christ can also be corrupted in many different ways. No Christian community is free from corruption; and to let corruption (or dukkha) of any kind prevent one from participating in a Christian community, is to allow corruption (or dukkha) the final word, when the final word is Christ (or the Deathless, Amatam).

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