To see a little farther

To see a little farther,
Just want to.
Only give the vision room.
Make space in your mind.

That’s how to see.
But what to do?
How do you hold on to the wind?
I don’t even try.

Still, you want an answer.
I open my mouth to speak,
But nothing’s there.
No words for this.

But, you still must know,
And I must share what I have seen.
Only one way to show you.
Come closer, and feel my lips against yours.

© jon zuck, september 22, 2004, norfolk

Enlightenment and Turtles

Brian McLaren, one of the leading voices in the emerging church, wrote this excellent piece, “Kneeling with Turtles,” in Dream Seeker magazine. This is good stuff. In it McLaren actually discusses enlightenment, although very briefly. In What’s all the Pomotion and What is Church, I had written that I hadn’t seen the emerging church touch upon awakening / enlightenment / theosis yet.

This is a start—the potential is there. (On the other hand, it was published four years ago!)

What is Church?

That’s the question up for discussion at Symphonic recently. I find it an oddly distressing question to grapple with for several reasons. I guess first among those is church has sometimes been an uncomfortable environment for me. I’ve been involved with almost every major expression of “church” in America, both Protestant and Catholic. I’ve been able to see the fragmented, self-isolating nature of the church in a way that people who stay within a single religious framework can’t. If pressed to give a definition of “church” as it is around us today, I’d say it’s a vehicle for a subset of the culture to express itself as being “Christian,” according to whatever that means to them.

An idea presented by Brian McLaren and others in Emergent is that “Protestant church” is a modern invention which is not addressing the post-modern world. (Catholicism/Orthodoxy is pre-modern and has a somewhat different set of problems.) So now many churches are exploring how to be a “new kind of Christian” which is a wonderful, exciting effort.

There’s one thing, though. I don’t think the Church has ever really worked managed to achieve but a fraction of its potential and purpose. [I had to re-word this since it was far too harsh and seemed to imply something I didn’t mean. But on the other hand, if something fails to achieve but a fraction of its potential and purpose, does it “work”?—Jon] And I don’t know if simply trying to find a new way of “being church” will be enough, since Christians have been trying that for two thousand years.

I think the core problem is that “salvation” is not understood. It has shifted to mean “going to heaven after you die,” and the magnificent Good News that Jesus proclaimed in his Kingdom teachings is reduced to a moral code. I believe that Jesus meant living in the Kingdom of God now, and enjoying the same essential union with God that he had.

When I read Paul, I see someone who was literally transformed by this union at once upon encountering Jesus, and I also see his frustration at the fact that other people weren’t. “How is it that you act as mere men?” he asks. He saw church as the sum of all Christs, with Jesus the “first-born of many brothers,” not as “mere men” who loved Jesus.

That, I think points to the essential problem of church today. The theotic transformation of humanity into divinity isn’t happening, except on a very, very small individual basis, and people often have to leave the church to even learn about it, let alone for it to happen. Even the concept of the teacher or master–a spiritually awakened person who lives in divinized human reality is missing. And if someone did appear in that role, in the overwhelming majority of most churches, she or he’d be driven out post-haste.

Why do I study Zen? to learn from a teacher. Without teachers, church makes for a very strange school. It’s as if the second-graders are teaching the first-graders. No wonder most of the kids are biding their time waiting for the bell to ring.

Trust / Belief

At a Bible study yesterday, I shared my thought about [belief vs. trust](/spirituality/its-not-about-belief/), both of which, along with “faith,” are legitimate translations of the same word “pisteo.”

Today I realized, isn’t it interesting that we have no single word for one who trusts? There’s believer, but no “trustor.” (Even trustee, but no “trustor.”) Trust is in the heart, belief is in the head, less threatening there, I guess. We try to work things out in the head because the heart is vulnerable–that’s where faith really comes in.

Vicarious Violence Weekend!

The last few days I’ve enjoyed some nice vicarious violence. On Thursday, I watched parts of Ong-Bak, Thai Warrior. On Friday and Saturday (and Sunday for that matter), Fight Club, and last night, Kung Fu Hustle.

All I can say about the last movie is it’s a riot. It doesn’t matter if you love martial arts films or hate them, you’ll like this one. Think Roadrunner cartoon meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Metaphors Be With You!

I saw a bumper sticker this morning that said
>**METAPHORS Be With You.**

I laughed out loud. For years, I’ve been impressed by the Eastern Orthodox idea that we can only know the “energies of God,” and that God’s essence, while everywhere and in everything, is utterly beyond description. Anything we can say about God ultimately is a *metaphor.* There’s the Trinity metaphor, the personal and impersonal metaphors, the panentheistic metaphor, and so on. Here, someone had boiled it down to a bumper sticker!

I don’t know if this was a blessing from a fellow panentheist or not (probably not) but that’s how I chose to take it! May the Reality behind the Metaphors be with you all!

Just Watched Fight Club

I just watched Fight Club for the first time. I’ve got to say, it was not at all what I expected, and I’ve got to write about it. I’m also going to post another review this weekend (Peter Pan), which has been a long time coming.

Benedicta Benedictum, Domine

(Bless Benedict, O Lord.)
I’m emotionally exhausted tonight. And I have to confront my own hypocrisy about freedom, identifications, ego, universal love, and all the rest. How quickly it goes out the window when I’m riled! What is this “I” that got so threatened and angry at the news of Cardinal Ratzinger’s election? Simply a charade, that’s what. The same Spirit that gives “me” life gives “him” life–all that’s here is life, expressing life differently, in different bodies and different places. As the Oracle said in the Matrix Reloaded, “everyone is here to do what they’re here to do.”

I need to pray for and love this man. In a comment on a previous post, I wrote that no one could have brought more baggage with him into the papacy. The flip side is that no one enters the papacy with so many people feeling ill-will, anger, and frustration toward him. That atmosphere doesn’t make for healing, and it doesn’t make healers. If he is to give us the love and guidance that we need, he needs to be empowered by love as well. Karma is universal, Dharma is universal. Love needs to flow from me, and if it also does from my brother/Father Benedict, so much the better, although I have no control over that.

May the Church Catholic be the Church Symphonic.

Tell Me It Isn’t So…

Ratzinger has been elected the Bishop of Rome. This is the one person I dreaded becoming Pope.

I feel like putting on a black armband.

I see the cars go by,
and they’re all painted black.
I see a door ahead,
I want to paint it black