Healing Truths in All Religions?
I think it was Rami Shapiro’s article on “The Healing Truth in All Religions” that pushed me over the edge (Sept./Oct. issue). “Stained by Sin: Christianity.” Really? That’s the central problem that “Christianity” identifies? That’s the so-called doctrine of substitutionary atonement, which may be classic (Augustine, Aquinas), but there are many Christians—including those of us who identify as Progressive Christians—who do not find that a helpful teaching at all and who have very different understandings of the “saving” power of Jesus. (Check out Matthew Fox’s Original Blessing.) And Rabbi Shapiro’s response in “Roadside Assistance” to the question about Jesus and Christ—again, there are many Christians who do not “worship” Christ (or Jesus) per se and who understand the “Holy Trinity” in a much more complex and subtle way than three “persons.” (See Cynthia Bourgeault’s book The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three for a mind-blowing journey beyond the “triangle.”) Or what about Christ as a pulse of Divine Energy (the Rev. Scott Colglazier)? Or Celtic spirituality’s earthy understanding of Christ? (See John Philip Newell.) I urge you to explore the non fundamentalist, much more progressive aspects of Christianity. Check out progressivechristianity.org for starters, or Fr. Richard Rohr’s Center for Action and Contemplation, or the Center for Progressive Renewal, the Rev. Robin Meyers (Saving Jesus from the Church), the Rev. Brian McLaren, or ucc.org, which is the website for my denomination, United Church of Christ.
Some churches should be escaped from. But there actually are churches that are life-giving, justice-seeking, and open to “all people of faith, or in search of faith, without regard to age, race, economic condition, disability, or sexual orientation” (my church, for example).
— (Rev.) Mary H. Lee-Clark, Bennington, Vermont
Note: We asked the Rev. Lee-Clark about her own church, and she wrote, “If You Came to My Church…” for the November/December 2017 issue here.
Entrepreneurs of Civilization
OK, enough is enough. I am a longtime subscriber, and now I am just fed up! The appearance of Brady Kiesling’s article was bad enough, but Stephen’s “Entrepreneurs of Civilization” is even worse. S&H is supposed to provide spiritual nurturing and assist readers in broadening their worldviews toward love, compassion, and empathy. Articles like the two cited above exhibit personal political agendas, which serve to agitate and divide. The editor, his relatives, and all contributing authors should keep their politics out of this magazine. Get back to doing what this magazine is supposed to do—what we have loved it for doing!
— Sandra Harrill
One for the Road: A Bucket List?
A bucket list is a useless and indulgent avoidance if given a death sentence of six months. Facing death should be about answering deep questions about the way you’ve lived, such as:
- Do I have any hatred for anyone in my heart, and what must I do to make amends and ensure that I leave in peace?
- Is my material life in order? Are there excesses that I can address to ensure that my loved ones are not unfairly burdened with the dispensation of things?
- Do I have a will and medical directives in place so that my loved ones are equitably gifted and know how I do and don’t want to die?
- What memories, lessons, and stories can I leave behind that no one knew about?
Advance notice of death is a gift to be used wisely. So many never have the chance to review their lives and answer these questions. If there’s time left over after satisfying these objectives, yes—go to Paris.
But these six months you’ve been given should turn your soul around so you can do the right thing for those you’ve loved and who’ll survive you; they should not be used to indulgently satisfy unfulfilled wishes. That’s what your life was for. Not your death.
— Geraldine Lloyd