Saturday, January 23, 2010

To will one thing.



When I held more orthodox Christian beliefs, it would have been easy for me to articulate the one thing I pursued.  The answer was "Jesus."  Now, as a member of a congregation affiliated with Unitarian Universalism, which many regard as heretical or even "a cult," I find refuge with those who appear to will more than one thing. What is it UUs seek, and why do our congregations seem so darn heretical?  What attracts me to an apparently schizoid movement?

Kierkegaard writes that remorse is a guide that calls out to the wanderer that he should take care.  It is precisely the divided mind that makes a person seek to be centered in all that we call Love.  This being of two minds can lead us towards feeling remorse for past transgressions, perhaps, or more generally, simply lacking integrity.  Kierkegaard argues that, in confession, one becomes at one with himself.  Kierkegaard argues that a mediator--an outside actor--is necessary to make an individual whole again.  In Protestant and some Orthodox churches, the mediatrix is Jesus.  In Roman Catholicism or other Orthodox traditions, a priest or deceased "saint" may hear our confession or bring our petition to the foot of God for us.  For secular humanist, a confessor might be a psychologist.  Well, what about folks like me?  What about religious, humanistic Christians?  For us, we still have a mediatrix.  We call him by the name of Christ, but our Christology becomes inseparable from our ecclesiology.  If traditional Christians took seriously the call to become the hands and feet of Christ, they too would connect their Christology to their ecclesiology.  Yes, the congregation is the one who becomes our confessor--not that we actually share personal gossip with our fellow members of Christ's body--but that our common struggles, our joys and sorrows, our shared outrage at dehumanizing transgressions against civil and human rights, and our shared vision for the kin-dom of God become different criteria we apply to a single thing we will: unity.  

If it seems that UUs seek more than one thing, it is only because the certainty of creedal language can disguise the truly schizoid nature of orthodoxy.  The seeming disunity of Unitarian Universalism only serves to expose the shallowness of orthodoxy.  What is it that orthodoxy seeks?  Is it belief for the sake of belief, or to see Jesus in the afterlife?  And if it is the latter, is it in order to be united with Jesus, or is it to excape punishment?  

Kierkegaard's admonition to seek one thing challenges us all.  It makes me reflect upon my preparation towards ordination in this new denomination.  Have I stripped away all the distractions from nurturing the Body of Christ, or am I still struggling with orthodoxy?  Am I engaging the congregation in order to become one with myself, as Kierkegaard invites me to do?  I must confess more with the kin-dom of God.  I need to forgive my debtors.  I have responsibility in bringing "thy will be done on Earth..."  Where it seems that this response divides my thinking, it is an effort to create more of one single thing: unity.


So, I still desire Jesus, or even Christ, but that means more now than it meant ten years ago.  Jesus has been fleshed out.

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