Friday, July 10, 2015

Lead to Gold

     In this issue of the newsletter, I'm going to start with a long piece from Rabbi Rami Shapiro's column from the July/August issue of "Spirituality and Health" (p.17).  His column is generally a series of questions posed to him, and his answers:

I attend [my place of worship] every [week] and love my faith, but find the worship lacking.  Any idea what might be missing?

What's missing, I suspect is alchemy--transforming the lead of self into the gold of spirit. Too many houses of worship have replaced poetry with propaganda, spontaneous passion with scripted emotionality, and self-transcending ecstasy with self-conscious piety.  Religion has been robbed of its punch and purpose.  Myth and story are mistaken for science and history.  Teachings to wake you up are replaced by cliches that put you to sleep.  Music to melt the ego is exchanged for kitsch that reinforces it.  Chanting that uplifts the soul is reduced to responsive readings that flattens it.  And silence, the true leaven of the spirit, is banished almost completely.  If religion is to be more than an arm of commerce and politics it must reclaim and reimagine its ancient and timeless tools--myth, story, parable, music, chant and silence--and use them to challenge ignorance, injustice, barbarism, and uncritical thinking rather than promote these in the name of faith.

         There's much in what Rabbi Rami writes that resonates with my experience of, and research about, contemporary religion.  I suspect that the increase in the "Nones" (those people who identify as "None of the Above" on the faith-tradition checklist is a reflection of shallow, or substance-light, religious experiences.  But I also think that the questioner above is representative of all of us at some point or another.  We do face periods of stagnation or derailment   And it might be just those times when stepping away and re-evaluating what we're seeking and why might the ticket home again.  We may realize that the questions and answers of one period of our life may no longer be the same as those we face now.
         The sense of dis-ease may be the meditation bell that calls us back to ourselves.


No comments:

Post a Comment