Hippety Hop Hop


Easter was a bit overcast, but warmish--it's definitely feeling like spring.  Diana and I continued church shopping.  Actually, it's a bit more complicated than that.

We went to the local Unitarian church shortly after we got out here.  I loved it.  The people are friendly, the minister is sharp and articulate, and we felt welcomed from the beginning.  I felt instantly at home and was looking forward to Sundays.

Unfortunately, Diana didn't take to it as well.  Her religious background is quite conventional, and while she has loosened up quite a lot in the last several years, she is still having trouble with services that don't mention God and read from the bible.  Also, the austere New England churches kind of bother her--she likes stained glass.

This difference of opinion bothers us both.  We'd like to join a church together.  So we have been alternating.  On my Sundays, we go to the Unitarian church.  On her Sundays, we check out other churches.  Meanwhile, the kids are very well established in the Unitarian youth group.

Easter was her Sunday.  We ended up at the early service at the Methodist church, which was packed.  I found it difficult to take--too much Jesus, not enough God.  The music was poorly chosen and indifferently executed.  The only people who spoke to us were people we already knew.  Now I think this is not quite a fair test, since it was Easter.  But I came away from the situation kind of depressed, despite having a chance to sing the Hallelujah chorus at the end of the service.

The irony of my belief in reincarnation is that the parts of the Easter story that I rejected out of hand for 50 years (Jesus surviving death and coming back to be with his Apostles) now seems quite possible to me.  Many traditions have stories of people, typically quite spiritually evolved, who were able to manifest physically for a short time after their death.  Seems quite possible to me that Jesus was one such.

The place that I have trouble theologically is the notion that Jesus invented the whole thing, and that it's through him that we survive death.  I have even more trouble with the idea that we (humanity) needed to be redeemed from our wickedness through a sacrifice.  Not that there isn't plenty of wickedness around, mind you, but I don't see that the situation over the last 2000 years has changed all that much.

I find myself amazed and horrified at the revelations coming out of the Catholic church about abuse by priests.  The church I attended in California had had a minister who had an affair with a parishioner.  This had happened 7 or 8 years earlier, but the church was still wounded.  Half the members refused to believe it had happened, and left when the minister was sacked.  It turns out that the minister had done this before in another church in another state, and had been moved across the country.  There was a lot of concern about the way that the Bishop had handled the situation.  It all sounds very familiar.  And these were consenting adults (although I do believe it was an abuse of trust and power on the part of the minister).  How devastating it must be when it happens to young boys.  Or nuns.

And the hypocrisy of those in power.  Thundering about how terrible it is, and covering it up.  Taking a vow of chastity, but excluding young boys from the vow.  I do believe this could devastate the Catholic church, the more so because it is a wound that is self inflicted.

It's all about abuse of power.  I deeply distrust anyone who claims power by virtue of their spiritual training or ordination.  I have freely given power and resources to those who I feel are right to lead me on my spiritual path.  But it's mine to give, not theirs to take.  Perhaps, being in New England, I'm especially sensitive to the Founding Fathers who wrote the checks and balances into the US Constitution.  Unchecked power has always meant big trouble, whether it was the Inquisition, Hitler, or Stalin.  When you believe your power comes directly from God, what checks could there possibly be?

I think the spectre of a few priests in prison will prove instructive.  Let's hope that the powerful wise up and reign it in.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2002 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.