One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part One

In the last post I said, “I want to tell a story”.  I also said certain people wouldn’t like it…

I’m not sure right now how many posts it will take to tell the story. It starts in the dim past and soars into the unseeable future.

The story won’t have a lot of detail but it will have a lot of emotion. The beginning is my early time on our earth as well as the early time of our human family. It’s very easy to see the stages of an individual’s life mirroring the infancy, youth, adolescence, and maturity of humanity.

Before I launch into the beginnings, I want to give the links to a document and a site that explores the document—they’re the immediate stimulus to my needing to tell this story.

The document is One Common Faith—a deep and scholarly exploration of religion (that’s the reason some folks won’t like this story…).

The web site is Changeless Faith—dedicated to a multimedia learning process that dives into One Common Faith  and helps you connect with it in a personal way. {if you’re not the type of person who regularly reads deep scholarly documents, I’d recommend starting with the “Companion” part of the site rather than the “Document” part—you’ll get a simpler introduction to the concepts and appreciate the full document much more}

The Story

I was born in 1946 to two Christian ministers—mom and dad. I feel lucky to have had such an early introduction to serious religious life. I’ve felt conflicted about the deep problems I’ve had to struggle with to unravel the mystery of Who God really Is—mom and dad or the Ineffable, Unknowable Creator.

I think our earliest ancestors had a somewhat similar problem. The members of our human family who lived during our infancy had to struggle to co-exist with the powers they encountered and they developed various theories about a Power that ruled over those powers. Lightning or earthquakes are powers (so are mom and dad); why do they happen and what causes them? Later in the story, we’ll look at the scientific understanding of this issue but it won’t be easy to leave behind the ultimate Mystery about the Origin of our life and struggles in this earthly home…

I went to church four or five times a week. Our early ancestors worshiped in the constant cathedral of nature.

I trembled and uttered inner prayers that my soul wouldn’t be damned by my parents. Our earliest ancestors shouted and danced to appease the gods—inner and outer.

I asked my Sunday School teacher questions she couldn’t answer. They went to the medicine woman and were instructed to perform rites they weren’t expected to understand.

I mostly behaved but grew up to be quite impulsive and rebellious. They did what they had to do to survive and sometimes killed the members of other tribes.

To be continued…

Spiritual Quote :

“It is a great mistake to believe that because people are illiterate or live primitive lives, they are lacking in either intelligence or sensibility. On the contrary, they may well look on us with the evils of our civilization, with its moral corruption, its ruinous wars, its hypocrisy and conceit, as people who merit watching with both suspicion and contempt. We should meet them as equals, well-wishers, people who admire and respect their ancient descent, and who feel that they will be interested as we are in a living religion and not in the dead forms of [many] present-day churches.”
From letter written on behalf of Shoghí Effendí to the Comite Nacional de Ensenanza Bahá’í para los Indigenas de Sur America, September 21, 1951

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10 thoughts on “One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part One

  1. My experience has been a bit like the one that you describe so well,perhaps in a different way of my upbringing,still in search for a anwser.Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,as we live in a moment of history where chance is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing,I would say..The warrior must prepare for the abandonment of everything he does.!

  2. I’m already excited for the next part! Such a well-chosen spiritual quote… it left me with two thoughts really:
    – is modern civilization really as “advanced” as it claims to be?
    – in considering the true value of societal norms, majority very often does not rule.

  3. Catherine,

    “…we live in a moment of history where chance is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing…”

    This is brilliant and totally accurate!

  4. Nadim,

    “- is modern civilization really as “advanced” as it claims to be?”

    I feel its great material advancement requires a much greater spiritual advancement. Plus, the material advancement of some needs to be shared with all (hmmm… That’s probably part of the spiritual advancement…).

    “- in considering the true value of societal norms, majority very often does not rule.”

    So sadly true…

  5. I love your comments here about early people, just beautiful. I was very heartened to see them.

    Then, I’m not sure why but I keep getting the impulse to paste a comment I left on the site “IN SEARCH OF MEANING”

    I’ve made a few minor edits and additions.


    I once was talking with a close male friend; we have great spiritual discussions, and I don’t mean religious discussions as neither of us go to church or follow any organized religion. BUT as we were talking he said, “Well, what do you think of ‘Spirit or God’, what do you think it is? I mean, we need to define what IT is.”

    I looked at him somewhat mystified, (without judgment, but nonetheless forgetting that some people experience that need), and then innocently and genuinely asked, “Why do we need to define it?”

    He said, “Why?!!! Because we need to know what God/Spirit is!”

    I said, “But why? I feel no need to know, whatsoever.”

    Him: “But how can YOU say that? You are SOOOOOO spiritual and aware, and you have all these insights and you go around hugging everyone, even people you don’t know. If someone is hurting, even in the supermarket, you reach out and ask if they are okay. You are kind to people everywhere. You reach out fearlessly, and you don’t judge anyone. You accept people as they are and just love them.”

    ME: “And so…?”

    Him: “Well, that must come from knowing WHAT God is, from having a clear definition of WHAT God is.”

    ME: “No, that comes from EXPERIENCING what one might call God, Spirit, the Creator….more importantly it comes from being at peace with my own emptiness, alone-ness, or self…and in that now peaceful emptiness I feel the most intense love. It comes from being in love with the mystery, the magic, the unknown. I am comfortable just being. I don’t have to have all the answers or fill up all the space with thoughts, concepts, ideologies, theories and so on. In fact I prefer not to…because then there is room for ‘god, love, creator, etc. to enter my chapel. I am not up in my head busy with all my thoughts and words and clinging to my concepts. When I stay busy like that I have abandoned my god; I’m too busy trying to sort it all out to even feel/experience my god. God may come a knocking and I’m not even available. Without all the clutter of concepts, words, and so forth, I think, act and feel with my heart. And for me….in that place of ‘NOT-knowing-everything’ lives the infinite, a grace so sweet it heals everything it touches.”

    Him: “How can you just hang yourself out there like that?!! It’s too raw and scary…unknown. We need to know what we’re dealing with. I have to think about this and sort it out and find a finite answer. Then I’ll feel safe and settled. Don’t you want to feel safe or at least settled?”

    ME: “I already feel safe and settled…and completely loved, a love that touches me and hovers all around me every day, a love so tender that it brings me to tears. I am in love with the unknown, the infinite, the ALL, a love so powerful that I can’t contain it. I have to share it, live it. Anything beyond that is almost irrelevant for me.”

  6. You truly are a Rare Individual, Robin!

    I feel most folks want those defining concepts about God yet most of us are truly better without trying to apply rationality to the Spirit.

    I believe God is Unknowable, Ineffable.

    There are various mental tools when it comes to morality but, then, you seem quite happily beyond that…

  7. beautiful, so well told!

    i agree with nadim – and with freud, who always spoke of the “thin veneer of civilization”. in universal time, it’s only been 15 minutes ago that we came out of the caves, and a split second since we discovered science on a large-scale base.

    but we’re still afraid of the boogeyman.

    i think it’s really important that people like you say it out loud. often, we need to name our fears and ignorance – from there we can move on.

  8. isabella,

    So glad to have your comments on this post!

    Deeply hope you’ll stay with the series and offer your trenchant views!!!

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