One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part Two

youth_praying
Our last post began a story about my life and religion. It also set up a comparison between an individual life and the development of our human family. If you’re visiting for the first time, scroll down to the last post to read the first part or jump to it with this link.

The Story, Continued…

When I’d reached my early youth, I had a better grip on the difference between God and my parents; but, that’s not saying I really understood either of them.

Our ancestors entered a similar phase of development when they’d worked out a knowledge of the cycles of nature’s manifestations—lightning, rain, flood, fire, cold, and other regular displays of earth’s powers.

I continued to attend the church where my parents were the ministers, knowing there was an independent Source of ultimate power but still cringing under the manifestations of power my earthly keepers displayed. Mom was a sympathetic soul, though still full of power and command, and dad was a tyrant. Still, in my heart of hearts, I knew each loved me—in ways I wouldn’t clearly realize for many years. The hard part was understanding why they seemed to not understand me

Our ancestors had similar challenges. Even though they could predict when rains or cold would approach, they weren’t clear, in a conscious way, of why these powers were manifesting. The way they coped was to personalize the powers as gods and develop meaningful rituals to appease those gods. Usually, there was a major god who ruled the lesser gods and elaborate rituals to cajole the favor of that supreme power.

I was still mostly behaving and being a good boy at this stage but I’d certainly developed a strong desire for personal time, not just the time spent with friends but time with myself, time to ponder…

Early humanity made a potent space available for a tribal member’s personal time. They ritualized it and created ways to harness the individual’s creativity for the greater good of the tribe—go on the Vision Quest and bring the insights back to us so we may grow with you…

I didn’t realize, even though my parents were ministers, that my personal pondering was my conscious mind talking to my soul. It would be many years before my growing ego consciousness would surrender to my soul and clear the way for a deep and pure religious experience.

The tribe lives for the tribe’s sake. The individual lives within the tribe. Individual urges are shaped to the tribe’s necessities or are eliminated…

To be continued…

As in previous posts in this series, I urge you to reference an important document and a web site that explores that document:

Document: One Common Faith

Exploratory Web Site: Changeless Faith

Spiritual Quote:

“We affirm that a common set of core values is found in the teachings of the religions, and that these form the basis of a global ethic… There already exist ancient guidelines for human behavior which are found in the teachings of the religions of the world and which are the condition for a sustainable world order.”
Bahá’í International Community, 1995 Oct, Turning Point For All Nations

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One Common Faith ~ The Story – Part One

children_praying
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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