Friday, January 05, 2007

Five Theological Questions Meme

In her Friday 1/05 entry, Ms Kitty lists Five Theological Questions her mentor had asked. It brought back a lot of memories for me- when I had my first crisis of faith some 37 years ago, I began an intensive philosophy/religion search. In the course of that search, I ran across a number of similar lists, some ancient, some modern, and so these are things I have pondered many times over many years. Although my answer have varied over the years, and may do so again for all I know, I do have a current set of answers, and so I’m going to treat her questions as a meme.

1. Who am I and what is my purpose (the question of Being)?

I began as a not quite blank slate upon which much was written and much was asked. I did not frame the questions, but I am responsible for my answers. I am the total of all my decisions to date. One of those decisions was my purpose: to leave this world in a better shape than I found it. That means, at minimum, to follow the moral code I have adopted, one based on the principal of least harm. What more it may mean I’m still exploring.

2. What must I do to be made whole (the question of Salvation)?

I do not accept the basis of the question. I do not believe in Original Sin; we are born perfect, ready for heaven. When we sin, we are writing for ourselves a record that will be very painful to read when we achieve enlightenment- but that is our pain, self imposed, a pain that in our better moments we will embrace to aid our growth, like the pain involved removing a splinter. There is nothing else to be “saved” from.

3. Who or what is in charge (the question of God)?

There is a big and a small component to this. The small component is my life; I am in charge of that. Sure, there are times when I’d like to palm off the responsibility of making decisions to someone else... but it’s my duty, and I cannot give it to someone else even if I wanted to- because even that act is itself a decision, a decision to shirk my duty. Even to do nothing at all is a decision to accept another’s decision.

The big component is the world, and no one is in charge of that. The way in which we are made in God’s image is that we, too, have the power to create, the spark of unpredictability. God does not cause bad things to happen to good people; we do, by working at cross purposes. If mankind ever united in a cause, then that collective decision would be in charge... until then, no one is.

4. How do I know what I know (the question of Authority)?

Small surprise as a Unitarian but first I drip what I know through the filter of reason and logic. But I also know that logic often fails us, as I discuss here . Then it becomes time to ask your gut. Does my soul know this to be true, no matter what my mind says? Am I trying to argue myself out of what I know is right?

As to Authority... well, this may sound arrogant, but I accept no authority outside myself for the truly important questions of life. I’ll listen for wisdom, listen to proffered advice- but I regard no other mortal to be an authority on my soul.

5. And What does my death mean (the question of Time)?

This is something I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about. One reality at a time is my motto. I have faith that if I make myself truly worthy of this world, I have no need to fear what I find in the next one.

Tag: anyone who has answers ready!

1 comment:

ms. kitty said...

Hey, Joel,
I appreciate your digging into the 5 questions. Your reflections are interesting and cogent. I will be posting my own thoughts over the next few months, probably as I go into the run-up for each sermon.