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On Christian Intolerance

 

By George A. Boyd © 1988

Imagine for one moment that the Spirit of the Lord is walking in the cool of the morning. Suddenly, He/She/It spies a glistening human soul. He/She/It patiently pads over to it and flips it over. "A cross!" God exclaims, "Better keep this one!"

Then, from another part of the garden, an arc of rainbow light catches the Creator's eye. Beneath a dew-laden cabbage leaf, another human soul is hiding. Again the Creator walks over to gently inspect this new soul. Flipping it over, He/She/It finds the Hindu AUM symbol. "Bah! No good...wrong kind!" God thunders. Taking the little soul in an extended thumb and forefinger, a flick of the Divine wrist sends the little soul into a compost heap at the edge of Eden's garden.

In our irreverent anthropomorphic fantasy, we have looked through the lens of a parable that typifies the worldview of many of our Christian evangelists. It seems to matter to humans what spiritual club they belong to—we are quick to inspect the bright blue underbelly of other souls to make sure their conception of theology, correct belief and morality fit our own.

But we have it, from certain highly placed sources that the Creator only looks at the top of souls. From this perspective, souls all look alike. Try it sometime for yourself, and you'll see what I mean!

On the Kind of Evolution Would-Be Shepherds Need Be Concerned About

Evolution? Well Mr. Darwin was on the right track when he described the processes of evolution of species over vast periods of time. But Charles was describing the evolution at a genetic level, of the physical body. Have you ever looked at a dead body up really close? Whatever made it alive; whatever gave it that droll sense of humor, its clever personality is gone from the now lifeless hunk of flesh before you. Darwin had much to say about the forces that condition change of forms, but he was silent about the human soul.

Other philosophers have said that the mind of humanity evolves. As individuals, we learn new things, and we build upon the learning and achievements of all humanity. Humans individually unfold an archetypal or ideal pattern already imaged in the Mind of the Creator. We are made in the image of the Creator. We are an Idea in the Mind of God, a Dream of Brahma. But even here, we are still talking about the mind's evolution, and we really haven't put our finger on the soul.

It is the accepted province of religion to give humanity practical answers about what the soul is, how to nurture it and help it evolve into its finer potentials. Religion is concerned with how the soul may move closer to its Source, so it may be with its Beloved Lord, how to move from glory to glory so it may reclaim its birthright as a son or daughter of God. It is this question of how this process is to be accomplished that theologians should be seriously considering.

The technology of "saving" souls is already well developed in Christianity. There are methods to win over hearts and minds, and produce conversion. There are "good, sound doctrines" of "correct, approved theology" to guide people in "the true way", and fiery preaching to keep them in the "straight and narrow", holding to correct morality and probity.

But ask a preacher, "how does the soul grow or evolve?" His answer is likely to be "It's a mystery...or the Creator [or Jesus] handles that...or I don't know and that's a question you shouldn't be asking." In the very task that is religion's specialty—to teach people how to grow spiritually—the shepherds have no answers.

If religion cannot help us do this, we have to ask what people of the cloth are doing when they tell us "we are ministering to the soul"? The soul wants to be with its Lord, and you are feeding it wafers, pouring oil on its head, and having it sing pretty songs?

If species seem to evolve quite nicely left to the wisdom of our genes, and minds evolve through the forces of cultural accretion and our insatiable curiosity, the same may not be said for the human soul. The soul needs the nurturing of the Divine Grace, the conscious attention and diligent effort of a human being.

Even as cars will rust and break down if not properly cared for, souls need the regular tune up of meditation, the regular refill of the Divine Spirit, the regular maintenance of prayer. They also need to have a way to transform, to grow into their potential.

If your religion is meeting these needs and helping the soul accomplish its mission, well and good. But if not, "the shepherds of the sheep" have some deep "soul searching" to do.

 

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