Archive for February, 2011

Cafeteria Spiritualities

Friday, February 11th, 2011

A comment on my friend Elizabeth’s blog:
Telling Secrets: Walking in faiths
She says:
It’s a brave new world out there, kids.

A world that is increasingly diverse and multicultural, which holds pluriform truths that find expression in an increasing variety of religions and religious practices.

It’s very confusing and threatening for some who have, perhaps, eaten too much of the Bread of Anxiety which the world offers in such abundance.

For others who are deeply affected by the spiritual starvation of the world, it is as exciting as opening up a great banquet table for a hungry person with absolutely no restrictions on the types of foods they might try.

My comment:
All of those practices you mention as coming from other traditions can actually be found in Christianity. The question we Churchers should be asking is, “Why don’t they know about them?” We should be proclaiming our roots of them. This is not to say that study and pracice of other religions is at all wrong; it is to be encouraged. But then we should invite them to find what they need in their own tradition as well.

This is what I experienced in my teens. I read up on the other traditions in a wonderful book by Lin Yutang, “The Scriptures of India and China,” a Modern Library Giant. Having so immersed myself, I then wondered if any of what I found, I called it spirituality, could be found in Christianity. It could be, it was, and I returned to the Church when I went away to college and there was a convenient Episcopal church. Yes, I decided that the Episcopal Church was the best vehicle, at least for me.

Second, I think that for authentic religious practice, I and we and they need to be rooted in a single tradition. Once that is more secure, we can borrow from other traditions of practice. Skipping down all the paths, gathering spiritual rosebuds while we may, should not be a lifelong trip. Settle down somewhere, get rooted somewhere, and then you can make the best use of the spiritual bouquet you have gathered.