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The Church Of All That Exists November 22, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Those of you who’ve had the poor judgment to spend any amount of time here probably know that I’m a Recovering Catholic. I was reared in an over-the-top Catholic home, went to church and Sunday school, said my prayers before bed and Loved Jesus.

But a schism developed when I was a teenager. I had learned about too many Crusades, too many Inquisitions. I saw too much money flowing inexorably upward, from the frayed pockets of The Poor to the Gilded Basilicas of the Vatican. There was too much dogma, too much hypocrisy, too much disregard for Earthly suffering, too much finger-pointing, too many distortions.

There was too much othering.

Even back then, this was important to me, not as a concept with a word attached, but as a visceral feeling of something-not-quite-right.

So I left the Church and wandered in the wilderness, coming to rest before too long in the strong arms of Mother Earth and the warm light of Father Sky. I wrapped myself in Nature, and found it to be a tapestry woven of All That Exists, with nothing superfluous and nothing lacking.

And I saw that it was good.

I’m happy to say that I’m not alone, here in the Church of All That Exists. I’m rubbing elbows with all the good people who now live or ever have lived, and all the flawed people who ever strove to be good. People of peace and love and vices, people of empathy and compassion and countless human failings. The living and the dead, the children of the future, the Ancient Forgotten Ones.

The Peacemakers are here, not in perfection, but in intent. Siddhartha is here, teaching about letting go of the material world, and about having respect for all living things. Gandhi, with his bullet hole, is here; his wife has forgiven him. Dr. King is here, still advocating for social and racial justice, though it astounds him that so many still cannot see.

He’s listening intently, sadness in his eyes, to the contrite tales of nineteen young Muslims who learned to fly, but not to land, because they believed their God demanded that of them, that they give their lives for social justice, as had Martin two generations before. I feel them struggling beneath the weight of the innocent souls surrounding them, asking “Why? Why me?”

There is no right answer, at least not a clear one. The Church Of All That Exists ask only about intent.

“What were you thinking?

“Were you giving of yourself, or were you taking from those with less?”

The Lion is here, lying down with the Lamb in its jaws, doing only what it must to survive. There is no evil in its heart, no malice in its mission.

But not all who live, not all who do, not all who take will be welcome here. The Rumsfelds who sit at a safe distance as they send their neighbors’ children off to die for the profits of the already rich will not be here. The Hitlers who categorize and contain and exterminate for the attainment of their own goals will not be here. The Cheneys who sneer at the pitiful poor who are ground into dust by their For-Profit-War-Machines will not be here. The Phelpses who revel in the suffering and deaths of others who are not like them will not be here.

Nor is my tenure here certain, guaranteed, preordained. My love of All That Exists is not enough. To stay here, to live and die and remain in this place, I must own it, embrace it, commit to it, to the air and the water, the rocks and the trees, the lion and the lamb, and the people. Caring is a necessary first step, but it’s trying to make a difference that makes my bed here.

There are many different paths to this understanding. Some have frescoed ceilings and gilded statuary; others have the humble trappings of a neighbor’s house. Some have choirs and pipe organs; others have the deep stillness of the Silence of Friends.

Mine has a dome of stars, patient and serene, with thin clouds scuttling by, their edges back-lit by a waxing moon. Mine has the low moan of wind over the surrounding hills, and nearer, the rattle of beech leaves refusing to fall. Mine has the bracing cold of hoar-frosted moss, crisply crumbling beneath my knees, penetrating my jeans with an awareness of this world as I bow down to my Mother Earth, humbled beneath my Father Sky, asking for a way to make a difference.

I know it won’t be easy, but on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful to The Church Of All That Exists for teaching me that I must try.

Comments»

1. DCup - November 22, 2007

This is me, not quite sure what to say that could even begin to approach the beauty of what you’ve written here.

So I’m just going to say “I wish you well, R. And Peace.”

2. Tengrain - November 22, 2007

Thanks CR – as another fallen angel (well, Episcopal), you really gave words to many of my thoughts.

Blessings to you and yours,

Tengrain

3. littlebangtheory - November 22, 2007

Sometimes I feel as though I’m casting my deepest thoughts to the wind here. It’s awfully nice to know they’re noticed by you folks, people for whom I have such a deep respect.

Thanks for stopping by. – Ralph

4. Phydeaux - November 22, 2007

*standing ovation*

words are insufficient….

5. Blue Gal - November 22, 2007

lovely. just lovely.

you’re finally finding yourself here, CR. your voice is far more than what it has been. It’s great to see you blossom.

6. Jennifer - November 22, 2007

Yes. To this. All of this.

And as I’m sitting here trying to find something to say here, you’re over there taking the words out of my mouth again:

The importance of finding friends and companionship in this strange, new way. It means more than words can say.

7. littlebangtheory - November 22, 2007

Wow, of the highest kind. I’m amazed and humbled when actual people read my ramblings, and a little scared. I mean, the inspirations, the moments of clarity come so infrequently, I’m almost afraid to loose the words, like maybe there won’t be more.

But your kind words help, and I’ll keep thinking and writing.

Again, Thanks.

8. distributorcap - November 22, 2007

great —– like all the above say
i wish for you and yours a happy holiday

9. beatgrl - November 22, 2007

ditto
he he, no really…I agree with what the others have written

Thank you for giving our church a name. Your thoughts were very touching. Glad I stopped by tonight.

10. Politics Blog » Blog Archive » Thanks. But no thanks. - November 22, 2007

[…] I’m walking around my house singing this hymn. I want to do a special shout out to Cunning Runt at Little Bang Theory, who has a really lovely post up and who knew he was capable of just this kind of beauty? You […]

11. sherry - November 22, 2007

beautiful and true. you said it far better than i could, another recovering catholic and happy little pagan baby!

happy thanksgiving.

12. Ghost Dansing - November 22, 2007

i boinked over here from Blue Gals and glad i did…. very nice post….. human beings can become aware of God in many ways….. religions are only one way. interestingly, for me anyway, is the insight (you can have it too if you want it) that religions are more “about” God than “of” God; artifacts if you will of humans-seeking-understanding-of-God but necessarily falling short.

ironically, the existence of multiple religions themselves provide empirical testimony to the presence (or maybe a-presence) of God from the perspective of human existence….. what is missing is perfect apprehension of God, and what we do is anthropomorphize God; tell stories and build religions about God.

to say that one can find God in the “Church of All that Exists” is at once a statement of the obvious and a profound statement of truth in the sense that Existence itself is that through which God is revealed to our limited understanding, and in fact the only context in which we can seek to understand God.

one might come to the conclusion that God is always the God of human misunderstanding. perhaps that is why at least one Christian mystic suggested that to know God we should seek to no nothing. perhaps that is precisely what we know of God; nothing. perhaps in the final essay we can only know of God from within the Church of All that Exists.

by the way, for those concerned about atheism; atheism is always a matter of simple negation….. atheism is always a negation of something be it a tacit concept of God, aspect of a Church or Churches, and sometimes correctly stated (though often not completely understood by the proposer) “God does not Exist”.

we exist….. not God. we exist as that-which-is-not-God.

13. boxer rebel - November 22, 2007

Another wonderful and touching post CR. I wish you well.

14. niCk(MemBeth) - November 23, 2007

I have always been a pantheist. I wish I could express this view as well as you do. Thank You.

15. ellroon - November 23, 2007

Wonderfully well said! A splendidly perfect hymn of praise to ‘The Church Of All That Exists’. Thanks!

16. littlebangtheory - November 23, 2007

Yer Welcome, to all who say “thanks.” And really, you picked a great day for it.

17. FranIAm - November 24, 2007

Oh CR, this is so amazing. You have put this all so beautifully. What a gift you have.

You know I had left the church and then returned (this year marks the funny spot… I was away for 18 years and now back for almost 18)so I understand the going.

My own coming back- well that’s another story for another day.

If you are on this earth and you bring love, live love and infuse all that you do with love -then I think you’ve found a way.

And I have no doubt that this exactly what you do. That may well be the Church of All That Exists. And what is better than that?

Peace brother.

18. littlebangtheory - November 24, 2007

Gratefully Embraced, Little Sister. 😉

19. QuakerDave - November 25, 2007

Awesome post: nicely done.

Keep THIS stuff coming.

20. suzy - November 25, 2007

I am going to print this to put with my other devotional readings.

Blessings.

21. littlebangtheory - November 25, 2007

suzy, glad it was meaningful for you. I’m honored to think anyone would actually print this out, and encouraged to hear that it’s a perspective valued by others. Thanks for stopping by.

And Dave, good to hear from you. Would you do me the honor of e-mailing me? ralphmunn@crocker.com

Thanks.

22. Shawn Annis - December 5, 2007

My cat still kills and eats mice , even though I feed her Friskies nuggets…………….will she be there ?
(heh heh)
Sorry Ralph , but you know me , I must laugh at beauty as well as evil .
Nice post !


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