Ecumenics

A conversation I had earlier brought this thought to my mind.

I am, as one who seeks to find the commonalities in things, constantly drawn to comparative religion. My view of the varying religions of humanity, their supposed differences and the lines so vehemently drawn between them is much like the Sufi who observes that each blind man, although undoubtedly wise, has only his own hand-span of elephant by which to describe the elephant as a whole. In a different metaphor, that I used this evening to describe the limitations of man-imposed impressions of an omnipotent, omnipresent God, the divine is like the ocean, and each religion is a bucket of seawater standing on a different part of the shoreline, claiming that they have the nature of the entire sea in their tiny, limited bucket — when all they really have is the taste of salt-water — and that everyone else’s bucket cannot possibly have the essence of the sea within it. The person to whom I relayed this metaphor said, well, that’s not what my Bible says. And that brought me to another metaphor entirely. For the sake of this metaphor, I will use the word God (which, as George Bernard Shaw pointed out, is the most deceptive word in the English language, for it appears to refer to something that can be defined), but I really mean the underlying energy current that I feel enlivens, informs and embodies the universe. An earlier trip to Barnes & Noble, where I noticed the organization of books into various discrete sections — Religion, Eastern Religion, New Age, Occult, Mythology and Folklore, etc., also fueled the creation of this metaphor.

God is more than the Bible. God is more than the Koran. God is more than the Vedas. God is more than the Dhammapada. God is more than the Talmud, Torah, Kabbalah, Book of Mormon, Upanishads, Popul Vuh, Book of the Dead, Book of Common Prayer, Old Testament, New Testament, Apocrypha and Pseudo-Gospels combined.

God is more than Paul TIllich, Max Lucado, Billy Graham, Dr. Gene Scott, Pat Robertson, Ravi Zacharias, Charles Colson, Robert Schuller and Norman Vincent Peale.
God is more than John Bunyan, Thomas a Kempis, Augustine of Hippo, Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, John Chrysentom, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard von Bingen and Ignatius Loyola.
God is more than Trungpa Rinpoche, the Dalai Lama, Krishnamurti, the Marharishi, D.T. Suzuki, Alan Watts, Idries Shah, Rumi and Ram Dass.
God is more than Silver Ravenwolf, Isaac Bonewits, Ray Buckland, Aleister Crowley, A.E. Waite, MacGregor Mathers, Joseph Smith, Doreen Valiente and Sybil Leek.

That all these books fit onto a single shelf, no more than 20 feet long, says it all. The fact is that God, if it is really GOD, is more than just a bookshelf of “religious books”.

God is the whole library. There can be no measure of knowledge outside the divine realm.

God is the Marquis de Sade, Henry Miller, Henry Rollins, Xavier Hollander, Kurt Vonnegut, Rush Limbaugh, Charles Dickens, J.D. Salinger, James Joyce and even Robert Anton Wilson, too.

God is the Joy of Cooking, the Joy of Sex, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Brave New World, Full Frontal Snogging, The Pickwick Papers, News from Lake Wobegon, Don Quixote, Howl, Moby Dick, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Black Like Me, Mein Kampf, To Kill a Mockingbird, Notes from the Underground, Dead Souls, Doctor Zhivago, A Death in Venice, Steppenwolf and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, too.

Who cares what your book says? Look around. There is not more to Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of, only than what is written down (and as Henry Miller said, how transformed, gutted and utterly emasculated is the word when translated from the mind to the paper), in your philosophy.

Ask the trees. They are the real martyrs of ALL religions — because they died to give you your narrow-minded viewpoint in print.

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