Friday, October 4, 2013

Theological assumptions: there is "that of God" in everyone, and you gotta dance when the Spirit says dance!

For my Stillpoint spiritual direction program, I was asked to list some of my theological assumptions. Here is what I came up with. I think it's an excellent exercise. What are your theological assumptions?
1) There is "that of God"--a sacred spark, divine wisdom--in every one. This assumption is based on the Gospel of John (who says "the Light that enlightens everyone was coming into the world") and also what George Fox, founder of Quakerism, enjoined Quakers to do:  "Walk cheerfully over the earth, answering that of God in everyone." The idea that "there is 'that of God' in everyone"  has become a core belief of liberal Quakers (even though we don't have a creed!). Quakers call this "the Inward Light."
2) Everyone has direct access to God/Christ/Spirit. There is no need for intermediaries, like priests, sacraments, rituals, sacred texts, etc. "You already know. The Spirit is with you and the Spirit is within you," John 14:17, qt by RIchard Rohr in Naked Now.
3) No one has the whole truth.  Everyone has a "piece" of the Truth--and that piece, however limited, is extremely important. That's why Quaker value "open" worship in which everyone has a chance to speak, and we must come to Unity before acting as a corporate body. I also agree with Rohr's observation:  wisdom is knowing the limits of knowing. Cf. Socrates: "All I know is that I know nothing."
4) "Continuing revelation." Truth isn't static, something revealed two thousand years ago. The Holy Spirit continues to inspire and reveal to us new aspects of Truth.
5) Compassionate listening. To listen compassionately, we must let go of preconceived ideas and judgments and "listen from the heart" without judgment. This isn't easy; it takes practice and training.  Quakers have a query (open-ended question) in which we ask ourselves; "Do I practice the art of listening, beyond words?"
6) Emotional honesty is crucial to spiritual growth. Something I learned through Quaker worship sharing, my teacher and friend Gene Hoffman, and therapy. Our access to Truth is often blocked by ego defenses, self-will, fear, unhealed wounds, self-deception. To be honest we need to find/create a place where we feel safe and accepted. We also need to find someone we can trust and open up to.
7) Silence is one of the most important tools for experiencing God/Truth/Reality.
8( Limitation of words: the Ultimate Reality cannot be reduced to a verbal formulation. "Saying must be balanced by unsaying," Richard Rohr.  Opposites can both be true in a spiritual sense. "My yoke is easy and my burden light" and "take up your cross and follow me."
The "promise of paradox" (Parker Palmer). Spiritual truth is paradoxical; it can't be reduced to logic:  "To save your life, you must lose it."
9) Community. Whenever two or more are gathered, the Divine is present. Our spiritual growth deepens when we commit ourselves to living in community, whether it be a church, marriage, spiritual friendship, etc.
10) We are created to love and be loved by a Loving Creator. Love and friendship are the core of spiritual life. (Hence the real name of Quakers: the Religious Society of FRIENDS.) I believe Christ is the best teacher of Love.
11) Peace. We experience inner peace when we follow Divine Guidance (rather than our ego compulsions). True peace springs from holy obedience.
12) Laughter and dancing and joy are essential spiritual practices.   At the dawn of Creation, Wisdom danced and took delight in what God made. (Proverbs 8:27) If we are open to Wisdom, She will continue to dance within us, thank God! (One of my favorite Quaker hymns is "Lord of the Dance.")

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