Anyone, anyone?

Another of our ongoing conversations centers around the notion of community. My wife and I both grew up in pretty conservative Christian homes, of which most of that ideology we’ve since left behind. 

Something that sticks around however is the fact that no matter how crazy, off-base and completely out of touch with the reality of most living people conservative Christian theology is, they are pretty damn good at the living life together, supporting sick families and gathering regularly. 

What’s been unfortunate for my wife and I is that when we shed the ridiculous weight of the American evangelical church, we’ve almost completely lost the support we once had. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have great friends who would do anything at the drop of a hat if something catastrophic happened to our family, but it’s the daily, mundane stuff that is missing. Like when my wife, who struggles with autoimmune deficiencies, doesn’t feel well and can barely get out of bed, there’s not a group of people who take care of us like we used to have. 

The crazy part is, we live in the same town as my family, who are still fully immersed in that archaic conservative ideology, yet since we’ve moved on to (hopefully) higher levels of spiritual existence, we’ve been cut off. I understand being cut off on a church basis, that seems legit, but family? Just seems a little skewed, especially if someone were to take seriously the teachings of that first century Arab Jew whom they claim to follow. 

Back to this moment. Is there such a thing as a spiritual, enlightened Christian, Buddhist, peace-loving, ___________ (fill in the blank) community of people who are just regular folks, young families with kids, retired folks who are somewhat interested in mentoring relationships over traveling the world 9 months out of the year? I don’t know, maybe just some people who are interested in true authenticity, engaging the divine (however you like to describe that), caring for a community of people rather than just yourself…

Sounds pretty ideological, but my sense is that there are other folks like us who are searching for that sort of deep connection with other people, we just haven’t found them…yet. We’ve been to all sorts of different churches and we either can’t stomach all the talk and songs about blood, or the democrat process is the answer to all life’s ails. We don’t really fall in either of those camps, more in the middle, or more likely someplace else entirely. 

I’ve thought about writing up a craigslist ad to see what happens. All I know is that this search is kind of exhausting and I’m not sure it should be…

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“Heaven has extreme vetting”

I saw this church marquis sign today that said, “Heaven had extreme vetting.”

My first thought was, so does that mean no one gets in? Or maybe that if you’re white and male you get an automatic front-of-the-line pass and everyone else has to stand in line and recite Hail Marys and Our Fathers as long as their skin isn’t too dark or they call God, God and not Allah, or Universe, or Ground of Being?

Let’s just say, if heaven is a real place, somewhere else, far away, I would certainly hope that the god running the place wasn’t as absurd as we are sometimes when it comes to choosing people to build community with. Further, isn’t that kind of god awfully small, especially if one claims that that same God was the match that lit creation into being?

I prefer a different view, one that doesn’t separate me from this beautifully evolving and expanding created universe. I have come to enjoy life much more when I take time to consider the connections I have with my fellow humans as well as the environment that I depend on for life. It seems like an utter waste of time to segregate ourselves into us-and-them camp, pointing fingers and constantly blaming someone else for the shit in the world. 

As so many ancient mystics suggest, suffering is a part of this world. And no, we can’t escape it by way or heaven, nor can we build walls or institute bans to avoid suffering. That’s just part of the deal. And my view is that my task is to figure out real, measurable, tangible ways to LOVE people out of their suffering, which means I have to engage in it, not ignore it. That also means I must be okay with my own suffering, working through my own turmoil and baggage and being honest with myself about who I am, my limitations, gifts and desires. 

I cannot function out of fear. It causes me to point fingers, take sides and erect walls around my physical and emotional life. I have to actually do the hard work of Jesus and figure out what I means to LIVE a life of love, not just talk about it. 

So no, I don’t believe there is extreme vetting in heaven. Heaven is now, and as my (I wish he actually was) pal Rob Bell says, we can choose to build a heavenly realm here, as Jesus prayed, or we can choose to continue to live in our own prisons, hell, and insist that others be as miserable in this life as we are. I prefer the former, so that’s what I will do.