December 08-B, 2022

Ramsey Creek 02 11/07/2011 Oil Paint Rendered — Greenbriar District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cosby, Tennessee
My advice about what to do with Christianity
is to keep the metaphors and symbols
and throw away the theology.

God, for instance, is a metaphor,
not a fact.

A metaphor for "More than words can say."
Like the Tao, in that 
"The Tao that can be said/told/defined/explained,
is not the eternal Tao."

Or, perhaps a better translation of the Chinese,
"The path that can be discerned as a path
is not a reliable path." (Martin Palmer and Benjamin Hoff)

The metaphor for both God and the Tao
is an aspect of our unconscious,
which we call our interior universe/cosmos
because we are not--and cannot be--
conscious of it,
but, there is more to the interior
than there is to the exterior
(My personal theory,
but if you will spend some time 
exploring your interior,
you will know what I'm talking about).

All of the metaphors/symbols of Christianity
are perfectly charming
and are set to help us do the work of 
aligning ourselves with the invisible/unconscious world
that has always been understood as the ground,
the foundation,
the source,
of this world of visible, concrete, apparent reality.

We have to understand them as such
and know how to read them in ways
that lead us along the way.

This is the appropriate place of the church
in our life,
but the church is as clueless as the rest of us
regarding how to work with metaphors and symbols,
and insists on facts, facts, facts,
when there are only metaphors
(And that is all we need).

So, we have to find our teachers
and learn what they have to show us.

Joseph Campbell is one of the best.
Classic Taoism is a wonderful source of insight.
Zen is what happened when Taoism met Buddhism,
so Zen apart from Buddhism is a helpful resource.
Both Zen and Taoism are grounded in metaphor
and have no theology,
nothing we have to believe,
just things we can do,
like emptiness, stillness and silence, for example.

Anything that connects us with the unconscious
and gets out of the way is helpful,
and Carl Jung has some things to offer here.

Jon Kabat-Zinn's early book, "Wherever You Go,
There You Are," is a good guide for tapping into
our unconscious.

Our task is to learn how to live symbolically,
in waking up,
realizing what's what
and what needs to be done in response to it,
and to do it,
in each situation as it arises.

"In each situation as it arises"
is an early (That is to say, Classic) Taoism phrase
capturing the essence of what we are about.
Each situation is different from the last one
and unlike the next one,
and no system of theology/ethics/morality
can depict what is to be done there.

"The spirit is like the wind that blows where it will,"
and not even the spirit knows what it will be doing next.
It all depends on the situation
and on the circumstances impinging upon the situation.

We live moment-to-moment
and know what to do when, where and how
by being on the path that cannot be discerned as a path,
listening to "That Which Knows" within,
and responding spontaneously,
with sincerity and integrity
to what is being asked of us
in each here/now of our existence.

Living light on our feet,
riding loose in the saddle,
ready for anything,
contriving nothing,
striving only to be aligned with,
in accord with,
the unconscious,
moving in conjunction with the mover,
and loving every minute of the life we live.

Amen! May it be so!


Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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