If Europe is spiritually comatose, America must be spiritually schizophrenic.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, 2002 calls schizophrenia a “disturbance in thinking involving a distortion of the usual logical relations between ideas, a separation between the intellect and the emotions.”
That disconnect between intellect and emotion drives much of our post-modern approach to “spirituality.” We seem eager to reject thousands of years of revelation for a nostalgic paganism: god as life-energy-spirit living in earth and water, plants and animals; gods and goddesses who hid secret wisdom for us in the writings and practices of ancient cultures; goddesses within who open the way to self-empowerment, self-actualization and peace with all living things.
On Sunday, Jews and Muslims in Tucson walked and prayed together for peace in the middle east, a cause worth applauding. Our newspaper covered the event with two photos, one of which I’ve reprinted. The caption read: “With burning sage, eagle feather and microphone in hand, Patricia Flores, an ordained fire woman, performs a traditional Mexica/Aztec blessing to send the crowd on its way…”
The Mexica, aka the Aztecs, were one of Mexico’s most successful (and brutal) warrior nations. They were polytheistic and believed the world had been destroyed 4 times by Huitzilopochtli, the vengeful god of the sun. Only by sacrificing humans in large numbers could Huitzilopochtli be appeased, and the world saved from another apocalypse.
Conquered enemies were carried to the top of a temple-pyramid where they were held down while Mexica priests sliced open the victim’s chest and cut out his (or her) beating heart as an offering to the sun god. The lifeless body of the victim was rolled down the steps of the temple and later eaten.
I’m betting they didn’t teach those inconvenient truths in fire woman school.
Aztec is a beautiful language. I’m certain the Mexica had some pretty cool peace prayers. But the Mexica achieved peace through take-no-prisoners military conquest, not by holding hands and singing songs.
Maybe I’m being too hard on the fire woman. I’m sure she’s sincere. Like most post-modern spiritualists, she has cobbled together an eclectic spiritual smorgasbord, looking for something true and good and holy.
Wiccan literature frequently talks about practicing good magic, casting good spells, and praying to good spirits. Earth worshipers believe Gaia is a “good mother,” whose energy can lead us to a place of balance and peace.
We seem to think we can re-create the world as we’d like it to be.
Even Judaism has opened its doors wide, welcoming Madonna’s gnostic Kabbalah with its secret wisdom, Buddhism with its focus on inner enlightenment, and even polytheistic Jews. I’ve heard it said more than once that the only belief incompatible with modern Judaism is the Messianic Christ. Ironic, to say the least.
The allure of hand-crafted spiritualisms is obvious: it puts us in the driver’s seat. Our most beloved god (or goddess) is us, after all, so why not?
Christianity points out that the Big I has been at the root of our greatest spiritual fiascoes, going all the way back to Adam and Eve’s naïve belief that they were more hip to spiritual truth than God, their Creator.
I’m often tempted that way myself. As you may have guessed in reading these pages, I’m opinionated. I read, I think, I make judgments, and I like to think I’m right. I believe in myself. Most of us do.
Really, though, I’m like the drunk who is convinced that he’s perfectly sober; all of us have a diminished capacity for making sound spiritual judgments.
Humankind wandered through history, bumbling, stumbling in the darkness, until God the Creator offered us some guidance from above.
Angels appeared to Abraham. Moses was given the Ten Commandments. God whispered words of encouragement to Elijah.
And yes, God came to live among us in the man, Jesus Christ.
He came into the very world He created, but the world didn’t recognize Him. He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. — John 1:10-12, NLT
For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity — the man Christ Jesus. He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time. — 1 Timothy 2:5-6, NLT
Without revelation, without God’s hand on our shoulder leading us to His truth, we are doomed to follow those fevered inner voices of our schizophrenic minds. We’re seduced by our self-love and deluded by our self-confidence. We talk ourselves into believing that we must be gods.
The true God came into the world and we didn’t recognize him.
Photo credit: Kelly Presnell, Arizona Daily Star, 26-mar-07
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