"Back to the Pneumatological Dimension"
John Charmley Wrote:As I stood in Church yesterday (Great Friday) I felt a connection which I have only ever felt in the BOC.
Thank you for taking us in the direction that you have with this great post. Your phrase above about a 'felt connection' is, I think, especially helpful here as we are considering both vehicles and mediums of expression of a generous Orthodoxy.
And, I appreciate your pointer to the mindset of our teachers who have instructed us about an interconnectedness since we were young. This is very insightful and helpful to me personally. With this in view we can consider an overlap in the mindset of some who quote/teach their Lord Christ, and others who quote/teach their Lord Krishna, and others who quote/teach the Buddha Dharma. But, this would be to start another thread I think--possibly even best suited for another website?
All of these groups teach of love and interconnectedness, and feelings whether psychosomatic or beyond are an integral part of what is taught. In fact, it occurs to me that the other two groups above could just as easily begin threads on their sites about a 'Generous Sanatan Dharma' or a 'Generous Buddha Dharma.' As I'm sure you know John, there are divisions and different schools of thought in the Vedic as well as Buddhist traditions in exactly the same way that their are in the Orthodox Christian tradition. The different 'tribes' found in these two groups could, in the same way--methodologically--as we do, speak of the nature, limits, and boundaries of their particular groups in terms of the question(s) of unity and division. These groups have their own ceremonies, rites, and vehicles of union with the divine as well as their own canvases on which to paint, express, articulate their beliefs. But, beyond all conversation(s) about vehicles/Vehicles or even vehicles/Agents . . .for all of these, in the end it seems for both the theistic and the non-theistic philosophies/systems and religions we end up just where you have taken us in your last post! We find either a starting point or a line of demarcation in experience/encounter or a 'felt connection.'
This is so crucial.
This is so subjective.
And, here, John, (the willfully ignorant or apathetic notwithstanding) we find a true watershed, I think. In terms of mindsets which undergird and buttress our beliefs (or webs of belief). In terms of our Foundation . . . for most, I think, the subjective is seen as 'shifting sand' and the objective is seen as 'solid rock.' After all who wants to build a structure on shifting/sinking ground
? But, as you say John, "How do we articulate our belief if not through the medium of a Church?" . . . hence the watershed.
However, and I'm sorry for taking the long way round here; but, if you will allow me to use the word "criteriology" . . .
a.) If one determines his/her criteriology for genuine experience/encounter with the Divine to be a felt connection through a particular Vehicle or vehicles, then how can one limit either one's expression of faith or one's articulation of the faith to the medium of a particular church?
Possibly, John, you remember my babbling about the trip my wife and I took to Natural Bridge, Kentucky last year. We walked into this one particular woods which just overwhelmed us with the presence of God. We found ourselves whispering to each other when we spoke as if we were in a most holy cathedral. Through the vehicle of these mountains, these woods, nature, these plants, trees, cliffs, caves, rock bridges, the running water we experienced a cosmic liturgy
which brought about a felt connection and a genuine experience/encounter with the Triune God in a way equal to or exceeding any divine liturgy
we have attended anywhere.
And, in this sense, to move somewhat beyond 'relationship' to 'personal revelation,' this' was a rare gift where for the first time it seemed that God had revealed Himself to both of us at the same time whereby there was no "word from God" in terms of do this or do that. There was no specific calling or direction given . . . there was just a revealing of Himself. Period. And, this was the most Beautiful 'felt connection' of our lives. In fact we are going back to this same spot very soon. But, do you see what I'm stumbling towards here John? And, possibly you even remember me trying to write about this experience last year on the other site. I rambled and stammered and stuttered worse than normal and I never did articulate what we experienced that day--how (by what means) could I, how could anyone or any group?
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that on the one hand how could we seek to experience/encounter the Divine except through a church? But, on the other hand, as we consider creation, how could we not experience/encounter the Divine outside of a church?
And, as we may consider what it is that differentiates my story above from that of the New Ager, or the Vedantic or Buddhist approach, then we must speak in the language of an historic Orthodox Christian approach. In order to avoid a camouflaging of the fact that the above groups do stand on different shores from us, in order to avoid a rank comparative religion approach, or a bad kind of ecumenicalism whereby love and interconnectedness are the fare of the day regardless of the other antithetical doctrines which the different groups hold . . . there must be clearly defined boundary markers, there must be a hedge around the garden, and in some senses there must be icons and statues used as there are by these groups.
But, if we move from vehicles to a genuine experience/encounter based on the above criteriology I wonder if it is possible that there is not only one vehicle/means for the Christian to meet this criteria. We know there is one Way and this is through a knowing and being known of Christ . . . and, I know some Orthodox just completely blow a gasket when a discussion involves too much definition or systematics (which is just too bad) . . . but, in the rubber/road mode here again John, I have to conclude that there is not one particular group which has a corner on the market as it relates to genuine experience/encounter and in turn a genuine knowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I know there are some who claim to have a corner on the market, although any attempts to ask for an articulation of this position is often met with a gnashing of teeth. But, these aside . . . I have to wonder if there isn't or hasn't been a monk in Roman Catholic monastery, say the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, who hasn't felt this connection in his cell; or if there isn't one in a First Baptist Church somewhere who feels this in his/her pew, or the list could go on and on. But I have to wonder if what has been shared above about a felt connectedness is not determined at all by us, but in fact it is discovered by us in our inner man and is not limited/confined to any one set of walls--in fact possibly, at the end
of the day, this criteria may have nothing to do with walls at all?. . . but, instead everything to do with the Spirit of Life.