Friday, February 11, 2005

Your Karma Ran Over My Dogma

I feel like I'm in college again, with four books going at the same time. Recently I dropped everything, however, to finish "Seattle and the Demons of Ambition" by Fred Moody, a local writer who chronicles the dot com boom in my beloved city. The same boom that made some of my friends millionaires -- at least on paper -- overnight.

On page 140 I found this gem:

"When the flaming, boiling sphere (in science, religion, social life, art) cools, the fiery magma becomes covered with dogma -- a hard, ossified, immovable crust" (from Evgeny Zamyatin's essay "On Revolution, Entropy, Dogma and Heresy")

I quote it here because I think one can make a good case for Laestadius as a reformer who attempted to rescue the (Swedish) church from ossification after the revolutionary reforms of Luther. Unfortunately, he did not have the vision to see what his extremism would engender, or if he did, he thought it was worth the price. In his letters, one can see him worrying about his severe "law sermons" and admitting that he must add some "grace" in them (disguised in parables) to give hope to the awakened.

What would Laestadius think of his current followers? His "fiery magma" is now dogma, perpetuated for tradition's sake, not for any reformist goal. Or so it seems to me.

Monday, February 07, 2005

I Bow to the Truth That is in You

micahverse

Recently the children made collages by tracing their hands and feet on paper. They were learning the verse from Micah:

"Do justice . . . love mercy . . . walk humbly with your God." Isn't this one of the loveliest bits of the Hebrew scriptures?

I put their collages in the kitchen where they can inspire me while preparing dinner or washing up. Little hands symbolize justice, little feet a humble walk, and the paper hearts, love of mercy. As a recipe, it's as simple as boiling pasta. Wish it was that easy to live.

In the OALC, I was raised to focus on the last part only: humility. But what is it to walk humbly? Is it to focus inwardly (on one's unworthiness), or to act outwardly, with compassion toward others? Is it to "rebuke" and "find fault" or to "give of one's own godliness" through acts of mercy and kindness?

(This is not only a Christian concept. The Dalai Lama says that by practicing compassion we create happiness and peace in ourselves.)

What a different world it would be if, when we greeted each other with "How are you?" or "God's Peace" or "Salaam" or "Namaste" or "Sat Nam" -- our hands and feet and hearts echoed our words.