Thursday, July 07, 2005

between sacred and profane

So my friend and I have a deal worked out, if she goes to church with me, assuaging my curiosity to see what a service at her Unitarian Universalist church is like, I will willingly go to a strip club with her. Which may be just as enlightening of an experience, the way things have been going in my life. Amidst all the intense partying that's been going on lately I've spent hardly any time trying to understand the intense spiritual urges that have resurfaced in my life over the past year, much less learn how to put them into practice. I got a copy of Gustav Gutierrez's A Theology of Liberation today and what impressed me through reading the introduction was his insistance that it is not enough just to theorize (or theologize) about the need for the Christian faith to embrace and assist the poor in radicalizing themselves, but to actually get down into the streets and do it. Of course I'm in a very different place in my own spirituality right now. Though I was raised Catholic I never bought their conception of an external and anthropomorhised God, but at the same time I don't reject that there is something useful in the myth of being more than just one individual self at odds with the rest of the world. Call it a communion with life, perhaps, or a celebration of the diversity that coexists in our world. The Unitarian Universalist faith, from what I understand in having read little about it, practices a faith in which there is no set creed or religious dogma, asking that its particpants adhere to a set of seven principles promoting human dignity, justice, truth, interdependence, etc, which I already stand behind in my own life, and peculiarly remind me of the layers of consciousness. Talking to Katie about her experience with the UU she mentioned that their rituals were often pagan influenced and there was no mention of God in their teachings (if not a downright disbelief in "Him"), favoring instead an emphasis on the human community.

Of course, my own beliefs as they now stand are perhaps a bit more radical leaning and self-transcedent, being shaped as they are by intense personal experiences of interconectedness to all life and a great deal of anarchist and quantum physics thought. Not that these beliefs are at all formalized, and if anything change too much with each day to really be pinned down into a cohesive theology. Not that I don't try. Ironcally I don't often get much chance to "talk religion" amidst all the insane parties and art shows, and it doesn't come up much in conversation, even frightfully little among my housemates who could perhaps be classified as zen existentialists, and much more inclined to wax spiritual than other of my dear friends. Especially the anarchists, who in their ideals of "no gods no masters" often find it fit to reject the benefits of spirituality and faith alltogether and deride those among us who are spiritual for being weak or closed minded and hypocritical. I know a few punks who are openly christian, but don't talk about it for fear of repreisal, and even the Pittsburgh Punk legend's Gunspiking's singer wrote a song called "Methodology of a Book Burning" to address all the shit she's gotten from her peers for being an anarchist catholic. Which isn't to say that this keeps anyone from practicing their beliefs however they choose, and even I still manage to sneak in a few "prayers" before my band goes on stage.

Oddly enough, a good number of my most intense spiritual experiences have happened at raging parties, or when walking down the street and paying attention to the social climate and crumbling buildings of the city. I don't have my Rumi book in front of me, but a good number of his poems extoll the illuminaing virtues of getting really drunk. I guess that would be one of the tenants of my practice, that even the most profane or mundane of situations can contain the same element of meaning found in meditation or ritual worship or the intentional use of certain mind altering chemicals. In fact, there have been many times when I was a kid at church when I found the whole situation to be absolutely banal, if not most times, and more recently many occasions that ought to be considered potentially spiritual where the mind rebels and just can't believe the absurd zealousy of the whole thing. I would rather have a sunny day in Bloomfield or a late night porch talk about the most inconsequential of things. The spiritual dimension is not in the events but in the way we approach them, more a mindset or an openess towards the importance of an event in not just our own lives or "God's life" or society, but in a synthesis of them that still leaves room for us to have no clue towards understanding the essential mystery of being here in this weird world.

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