I’m doing adult confirmation preparation for an accountant, a student of mathematics and a YMCA executive, so I’ve been forced to think about what I tell them. Here is my brief ‘catechism’ part 1.
The Divine (“God”) is the sum total of all that is beautiful, delightful, lovely, creative and ordered (i.e. just and true). There is a bit of God in everyone and everything: we are all broken off bits of God. “What is not God is nothing; what is not God is no thing.” Therefore, there is God in you and even in me.
God is the laws of science (logos), of physics, of the cosmos, … and much more. God is love. The perfect human manifestation of this is Jesus the Christ whose example and life we emulate as best we can in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Since none of us, despite God within, is perfect, we cock up. This is part of the human condition. Sometimes we do this intentionally and sometimes accidentally; sometimes by things we do that we wish we hadn’t, and sometimes by things we fail to do. We need to acknowledge our own mistakes, our own imperfection and our own helplessness. This is not to grovel, but simply to accept that we are not perfect and not in control, but that we will bash on doing our best as we see it at any moment in time. It helps if we can talk about all these things to a friend from whom we hide nothing. And if you don’t have such a person, a priest will do fine – anonymous or known, it does not matter.
The Divine within is like a pilot light. Incarnation. For us to be fully human that light needs to fill our skins from the inside. What stops it from doing so are things like pride, greed, avarice and showing off. To let it shine and fill us, it’s not that we need to DO something, it’s simply that we need to relax into ourselves, to recognize our pride, greed, avarice and showing off tendencies, and then let them melt away. When you lift up the lid of your psyche, you begin to see all sorts of grubs wriggling around. But then, in the warm light of love, they can begin to melt away as you love the hell out of yourself. This is at least a lifetime’s work.
“And if you want to know the way, be pleased to hear what he did say.” And what JC demonstrated is that we rise to the heights – we approach The Divine – when we let go of pride, greed, avarice, showing off – that is, when ego dies, and selflessness replaces selfishness. Crucifixion followed by ascension.
All the rest, the dogma, the doctrine, is poetry that has collected around the message. Much of it is of great beauty, psychological authenticity and ultimate truth. Some of it is past its sell-by date and should be ditched.