Monday, September 6, 2010

Losing our Innocence

Something happens when we grow up and find that the Bible stories we learned as children are not literal stories.   'If they are not literal then they must not be true.'  Our child self says.
It can take a while to grow to the place that says 'these stories may not be factual, but they are true.'  It takes even longer to get to the place where one can say,' 'Today, this story is true for me and there are stories in this book that are not true for me today.'

Many folks mourn the loss of innocence of an easy faith.  Of a predictable Godde.  Of one right answer.  The ambiguity of life and faith becomes a great big ole stumbling block.  Developmentally, we are Thomases, "If I can't see it, taste it touch it, then it's not true." Or put more simply, 'Prove it."

But the loss of innocence can be the beginning of wisdom and righteousness.

When I think of the concept of social contracts and what I call 'spiritual contracts' I think of the many contracts to which we subscribe.  A social contract is the implicit agreement of a people that organizes society.  In the United States we are organized around the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Following that line of reasoning a 'spiritual contract' is the implicit agreement between members of spiritual group that organizes their group like the ten commandments and the Golden Rule (love your neighbor as yourself).   These contracts can be approached in a couple of ways.  One is, 'if I keep my end of the contract I (me and mine) will be 'safe' (physically, spiritually, economically...).   Or two, if I keep the contract I will be called to be a deeper, braver, more conscious person in the world, I contract to that which calls me to be a better person, that calls me to a higher ideal, regardless of my personal safety.

I may be simplifying things, but that's at the core of it.  Since 9-11 and Katrina, we have lost the last shred of our innocence in this country.  We realize that we can be and are as capable of evil as any other people.  But we have this thing, this social contract, that calls us to strive to be a better people.  It's called the constitution (and the bill of rights) and though we have lost our innocence (again) we have not lost our contract.  I hope it keeps calling us back to trying to be the nation that was dreamed into being, however imperfectly, over two hundred years ago.  The question is 'how do we improve our contract now that  some of its flaws have been revealed?'

The same goes with our spiritual contracts.  When we lose our innocence over our simple understandings of religion, do we throw it all out?  I should hope not (or I'm really in the wrong business) or should we examine how well we are fulfilling our contract?  Are we willing to fulfill a spiritual contract so that we might deepen spiritually,  become more fully human,  more conscious of of ourselves, others and the Sacred in the world?  Or are we holding on to that get-out-of -jail free card that keeps us from some imagined hell?

It's a challenge.   Lose your innocence and become angry, bitter and hopeless.  Or lose your innocence and become righteous.   Lose your innocence and become wise.  Lose your innocence and become conscious.   We're  all pretty much going to lose our innocence.  What is left is  how we  choose to respond to that loss.

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