Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Arms of Jesus/I Am Lucifer (good vs evil or what is the point?)

My youngest has been influenced by his teenaged and young adult brothers and loves their music. Right now, he loves Black Sabbath. I do not like Black Sabbath and am encourage him in other musical directions, like Hendrix and Led Zep, but you know I'm mom and not nearly as cool as the other drummers in our house, especially the heavy metal playing oldest brother.

Hammy recently gave Carmac his old Ipod so Carmac goes into his room and cranks up music and plays. Which is great except that he listens to "War Pigs" and "N.I.B." and then goes around the house singing "I Am Lucifer" which is rather strange coming from a seven year old.

We had several discussions lately about what's appropriate for a seven year old to listen to and repeat and what's not and why. Carmac's understanding of things is pretty sophisticated for a young child--he knows there are some things that are ok in our home which aren't appropriate at other places because people might be offended. A child singing a song from the viewpoint of satan would definitely count in that category.

The thing that made it a little difficult is that Hammy and I don't believe in satan so we've never taught our children anything about satan. I know my mother has talked with each of them about accepting Jesus and not allowing satan to lead them to hell (against my explicit request that she never do that) but they seem to have successfully avoided internalizing any of it.

The fact that I don't believe in satan, or hell or the need to be "saved by the blood of the Lamb" is the thing that separates me from pretty much most other Christian people. What's the point of Jesus if nobody needs salvation?

Good question. For me, Jesus is the teacher, guru--my Messiah. Jesus exemplified how I should conduct my life. His teachings live because they are an eternal model for how we may live in God.

I don't believe in satan. I do believe that we all have "that of God" in us and when we ignore It and act willfully (ego) the potential for evil is created. I think the further one strays from being connected to that of God, the more harm one does oneself and the world around. I also believe we all have endless opportunities to reconnect ourselves with that of God: Redemption, Grace.

Perhaps it's easier for people to understand an entity leading them astray--snakey looking red dude with a pointed tail and horns or "devil in a blue dress" or whatever. "The devil made me do it". An external force against which we must be ever vigilant. Something that uses any tool or weapon to seduce and overpower us unless we gird ourselves with the armor of God--the Bible, hymns, prayer, baptism, communion, etc. Kind of like a moral H1N1 flu virus. Wash your spiritual hands constantly or you'll catch the evil and spread it's wickedness.

That seems, in some ways, easy. Accept Jesus into your heart to be your personal savior, follow these step-by-step rules, do what you're told and you'll be:

Safe in the arms of Jesus, safe from corroding care,
Safe from the world’s temptations, sin cannot harm me there.
Free from the blight of sorrow, free from my doubts and fears;
Only a few more trials, only a few more tears!
But accepting that model, to a large extent, absolves us of our personal responsibility in our relationship with God. If I believe that as long as I do A, B and C I will win a seat at the left hand of God when I die, I don't have to really listen to what God may be saying to me right now. If I follow the "thou shalts" and avoid satan by not doing the "thou shalt nots" I'll be in good standing and ready to meet my maker.

My brother may call it "spiritual relativism" and my mom says she'll pray that I'll return to the fold but my way I understand it is that God speaks to each of us and calls us to our own truth. We are to learn to listen to that Guide so we can live our lives as directed by God, not by a church or a preacher or a set of rules or social norms. I think satan is our own ego-driven willful nature and salvation, as shown and taught by Jesus, comes through listening to what God is actively telling us to do, by living for God and reflecting God's love for us. The gift of doing this is learning, growing into and being fully who we are--who God intends for us to be, in harmony with our true nature, our Original Face. No punishement for not doing that except the discord and disharmony of living a life disconnected from God and our true selves. When we live for God, we are able to use all of us, including our human ego, for God. That, to me, is salvation. That, to me, is living in the arms of Jesus.

1 comment:

Eric H-L said...

Some days I want to have an exorcism for my kid's ipod!

Lately I have been struggling with part of what you write about:

"...listening to what God is actively telling us to do, by living for God and reflecting God's love for us."

For many years I have believed in God who infuses all of reality, but is not actively telling us what to do. As I learned more about Quakerism I realized that my personal theology conflicted with some spiritual practices that I felt drawn to. A few weeks ago I had a very emotional opening when I realized that my beliefs could change and evolve. I was working alone in a large building with tears of relief and gratitude on my cheeks. Part of my opening was an instant awareness that believing in God who is an active partner is only a first step. You (and others) have written very well about how hard it is to listen and follow.
Perhaps my choice of words hints at some of my challenges. I was searching for a less hierarchical expression and thought of the word partner...