I haven’t posted in a while, but I thought is was time to get back on schedule. I have had some good reports lately of people who have gleaned from the writings, and podcasts. This weekend I have been pondering this idea of the open mind. There are so many adjectives we use in our culture for the types of minded people; earthly, heavenly, evil, innocent, simple, dirty, intelligent etc. What these descriptions have become are mere labels, or ways to categorize and identify ‘types’ of people and or thinkers. I would like to continue the thought of the contrast of the closed mind. I produced 4 podcasts on the subject of the closed mind, and blindness in the latest ‘Walls and Fences’ series.
Somehow in our culture if you possess an open mind then you are objectified immoral. In our religious culture open mindedness is kin to the double minded man, or wishy washy. Our culture beats the drum of the moral majority, but in a subtle way that supposes that there must be an immoral minority. I think its a great concept, but a bad idea; it is just another way to fragment us. You see the Ego and Carnal mind can not survive without labels. If we all become ‘one’ then the Ego would cease to be, but don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon. I have been telling people for a few years that modern day Christianity has shrunk it’s purpose down to being blessed financially, and being a good moral person. We reinforce our ideological ways through our belief system. Anything outside of our current belief system is shunned as heretical, erroneous, and shall I dare say demonic. This is unbelievable in my mind because non of us would be where we are had we not had an open mind at some point in our lives. I am not convinced that the sum total of Following the ‘Way’ is to champion morality.
Im not implying that we should not live in the best morals that we can, or have a strong faith in God. What I am pleading with people to quit trying to defend your morals, and beliefs. It just doesn’t translate well when we do this. What you in essence are doing is defending your faith, but feeding your ego at the same time. The Close minded person is the one that is unmovable in his beliefs and morals, and secretly suspects those different from him as immoral, and lacking real faith.
I personally know amazing moral people that are not of the Christian faith. They work hard, help others, love their families, and are honest as the day is long. So morality alone isnt the purpose or criteria for Christianity. I know some Muslims, and Buddhists, etc that are great moral people.
Open Minded means: ready to entertain new ideas, open minded impartiality; unpredjudice (inclined to respect beliefs that differ from my own)
Closed Minded means: Not ready to receive new ideas, narrow-minded, lacking tolerance or flexibility or breadth of view.
‘It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain and thought without accepting it’ – Aristotle
So while I may respect the opinions, beliefs, and ideas about life and religion that are not like mine, it doesn’t mean that I have to agree or disagree. To agree or disagree puts me back in the Ego and suffering mind. I have learned to accept what is, and focus on ‘living out’ my truth. My faith is that when and if I do that, then I might have opportunity to share and enlighten someone else who believes different than me. St. Tertullian was a disciple of St. Peter. He coined this phrase that I love so much, “Preach Christ at all times and in all ways; but only when necessary use words.”
The thing that I have found it makes me appreciate my path and values even that much more. We have grown up in an us and them world for way too long. We have preached against things more than for people and Christ. I saw a few posts on FB this week talking about our kids growing up in a world of no absolutes. Well sorry to inform everyone but it is the result of us talking and not walking.
So craziest thought to me is if I befriend a Muslim does that diminish lesson me as a person of faith? If I have gay friends does that somehow make me an immoral person? The truth is the people that fight the hardest against something are not sure of their faith, or their belief. The heartbeat of the Pharisees was the fact that they chose the side of Principle over People. Jesus chose People over Principle every time. I mean He practically broke every principle the poor Pharisees held to. But He remained pure! This is the mystery of life; to the pure all things are pure!
St Paul says that there must be diversities, or differences of opinion among the brethren. True community is not real until we stay committed and connected beyond our differences. It is an old adage, but we truly have to come to a place to be different but not divided. I love the dialogue that I have with my colleges of the faith, we value new opinions, we maintain our own, and many times agree to disagree. But it makes us more authentic and genuine. My Bishop used to tell me all the time, “When you resign from being the Master of your Own Universe, life will become much easier.”