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Constant Scrutiny Over the Church

Updated on April 9, 2012
A Depiction of Christ
A Depiction of Christ

The Questioning Faithful

I am not a theologian. I am not a priest. I have no credentials in the scientific field. But, I have some strong opinions about what the church has done to religion.

If I had to label myself, I'd offer that I'm a Catholic with a scientific bent. Maybe that qualifies me as an agnostic, I don't know.

As a child I had a strong, lasting, enigmatic dream involving Jesus at the Last Supper. In the dream the apostles are situated around a table in the background. Looking through my large bedroom window stood Christ. He stood there looking in at me with an expression that is taking me a lifetime to interpret. The power of the dream was reinforced by the one in a million chance that my sister had the same dream on the same night.

The dream was so powerful that I could no longer sleep in the room -- instead I felt more comfortable on the couch in the living room -- and that lasted for several years. Beyond the period of the dream, I was a typical Catholic boy -- attending to my confessions and receiving communion nearly once a week. Later, I had a break with religion when I made a pact with God who failed to deliver on my request.

I smashed all the icons in my bedroom and gradually convinced my mother that I had nothing to gain from church attendance. I told her that I felt like a hypocrite by continuing my attendance at church.

After a long struggle, she gave up on me.

For a long period afterward, I had no need of the church (or so I thought). I got along fine thinking my scientific thoughts as they dissected the Bible and added strength to my convictions that religion was only for those of a weak and unanalytical mind.

Not until I had graduated college did I plunge my interest into Buddhism, finding it a far superior form of adapting to life than the belief in a monotheistic God and a savior. Oddly enough, my study of Buddhism led me to the works of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung -- both strong followers in the non-coincidental symbolism in various religions throughout the ages.

This led me back to a second look at Christianity. Taken on a symbolic level, Christianity was far more compelling and convincing. Jung advised that any attempt to follow the Eastern philosophies (e.g., Buddhism or Taoism) were bound to leave the practitioner unsatisfied because of different psychological approaches to life. Jung advanced the idea that an adoption of Eastern philosophies would eventually leave a follower high and dry because he/she had been schooled in the analytical/deterministic/scientific brand of thinking. Western-born acolytes could not help but attempt to dissect and explain the basically ethereal/mystical following of Buddhism/Taoism. In short, anyone who pursued that direction would be a fraud to a real, intimate understanding of the supernatural.

This understanding led me to reexamine much of the Western approach to religion and understand it from a symbolic rather than literal level. And this is where I had my second confrontation with the church. I read the Gnostic gospels and other Christian writings that pre-dated the Bible we are left with today. I was left with another quandary. Through additional reading, I understood that in the early formation of Christianity there were various interpretations and writings that were not included in the Bible -- and I wondered why.

For one, I learned that these early Christian documents created inconsistencies that the church did not find helpful. I wondered: Well, even if these writings were not considered mainstream, why not include them in the Bible as an addendum?

Additional reading led me to understand that the Christian Church became a powerful governmental agency, which decided what was heresy on the fly. The power of this religious-based government led to the Inquisition and a thousand years we call the "Dark Ages." The church stifled any antithetical thinking -- including early Christian thought/perception and any form of science -- once considered as a form of witchcraft.

There is no forgiving this thousand year purge of new thinking nor the tortures the church inflicted upon those who seemed to deviate from the "norm" in any shape or manner.

Thus, I came to the conclusion that the church and not the authentic experience and teachings of Christ were what I rebelled against. My current evaluation of the church finds it in a quandary. It makes middling excuses for its involvement in the Crusades, yet still does nothing to incorporate "extraneous" texts from its history.

To my way of thinking the church should incorporate all known Christian texts and let the reader decide how this fits in with his or her perception of truth or falsity. In the practice of treating its following as mindless idiots, the ranks of the church have dwindled dramatically. When I refer to the "church," I refer to the Catholic and Orthodox practices. For me, every other "church" is copping out on one level or another for the sake of convenience.

It's practices may remain strict without having to compromise authenticity. To this day I have no easy explanation of my Christ dream. Perhaps on an unconscious level it points out my ongoing struggle between the rational and the irrational. Though an adherent to science, I fully accept the concept that science cannot explain supernatural events and that these events may occur with far more regularity than currently accepted.

Carl Jung
Carl Jung

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    • EinderDarkwolf profile image

      Sean Bradbury 5 years ago from Tempe, A.Z.

      Very well written. Definitely voted up and shared. Would like to let you know that the current incarnation of the Bible though tells us in proverbs that we are not to have understanding. If we were meant to, I think that is why the Church will not allow the other Gnostic Gospels into the Bible. Just my two cents.

    • Edwinoel Tanglao profile image

      Edwinoel Tanglao 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      A very interesting hub. You encouraged me to look further into Carl Jung's interesting biography over Wikipedia, rj, and his views on his book, "The Red Book," he says, "Giving laws, wanting improvements, making things easier, has all become wrong and evil. May each one seek out his own way, the way leads to mutual love in community. Men will come to see and feel the similarity and communality of their ways," which I find true and seemingly Christian in essence, as it promotes love of neighbors while abhorring evil.

      Buddhism and Taoism may encourage contemplation and deep meditation, as you commune with nature, the cosmos, the environment, but it may lead one to belief in oneself and in one's energies as being more powerful than the belief in one true God, and the danger comes when the 'self' overcomes reality in our being. Confused and lost, evil ways out of convenience may come to fore, further enslaving our hapless spirit.

      Your haunting dream about seeing Jesus and his apostles, perhaps, was intended to wake you up on the realities of your faith. You're not alone in having unanswered prayers, all of us do. But I have learned what greater peace there is in surrendering my 'self' to God's will in Jesus, and not my will, letting go and trusting in God's goodness, love and mercy, as I continuously pray for his guidance, because I know, as I have felt many times, Jesus is always there for me and for my family. Science is a product of man's intellectual gifts from God, that which adds joy and convenience to this life. And the more I use it for the love of God and of others, the more fulfilled I become, for I know, this life is but a test, however short, I may as well use it for him who made us all, getting things done the best I can as I live in the flesh, glorifying him in every way. God bless you rjbatty for your gifts and for keeping Jesus in your heart.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 5 years ago from Kelowna, British Columbia

      A well-written personal exposition of the poetic path of a human being trying to understand...and yes...you are an agnostic, as am I.

      My own personal journey of trying to understand came to many of the same conclusions...the bible is an interesting book of literature with as much missing as is evidence of some sort of supernatural plane.

      In my journey, the supernatural never has come into play...even after three decades of searching from my teens to my thirty-somethings...I finally had to conclude, "no one knows. And it certainly isn't self-evident to fanatic or cynic--it just is what it is."

      I especially agree with your conclusion that Eastern philosophies or theologies converted into a Western-oriented person's life can only lead to frustration and failure--ultimate nihilism--oblivion.

      The same could be said about Catholicism or any brand of Christianity. For example, Mother Theresa was extremely cynical about the very existence of a god--even after decades of service to the poorest on the planet. Her sainthood is much of a farce.

      The cop outs in the bible of not having the "mind of God" or needing "faith in the unseen" are simply too conclusive to be agreeable. I'll take the proof first, and hope for positive results for our species, even tho' the present environs of theological conflict seem to be as bad as they were 1000 years ago--even 2000 years ago.

      For humans to take on the responsibility of self control and planned evolution of our own end game is a "faith" that needs to be addressed--the whole godhead plan has failed irreparably, as the "Dark Ages" were a good example of a failed construct.

      Thanks for the very logical hub...voted up, useful, interesting and awesome.

    • Edwinoel Tanglao profile image

      Edwinoel Tanglao 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Your experience seems to be pushing for your agnostic beliefs, but I continue to pray that one day, you may see the beauty of believing in your heart and spirit. God in Jesus may not have answered all of my prayers but I have never faltered in my faith and belief in him as I know, he knows what is best for all of us. Believing in the life as being temporary has made me understand better the reason for my being, and that is, to be of living witness to God's truth in his words and to remain triumphant over evil by glorifying God in everything good that I do, and this has made whole and blessed in God's loving presence in my life. I have faltered many times before in my faith, but each time, he was always there saving my from my inequities as I may seen the power in his mercy and forgiveness.

      Mother Theresa is never different from all of us, as a human being, she may have had doubts in a way, just as Job has had a testing experience in his faith that in his failures, despite his closeness to God, he even wished he should not have been born.

      Yet, what is amazing in Job as it is in Mother Theresa, and for all those who have once entertained doubts in their minds about who God and Jesus really is, many have found themselves back in God's flock, being able to understand better his message of perseverance in our faith, strengthened by unfailing love for God and of others, then and only then, will we find true peace and joy in our life, and in the life to come, as we learn to keep Jesus in our hearts - or KJOH - as we remain in his light.

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