A voicehearer’s path ~

Archive for September 18, 2008

Cults ~

“…if you believe in it, it is a religion or perhaps ‘the’ religion;
and if you do not care one way or another about it, it is a sect;
but if you fear and hate it, it is a cult.” Leo Pfeffer. A humorous quotation, but one that is uncomfortably close to reality.

This is so true of how we perceive one another’s religious views, sad to say. I come to this subject because I have seen recently the slinging of that word at such long term religious groups as the Hasidim.This group of believers has been with us for generations, they do not proselytize, and do not fit any of my own criteria for “cult”.

That word has come to have so many meanings that are derogatory that using it is as bad as using any other four letter word. Originally it’s meaning fit any religious group any where, but it has come to be associated with whatever group was out of favor at the time. It is so disrespectful of another’s sacred space to call their spiritual affiliation a cult, and we should not do that to one another. The above gentleman is Matisyahu, a rapper musician whose sound is both pleasant and unique, he sings of the glory of Hashem as much as I can understand the lyrics, and I do believe I could become a fan, he also happens to be Hasidim.

At Religious Tolerance, a website I rely on for objective information when it comes to those faiths unknown to me, speaks of cults, it’s where I got the above quote. I like what they have to say. If we cannot come to the understanding that there is only one G-d with many different names, then we need to at least respect our neighbor’s faith so long as he respects ours. This is something we need to do with determination. I am aware that we have had so much misunderstanding through the generations that it will take much patience on the part of the many, but the goal is worthy.

Pentecostalism ~

I lived for several years as a Pentecostal, called myself more a “full-gospel” believer. I have no difficulty with the idea that honesty and integrity should be in the white house, but that is not the thrust of any thing I ever learned there. I do have that particular bent of mind that wants to know truth. That is not what you are served in Pentecostal churches. You are served the “Truth” as seen through the eyes of pumped up ministers raising the roof each Sunday morning to “waken” the congregation to Gloooory. As a voice hearer, this path did not help me, as there is little here to ground one into this world. The people of this belief set often become so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.

That’s not what I needed. But, it doesn’t make the Pentecostals devils. They are as human as any other person on the planet. When they “sin” it just seems so much bigger because there is a call to holy living that is part of this path. Pentecostals believe very much in miracles, in the laying on of hands for healing, and in glossolalia, or “speaking in tongues of men and of angels” from 1Corinthians chapters 12 and 13. Pentecostalism is extreme Paulism, and I have already been quite frank about my feelings for that perspective.

My biggest argument with the entire charismatic movement is the idea that anyone who believes differently will burn, not with the flames of the Holy Spirit, but in everlasting damnation. Quite a word picture, that, eh? And a bit contradictory. If God loves us as much as put forth in this perspective, God will make a way back for all souls, not just a few.

But, there is something else you must understand, there is no knowing where Sarah Palin stands with her faith, for the entire concept of a woman running for high office is foreign to most fundamentalists who would not accept a woman as a preacher. Take her as she appears, that she believes God has a plan for all of us as individuals, that she believes God has a plan for this world, i.e. the social problems in the Middle East. That prayer will put that plan into action.

Now, I do not want Sarah Palin in high office. That is a personal preference and has to do with the fact that she is bound to be against any sort of abortion. She may believe in abstinence only as a form of birth control. That is not realistic, even among the children of the Pentecostals themselves, witness Sarah’s daughter. I do not want the fundamentalist perspective running our schools, in any way.

I have no wish for a person from a condemning faith to be in charge of disasters in any way, shape, or form, as most fundies believe that disasters happen for a reason, and someone in that cataclism was disobeying God, so God punished a whole slew of people to get to the one who was disobedient. I quit buying into that perspective a long time ago. God’s reputation is that Hashem would lift out a person of faith from a disaster about to happen rather than destroy good people just to punish one.

The perspective from which Sarah comes is not one that equips a person to lead a melting pot. She is fine as the mayor of a small town, she probably does well leading the people of Alaska, though I wouldn’t be sure of that without looking at her record. But, we must look at the entire nation. Is she adaptable enough to lead a Buddhist from San Fransisco? Or will she think of that person as coming from Gommorah, and therefore be dismissed? I can’t be comfortable with that.

Tag Cloud