"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Soul "de-tox" and spiritual hunger

Physical health-conscious Americans toss the word "de-tox" around a lot these days. 
That means there must be tons of toxins in our society. It makes you aware that America's processed, and fast foods are full of toxins--poisons that were foreign to us two generations ago perhaps when a majority of Americans--rural Americans-- ate a lot of home grown food
 I have a friend who gave up caffeine, soft drinks, most sugars, all alcohol and more for a period of 30 days. We have anti-toxin green teas and other foods we're supposed to eat. People exercise and do yoga to cleanse the toxins out of their bodies.
So it caught my eye when I learned of a "soul de-tox" group this past year, thanks to an invite from a friend.
'Why do our souls need de-toxifying?'
The first reaction was a question, about the title naturally (pun intended). I was leery at first, based on my religious background and experience. I had a  prof once who said he was a "recovering fundamentalist." I understand better now, I think. I have more questions than I have answers these days--about, well everything.
After about six months of gathering Sunday evenings in an Edmond home, I've come up with more questions, and that's good. There are usually about ten people or so who show up. Most are regular fundamentalist church goers who consider themselves Christians, though there have been atheists, Unitarians, and well, me. It's not a Bible study, but a study of spirituality, based loosely on different books that we  read and discuss.
Significantly the first book they were in the middle of when I arrived was "Living the Questions," about progressive Christianity. 
I've never asked the question, where did you come up with the title for the group, but I've figured out how appropriate it is, by enjoying the informal hospitality of these people.
First question is, "Why do our souls need de-toxifying, especially among church goers?" 
If that question disturbs you, then you already have a hint. And if there is a need for such a group, there must be tons of toxins affecting souls in this very religious state.
In this group there are no have-to-believe rules, no 'thou-shalt-nots." There is no judgment for anything said or believed,  There is an openness and acceptance for all viewpoints.  There is a realization that spirituality and religion are not necessarily synonyms.
And at the very foundation, most telling, there is a hunger in their souls not being fed by organized religion.
So what are the soul toxins? The opposites of the previous two paragraphs.
  • Being afraid, or forbidden, to question religious beliefs
  • Narrow-minded exclusion of others
  • Thinking America is God's chosen
  • Believing Jesus was white
  • Putting God in a box
  • Believing only one religious group is correct 
  • Using organized religion to promote political ends
  • Being responsible for enforcing  religious doctrine on others
  • Short-sighted view of the rest of the world
  • Believing mankind is more important than the rest of creation
  • Having to "go" to church to be spiritual
  • Having to be correct in every religious observance
  • The complete inerrancy of the Bible
There are more, but it seems to me that these toxins separate the soul from God, Allah, or whatever you choose to name of the spiritual creator, and/or the source of  spirituality. They keep you from being spiritual.
It is ironic that this small group is very akin to what First Century Christians did on the first day of the week...gathering in homes for support and spirituality...before the Bible was written and organized religion took over.
'...much spiritual hunger in Oklahoma and America.'
The group has helped de-toxify my soul--my spirituality, or at least start. I'm no where near the smartest or well-read person in the group, and my sins are many and I have lots of questions, but they don't care.  I  attend because I'm hungry and organized religion didn't feed me nutritious food--which was also my fault. I write this not to preach--it is only valid for me. You don't have to agree and I'm not offended if you don't. 
But I see much spiritual hunger in Oklahoma and  America. I heard one person say they were "home-churching" their children because the churches were so mean and judgmental and political. When Hal Holbrook was at UCO a week ago, his quotes from Mark Twain on organized religion causing hatred and wars and narrow-mindedness a century ago struck a chord with today's crowd. 
"S0ul de-tox." I wrote part of this in my head last night, "de-toxifying."
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Another person on this journey is  a former member of the Church of Christ, who became an alcoholic, who has become a tattooed, profane female pastor in the Lutheran church, ministering to the lower classes not welcome in most organized religions. Her book is Pastrix, available on Amazon. I learned this from my son Derrick on my last visit to Columbia, Mo. Here's a Washington Post story on her.
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(I avoid politics and religion as subjects in this blog, because there are already plenty of such blogs, for one reason. Another is that nobody wants to hear someone else preach or gripe. And, no matter what you write, you're not going to change any body's minds on those deeply emotional subjects. Plus, I respect others' beliefs. Who am I to judge? But I do try some satire, some off-the-wall approaches to dealing with religious and political issues and hypocrisy, and when they overlap with my specialty, "news" media, which happens all the time, but I try to address that from a media viewpoint. And here, well, it's just on my mind.)


4 comments:

  1. There is much hunger in Oklahoma, in America too. There is also much hate. People forget who "the least of these" are. Or the fact that they could be entertaining angels. Nothing is as it would seem.

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  2. Very interesting. Wish I could be there. Religious and philosophical discussions were de rigeur at the kitchen table when I was growing up. We were encouraged to question everything; the answers led us back to our Catholic faith. What's more, we were instructed to always separate Catholics from Catholicism--that's where most religious discourse goes off track. (If you haven't already done so, read "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. The story revolves around the murder in the name of God of a young Mormon woman and her daughter. The author gives a lucid explanation of how reasonable people morph into religious zealots. BTW, mark my words, with the legalization of same-sex marriage, legitimate polygamy is next.)

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