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Introduction - Fr. Erik Weaver


FrErikWeaver
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Hello,

 

I found this forum because it is linked to from +Spong's web site. In the past few months (it is currently Sept. 2013) I have found that I agree with perhaps 95-98% of +Spong's points. One cannot expect to completely agree with the views of others, but I obvously find his perspectives pretty comfortable. I have enjoyed most of the YouTube interviews with him that I have watched so far. I came across an excellent sermon he gave (

) discussing the bible as a lens upon human psychological development. Much of the Hebrew bible is written from the perspective of a tribal god. Tribal gods hate who we hate. Jesus' message was radically different. His Abba was one of Love. This is a much more highly refined sense of spirituality. This is a reflection of the human understanding of God changing over time.

 

Another person, who ranks high on my list of favorite speakers, is the late Prof. Ron Miller. He gave a number of talks to the Theosophical Society (http://www.ronmillersworld.org/tag/theosophical-society/), and I highly recommend them to one and all. He is (was) an amazing speaker! I am always challenged to raise my level of consciousness when listening to him.

 

I love to read, so I think it is appropriate by way of introduction to offer a few books which I thoroughly enjoy and/or find enriching...

 

In terms of pure entertainment, I am a great sci-fi fan! This genre also includes "swords and sorcery fantasy" novels. I guess I tend to prefer longer works, provided they are well written. The titles that come to mind include: Dune; Chronicals of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever; and of course, The Hobbit / Lord of the Rings, which is perhaps my favorite book of all time.

 

Of books that I have read which I consider "required reading" for anyone wishing to better understand faith development, James Fowler's "Stages of Faith" tops the list. In my opinion it should be required reading for anyone wishing to enter a ministry position. For that matter, I find it extremely informative for anyone who wishes to better understand their fellow humankind.

 

On my spiritual journey:

 

I was raised in the Midwest in several "flavors" of Protestantism. I spent a couple years in Baptist grade school. But pretty much as quickly as I was able I dropped out of church, and instead worshipped at the more common youth altars of drugs, sex, and rock'n'roll. Religion really had no bearing on my life for the next few decades. This is not to say I felt disconnected with my spirituality. Not everyone understands this, but I suspect it is pretty common. This is why we hear as a common phrase: I'm not religious, but I am spiritual. This makes perfect sense to me. And if mainstream churches fail to respond to this they are going to miss an opportunity to serve a great many persons. But that is a discussion for another day; as is the discussion whether mainstream churches even have the resources to adequately respond to this group.

 

Flash forward to what I call my mid-life crisis. I simply felt I had ignored a more rigorous spiritual quest for too long, and that I had to find the deep end and jump in! This I did. I ended up with a religious studies degree, and was deeply committed to exploring comparative religions. Among the more beautiful and simultaneously informative sacred scriptures I have read are the Upanishads. I highly recommend the translation by Eknath Easwaran.

 

But I was still experiencing a major problem. Despite my wide studies, I was unable to find any religion to which I felt I could identify. Was I destined to wonder the lonely path of a undefinable spiritual quester? A stranger in a strange land (the title of a sci-fi book I very much enjoy), with no home and no heritage?

 

Then I read "Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition" by Richard Smoley. It was a pivotal book for me. This book helped me see there was a form of Christianity to which I was able to respond: Esoteric Christianity. One might call this Spiritual Christianity.

 

To appreciate the difference with mainstream Christianity, one must begin by seeing there is an external Church and an internal Experience. The external, or exoteric, includes all the trappings of the organized, institutional Church engine, with its politics, accounting, land management, etc, etc. The esoteric, or inner experience, is the spiritual aspect of one's faith/practice. The outer, exoteric is "religion" and the esoteric, inner is "spirituality." One might say the exoteric is more objective and the esoteric is more subjective.

 

Another point of refinement that makes a difference to me is understanding the experience of one's spiritual practice is also what some call mysticism. And of special interest to me is that mystics of very different religions often get alone better with one another than they do the exoteric counterparts in their own religion/faith. For me, mysticism offers both a means of drawing closer to the experience of the Divine in my life, as well as to draw nearer to other fellow seekers of the Divine, regardless of their outer expression in terms of religion. (My only hard limit is that one expresses God in terms of peace and love. I have no place for a God of Hate or Murder. In fact, I consider the greatest affront one may make to God, to be to commit murder in the name of God.)

 

Once I came to these insights with regard to the esoteric, mystic, inner expression of spirituality, I was then able to accommodate its expression through the exoteric religious expression with which I was most familiar, Christianity. It was at that point I delved into Christianity deeply. For me, I found the Old Catholic tradition to be the best fit. I like that it centers its worship and ritual on the Eucharist (communion), and that it tends to discount "preaching" ad nausium. Having attended seminary I find I have a low tolerance for most preaching, because I now know the foundations of most of it are misunderstood; additionally, for me personally, they are usually not directed to where I find spiritual meaning.

 

But to be fair, this is a matter of one's stage of faith. Those in an earlier stage of faith are more likely to respond to mainstream Churches. So to find a Church in which one is going to be most comfortable, one must match one's stage of faith to a church which is predominately of that stage, and preferably leaning toward the next stage of faith (so as to foster continued spiritual development).

 

And for an Esoteric Christian, the choices are few and far between. Such is life on the tail of the third standard deviation! heheh

 

That's a reasonable overview of my spiritual journey to date.

 

I recently began writing a blog which I have entitled, Seeking the Divine Center: Troubling Thoughts & Spiritual Growth (http://eriksholisticcornucopia.wordpress.com/). Anyone interested in my thoughts or spiritual perspective can obviously find out a lot more about me by reading my blog posts.

 

Guess that's it for now.

With blessings,

Erik+

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Hi Fr. Erik,

 

I enjoyed reading about your journey. Mine has been very similar with the obvious exception that I didn’t become a Catholic priest! I’m a cradle Catholic though, and didn’t stray far from that until the last few years.

 

I have shared your interest in Christian mysticism, but since that is such a vague concept to me, it was mainly the Christian (Catholic) mystics that interested me. They were people like St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, and Nicholas of Cusa, to name a few. Some contemporary Christian mystics I have been drawn to are Simone Weil, David Steindl Rast, and Bernadette Roberts. These were/are all people who, for the most part, came out of contemplative monastic communities, and generally accept the purgative, illuminative and unitive schema of the spiritual life.

 

Outside of obvious doctrinal differences, I see no real distinction among contemplatives/mystics of all religious traditions, a point which you made in your post. In other words, they are all attempting to accomplish the same thing, couched in terms appropriate to their particular religion/tradition. Just what this “accomplishment” is remains a mystery. People call it enlightenment, the unitive state, theosis, and many other names, but I suspect it has no name, and cannot be known other than through non-conceptual cognition. It has been called the Tao, but then, we can’t even call it that. I think it is where we find ourselves when we come to the end of the Via Negativa, and realize we haven’t gone far enough.

 

So much for all of those words. You seem to be very knowledgeable in these areas, and I look forward to reading more from you, Erik.

 

Peace.

Steve

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Welcome Erik,

 

I see you bring quite a broad spectrum of knowledge concerning Christianity and other religions with you. I am looking forward to your sharing of your insight and perceptions with members of this community.

 

Again welcome,

Joseph

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