Monday, December 4, 2006

Justice, Hypocrisy and the Big Question

"Real justice means the attainment of Theosis, the reunification with God who created us in His own image... When that is done, everything within ourselves will begin to work in accordance to our essential nature. Then our minds and hearts will open up and be able to perceive the things of this world with radically different lenses and criteria, spiritual criteria. At that point, justice will be experienced and function, not as commonly understood, but as total, absolute and unconditional Divine love. Paradoxically, what we notice is that whenever humans align themselves with Divine justice as unconditional love, then the laws of logic are transcended and God works wthin them in such a way as to vindicate them both on earth as well as in Heaven. That's why hermits who have attained saintliness are least judgmental with people. One would expect them to be austere and intolerant of human weakness. The opposite is true.
...the meaning of Christ's words, 'Blessed be those who thirst for justice...' in reality implies 'Blessed be those who thirst for the Grace of God.' For God is justice, truth, peace, everything."

--From, The Mountain of Silence, by Kyriacos C. Markides (quoting Father Maximos of the Panagia Monastery, Cypress)

I embraced my faith in a personal way during my teens. It was the unconditional love thing that "got" me. But I always lived with a kind of embarrassment about my faith. I would say, "I'm a Christian, but I'm not the sort who... preaches on street corners, handles snakes, buys air-conditioned dog houses on donor funds, condemns people, thinks religion and politics are the same thing, (fill-in-your-vice-of-choice)."

It was important for me to distance myself from "those people" because overall, I had to be smart. Smart
and good. And not a hypocrite. Churches are loaded with hypocrites. You hear about it every day: scandal, abuse, misuse of money, manipulation, lies. In fact, I've been angry enough at churches in my lifetime that during some periods, I've tried to simply stay away from them. Voila! No more hypocrisy! Well, that was the idea.

But I've discovered, as I've sat on boards, worked for various entities and volunteered in various groups, that every time people come together with a set of ideals there will be hypocrisy. Hypocrisy and vice are in no way confined to religious bodies.

So the big question for me changed from, "How can I find the perfect group?" to "What ideals do I want to live for?" And also, "Who can show me how to live those ideals?"

There's a long story here that I'm not going to tell right now. But here's what I'm discovering: my faith gives me tools to live according to my deepest ideals.

And.... I am a hypocrite.

I live with that in gentle acceptance. The journey is long, the gap between me and the Divine is great. And it is a hopeful journey.