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Lori Casey BSN MDiv., BCC-PCHAC
Hi All, Lee, am I posting responses and topics in the right place? It looks like there are a lot of responses to the topics but I cannot see any- just the initial introductions.
Reading about the student whose charge to BBT was “If you really are a Christian, then are you going to help us see what is wrong with these other religions?” reminds of my younger, weaker, spiritual self. In my faith development, it was imperative for me to know I was “on the right path,” that I was following the “one True God,” and that this God did not allow for the worship or serving of other gods (Ex 34:14; Dt 4:24; 5:9; 32:16; Ps78:58). There were severe consequences if you deviated too: Dt 6:15; Ex 20:5 etc… For me, it wasn’t until I was in seminary that my understanding of God and how God comes to all people became so much bigger than just through Christianity.
I encountered patients in the hospital who were so insular in their faith (*but more denominational beliefs) that they did not want me a woman, and/or a Methodist coming in to their room. But, I also learned much from my patients about the bigness of God. For several years I have been going to a Spiritual Director in Louisville who has expanded my understanding of God as well. Sometimes I felt like I was loosing my faith, only to discover I was just “growing” in my capacity to see God in others and other faith traditions. I especially like a quote BBT writes (p24) illuminating the fact that many of us have only known how to describe reality through our Christian lenses. “The Lens is not the landscape,” she writes. “It is a way of translating the landscape so that people can walk upright on it, making some sense of what happens to them.” In chapter one, I really resonated with her desire to “make connections with more traditional Christians” by finding the Scripture verses that would help open the door for them to consider another point of view (p21).
Although I fully embrace God’s great gift of sensuality, I guess there was enough Puritan influence in my United Brethren upbringing that there is a separation (for me) between worshipping a holy God and enjoying/embracing sensual feelings. In bathing a deity as a part of devotion/worship there would be sensual feelings that maybe are an expression of our humanity- I don’t think this would be comfortable for me. I look forward to what others think about this too.
I love the way BBT intertwines the Hindu faith traditions, the road trip to the Hindu Temple and the different worship forms present that day with Christian thought and her own understanding of the rituals and symbology. But in her describing the meaning of the rituals and symbols, I certainly have a greater appreciation for Hinduism. She helps me see things in a new light and she names our issues, like the Christian struggle to “endorse” more than one way to God, the Hindu understanding that we must all find our own path to God, and that we cannot make judgements based on observation- we have to know the deeper, richer context or meaning about and for things.
I love how she describes her feelings as the prayer service/worship time for Vishnu unfolds. For me, the taking the liquid, the crown and the almonds could be nothing more than the receiving of something precious offered by another. I would not have to actually worship Vishnu- but out of love, the Hindu priest offered Vindu’s gifts to the class/people. Out of pastoral care for distraught parents, I have baptized dead babies at their request. I think God sees so much more in giving and receiving, in the actions of love and care.
I was so happy to see that BBT’s student Mariah stayed in the class and had an epiphanal class project.