Wednesday, July 2, 2014

perfection

The theological tradition in which I was brought up (at least when it was emphasized) had an emphasis on "perfection," in the sense of a divine work of grace that removes all desire to sin.

Well, sometimes. It would seem certain folk need several helpings throughout their journey. Others are just born with it.

God is a God of order, therefore our inner spiritual house must be and will be set to perfect order.

This ideal came from someone's personal notes over a century ago, loosely based on an established doctrine and a new movement formed around it. Some scholars went to lengths to prove it from Scripture, splitting hairs with Greek verb tenses to make it be truth.

At one point when talking to a pastor, feeling secure in my "work of grace", I actually uttered "it's lonely at the top." As I know my heart, this was not out of conceit, but out of an observation that I knew of few others exercising the same amount of vigilance. I was brought up to keep the bad stuff out, period. Most folks seem to struggle with that, for me it was binary. Do or not do. With most stuff it's that easy.

My perceived sins were at that time were measured against the de facto evangelical ethic. Upon further reflection, and not surprisingly, it's really more "sins of omission," missing opportunities to make the world better rather than rushing in and making it worse. And so, an aire of perfection.

In high school days, when I first started a serious relationship with a female, one of the great older dudes at church pulled me aside to relate a familiar story, about younger days alone with a girl and they almost crossed the line. He choked up and hugged me.

One of my favorite phrases from over the years: "all perception is projection."

Thing is, for some of us the life quest is not to have, but rather, to understand.

But when we filter all the bad stuff out, never watching R rated movies for fear of losing purity, we don't get to see the stuff that has something to tell us. Kinda hard to plant flowers without getting dirt on your hands.

And so curiosity is libido, knowledge is currency, wisdom is maturity, love is inspiration, ideas are everything.

It's true, those of us living in our heads demand a high degree of order. The girl I dated back when used to say my family was "perfect", we acted perfect, which contrasted her home life with a single mom and 8 kids (literally) that was anything but serene. Her mom was the same age as my siblings, so the generation gap came into play, my folks just didn't have much time for disorder, and that happened fit my temperament  just fine.

Not surprisingly the notion of "Christian Perfection" is not really being kept alive, to the church's credit things seem to be more people-focused (felt needs, etc) rather than slamming heads with a rigid doctrine. Besides, in today's society religion is now a choice rather than a mandate, so why would most folks tolerate that if they don't have to?

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