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May 17 • Is Dogma Man's Best Friend?

Day 678

I took a photo at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall (or Western Wall) that shows a Jew, a Catholic priest, and an evangelical pastor all praying next to each other, with each having a hand on the Holy stones of this Holy site. Invariably, when I show that photo in a church, someone asks whether I think God is hearing the prayers of all three. I add that there was also a Muslim friend of these men of faith praying at the mosque up on top of the Temple Mount a couple of hundred meters above them. That seems to ramp up the intensity of the question even more. My first answer is that I do not know with certitude. What I believe is that God is always pleased to hear from His children that are seeking Him, regardless of the correctness of their dogma. Are there magic words known only to the leaders or followers of a single faith tradition that forces prayers to be answered? I doubt it, but I genuinely do not understand how the God of the universe parses such problems, and I don't think anyone can know, regardless of their holy protestations. I'm pretty sure that God is bigger than any box we can attempt to put Him in. I have too many friends that would say that I am diminishing God by not confining Him to their perceptions. I think it's the same concept that I've found to be so newly satisfying in 12-Step programs. The phrase that has previously bothered me,

"...God, as we understood Him..."

is not an 'anything goes' allowance for re-making the divine in our image, it is merely a reaffirmation of what goes on in religions across time and geography. We are seekers. We can do all we can to find God, but in His time and for His purpose, He reveals himself to us in whatever fashion He chooses for our clarity. How we receive that revelation will change our life, or it won't, depending on whether we are still trying to craft Him into incomplete notions from childhood and traditions. I'm not saying that there is no right way for us to approach our Higher Power, I'm just saying that there are people all over the world that are betting their lives, eternal as well as mortal, on knowing that they have the specific and unique understandings of how God wants it done. It is not reasonable that they can all be right in their certainty, and at the cost of damnation for everyone else. My Higher Power is not what I want it to be; it is what it is, and my wantings do not change anything. But I believe and have experienced this truth: If we seek God, He will find us, and we will understand His role in our recovery. Of course, I'm just a sex addict; what do I know?


–JR

 


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