Monday, May 8, 2023

Good News about upside of being a heretic, article by Barbara Brown Taylor

 from her book- Leaving Church

Women priests and our community in Sarasota and the Upper Room
We are modem-day happy heretics!

“Where Mother Church is concerned, those who stray furthest not only forfeit her protection; they may also be shunned as heretics by those who stay home. 

I have Elaine Pagels to thank for the revelation that the word heresy comes from the Greek word for “choice.”

 Early on, before the Christian church had a solid center, a wide variety of people who all called themselves Christian understood the Christ in a wide variety of ways. There were the Ebionites, who understood him as a thoroughgoing Jew. There were the Arians, who understood him as an exemplary human being, and the Docetists, who understood him as God in human disguise. For almost three centuries, these choices existed in wild disarray.

 Then the emperor Constantine, in his imperial wisdom, understood that a faith with no center would never anchor his crumbling empire. So he called all the bishops together, fed them lunch, and asked them to say something definitive about the nature of God in Christ. He asked them to sort through the choices and agree on one that the Christian church could go forward with. This required many more lunches and some theological bloodletting as well; but, when the bishops had finished crafting a central confession of Christian faith, those who did not choose this option became known as heretics. 

In my closet I have a T-shirt with many of their names on it, which I wore to bed while I was sleeping in the wilderness: Matthew Fox, Hans K√ľng, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Martin Luther, Menno Simons, Meister Eckhart, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, Galileo, Copernicus, Peter Abelard, John Scotus Erigena, Tertullian, Origen, Jesus. All of these people made unauthorized choices in their love of God. They saw things they were not supposed to see or said things they were not supposed to say. 

They wondered about things they were not supposed to wonder about, and when Mother Church told them to stop they did not obey her. Some of them died for their disobedience while others were locked in their rooms. Still others were sent out of the house and told to never come back. Many of them are spiritual heroes now. At least one of them is revered as the Son of God, but none of them got where they were going without passing through the wilderness first. 

Given their amazing comebacks, might it be time for people of good faith to allow that God’s map is vast, with room on it for both a center and an edge? While the center may be the place where the stories of the faith are preserved, the edge is the place where the best of them happened.”

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