When there’s not a word for how I feel, I make one up. Word roots, prefixes, suffixes… etymology gives me braingasms.
So, when I started to work out exactly what I think and feel about religion and the world, my “oh snap, time to make something new” muscles started twitching.
I’m always interested in the feel of things – how they interact, how they jive, etc – as well as the larger purpose behind everything. Lately, things with religion in our society just hasn’t felt good. When people express their beliefs via the only shared space we have – public – it usually comes at some group’s expense, and that feels bad. When believers feel shut out of society, they feel bad. Ill will has been running at a surplus.
And I just can’t deal.
Having been brought up in the church, and being related to so many Christians (some of whom are rad-modern; others are trying to do what they believe is right), and having had unique experiences exploring my own mind, beliefs, values, and being educated in government and politics… well, that’s an interesting cocktail.
I feel uniquely-suited and compelled to create new ideas for how we all relate.
I had to do it in my personal life, to reconcile the ways I diverge from my family, to not get so furious at them (because my liver could only take so many more holidays), and to do the good stuff Justice. Because I want my people to feel ok in the world, which takes the ways they fit in my mind and applies it to the way they can fit into the bigger picture.
It feels as cathartic as it is necessary to embark on a new model for fitting us all together. Now THAT’S inclusion.
So, I thought about the different ways people approach god and religion. There’s atheism, but that doesn’t solve the riddle about how to incorporate theism. There’s apatheism, but I feel quite opposite of apathy about it.
Religion is a very real influence on many peoples’ lives, so it holds importance in that way. And it’s THAT that is so compelling. The guiding principles that underlie the many religions are where the answers seem to lie.
Since we can’t compel everyone to be the same, and we can’t reconcile many religions, we CAN look at the Whys & look into the ideals from which they all came. Instead of an apathetic “Who cares?” I can ask, “What does it matter? What’s important here?”
Coming to that end felt much better during this process. It opens the door to development. And when I started to look through the words related to finding the apex, the fundamentals, the macro ideas.
And that’s when I came across the word Apotheosis.
- the highest point in the development of something; culmination or climax.
- the elevation of someone to divine status; deification.
It gave me goosebumps… what a great word! Say it like Hermione from Harry Potter (“Lev-i-o-saaaa….”) So, I looked up the meaning of “apo-” as a prefix. It means “of; from; in descent from” among other things.
I stuck “apo” on the front of theology to make:
I’m using it in a way to focus on the things that come out of theology. The preliminary definition of apotheology is: “the study of the importance of god and religious belief.”
The meaning of it all — from those inspired to explain life the ways they did to the significance of the various figures to the lessons that can be gleaned from the stories — is the meat. Those fundamentals and larger lessons are where we may be able to find common ground on a human level.
An inquiry into symbolism can provide similarity. You don’t need the 10 Commandments to think we shouldn’t kill each other. You don’t need to call *it* “God” to experience the same connectedness or awe in nature as someone who does. You don’t have to follow Buddha to reap the benefits of meditation. You don’t need everyone to believe the same as you to find out how we can make our society better.
And here’s the best example I can provide for what I mean:
Growing up, I had a Jewish friend and a Muslim friend. I was Christian. The day we all learned that everyone else has different beliefs was the day some things changed in the interpersonal dynamics at school. It was really weird!
It almost felt like we all weren’t as close after that.
But us 3 had too good of a connection to leave completely. As we got older and our interests diverged more, we grew apart, but kept up with one another and would check in periodically. You never lose that love for someone.
One day, without thinking about it, my Muslim friend said she’s pray for me as I entered into my first round of law school finals. It seem weird at first, especially because of the stigma, but then I remembered who she was to me and what she meant by it. And it definitely WASN’T unwanted (your girl was buggin’!).
The superficial was in the way for 0.2 seconds, and then I looked at the meaning of the situation: You pray for those you love.
It didn’t matter to me that she was praying to a god she called something different and thought of differently than I had learned — it mattered that someone was using the way they know to do good.
And I think we need more of that.
Do good in the way you do good.
And if we can start to look beyond the superficial diversity to the things belief systems are truly getting at, we can say, “Hey, here’s the goal… do you as you get to it.”
How bout this one…
We all have different phone numbers. We have different types of phones, and different plans from different providers that connect the phones. But we can still connect with them. And – more importantly – think about the cadence of telling someone your number!
All this to say: Someone is coming up with ways we can work together, individually. I’ve got crazy love for y’all & am tired of seeing all these unnecessary fractures.
Now, use whichever device you’re on to holler at me.