12 March 2008

Dear Drummers,

I may be one of only a very few people in our drumming community who have a deep, almost obsessive fascination with Christian evangelicals. Zealots are amusing until they get control of the army; then there is always trouble. History has shown us again and again that the more assured religious people are about their god, the more certain they are to use violence to shape the world.

But I have always admired evangelicals’ passion for their myth, and truthfully I admire their ability to spout certainties without wincing. Clearly, I am on the other end of that spectrum – I can barely say a few words about faith without backtracking, joking, and apologizing for the apparent hubris I am displaying. Well, that is a very old dichotomy in the life of religion: call it the tension between blinded faith and blinded doubt.

Three years ago I was listening to a radio interview with Rabbi Michael Lerner, an amazing thinker and speaker (http://www.tikkun.org/rabbi_lerner/bio). Someone asked him about the power of the religious right and he said, something like “Oh, that movement is already over.” I was astonished at how he could say that given the evidence to the contrary and also wondered how he could be so sure. He said that people are attracted to the conservative mega-church for the comfort it offers, but after a few years, they start to grow up spiritually and they just can’t be told anymore exactly what to believe – they assert their God-given talent and desire for personal exploration of truth, more subtle, nuanced and more beautiful. And more helpful to today’s immediate challenges.

Well, perhaps he was right. We see the neo-con paradise crumbling everywhere, and we see the puff-chested, sword-wagging, One-Truth-spewing men in red-striped ties scrambling to hold onto one last corner of their constructed empire by turning on one another like cowards, or more often, we see them jumping, trying to find a place to land where they can still make easy money by waving simplistic, large banners of fear and narcissism. For an interesting article about several prominent architects of the religious right and their repudiation of the movement, see (http://www.alternet.org/rights/78818/). One of my favorite quotes in the article is from Frank Schaeffer: "Pat Robertson would have had a hard time finding work in any job where hearing voices is not a requirement." Well, perhaps my fascination with these folks is that I see myself as just as nutty as I see Pat Robertson, except I’m a lot funnier.

There are many reasons why the Christian right is crumbling, and many books are being written now about it. One thing I’d like to point out is that “Christian conservative” is a completely inaccurate name for this movement. The real word is “Christian totalitarianism.” Apart from the fact that the neo-con policies have been revealed as sham, I see a theological reason for the crumbling, and it is this: if you are spiritually minded, you are seeking to come into contact with a Divine Spirit of love. The spiritual life is all about seeking love. Big Love. Cosmic Love.

Christianity came on the scene originally as a Bhakti Path – the Hindu name for the path of love, the path of ecstasy and openness. Jesus apparently healed anyone who asked, and his healing power is said to spring from his direct contact with the god of love. His main message was love, love, and love some more. Love God, love one another. Love enemies and strangers. Forgive and love more.

It is difficult to believe that the god of the Christian totalitarians is a god of love, and I think people have grown weary (for now) of the idea that if you repeat something often enough it becomes true. The totalitarians’' god is primarily a punishing god, as he must be to keep people obedient to the movement and to set people against one another which gives them the illusion of real spiritual energy.

If people move out of that myth, I believe it is because they need real love, not fake, twisted, abusive love. They need real love from their god so that they can recognize real love in this life and so that they can radiate real love and attract real love in this life. They need real love because life is hard and confusing we make a lot of mistakes and we need Big Love to help us through each day.

And so this brings me to Grace – a Christian word that I see as synonymous with Big-Cosmic-Love. To me, Jesus was and is all about Grace. Grace: Cosmic love, the love of the creator, given to everything that comes into being in this universe. Given freely, without conditions, without limit, without question, without doubt. And to me, the drum is all about that same love. (So by the mathematical transitive property of equality, Jesus is a drum. I believe that.)

This Friday we will drum our way down the Bhakti Path, the path of divine grace, the path of opening to Big Love. I’m not Jesus; I can’t promise anything except to try to open the door a little for you to peek through, or step through at your own comfort level. But let us drum the door open together and see where the path leads.

See you soon, Jaime

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