Nikolai1

My interesting email conversation

Recommended Posts

So a bit of background: I'll shortly be returning to my home country, the UK, and this will allow my to resurrect my working life beyond teaching English and looking after children.

 

I'm entering my late thirties, but it is still possible that i could start a traditional career, with at least 30 years of working life ahead.  As my overwhelming passion and drive is towards the religious life, I have always wondered whether some form of ministry might be for me.

 

So I wrote the following email to the Church of England careers advice, and was careful to be honest at the outset about my beliefs.  Here is what I wrote:

 

In recent years I have developed a deep and, I feel, authentic relationship with God.  Obedience to God is overwhelmingly the driving force in my life and I have little doubt of my vocation.

However, powerful experiences have led me to realise that God is essentially in a direct inner experience that cannot be expressed well by any words, services and rituals.  Everyday church life is important, but distinctly secondary in my life when compared to my everyday prayer.

Secondly, my experiential understanding of God has made it very clear to me that all the other world religions are, in their own way, referring to the same God.  I see no conflict whatsoever between being a Christian and a Buddhist or even an atheistic yogi. Indeed, I frequently find other traditions and their scriptures to be equally inspiring as the Bible. I therefore can no longer, in good faith, express particular allegiance to the Christian Church, nor allegiance to Jesus as the unique Saviour.

I worry that this would disqualify me from pursuing any ministry in the Church of England.

I would be very grateful for any advice.

This morning the reply came back most promptly:

 

Dear Nick,
Thanks for your email and for telling me a little about your spiritual life.
Your faith as you describe it does not describe an orthodox Christian Faith, which understands Christ to be the Son of God and unique saviour of the world,. For this reason I don't think it would be appropriate for you to seek any leading or teaching role within the church, and certainly not priesthood, although of course you would be more than welcome to attend church!
With best wishes,
 

Interesting hey? Does anyone have any thoughts?

Edited by Nikolai1
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering that Jesus himself said that prayer is 'the one thing needed' I wondered if there would be some recognition that my experience is quite clearly based on contemplation rather than the acceptance of dogma. But this person clearly had no doubt that that the way I am is inappropriate.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Considering that Jesus himself said that prayer is 'the one thing needed' I wondered if there would be some recognition that my experience is quite clearly based on contemplation rather than the acceptance of dogma. But this person clearly had no doubt that that the way I am is inappropriate.

 

The person responding probably was an employee with HR qualifications. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as they are concerned... you sold your soul to the devil...   read again :)

 

Secondly, my experiential understanding of God has made it very clear to me that all the other world religions are, in their own way, referring to the same God.  I see no conflict whatsoever between being a Christian and a Buddhist or even an atheistic yogi. Indeed, I frequently find other traditions and their scriptures to be equally inspiring as the Bible. I therefore can no longer, in good faith, express particular allegiance to the Christian Church, nor allegiance to Jesus as the unique Saviour.

I worry that this would disqualify me from pursuing any ministry in the Church of England.

This morning the reply came back most promptly:

 

Interesting hey? Does anyone have any thoughts?

 

You served yourself up on a silver platter... and very nicely done, I would like to add ;)

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You screwed your chances when you started in with that honesty thing. 

  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear Church of Microsoft,

 

I would like to apply for a position in your firm, preferably something managerial. I have been a Church of Apple devotee for many years now and feel they have the better products and better understanding of customers' needs. I look forward to preaching to your employees and customers about the virtues of Apple from the pulpit which I am confident you will provide.

 

Please contact me at my first convenience so we can discuss how much you're going to pay me for this service.

 

Your welcome,

 

An enlightened being, which you will clearly never be.

 

 

 

That's what that email probably sounded like to the CoE chappie/chappette who received it. N'est-ce pas?

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ummm...

 

You may as well have said, "I don't believe what you believe but I would like to enter your organization anyhow so that I can present my beliefs with your stamp of approval and undermine you from the inside."

 

EDIT: I should have hit "refresh" before posting -- SC hit the nail on the head.

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know SC and Brian, the analogies don't quite hold because here have always been antinomian Christians like me.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As I read it, your lack of alignment with the teachings of the Church involves more than antinomianism.

 

<shrug>

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Atheistic Yogi" - never heard of such a yogi except within fundamentalist political religiousity.

Edited by Spotless

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have any career advice for someone who wants to spread the Good News but doesn't want o make it all about Jesus then please let me know

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Go to some interfaith services, arrive early and then go to the lunches or dinners that often follow - great way to see the different groups in a fresh light.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a difference between having a spiritual identity and lifestyle vs a "spiritual" profession. "Spiritual professionals" have to have a reason to continue their profession. They need people to stay in the "fold" so to speak. Professional spirituality is no spirituality at all. It is religion plain and simple. You want to teach and serve, there are not too many options out that. Start teaching an internal arts class (taiji, bagua, yoga what ever is your tool of choice)...that'll attract the right seekers, if you have the wisdom and the ability to share, imho.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Consider going for a Divinity degree. Finding your place in established practices and religions will be relatively easy going by that route and you will learn much about the diversity of mindset out there.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have any career advice for someone who wants to spread the Good News but doesn't want o make it all about Jesus then please let me know

What do you mean by Good News? Christian teachings? Or spiritual wisdom in general? The former predicates Jesus the historical(?) figure. The latter predicates experiential understanding and an ability to transmit that to others. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are naturally good in teaching and sharing environments and don't mind lots of political undercurrents within the groups then larger religions would love your help and participation.

 

You will find at some of what I think are the Universalists Christian churches yoga, tantric, qi gong healing, psychic healing, meditation, karate, Kung fu and crystal work - might be just what you are looking for - in other words they have facilities that are open to just about any form of spiritual engagement.

Edited by Spotless
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re:

-----

"If you have any career advice for someone who wants to spread the Good News but doesn't want o make it all about Jesus then please let me know"

-----

 

The idea of "career" means paid money for doing a "job", at ongoing regular basis?

 

I know I myself will be smiling, possibly for many years, now that I have read your email exchange with the Church of England.

 

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know SC and Brian, the analogies don't quite hold because here have always been antinomian Christians like me.

 

I wasn't presenting an analogy of your spiritualism. I was showing, through analogy, how I think your email may have come across to the person who received it, that's all.

 

A spiritual career as you describe would involve starting at the bottom of an institution and working your way up, no?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting hey? Does anyone have any thoughts?

 

What strikes me about this reply is...put yourself in the shoes of someone who is attempting to preserve the true teachings of their church. Then you come along and says something incredibly common, which is that the true teachings can be questioned and that all religions are equally good etc...basically things opposed to that church. Is that person with the duty of preserving the particular religion going to be ecstatic in hearing something like that? Will they think you have achieved gnosis, or will they think you have the "wisdom" of the world instead?

 

Consider that pretty much every person you encounter will believe that most religions are talking about the same thing. They won't have much thought of being "saved", certainly not by some guy in a book who is long gone.

 

From a certain perspective, to question Jesus as the savior and to assert that you already have knowledge of the truth, is not humble...and that on the other hand, spiritual development or attaining grace would bring humility, instead. From a more extreme perspective, to deny Jesus is to be a walking anti-christ...it could be that this emailer had that in mind as well.

 

Anyway, just shifting how you can look at this. That person responding obviously doesn't have the authority of God in telling you that you "shall not" enter the priesthood or whatever...you can do it if you think it's good. They're just giving their view as a person with a limited view. But it is good to consider that perhaps you'd be better in a different faith...like Universalist or something that more matches your experience. Or perhaps you like the idea of being part of the Orthodox faith, yet on the inside being a bit more radically enlightened...it can add some spice to the church.

Edited by Aetherous
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Spotless - thanks for all your advice. I looked up the Universalist Church and I discovered that here in the UK they are called the Unitarians.  Their approach to the religious life is absolutely spot on with me.  I didn't know anything about them, but apparently there are two small congregations near to where I'll be going in Devon.  

 

Soaring Crane -

 

A spiritual career as you describe would involve starting at the bottom of an institution and working your way up, no?

Well, I think if you are wanting to join the ministry you are wanting to be a teacher.  So in terms of your views on things, you aren't starting at the bottom but should already have some pretty robust opinions. For the C of E its clearly important your opinions are strongly held and orthodox.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aethereous,

 

Consider that pretty much every person you encounter will believe that most religions are talking about the same thing. 

Do you think so?  For me, this insight has come at the end of a lot of searching, and has itself been a kind of breakthrough.  When you actually look into all the religions they seem, at first glance, to be absolutely poles apart.  I always imagine that this 'first glance' view of things is what most people take; they then see the confusion and potential for conflict, and then want nothing more to do with it.

 

Understanding first hand the true nature of God, and knowing and feeling just how God transcends all the different approaches is a sublime view.  Its gorgeous.  It beings the whole world together in the very subject that they all hold dear. Sectarianism just seems so backward in comparison!

 

From a certain perspective, to question Jesus as the savior and to assert that you already have knowledge of the truth, is not humble...and that on the other hand, spiritual development or attaining grace would bring humility, instead. 

Yes, and I'm sure that many Christians would consider me very puffed up with spiritual pride.  Humility for me has taken on a different meaning, I guess.  Humility is knowing for yourself the absolute necessity for surrender. It is direct insight into your own nothingness.  But who had this insight? Me! And I'm immense and glorious and sublime! 

 

But it is good to consider that perhaps you'd be better in a different faith...like Universalist or something that more matches your experience.

Yes I think you're right.  There's no career as a UK Unitarian: just being a volunteer at a back-street meeting house.  But there is a structure and a network of congregations and a history.  There is a thing in the real world that I can participate and which can provide me with a vehicle to talk and share all that I've learned.  Actually many modern Unitarians aren't even Christian, they just see Jesus as a wonderful example.  In the email I didn't share my views on the Trinity (then I would have been the anti-Christ!) but Unitarians are named because of their rejection of the Threeness.  Since then they've come to reject scriptural or theological authority in toto.

 

Thanks for your thoughts

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites