My Quandary

In the Question

In the Question

Today I am in the question, Why do we have religions?

As I walk around this ancient city that has been the birthplace and nexus of the big three monotheistic religions of the world I am so aware of two huge energies. The first is the incredible devotion, faith, belief in this mysterious set of laws, rules, objects, places and books that seem to hold the essence of these beliefs in them. The commitment to the rituals, ceremonies and prayers that hold these religions together in such a powerful way. The reverence for the stones where Jesus’ body was laid or the wall of the great Jewish temple or the place where Mohammed came to visit. The fervor with which all of this is held and followed. All of this is clearly powerful to the pilgrims who have come from all over the world to visit and worship at these places. The second is the amount of disconnection, separation, and war that has happened in this place for so many centuries between these three religions. The total commitment to each one being the only way, the righteous way, and the true way to heaven and the belief that the other ways are wrong, misguided, and even evil that seems to be beneath the “seeming to get along” that is the story here.

There is a very deep quandary I feel between the respect for the traditions and history and the broken heart I feel for the ways that, in the names of these religions, humanity has ripped itself apart. I came here, to Jerusalem, thinking I might be able to feel somehow closer to God or spirit then I do when I am sitting by the ocean or on the rim of a canyon. I came here to feel the vortex of spiritual energy that “must” have been here for all this to have started here. And I just don’t feel it. I must admit that it is quite a disappointment to not only not feel that vortex but to feel sad, angry and scared all at the same time. To feel the power of the collective dream that these three different religions create of never ending disconnection and separation from each other.

On the other hand is this beautiful city built in the hills and valleys, the trees, the people and the life that is all around is wonderful at the same time. Karen and I are having a great time discovering this city, both new and old. We are walking a lot and discovering all sorts of places, we are absorbing the history of the place and the people and loving the fruits and vegetables in this place. Today we are off to look deeper into the archeological history of this place to see the layers upon layers of human life, like the layers upon layers of the earths life in the Grand Canyon. The depth of human history is amazing here and I am fascinated to learn more and maybe that will give me more perspective about the spiritual quandary that I feel.

3 responses to “My Quandary

  1. This post touched my heart – I remember feeling exactly the same way, very heartbroken when I lived in Jerusalem for a year as a student at a Quaker university many years ago. Such a beautiful, rich, diverse place – and such destruction and hatred at the same time. It’s hard to reconcile and yet what is hopeful is that there are people from all sides, from different spirtual traditions who do want to to work together for peace. Enjoy walking around the Old City – it is a fascinating place – particularly the Areminan Quarter.

  2. Oh Henry….
    Your knowing, your understanding……… and isn’t what you have experienced in this quandary exactly what that vortex and humanity are creating?

    And I get this huge sense of the inner world reflecting the outer…..

  3. I remember my Ethics professor in seminary saying, “Jesus came not to monopolize the incarnation, but to release it.” I wonder if that’s one perspective for your quandary. The spiritual energy, the sense of the Divine, has been released into the world in the followers of these three faiths that have their ties to Jerusalem so that people don’t need to come to a place to find the Divine. The place then becomes a reminder, a touchstone, a grounding for what they carry inside them. Geez, bro. Now you’ve got ME thinking, and that’s always dangerous!

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