Sunday Sermon

More on pride...

Last Sunday's sermon generated a lot of comments and I must confess, I liked that. Probably too much, in fact. If I was thrilled that people were discussing the content of it in the name of spiritual awareness it would be a relatively pure thing, but instead, I was just happy for the the hits. In short, I'm a blog traffic whore, which segues flawlessly into our topic for today...

Those comments tell me that people are reading the sermon, and that I struck a chord with a few of them. I'd wish I could say that I am happy to simply be drawing the attention of my readers to Buddhism, to the words of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, or even just to their own spiritual side but alas, there is more to it than that. Seeing double digits in the comments window tickles a certain intellectual and spiritual vanity in me that I find troubling.

I am reminded of Baptist sunday school when I was a kid. From my very earliest recollections, I disliked every aspect of the Baptist experience, but I had a special kind of hate-on for sunday school. "What do you want from me? I already sat through church - now I have to listen to bible stories as well?!"

One teacher in particular gave me hives because she always reminded us that when we got to heaven we would each have a gold crown, and every person that we helped become Christians would be represented by a jewel set in it. We even did a construction paper project where we cut out crowns for ourselves and then glued glitter to them to represent our converts. "You want to have a lot of jewels in your crown, don't you?" she would say, and then admonish us to witness to our schoolmates. She also made it clear that those who had very few or - god forbid - NO jewels in their crowns would be embarrassed when standing around the water cooler in heaven. "How many did you bring to Jesus? Oh, I see..."

Bear in mind that this class was filled with 5 to 7 year-olds, and some of them took this to heart in a big way. You can imagine how popular a first-grader who aggressively proselytyizes on the playground at recess would be. It was pretty rough for some of them - especially the preacher's kids.

Aside from instilling a horrible sense of spiritual materialism in us, it also taught us to value our ability to persuade, over the truth of the message. Instead of teaching us to present the message in an even-handed way to help others investigate for themselves and achieve a spiritual transformation, we were encouraged to drag others to the faith and help ourselves to a double serving of spiritual vanity. I always balked at this - in fact, I recall cutting out a crown, decorating it with glitter, then putting in on my dog when we got home. I guess the family beagle seemed to me to have a better chance of winning souls for the lord than I did.

It's not about wining or losing. I don't want any of you to be jewels in my crown. I'd like to think that our discussions lead to spiritual investigations, rather than conversions, and that my excitement at seeing comments is rooted in Right Speech, and not based on my vanity being stroked. I'm still working on it...

Go in Peace.

3 comments:

Mandy said...

I appreciate your sermons for one reason. You give me a chance to hear/view a side of another religion that I wouldn't normally come across.

Religion has always been an eclectic gathering of ideals for me. I listen and incorporate those that work for me, the rest are stored away in my general knowledge file.

ZEUS said...

I have to say my favorite thing about your sermons is that they are about life and what happens when you do or don't live it. These things are a far more important thing to me than any messages might be of one person's spirituality. Granted, that is always there too, but I like that you offer something more.

His Sinfulness said...

Thanks folks...

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