It has always fascinated me how our thoughts can be so detached from our actions.
This realization started growing in me when I was a teenager in the church. They would say and do things that shocked me because it was so out of character from the way they proposed to believe.
As I continued in my journey through the church, I saw confusing behavior from Christians. I remember the first time I was in Alabama visiting Lisa’s home town in the late 70’s being confronted with racism as well as the deep running grudges that could boil over into all out feuds. But all were good church-going folk, including pastors. They seemed to know truth, but it seemed utterly divorced from everyday life, and there was no concern about this.
I remember saying to Lisa, “We wear our religion like a cloak!”
This phenomena continued to display itself through the thirty years of ministry I served. The unbelievable cruelty dealt from the hands of believers shocked me. I have stories and I don’t want to share them here. Just to say that the words and actions were miles apart from the beliefs.
It has always bewildered me.
Oh, the sadness that hit me when I realized my favorite theologian Karl Barth kept a mistress for so many years with his wife’s knowledge. And when the most famous Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder’s long history of sexual harassment against women came out after his death. And that Gandhi slept with young girls to test his ability to resist temptation. And when I found out that the enlightened Tibetan Buddhist Chögyam Trungpa had very strange cultish activities going on in Colorado that are over the top. Then reading Ken Wilbur who retracts some praise of the enlightened Adi Da when it was revealed Adi Da had the same kind of weird, over the top, cultish activities going on in his commune.
On the one hand: knowledge. On the other hand: behavior.
I do remember Lisa telling me once: “The more spiritual you get the less I like you.” I’m guilty too.
What is it?
Do we use the cloak of religion to give the impression we’re good so that we can get away with bad? Maybe. But I don’t think most of us are that devious, at least consciously.
Or, does our knowledge somehow give us permission to act the way we do? From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks and the hands act. Perhaps.
Or, does our religious knowledge somehow blind us to the motives or the ramifications of our actions?
Or, do we think high but act low because we can’t resist?
Well, I’m not sure what the answer is. Maybe it’s all of them depending on the situation.
Thanks for listening in.