Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

The Non-existent Spritiual Hierarchy

Ok, note one: stereotypes generally have a basis in reality. Note two: Western fundementalist Christianity stereotypically has a paradigm of the pursuits of man as a disease. Whenever I talk to my Christian friends I hear something like this:

Fundamentalist: “I just haven’t been spending enough time with the Lord.”

Me: “Well, what have you been doing?”

Fundamentalist: “Well, I’ve just been so busy caring for people and providing for my family’s spiritual and physical needs.”

Me: “That’s bad?”

Fundamentalist: “Well, I really let those mundane things distract me from the pursuit of the Lord.”

See? The things you do are bad. Working, talking to friends, making love to your wife, these things are all good things, but not as good as praying.

Its seen like this: A spiritual hierarchy

(1.) The inner spiritual quest, things like meditating and general religious feeling. (2.) The outer spiritual quest, things like fasting and prayer. (3.) The inner physical quest, to eat healthily and exercise. (4.) The outer physical quest, to have a roof over your head and car. (5.) The inner social quest, to be a good friend. (6.) The outer social quest, to have good friends.

If you are a Christian fundamentalist, you must never depart from this. It is never OK to go to the gym instead of pray (putting 3rd in the 1st spot) but it is OK to move away from your friends to live in a better house (putting 4 ahead of 6)

I say, bologna. There is no evidence of any of this in the Old or New Testaments. So many of my dear friends beat themselves up because they don’t enjoy number 1, but do enjoy number 6. They chose celebrity witnesses like King David, or Jesus and say “Oh, I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing. Because my life doesn’t look like that.”

This always reminds me of the example of playing guitar. I have a guitar. I enjoy my guitar. From time to time, I take it out of the case and sing silly songs to my daughter, or bawdy ones to my wife. The fact that I am not Eric Clapton doesn’t keep me up at night. I could practice 8 hours a day for the rest of my life and NEVER be as good as Eric Clapton.

Sometimes I like to throw around a basketball. I am terrible at basketball. Again, I could have started playing basketball when I was 4 and been playing 8 hours a day ever since. And I still wouldn’t be as good as the worst college ball player around.

But I have an invention notebook. I’ll bet you there isn’t anybody in the NBA that has notebook of inventions. And I’ll be Eric Clapton can’t design his way out of wet paper sack.

If you believe God doesn’t make junk, then you must believe he made your desires with a purpose. I don’t spend any large amount of time in prayer and meditation. Unlike 5 years ago, I don’t feel bad about that anymore. I designed a jet motor that has no moving parts. I don’t know if it works yet because I haven’t prototyped it yet, but dang it, I designed it.

Is God more glorified by one man’s prayer for the salvation of 10,000 people than by one man inventing a vaccine that saves 10,000 people? I think not. Everybody is different, and God made them that way.

There is NO spiritual hierarchy. Stop living by a made-up moral code that says the things you like are crap because they are not “spiritual.” Do you think that which brings you joy flows out of nothing? What is the spirit but the summation of our joys? The peace and satisfaction I get from putting things in my invention notebook is just as real, just as spiritual, and just as holy as the joy and peace that a mystic gets from praying, a pastor from pastoring, a lover loving, father fathering, or a mother mothering.

The spiritual hierarchy is a lie. A lie created to divide people into spiritual haves and have nots. I for one will have no part in it.

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June 17, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. If you were to ask Jesus and his disciples “How is your spiritual life?” they wouldnt have really grasped what you were talking about. Because in their language and culture they didnt have categories for such things that divided life into spiritual and non spiritual. Everything was spiritual. The early Christians fully grasped this when they said “do all you do to the glory of God.”

    Worship happens when you do this. I know people that can arrange the rocks and plants and dirt in their yard into something beautiful, and I believe that is worship. Some people can paint, draw, tattoo, print, sculpt and pinstripe to a degree where they have honed their skill beyond what they thought was possible when they started, and even though the art may ever say “I love Jesus” in its title OR metaphors, it is worship because creativity is a gift of the Creator.

    And so I truly believe that the satisfaction you get out of invention is the same thing. My brother is currently finishing his masters degree in artificial intelligence, and I can see the same thing in him. While he struggles to understand if “the spiritual” is even needed within the concept of things like “The Singularity”, I can see his research as ultimately spiritual because it is pursuing truth.

    Comment by Tony | June 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. I love your categories…Sounds like Brother’s Lawrence Practicing the Presence of God to me–I can be in God’s presence when I do dishes.

    Have you read the simple book Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas? It conveys the idea that each of us has a different spiritual temperant–and whatta ya know, that’s a good thing…

    Enthusiasts
    Caregivers
    Activists
    Ascetics
    Traditionalists
    Sensates
    Naturalists

    Comment by Heather | June 18, 2008 | Reply


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