One of my first “role models” was a charismatic pastor who served at a conservative Christian church. Out of respect for the pastor, he and his church will go unnamed. |
I was an active member of this church in my early thirties. I admired this pastor for what I understood to be his possession of godly wisdom. I believed that he held the “answers” to life’s most difficult questions. This pastor is certainly well versed in biblical teachings. He is also acutely aware that the members of his church see him in a superior light. Because of this, he has chosen to take advantage of the power given to him by his congregation.
I had two experiences with this pastor that drove me to rethink my high regard of him. The first incident occurred when the pastor exclaimed that dogs do not go to heaven. He rationalized this opinion to be a fact because dogs do not have the capacity to accept Jesus as their savior. I found this to be an absurd statement. I may be biased in saying this. Anyone who has visited my website knows that I am fond of dogs. Therefore, I did not appreciate his remark. In fact, I took offense to it.
I intellectually reasoned that dogs possess the vital essence (life) as much as humans do. If this is true, then dogs must have souls. Therefore, dogs must go somewhere upon their passing from this world. In my mind, it is irrational to believe that an animal’s essence disappears into oblivion at their death. The next experience led to my swift departure from the church. This incident came about when the senior pastor posted an announcement for a men’s social gathering. This supposedly festive event included a lobster and steak dinner at a cost of ten dollars (surf and turf). Who could resist such an offer?
I soon learned that the pastors had a hidden agenda in mind for this social gathering. In the middle of the event, a presentation was given concerning the dangers of Internet pornography. The pastors had recruited two male church members to give their personal testimony on how Internet pornography ruined their marriages.
The senior pastor recommended that all of male members of the church put blocking software (supplied by the church) their computers so that they could not access adult websites. I do not surf adult websites. Even if I did, I feel that it is my prerogative to make that decision. I do not need religious leaders or anyone else assuming control of my thoughts and behavior.
Moreover, I felt the personal confessions of the two men was unnecessary and in poor taste. What happens in a person’s marriage is his or her private business. It is unnecessary for people to disclose their personal matters in public gathering, especially at the urging of a religious leader. It must have been embarrassing for these men to proclaim their guilt before the other male members of the church. I know that I was uncomfortable hearing it. I do consider myself a Christian. I’m sure there are devout Christians who would unequivocally state that I am not as I am not actively involved with a church. I have good friends who say this. I have read the Bible from beginning to end. I find this sacred book to be full of practical wisdom. Jesus Christ imparted wonderful lessons to the world. His lasting presence in the world changed it for the better. I might add his words have been misconstrued and misused by many societal leaders and groups as a means of furthering their wicked schemes. However, this topic needs to be covered in a separate article. This next story concerns my experience with a prominent Spiritualist pastor. As in my last story, I had a falling out of sorts with this person. Please understand that there are several Spiritualist organizations operating in the world. As is true in my last story, I am not targeting the Spiritualist religion as being morally deficient. Nor am I criticizing the pastor involved in the story that follows. This story represents my observations and personal interpretation of what transpired between us. I am passing judgment on no one. My wife and I were driving an hour and a half once a week to attend the pastor’s mediumship training. This pastor is a highly respected leader in the Spiritualist movement. I can personally attest to the accomplishments he made in advancing the cause of Spiritualism. His work has personally led to a significant expansion of the Global Consciousness.
This pastor readily admits to having an over-inflated ego for being granted his lofty status. No problem. The majority of us possess unrestrained egos, including me (at times). We all need to tame our over-ambitious egos, and do so without eliminating them. We need our egos to navigate our way through the physical world. The ego is the interface between the mind and the external environment.
This pastor is passionately opposed to the Christian religion and its doctrines. On one occasion, he stated that a person cannot call himself or herself a Spiritualist if he or she accepts the word of the Holy Bible. I took issue with his provocative remark. I feel that people should be free to believe whatever they choose. One night the pastor was giving a lecture on universal law. During this discussion, he made a comment that Jesus Christ could not possibly have walked on water as stated in the Bible. He reasoned that such an act would violate the immutable universal laws. Because I have a tendency to take issue with people who I feel are entrenched in their views (I’m a smart ass), I spoke up and said that God designed universal law; therefore, God has the authority to suspend them in order to allow for miracles. I continued to say that perhaps Jesus was held above the water by angels. I realized this was an inflammatory comment. Although the pastor did not respond to my comment at the time, it was indirectly brought up later in words of anger that led to our parting ways. In hindsight, I should have been respectful of his views. After all, it was his show.
The lessons I took away from the three incidents I just related are this:
1. The people we put on a pedestal and choose as our role models do not possess any more of an understanding of the mysteries of life than any other living being. We are all learning. The lessons we learn from our experiences are meant to improve our character. We are beings in pursuit of perfection. Because this process is continuous, there is no ideal state. The perfection we seek is in the change we experience. This truth tells us that the perfection we seek is in the moment. Hence the expression, “the present is perfect.”
2. I realized that the mistake I made in my encounters with these two pastors, was in the way I reacted to what I felt were their offensive statements and reckless behavior. I believe I have learned to allow people to have their beliefs in spite of my disagreement.
I now realize that it is not for me to judge whether a person’s beliefs are valid. It is only for me to evaluate the information I have received, and decide whether or not to adopt them as part of my personal belief system. I feel this should be done without coming into unnecessary conflict with the other person over matters that are full of speculation, and are of little importance in the grand scheme.
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