Monthly Archives: September 2016

Being Ordained a Heretic

I've been pondering the fact that next year will be the anniversary of my ordination as a minister by the Presbyterian church. Among my thoughts are the folly of such hubris as that a religion can "ordain" someone. Of course, I guess that would work if the word "Ordain" simply means to give the person a task; like "Hey Joe. Go clean out the dog kennel" or "Glenda, you are really good at writing interesting articles, we're gonna ordain you to be our PR contact."

The folly comes when the religion says, "David, we are going to designate you as a holy teacher or an interpreter of the gospel." 

It was in the context of this ponderous pondering that I thought about my sense of purpose of my life. My inspiration comes from the Hebrew bible, the book of Jeremiah where God says to Jeremiah,“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (1:5).

I don't want to burden this passage with some literal meaning, but if I was ordained, according to this, it happened long before the Presbyterian church knew I existed. Somehow, most of my life has been about a connection with "More"; a spirituality. I left the religion of my birth, Judaism, to become a conservative Christian. As I've grown, I became more and more progressive and liberal. I have lived for a very short period in a Zen monastery, became part of a Zen Christian community in Tokyo.  And I have had a Zen practice now for over 40 years. Spiritual, but not religious in the usual sense. The word that best fits me is probably "heretic."

Though all these years, even when I rejected, as I once did, everything that was blatently "spiritual," there was still that connection to "More". So if I was ordained, at least as Jeremiah was, then it took place long before the Presbyterians did it.

"Before I formed you, I knew you and consecrated you, a Heretic." I see that as my job, being a heretic.

I used to use the word "heterodox". It has a similar, though not the same, meaning. Heterodox means to choose anything except orthodox. Heretic comes close, but the heretic is more affirmative. The heretic looks at the common wisdom, the orthodox ideas, sees their weakness, then looks for and attempts to becomes a proponent of a better idea. Thoughout history, it was the heretic who provided the path to the advancement of humanity. Heretics have been telling us that we are destroying our planet and the living environment. The orthodox, common wisdom kept saying, "Not to worry. We'll simply rebuild it."  Now we know the heretics were right.

Thiis article is just a bunch of musing. It is just the beginning. No real conclusions yet. I welcome feedback and ideas.