Posted By Minda R on Jan 21, 2022 | 1 comment

It’s 6:30 am.  I give in to being awake.  It’s raining, and the sky outside is grey.  Nothing to see there.  My black and white cat Rachel jumps up to get some snuggles and scritches.  I comply, and she purrs and purrs.  She kneads my ribs and stretches out across them.  I manage to type as she lay on my left arm.

I think about the terrible movie I gave up on last night, after over an hour of watching.  It won at the Cannes – Moonlight.  A beautiful young man, naked in his sorrow about his life.  Alone and seeking.  The beautiful parts were when someone came to him and was there for him.  Because he seemed so lost.  For this reason, he was also singled out for attack and abuse.  So painful.  I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, and things didn’t improve for him after I hit STOP on the remote.  Why spend time watching this?  I feel so empty – terrible now.  Terrible for the aching hole that was his life.  He’s seeking love.  And he’s so lovable in his resolute vulnerability.


Bo, you said you are a high-chair tyrant if left to your own devices.  You seemed to say that you are saved from this tyranny by being bound to Something that is more than you.  This is what you are calling religion.  At first, I had to disagree.  Each of us may choose from the vessels of meaning that are presented to us.  Or to seek until we find something we can say yes to.  Or to say no, there is no transcendent meaning.  You have chosen to tie yourself, and to what you tie yourself.  In this way, you are indeed sovereign.  But I think that this wasn’t your point.

We, all of us at VHUMC, seem to be your point.  “Inclusion” or “loyalty” could be meanings you were pointing to in your sermon on Sunday.  As with any group of humans, we might not like each other at times, or agree.  Often, with our species, things can get dirty and messy sometimes, but we’re bound together in Community.  We don’t get to kick someone out because of something they are, or did.  Maybe unless they lie about what they did.  This is, for you, the “lig” in “ligament”, or strong connective tissue.  This, for you, is the “lig” in “religion”.  Ok.


I like Brian McLaren’s attention to the biblical metaphors, like wine and wineskins.  Wine affects us, sometimes in a big way, and Jesu was focused on offering new wine, a new experience of the Divine.  It could seem to miss the point to get caught up in what the bottle/wineskin looks like, but you do want the container to provide some information about whether the contents will be both safe and satisfying.

Except the container is important.  If wineskins are old, this will be obvious from how they look.  The color may be darker, and the texture may be dry and cracked.  Jesu was bringing something new to the world, and wanted people to give it a taste, and then to drink deeply, and be nourished and transformed.

Does this lesson apply only to Jesu’s time?  Do we want to be cautious around a container/religion that seems dark, dry, and cracked also?  I think so.  An old wineskin is a good metaphor for religious and even cultural baggage that is best left behind.

We are struggling our way through Genesis on Wednesday nights, and learning about those that founded the religion that was the “old wineskins” in Jesu’s time, and the choices they made.  I hear echoes of their ethics, beliefs, and actions strongly in our current culture, sometimes in ways that are easy to overlook.  I must say, I hope we find a way to leave a fair amount of this stuff behind.


Anyway, I do agree with you that “religious” and “spiritual” aren’t terribly useful words, since they denote broad categories that mean such different things to different people, or maybe nothing really.  But I do use the word “spiritual,” as in “spiritual practice” to refer to a structured activity, that I create, or adopt, and use, to tap into meaning, and to open myself to love and trust in Life.  And to seek and receive guidance.

I walked away from formal religion when I was 26.  Now, 40-some years later, I wade into the shallow end of this pool with hesitancy and trepidation, not really knowing how to think about the substance I feel touching my feet and calves.  But the beauty of corporal worship (which refers to “body”), and the sweetness of connection I felt back then, when we stood to sing or pray together in church, is something that has stayed with me.  It confirmed for me that there is a bigger meaning that connects us, and sometimes we can be aware of this.  I’ve taken small tastes of many of the world’s religions in my journey to locate another community that makes that shared sweetness available.

Sometimes when humans band together around a sense of shared meaning, that meaning is a distorted one, that can harm.  May we be a container that minimizes harm.

I have been well guided (sometimes Spirit blows hard) since I was a child, and as an individual adult, since I walked away from the old, broken wineskins of the Evangelicals when I was in my 20s.  I find a way some times to connect up to Loving Being – which is beyond amazing, there are no words.  I do seek to travel Up along the vertical bar.  Now Bo, you’re pointing to the horizontal bar of interdependent, holy, heart connection with others.  For me, this is challenging stuff.














1 Comment

  1. This is so deeply thoughtful. Thank you Minda for your time and connection with us and this project. I look forward to more.

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