The Petty Ego in Organized Religion vs. God’s Cosmos

Two days ago we ended our DM with a paragraph from Fr. Bede Griffiths that went like this: 

“Connection to the Infinite within” Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

The self is not the little conscious ego, constructing its logical systems and building its rational world. The self plunges deep into the past of humanity and of the whole creation.  I bear within my mind, my memory in the deep sense, the whole world.  

The self, therefore, is cosmic in size.  Psyche and cosmos marry.

Since then, a news item about religion has come out that has been called “silly” and “ridiculous” and “oh, for Pete’s sake” by people who have some sense of the spiritual (as distinct from the religious). 

“Gates closed.” Photo by Berkay AK from Pexels

Like St. Paul who said “the letter kills but the spirit gives life.” 

How is this for the letter/literal that kills?  It seems that a priest in the diocese of Phoenix has been baptizing babies for years by say “we baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” instead of “I baptize you…etc.”  

Now people are running around like chickens without their heads on saying God can’t deal with this. 

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the same ones who denounced 108 theologians and ignored pedophile priests under Cardinal Ratzinger) chimes in and says: “It’s all invalid.  These people aren’t baptized.  Therefore they aren’t married either.  And those ordained priests aren’t really priests, etc. etc.”  

To which I say: Breathe deep.  Calm down. 

If this is not an example of the triumph of the legalistic mind (plus the anal retentive compulsions of canon lawyers) and the failure of religion and theology I don’t know what is.

“Special Edition: The Arizona ‘Invalid Baptism’ Kerfuffle.” Video by Holy Spirit Moments, with Fr. Kerry Walters

Re-read Fr. Bede above.  Move from religion to spirituality, folks.  God is not as small minded as some humans are. 

No wonder the new generation is turning its back on organized religion.  Quit projecting your man-made rules born of “little conscious egos and rational worlds” and start living in the real world, the cosmos, God’s world, the cosmic Black Madonna’s world.  Grow your soul.

Isn’t it time to start living the healthy masculinity of Father Sky and the Blue Man (who is all about intuition and creativity) and the greatness of the Cosmic Black Madonna—and leave your petty ego games behind?

See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 3-18, 153-172, 231-244.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Authentication error” photo collage. Baptism photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash; error page photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

What is your response to this 4 alarm fire among some religionists? 

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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19 thoughts on “The Petty Ego in Organized Religion vs. God’s Cosmos”

  1. Avatar

    We are all searching/longing for unconditional love. My heart goes out to those who are stuck in meritocracy and are fearful of losing this all abiding love if they step out of line. One day they will experience unconditional love and it’s eternal Source, and realize all is well…. Thank you for “We baptize you” story from Arizona. I am humored and saddened by the lengths we humans go to be “right”. Love to everyone on their journey.

  2. Avatar

    We don’t need priests to baptize our children! The most beautiful baptism I had the privilege and blessing of participating in and witnessing the move of the Spirit upon a new born soul into this world; was during a Sundance Ceremony in Arizona. The parents standing in the center of the circle, where the Tree of Life stood tall, surrounded by about 100 sundancers held the child up to the Great Mystery, offering this beloved child back to God, speaking vows of recognizing this little one belonged to the Creator, and was a sacred gift… to be cared for, tended to and nurtured for the many blessings this soul had to give. In that holy moment a whirl of wind swept through the circle and a funnel of rich red earth wrapped itself around the child… and in that mystical moment this child’s medicine name was revealed. This medicine name given, gave the parents and the child a glimpse into the gifts this one was born with… which this child would come to know the fuller meaning of throughout the journey of life.

    The umbilical chord of the birth of this child was saved, during the birthing process, and the parents, upon their return home with the child, vowed that they would plant a tree, somewhere special in nature, in the place where they dwelt, and they would bury this umbilical in the earth, at the base of this tree. This sacred tree would then become a sacred place for the child to return to throughout one’s life, to connect and commune with the Great Mystery… a sacred space where this child could experience directly, intimately and personally one’s relationship with the Great Mystery.

    Now that’s the heart, soul and spirit of true baptism!

  3. Avatar

    The kerfluffle over “I” and “We” in Baptism is tragic. The priest involved, who sounds like a good man, is being shamed, and sincere, literal-minded Catholics are being upset by the vanity of a few bishops who seem to want to opine on non-existent problems. I commend to the good bishops Desmond Tutu’s oft-quoted word, “Ubantu,” which means “I am because we are.”

  4. Avatar

    What a wonderful start to a new day! Thank you for sharing your passion with a little drama. Baptism isn’t about words. Sacraments are about soul connections with God and I believe no words are necessary. Through movement and substance it all can be conveyed quite nicely. Thanks again. Your daily message has been ongoing breaths of fresh air. Thank goodness you left the fold or your wisdom might have been buried in the tombs like the wisdom of so many others. I am exhausted by all the words contained in modern life. And finally, theologically is it not the community of faith that facilitates baptism and promises along with the Baptized or married to support them in every way as they keep their vows…very much “we” together make promises.

  5. Avatar

    I love the things shared here in these Daily Meditations. They renew and affirm my deepest thoughts and instincts about God and the Spirit. The United Methodist faith in which I was raised introduced me to a compassionate minister who helped me realize, through a sermon when I was about 8 years old, that we all have instinctual connections with God, and that God speaks directly to us, in addition to God’s Word in the Bible and in the traditions of the church. I have found God loves us and holds us and never lets us go. I am so thankful for this “place” where we connect about this wonderful relationship and what it means for all of humanity. Thanks God! Further God’s work!

  6. Avatar

    Matthew, thank you for your honest response of shock and disbelief at the petty response of the bishop in Arizona over the priest’s use of the word “We” instead of “I” in his past baptisms of many catholics through the Holy Spirit! On the other hand, I’m no longer shocked by the long history of negative, unspiritual actions of the patriarchal church in the past. I am one of those catholics that you mentioned that has left the church. Also, many contemporary spiritual priests and theologians have not only left the church, but have been excommunicated by the church (like yourself; I read your autobiography). I’m glad your meditation response today reminds us of the profound spiritual faith and deep ecumenical teachings of Bede Griffiths.
    The main redemptive value of the Catholic Church that I can see is the long spiritual tradition of the saints and mystics who lived the Universal and Living Spirit of God’s Divine Love~Wisdom~Creativity in their lives compassionately serving others. Someone correctly wrote the only way the institutional church is going to spiritually survive and continue being spiritually relevant in society and the world, is if it Truly opens itself to spiritual transformation by God’s Spirit and valuing it’s own mystical tradition….

  7. Phila Hoopes

    Matthew, thank you for your response to this ludicrous situation, and especially for the wider context you give in your video (one of your best!).

    The cruelty of the diocesan response offends something incredibly deep in me…the absolute gall of telling these poor believing parents that because of one word, their babies weren’t “really” saved from the Church-construct of “original sin,” as if the Divine gave a hoot about scripts!! Not to mention their requiring that everybody affected get re-baptized, re-married, and re-ordained, over an issue that matters only to the RCC ideologues.

    It would be funny if it weren’t so sickening.

  8. Avatar

    Thank you, Matthew, for this wonderful meditation. As a member of this very “letter of the law” diocese, I truly appreciate the support and clarity you always bring. I am forwarding this meditation to my friends at St. Gregory’s who are mourning the loss of a truly gentle, pastoral soul who has cared for his flock so beautifully for many years now. I know this meditation and all of these wonderful comments will support them in this time of testing.

  9. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    A little more mysticism and a lot less legalism !!! The true founder of our faith was NOT St. Peter, but Jesus, and he said, “In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). More than this, I think we could also apply to the canon lawyers s words: “They strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel” (Matthew 23:24). I was a protestant minister for over 30 years, and decided to go through the process of becoming a Catholic to see what Matthew dealt with in a small way. What I am finding is this spirit of legalism–which characterized the Pharisees, is what characterizes the legal side of the Church. My issue being, because I have been divorced, they want me to annul my previous marriage (which I had my children with) so that I won’t be living in sin with my wife. The idea is that if I annul my first marriage it will be “as if” I was never married to my first wife. This is what is known as a “legal fiction”–we’ll all just pretend that we weren’t married–just like the Church will “pretend” that all the baptisms that the priest in Arizona has performed were invalid…

  10. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    P.S. Because a good share of the laws of the Church are bases on tradition rather than scripture, I thought I’d share this definition for tradition:
    TRADITION: (n.) Peer pressure from dead people.

    1. Avatar

      I love your definition of tradition Richard. If we allow tradition to swallow up our creativity and imagination when it comes to ritual and/or liturgy then it’s a very thin gruel which is served to a starving world and it’s no wonder so many are voting with feet and leaving institutional religions to find a worship feast in spirituality and meditation.

  11. Avatar

    So….according to Catholic law, HUMANS are able to block God’s Power, Healing and Love for OTHER people, in cascading waves of accidental exposure to a single misstatement of a priest. Does that mean that a single human in some far-distant past might have misstated a baptism, invalidating all subsequent marriages and priesthoods that flowed out of that lineage? How do you know if your priest’s ancient ancestor’s baptism was one of those sinfully “invalid” ones? Do people have to assume that lots of priests screwed up at some point in the forgotten past and that everyone should immediately get re-baptized? Re-married? But then how do you figure out which priest’s lineage is “perfectly untainted” so he can safely perform your new ceremony? Or is there an expiration date on “invalid” baptisms, say, one or two generations, so the sinfully incorrect baptism just sort of…fades away?
    Who knew God’s Love was so complicated??

  12. Avatar

    Fr. Walters gave a perfectly reasonable argument against this nonsense, from the Roman Church’s own history and thinking. Too bad that those legalistic minds are so closed. And this is what Jesus preached against over and over and over again–not to get stuck in legalistic quagmires. I feel so sorry for that priest.

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