I am in a period of Spiritual Discernment, specifically discernment of “actions”. I do not consider myself to be a particularly religious person, I do however like think that I’m a spiritual individual. I believe that God resides within all living things and so I view the environment as a sacred space. I believe therefore that it is incumbent upon humans to care for and protect all of nature; the whole enchilada, not just our own little patches or corners of the planet but all of it, all the Oceans, Seas, Lakes, River systems, and Land masses are our responsibility. Unfortunately there are those among us, who hold a different view; they hold to the belief that the world is theirs to exploit as they wish to enrich themselves and the corporations that employ them. These corporations and people who operate under the principles of the Free Market system would say that the resources of this planet are there for the exploitation of those who can take them. They have elected politicians to assist them in this effort and to make laws allowing for the unbridled rape of the natural world. I am, of course, referring to those politicians who deny anthropogenic climate disruption.
The primary tool used to achieve this destructive political goal is the insertion of vast sums of money into the Democratic electoral process, thus influencing the outcome of elections. Nowhere has this been more evident than within the institution of the Congress of the United States. In that austere body, men and women have been elected and sent there by their constituents to do the peoples’ work. All too often the choices of those representatives have been decided, not by the people who elected them but instead by those who’ve donated huge sums of money to the election campaigns of those elected officials. Those donors have sought to influence the outcome for their own purposes. Everyone is well aware that big money has created an imbalance in the American electoral process. Originally we chose our politicians and decided our ballot initiatives based upon the information provided by a free press and journalists who provided impartial editorial information and content to the general public for the purpose of decision making. In today’s world of corporatism the media is owned and controlled by a handful of corporations and wealthy individuals. That imbalance distorts the process and limits the one citizen, one vote equation in our elections and warps the outcome. Correcting this imbalance is the struggle of our age.
This is the motivating factor behind my active participation in the Pass Mass Amendment Initiative. Pass Mass is a Massachusetts State ballot proposal to alter the States Constitution to allow the State of MA the right to limit the amount of Money any organization can contribute to a political campaign or ballot initiative. To that end I’ve been collecting petition signatures in my area to get this on the ballot for the people to vote for or against it.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs above, I’m in a period of action discernment. This is how I wound up there. I asked my Minister for her feedback on my request to collect petition signatures from my congregation during after Services Fellowship/Coffee hour. Her reply was a refusal of that request. My response was a flippant, “You’re willing to talk the talk but not walk the walk.” I regret my glib comment for its unproductive effect.
“Spiritual discernment is calling on the Holy Spirit to lead or give direction on a matter. It is how the Spirit shows the church or its people what God wants them to do and be.”
The result of my request, comment, and subsequent conversations with church elders has been a self imposed separation from my long time church family. I have left my church because I feel that I can no longer support a church that does not support me or my values. This has been a very difficult decision that feels very much like a divorce and I should know because I’ve been through two marriage dissolution’s in my life.
The church that I belonged to until this week has an abysmal record on Social Justice, having taken only one stand, that I’m aware of, in its long, over two hundred year history. That decision was to become an open and affirming congregation that welcomes everyone to the Table regardless of race or sexual orientation. It was one of the primary reasons that I became a member several years ago. Since then there has been zero initiatives on issues involved in Social Justice or Environmental Justice and, if you can believe it, this was one of the excuses offered to me by the church elder for why my request was denied. The congregation, in the opinion of the minister and church leadership, was not ready to become involved in politically controversial activities. I quote from an email from one of the church elders: “Unfortunately, neither Minister’s name nor I believe that church name, with very little recent history of advocating for social justice issues, is ready to take on the issue of amending the state constitution to be clear that corporations are not people in the manner you requested.”
“Discernment is more than just a process. Even for the most ‘material’ or ‘nitty-gritty’ matters, there is a Spirit at work nudging us, leading us, and even pulling us by the nose ring. Then again, even for the most ‘spiritual’ matters, there are disciplines, methods, processes, means, and tools which the Spirit can work through to help us discern rightly. Discernment isn’t usually a sudden zap from beyond, but something which emerges from hard work and close attention.
Learn to discern. Yearn to discern.”
Personally I do not subscribe to this long convoluted view of The Discernment Process. I knew immediately what the right thing to do was and so I’m no longer participating in Worship Services.