Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hierarchies and Institutions

Look at what happened to Jesus. He gave his life teaching some really cool stuff, which boils down to unconditional love and nonviolent resistance to injustice. Then people start a church institution, and create a hierarchy of people who are authorized by their great education and expertise to interpret what Jesus said and did, and the next thing you know, you've got the Spanish Inquisition and the genocide of indigenous people around the globe, all in the name of Jesus. Mohammed – same thing. Even Mary Baker Eddy, with the care she made to create a democratic, non-hierarchical institution to protect her teaching, is effectively revered as a god by some Christian Scientists, her teaching skewed.

It seems to be pretty universal. Any time you create an institution to protect a precious teaching, a hierarchy is created to run the institution; the hierarchy separates those who have passed the written test and received the diploma from those who haven't, and the credential becomes more important than the teaching. The teaching is corrupted.

So maybe it's better to produce no institution at all, and to keep the teaching at the most accessible, equally available to all.

Besides, things like certification or ordination are based on fear – fear that the teaching will be corrupted if it is allowed to be taught by someone who hasn't had the "proper education." Yet if the teaching is true, it will always be there. It cannot be corrupted. If someone gets it wrong, it will show in their life.

When you don't have credentials, you stand on equal ground with your students. You have to prove your knowledge. If what you offer meets their needs, they will come to you.


David Carrel said...

Amen Seda!!!!
I totally agree that we have completely messed things up.
Speaking on the side of the church; Jesus instituted it and I know that there is so much power in it for healing and spreading love and telling others about Jesus, but us Christians have seriously messed it up to do stuff that Jesus never meant it to do.
Now, I still think that we need the church, but it does need a little whipping, haha. There is a blog I like to read called Tomorrow's Church where some Christians are trying to solve some problems of the church.
And it is funny you mention this topic because I was just thinking about writing a blog about interpreting the Bible or hermeneutics and how it is a tough process that is often skewed by presuppositions. Maybe I will do that.

anne said...

Hi all,

Ditto with Buddha. But what is interesting with the Buddhists, is that they have all added to the pile of material (and that's a pile mind you) but said it was their stuff. What Buddha actually said, was a bit, but what was finally recorded was not. I've give a lot for a tape recorder and a time machine for both Buddha and Jesus.
But we are all Buddha, we all have our songs. I think if you are inspired by the songs of compassion and peace and sing your own, it will come across, no matter what your shelter (church).

I'll write to K and tell her that I support her. Keep on truckin', Seda.

(I had the idea that if I got rich, I could help you to your true girlieness!) Ah well, at my rate, I'll be lucky to stay in carrots.


Seda said...

I'd take issue with your statement, "Jesus instituted [the church]." I don't think he ever did anything more institutional than to send his disciples out into the world. It was Paul who started the church as an institution. Minor point, and it probably doesn't matter, much.

Glad you liked my post, though, coming in the wake of my earlier interpretation of Romans 1:26, which I'm guessing you and a lot of other folks interpret very different from me, and support laws based on that interpretation!

Anne ,
I'm reminded of that old question, "If you could sit down to dinner with any three people throughout history, who would they be?" I'm kind of tempted right now to go for Jesus, Gandhi, and Julia Butterfly Hill.

Ellen de Bunchastu said...

It seems that a silent majority of christians disagree with the more vocal characters that control the church. Then again, it seems they are more interested in imposing their own will on others, rather than showing people the goodness within themselves.

David Carrel said...

The church founding verse is Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell wil not prevail against it."
And the rock He is talking about is the fact that Peter just said Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.
But you might have already known that one.
And you are right Ellen that most of us Christians care more about our rules than people and I would like to say I am sorry for that. I wish I could change that and I am striving to the best of my ability to change it as best as I know how. I wrote a book on that very topic "Putting Christ back into Christian," but it hasn't really gotten off the ground yet. But you have my word that I will try to get us Christians to act more like Christ.

Seda said...

I would venture to say, with clarity and conviction, that the church Jesus spoke of then was not a social or physical institution. Once again, he is speaking in allegory/parable.

Which, of course, emphasizes the point that we can't interpret the details for each other. If you think he was speaking of a physical entity, fine; and I know you're doing your best to make that entity serve mankind as closely to the way Jesus would want as possible. I disagree - also fine, and I'm seeking to live that allegory in as true a way as I can. I just wish the laws I live under gave me that consideration.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our