Paul Gadzikowski

My way

I was raised a lapsed Catholic. Now I consider myself a Christian Taoist, though I'm so unconventional a Christian and so uneducated a Taoist as to offend them both.

The entirety of my Taoist education is made up of several readings of Benjamin Hoff's The Tao of Pooh (which thoroughly validated the worldview I adopted when first exposed to Winnie-the-Pooh as a child) and a to-date single reading of Hoff's The Te of Piglet (which I feel compelled to dismiss as comprising rather more spleen than Tao).

The primary tenet of what I call my Christian Taoism: Jesus was the closest human being in recorded history to the Tao (he called it the Father because he and his flock were raised theologically anthromorphic). But he was no closer than you or I could be if we chose, and that's what he was trying to tell us.

When Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment: Love one another," he didn't specify that he was superceding rather than amending the Ten Commandments, but I don't think there's any other way around it. What God gave Moses was a set of kindergarten rules for a race too young and unsophisticated to ask itself things like, "I wonder what this rule's for?" God told Moses, "You kids behave or it's eternal time-out." Jesus told the apostles, "What is done from love is not a sin," which is a much slipperier concept and requires more thought and more heart of us.

Fundamentalist literalism is the saddest possible misinterpretation of Jesus' message. Jesus despised righteous rule-following. He told us not to look outside our individual selves for authority to direct us where God is (Luke 17:21). The Father that can be described is not the true Father.

The other extreme is just as sad. There are people who call our calendar "Common Era" instead of "Anno Domini". They claim thereby that it has nothing to do any more with someone whose very existence can't be verified by modern historical science anyway. Theirs is a religious anti-religionism, which is itself a religion, though many of its adherents would deny it (Isaac Asimov not among them). It's a religion denying spirituality, denying the possibility of the existence of anything that can't be measured by tools of man. The universe I live in is bigger than that.

But it actually doesn't matter if Jesus didn't really exist, nor what the power-hungry have done in his name (that they'd've rationalized somehow anyway), the two pillars of modern anti-Christianism. The myth of the messenger of the power of love has shaped this society more than any other force has. Organized Christianity has both unified and divided us many times over the last two thousand years, but the myth itself can only serve to unify.

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