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 Blooming Stars

Unity of Religions and Unity of Humanity

            Unity of religions has to be reached before unity of humanity. Because that is the way humanity so far progressed through trial and error. We in our freedom made mistakes. We have to backtrack and right the wrongs before we can progress on the right path. When we have a clear destination, we need to be aware of the route to our destination. When we know we have strayed from the right path, we have to either get back on it or re-route our path. It is as simple as all that. Of course, first we have to be aware of deviating from our path - screwing our life – before we can get on the right path.

            I have no doubt we have strayed from our true path. God wills that all be saved. God desires unity of humanity that has truly one destiny. God has given humans the right tools to reach the desired goals – humans’ destiny. I discern our main tools to be love, compassion, and determination (motivation) in God-given freedom. Forgiveness and reconciliation together of oneself and others in good measure with God can be a powerful corrective force. Before unity of religions happens, unity of different warring factions in main religions such as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism has to come. For instance, after reformation that split the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century it took 30 years of war and bloodshed before the main factions – Catholics and Protestants – arrived at some kind of warless (not peaceful) adjustment.

            I was very encouraged by a recent report of Pope Francis meeting in Cuba on February 12, 2016 with the Eastern Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Krill, who wields real influence over some 165 million Orthodox Christians. Violent recriminations and excommunications followed the schism in 1054 especially over worship services such as using leavened or unleavened bread during Eucharistic worship. Prevalent political climate related to Crusades also affected the split. Pope Francis had already met twice with the Istanbul-based Eastern Patriarch, Bartholomew, the ecumenical head of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Altogether the Eastern Orthodox Christians number about 300 million.

            Besides the use of the kind of bread in Eucharistic worship, the doctrinal differences relate to whether Christ has one or two natures (physis) or the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father alone or from the Father and the Son. The primacy of the pope is also a moot point. All these separations or divisions are caused by theological disputes, whose answers nobody knows for sure. It is a hopeful sign that Pope Francis has made a priority of improving relations with other Christian denominations, and, for that matter, with other religions. The fact of the matter is that religions stand for one God, however differently they define that Energy. Religions, as they stand for realities beyond this world, are the sure losers if they do not have unity and a unified strategy especially in a materialistic world of consumerist culture, the most whimsical, arbitrary, and irrational culture of affluence that history has witnessed in the midst of dire poverty.

            I turned to spirituality bye-passing religions as organized and institutionalized religions typically had and have leaders who failed to deliver the promises that religions made. These leaders, for whatever reason, miserably failed to interpret the spirit and charism of their founders. They failed either to break through their own shield got from powerful conditioning or strong personalities of factions or coterie of official managers and handlers. An exception in modern times was Pope John XXIII who announced renewal in the Catholic Church through the Second Vatican Council. Pope Francis, conservative in some ways, holds some future promise for religions. The Dalai Lama has positively influenced the religious world. We certainly need imaginative and creative religious leaders after God’s own heart - love and compassion - to unite the world for true spiritual pursuits. These leaders, both men and women, need to understand God, discern, and live God’s ways. No matter what religions do, God’s Spirit always hovers over us and guides us.

 

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