Friday, January 19, 2007

Confession

Greg Garrett, winner of the WILLIAM FAULKNER PRIZE FOR FICTION, writes the following in his nonfiction book Crossing Myself: A Story of Spiritual Rebirth:

“Not everybody needs the same story to be healed. The Christian story that I received when I was a child was toxic to me, a story I couldn’t inhabit without tremendous damage to myself. And yet, clearly, it’s a story that brings comfort to many people, and in its outlines, at least, it was a story that I wanted to believe.

“Since I thought that was the only Christian story, I went looking for other stories. I rummaged through the bookshelves of the world, so to speak. Along the way I found many things that were appealing to me. I was tremendously attracted to the teachings of Buddhism, which often reinforced what I had appreciated about some versions of the Christian story I’d heard – compassion, justice, and mindfulness. I read Jewish history and theology very seriously, as though I might be converting next Thursday. But I never found the story with my name on it, because, at heart, there was only one story meant for me, and I’d already gotten a glimpse of it. Although the Dalai Lama is one of the world’s leading teachers of Buddhism, he typically tries to dissuade people from leaving their home traditions to follow another, including his, even if they find valuable teachings in other faith stories. I think there is wisdom in this. He suggests that we can learn from other faiths, as he did about Christianity from Thomas Merton, and yet ‘remain firmly committed to our own faith. This way is best.’

“It certainly has been for me. I learned things about compassion, mysticism, and awareness from Buddhism, and about justice and holiness from Judaism, and when the Christian story I needed to hear finally caught me, I was able to bring these things along.”

Ditto, right-on, and amen. Thank you, Greg.

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