Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gettin' on board with salvation

UUsalon for July asks another big question: What about Salvation? What is it, who gets it, how do you get it?

Lions and tigers and bears, oh, my.

"Salvation," much like "Unitarianism," is one of those words which hardly has any meaning if it's taken out of the context of Western Christianity, since it's so inextricably bound up with a dualist worldview which includes a strong Theos. And unlike Unitarianism, there's no support group of "Salvationists" who are busily trying to craft a shiny new meaning for it. The Salvation Army, in fact, is just fine with the traditional meaning. Unfortunately for me, since I've never felt "lost" in an Amazing Grace way, I've also never had any compelling need to be "found." Perhaps I don't have a right to sing the blues.

Misused song lyrics aside, why would salvation have meaning to one who's barely flirting with the heliopause of Christian philosophy? Fortunately, salvation does have another meaning: Preservation or deliverance from destruction, difficulty, or evil. That I can get on board with, because I surely do sometimes have a heaping portion of difficulty.

Life isn't like a giant light switch where days are either "good" or "bad." Most days are kind of in between. Nevertheless, I have some fond memories of days that were particularly good, in the sense that things just seemed to "flow right." I've always thought of spiritual development as a way of getting in tune with the universe, so that I am able to act in concert with it instead of at cross purposes or against the tide. In this framework, striving for salvation is like striving for oneness with the universe, or figuring out what's right and doing it. All day, every day. The more striving, the more oneness, the more salvation. If that's what salvation is, then it looks to me like anyone can get it, because there's no being chosen in there at all. It's up to us to see just how much salvation we're willing to work for. If we work hard enough, long enough, and are maybe lucky enough, we can hope to get to the point where all of our days are the "good" kind.

It might seem that I've pretty well thrown my lot in with the "works" people instead of the "faith" people when it comes to figuring out how to get that sweet salvation stuff, but I really don't think so. I don't think the question is "what is the right way to achieve salvation." I think the question is "what works for me?" For some people, scriptural belief is the polar star. For others, it's service. Still others find their comfort and direction in liturgy or mysticism or critical theological thought or working with energy flows. Salvation doesn't depend on what works for anyone else, only what works for each of us. We have faith in our practices because they work for us, but we have to practice (work at) them!

People get ready, there's a train a comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
Don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord.

Just do it.

1 comment:

  1. Even before I "got god" this is how I thought things worked. This idea that life is a stream. I can stand still, my legs locked against the current. I can swim up. Or I can pick up my feet and go with the flow. That this can only happen in the present moment, when I'm awake to my ability to discern and choose right from wrong. That salvation is inherent in the word -- my ability to choose health, to make the healthy choice for myself and the interdependent web of which I am a part.