Yesterday I had lunch with one of my colleagues. We had a very interesting conversation centered around abstract notion of preservation of property—scaling constant in different sized fonts, clock calculators, etc. (even G*d).
He is Muslim and I a Christian; we believe in the same G*d. It is, in essence, that only the details and specifics that differ. And I don't much believe in the artifacts of religion. Like the Cohle character in True Detective I quoted yesterday, I do not want to become a "piece of s***".
I try and perceive faith in somewhat mathematical terms. What I mean is this:
Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive. (Titus 2: 9-10)
Rather than focusing on the value-laden terms like "slaves" and "masters" I exchange them for x and y and literally strip the principle down to its essence. Same thing with a phrase like "be subject to", which become an functional operation like "in relation to", like so:
Let x and y strive such they are in relation to a state of trust and good will between them.
The ideals: "not to talk back to" and "not to steal from" apply whether the relationship between the x and the y is one of equal or unequal dynamics, and really need only one side to commit to an ideal, which, given enough time and perseverance, will literally change the relationship or at the very least the perspective of one of them.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2: 11-14)
"to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" has to start somewhere and this commission for the believer starts from:
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6: 8)
This, says the Lord, after rejecting the artifacts of religion:
With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (Micah 6: 6-7)
When I sought help I was advised by a fellow Christian something that I read elsewhere later: "Come as you are." I take to heart the simplicity of this invitation. There was no judgement, no demand to jump over bureaucratic hoops, no rituals I was required to perform, but to meditate upon "My soul, wait thou only upon G*d" (Psalm 62) in the writings of Andrew Murray (http://www.worldinvisible.com/library/murray/waiting/waiting.htm).
Had I not started here I think I would have easily lost interest again. I would have probably half-heartedly sought salvation in ritual before giving up, and the temptations to ritual are replete in the Christian community: it was impressed upon me that the Anglican faith I grew up in was wrong and that my baptism as an infant and the subsequent confirmation in my teenage years was somehow invalid. Right...
The notion of teshuva (http://www.jpost.com/Not-Just-News/On-teshuva-375740) is, by necessity, a one-to-one relationship with G*d and not a performance of a communal ritual. As Aharon E Wexler (2014) writes in his essay, On Teshuva, the concept is often mistranslated as "repentance" when its actual root comes from the notion of a return to G*d, "a return to the person we were meant to be".
That, rather than becoming proficient in issues of doctrine, is what I'm aiming for, or more precisely, waiting upon G*d for.