Tuesday

Ms. Spelling's New Vocation

Someone forwarded a story to me about the actress Tori Spelling, who recently performed a wedding ceremony at her Bed & Breakfast. "Is she a minister?" I asked. Through further investigation, I found that Ms. Spelling had received her official ordination online through the Universal Life Church Monastery (ULC). I had never heard of this denomination so I googled and found 635,000 hits. The first few pages I googled through did not contain any negative press so I went into the monastery's website. I also visited their sermon website. Here are a few quotes that stood out:
"We make no religious hurdles, no hoops to jump through, no tests of loyalty, no rings to kiss and no fees to pay. Why? The ULC Monastery represents freedom, and to have freedom you cannot make demands upon individuals."
"We strongly believe in the rights of all people to practice their beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others and are within the law."
"Over the years, the Universal Life Church has gotten a bad reputation among members of some religious organizations because of the fact that we will, as a matter of preventing the trend of eroding religious civil rights, ordain persons who are totally non-religious or even anti-religious. We are looking to change negative perceptions while still encouraging people to never be afraid to truly state their religious beliefs, even if the only thing that a person can say is that he or she does not have any beliefs."
"Every religion requires its adherents to believe something, anything, but something that is against the rational mind. In Christianity there are several examples, but it is true with every religion. Christianity's tenets that defy reality are (to name a few) walking on water, parting the waters, raising the dead. All beliefs require one to declare belief in something unreal. To believe it does not make it real, but it commands the mind to sway anything to the contrary out of the mind's view. That is dangerous. Only by commanding the mind to disavow reality is the "belief system" able to work its way. One unreality makes room for another. Another is required to be believed to support the first and so on it goes. This is what becomes dangerous in all belief systems."
"You cannot get what you want, until the things you need are taken care of. That is the key, that is the solution that is the explanation of the ULC Freedom, Food and Sex position of life's Trinity. Unless you fulfill those NEEDS, you cannot possibly get what you want. Everything your mind dwells upon will be one of more of those three aspects. Those three come first, not in any special order, but those three must be met first. Then you are free to seek all your other wants. The reality is that whatever those extra wants will be, will be those three again."
The church also offers absolution from sin, if that is within your belief system.
Whew!
Let's look at each of these selected comments.
"To have freedom you cannot make demands upon individuals." My question is, freedom for what? Everything that I enjoy here in this country is the result of men and women who gave their lives so that I might be free. You could say that these individuals did this willingly so no demands were placed upon them, but I disagree. Many of our GI's were drafted, but went with the program anyway. They did not take off to Canada because they were afraid. Also, spiritual freedom is not without cost. Jesus died for our sins and many Christians and Jews also gave their lives for what they believed. Why can we not make demands upon individuals? What is wrong with asking people to live by a higher standard for the good of others?
"We strongly believe in the rights of all people to practice their beliefs, regardless of what those beliefs are, as long as they do not infringe on the rights of others and are within the law." This is a high ideal and one that will not be accomplished by human effort. Look at the news. We just don't get along that well! In the meanwhile, what do we do? We may believe in the rights of all people, etc etc, but what do we hang onto until that State of Perfection has been achieved?
"Christianity's tenets that defy reality are (to name a few) walking on water, parting the waters, raising the dead. All beliefs require one to declare belief in something unreal. To believe it does not make it real, but it commands the mind to sway anything to the contrary out of the mind's view. That is dangerous." After reading this I was surprised to find that the ULC Seminary offers courses in demonic exorcism and in miracles. Are they stating that demons exist? That they are real? Are they stating that miracles occur? That they are real? If not why do they offer courses in these things? This also reminds me of folks who say that Jesus was a good moral teacher but nothing else. In the Gospels, however, we find several instances where Jesus himself claims that he is God. How can a great moral teacher say this without being either the world's biggest liar or absolutely correct? By offering these courses and also stating that Christianity (as well as other religions) asks its followers to believe irrational thoughts, the Monastery is contradicting itself. There is also the issue of payment. These courses cost money and the Bible makes it clear that God's gifts cannot be bought. Check out Acts 8: 1-25.
"You cannot get what you want, until the things you need are taken care of. That is the key, that is the solution that is the explanation of the ULC Freedom, Food and Sex position of life's Trinity. Unless you fulfill those NEEDS, you cannot possibly get what you want. Everything your mind dwells upon will be one of more of those three aspects. Those three come first, not in any special order, but those three must be met first. Then you are free to seek all your other wants. The reality is that whatever those extra wants will be, will be those three again." This position explains the Monastery's goal in a nutshell: Take care of yourself. You are the center of your universe. You are the only one who matters. The Monastery calls its followers to be completely self-centered. Sure they say not to infringe on the rights of others but how will anyone think about others if he or she is so busy pursuing and constantly thinking about Freedom, Food and Sex? I'm sorry, but I know many people who think and are motivated by many issues besides this "trinity".
"The church also offers absolution from sin, if that is within your belief system." So this allows me to rationalize my behavior and decide what deeds should just be ignored and which deeds really need God's absolution. If I am calling the shots, why do I need God to forgive me? Why would I ever need to apologize to someone else?
All in all, this church does not give humanity the benefit of the doubt. Many, many people are capable of denying their wants so that others may have what they need (think of any good mom or dad!). Jesus is the ultimate example of this.
I also find that by ordaining men and women before they receive education, the monastery does not take the ministry seriously. Would you go to a counselor for help with a deep issue before that person had gone through the required education? It's the same with ministers. Why would you go to someone with spiritual questions who has not studied? It's like going to a cancer doctor who has not gone through medical school and an internship and asking him or her to remove a tumor. I like to use the tumor analogy when talking about sin. Sin is a malignancy of the spirit and soul. It is a malignancy that causes a deep malaise of the spirit and soul. Does the Monastery offer a treatment for this malignancy? I do not believe that it even acknowledges such a malignancy (unless of course it is within your belief system), much less offers treatment or a cure like Christianity does.
Just some food for thought. I invite your comments.