Seek the truth and run from those who claim to have found it.
All the religious and historical education I’ve encountered has brought me to the firm conclusion that High Churches are far more like primary schools than they purport. They certainly provide a groundwork for the practice of the initial levels of spirituality, and give structure and organization to folks who share some similar beliefs or live near each other. This can somewhat be correlated when the dogma of the church is broken down into its building blocks – many of them teach essentially the same core lessons.
I think for many, at a time that is right, a desire to forge an individual path, to “level up,” is born. Perhaps for many humans, the practice of “lower” level spirituality lasts their entire lifetime. But as I’ve alluded to in prior posts, many others catch on to the scent of their own path seemingly by instinct and realize they do not need these churches to further a relationship with divinity.
The quote “I like your Christ, but not your Christians” tortured me when I was younger because I had been told by “learned” religious leaders that if I did not walk the halls of their buildings and pay my percentage to their coffers, I would be cut off from all that is sacred. It sounded awful, and after years of effort, their methods brought my heart no peace. Instead, it happened at odd times, and in strange places. I found it when I communed with my fellow humans, when I walked the stone and dirt and trees, when I heard large birds call from the dark or saw a creature dart back into its sanctuary.
For me, High Church taught me something that seemed very clear: I should reject things that were not “Christ-like” outright and without hesitation. Yet I did not see it being practiced around me. They taught me to avoid sin, and how love and service to others are some of the few good things (well, approved methods of love and service, of course). The HC taught me I cannot personally make a call about someone else’s path or their salvation. I can model the behaviors approved by the divine, but I cannot and should not force others to behave like me (unless I coerce them with shame). The HC taught me the answers were inside of me and that I needed to commune with their God in order to confirm the things they taught.
I spoke to my leaders and family about how I had read all their books and made my own decisions about their path: I was leaving their High Church to forge my own way. I was met with anger and threats of ostracism. I was supposedly not old or wise enough to make my own decisions, and if I did come to the right conclusion (to do as they demanded in their halls), I would fail my final eternal test. I would be forever disconnected from the divine. And still I left. I like to think I passed a more important test for my own personal spiritual path.
These High Churches did not practice the most basic lessons they were supposed to be teaching every week. They had barricaded themselves away from getting in touch with true divinity. They told me I would find nothing but pain and suffering for my decisions, and they were so wrong.
I never felt this capable, happy, independent, and spiritually connected to the world before I chose to leave. My world is not without struggle, but I don’t need towering structures and dusty manuscripts to tell me how to commune. I find spiritual lessons in the people around me and I make my own ritual and rite amongst the trees and under the stars.