the creative and meaningful life is impossible without some realization of union with God … Christianity as presented in the modern Church … (is) not … attempting to meet this need …

Alan Watts, in Behold the Spirit

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Watts wrote these words in 1947.  He went on to say the Church was returning to “medievalism.”

I thought of this comment having visited a local parish that offers a Latin Mass. Worship there, even in the vernacular, was highly formalized.

I was struck by the young priest – his language was formal, he spoke in a monotone as if to elevate the words and the meaning of the Mass, his gestures were highly practiced – wooden in a way.

Actually, his words were so practiced that I thought he had a speech impediment.  His appearance itself looked practiced, highly polished, like and air-brushed photo – somewhat too ordered to be human.  He was tight and less convincingly human and approachable.

Union with God requires that we be human and God divine.

Being human is not an act of perfection-achieved, but rather humanity lived out – a quite, introspective walk to getting better at life, and love – and closer to God over time, by mistake and error, and slow improvement.

There are no shortcuts.  Formalism does not do it per se.  The journey is through life – through its clutter, trials, the heart, and our miscues – to the soul and to God.

Those who rely on formality make of worship an icon, a performance.  It is so much more.

Faith requires that we come to know ourselves and God and that is a candid and untidy task or series of encounters with our imperfection and God’s perfection.

Do not reduce God to something less than God.  Elevate God without acquiring the misconception that our perfect inflection, our reverent monotone, or unnatural way of speaking (no matter the intent) bridges the gap between us and the God who called us into being.

Accepting humbly who and what humans are is a far better road to God than some fabricated reduction of the experience of God in things in life: our garb, our appearance, our movement, our diction, ceremony.

There is no magic in form.  Life and God are all substance.

Shalom.

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