Valentinus the learner? LO27299

From: Lawrence J Stevens (
Date: 09/26/01

Replying to LO27290 --


There once was a young carpenter . . . . Well, truth-be-told, given the
dearth of wood in his native land, it is highly unlikely that he was a
carpenter as we think of carpenters. More likely, he was a construction
worker who specialized in stone masonry. Ergo:
    There once was a young stonemason who outraged the self-righteous
religious leaders of his day by telling them that mere religion was not
what God wanted from them. {"Mere religion" being the outward show of
piety devoid of life-altering application.) He went so far as to openly
call them hypocrites. One time he even told them that many who thought
their outward piety assured of a place in the eternal kingdom would be
shocked to learn that they were, in fact, total strangers to God. While
many who regarded themselves as total strangers would be welcomed with
open arms and given places of honor. The all-important difference being in
how they lived their lives. In particular, in whether or not they were
living as God would have them live; especially in regards to how they
treated their fellow humans. Not being entirely stupid, they understood
that he was telling them they were going straight to hell; while those
they despised and treated with contempt for their outward impiety would be
welcomed by God with open arms. Needless-to-say, the religious leaders did
not appreciate the message or the messenger. In fact, they were so
outraged that they immediately decided it was in everyone's best interests
for them to shut him up . . . permanently. And so they did. Or, at least,
so they thought. (See Matthew 25:13-26:5ff)

Who am I to argue with the stonemason?

In short, God has always wanted our lives, not our religion. As you
already know, the important thing is to do one's best to live as God would
have us live. If our path is that of organized religion, so be it. If not,
then not. Either way, the crux of the matter is whether or not we try to
fulfill Micah's injunction to "act justly and to love mercy and to walk
humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) Notice that two of the three parts deal
with human-human relationships, while only one part deals with the
divine-human encounter. And it is a warning to avoid spiritual pride.
Sadly, far too many of us within the Church have neglected all three
aspects of Micah's injunction. So much so that, should the stonemason ever
have the temerity to re-appear and correct us, we too would probably want
to shut him up. Thereby demonstrating that we haven't learned much in the
2000 years since his last visit.

Bottom line: I pretty much agree with everything you've said. Given the
rigid Pharisee-ism that once dominated my thought, that I agree with you
is entirely due to having sufficient time studying theology to know that
none of us has a lock on spiritual truth, least of all me. In the end,
except for those who deliberately seek evil over good, we are all pilgrims
doing the best we can with what little we know. As fellow pilgrims, none
of us can afford to cast stones. For we all are both right and wrong in
our understanding of the Divine and the demands that the divine-human
relationship places on our human-human relationships. (Martin Buber's work
on the "I-Thou" relationship is quite insightful here.)

And now, I fear that I must dash again.

Thanks for the reply and the opportunity to take another much needed
mental health break.


> Thanks for your thoughts during your evening mental health break. I didn't
> get the impression that you were lobbing and running; after where can you
> run to in virtual space ;-)? I did get the impression that you were
> responding from deep within your frame of reference to some comments I
> wrote from deep within my own frame of reference. On first look what seems
> important to me is just to acknowledge that there appear to be these
> different frames and that without exploring them meaningful communication
> may not be possible.


"Lawrence J Stevens" <>

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