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action"Action" (photo: Alessandro Pautasso/Flickr, cc by-nc-nd 2.0)

Most people listen to songs like "Eye of the Tiger" or the theme from Chariots of Fire when running. I am not most people. I prefer a good old-fashion podcast.

A few days ago I was listening to the interfaith forum "Pursuing Happiness" while out on a five-miler. Around mile three, something amazing happened. Maybe it was the noise of the traffic or the use of a translator, but I lost track of who was speaking. Instead of rewinding, I went along with it and, before long, I was amen-ing each answer without knowing who gave it.

There was a time in my past when this type of thing would have been unheard of. I grew up Southern Baptist. My amens were reserved for fellow brethren. If one was not a hymn-singing, Bible-thumping, submerging-baptizer, then one was not worthy of my praise. I was taught truth had to come from the "correct" source. Otherwise, it was heresy. Yet there I was, hearing truth from a Muslim scholar, an Orthodox rabbi, an Episcopalian bishop, and the Dalai Lama himself.

How was that possible? Maybe it was the lack of oxygen or the sweat in my eyes, but I had a realization. Truth is truth. Some thinkers take this even a bit further, saying, "All truth is God's truth." I'm beginning to agree.

God is big enough to reveal himself as he chooses. I have heard and seen God in print, in music, and in film — from both Christian and non-Christian sources. I have heard preachers and atheists teach powerful spiritual truths. I have seen God dwelling amongst the dirtiest of slums and the most decorated of sanctuaries. He is heard and seen however and wherever He chooses to make Himself known.

When Moses first encountered God, he demanded a name. But instead of giving him a name, God replied, "I am who I am" or "I will be who I will be." He refuses to be labeled. When one labels God, when one claims him as their own, they reduce him to an image of their liking. They limit him. They only let him speak through the voices they have approved.

Of course, God cannot be limited. "Pursuing Happiness" was proof of that. He spoke through each individual on the stage, whether they labeled him Yahweh, Allah, or something else. He made himself known.

As I finished my run, I realized it was not only my legs that got a workout. My mind, my heart, and my soul were also pushed. In the course of those five miles, I was exposed to truth — God's truth — by individuals very different from me. Who would have thought the Dalai Lama could make such a great running partner?


ProfileChris Miller is a seminary student living in Merriam, Kansas. You can read more of his writing at Caffeinated Ramblings.

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10 Comments

gostei

Wow. You are so right and said it so perfectly. I also grew up Southern Baptist and while I've never necessarily felt that S.B. have everything right when it comes to God, I have to say that I was always taught the same thing. Another religious leader/figure may have said something wise, but it couldn't have come from God, right? In order to be God's truth it had to come from the King James Bible, as if King James himself were our only connection to God.  

A few months ago I was in an anthropology class and went through a period where I questioned the Christian ownership of "God's Truth." I was afraid I was losing my faith, afraid that I couldn't be an anthropologist and still hold onto what I had always believed. A friend of mine told me that I am connected to God in ways that I can't even imagine, so I don't need to hold onto my faith as if  a shift in belief will cut me off from God. She told me that God is holding onto me and it is only natural that my perception of him will change as I grow and learn more about him. My idea of God now isn't the same as when I was five, is it?  And to me, the groundbreaking thing was that my friend, who had imparted so much wisdom to me, is Muslim. When I was nervous about talking to any of my Christian friends about this, hesitant to talk to my parents or my pastor, my Muslim friend shared God's truth with me and brought me so much comfort and solace. I remember riding my bike home that night and thanking God for sending her to me. I was reminded that God has a sense of humor and seems to enjoy working his miracles in the most unexpected and amazing ways. 

I exercise to OnBeing all the time.  Within minutes I am captivated by the conversation and before I know it, an hour has flown by - and I find myself feeling high on the combination of endorphins and nourishing discussions.

I'm an Orthodox Jew who participates in an interfaith chat room with other folks who are mainly Christian.  One of us is the pastor of a Southern Baptist Conference-affiliated church in Florida.

When I showed him Chris's blog post, he said: "The particular fellow you linked is of a rather liberal persuasion and is, I would think, a few levels removed from Christianity itself. ... This particular fellow sounds more like a non-Christian than a Christian."

This was not too surprising to me, as he considers Jews to be heathens.

Amazing!  Thanks for sharing, as i love listening to podcasts on my runs too!  and the Truth is the Truth.

"God is big enough to reveal himself as he chooses."  Yet, he chose to reveal himself to illiterate superstitious dessert peasants of the bronze age ("Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth"), illiterate superstitious dessert peasants of classical antiquity (New! Now with "Turn the Other Cheek"), a seventh century dessert polygamist pedophile warlord (Eye for an Eye, Tooth for a Tooth the sequel: "Fight
and kill the disbelievers"

), Krista Tippet, George W Bush (the sequel: Rick Perry), and now: Chris Miller a seminary student living in Merriam, Kansas.

Why couldn't he just have revealed himself to someone like, say, Charles Darwin or Christopher Hitchens so that thinking people could take him seriously?

And when is On Being going to get some decent blogging software (seen and implemented at serious websites worldwide) that allows copy and paste (without messing up the format) and has editing (review/correction option) features?

of course the Dalai Lama is an atheist so to be fair to his thinking it would be wrong to conflate his teachings with theology.

To a certain degree Mr. Gyatso derives his legitimacy and celebrity from the reverence his fans invest in certain supernatural and woo woo aspects of his origin, none of which he has publicly denied, to the contrary. From his  " holiness' " very own website:

He is held to be "the reincarnation of each of the previous
thirteen Dalai Lamas of Tibet (the first having been born in 1391 AD),
who are in turn considered to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara, or
Chenrezig, Bodhisattva of Compassion, holder of the White Lotus. Bodhisattvas
are enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen
to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.Thus His Holiness is also believed to be a manifestation of Chenrezig,
in fact the seventy-fourth in a lineage that can be traced back to a
Brahmin boy who lived in the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. I am often asked
whether I truly believe this. The answer is not simple to give. But as a
fifty-six year old, when I consider my experience during this present
life, and given my Buddhist beliefs, I have no difficulty accepting that
I am spiritually connected both to the thirteen previous Dalai Lamas,
to Chenrezig and to the Buddha himself."

So please do feel free to conflate the truth claims of these beliefs with those of the theology of the Abrahamic or any other religion. Neither of which is supported by evidence and neither of which withstands rational scrutiny.

So much to think about and ponder today
I love the idea of the Dalai Lama being a running mate
An article from an energized pumping heart!

apples