choosing symbol systems

I’m starting this post early Sunday morning, and a part of me wants to be at church.

Hat Bailey 1Before you think that I’m finally coming around or experiencing doubts, let me explain. Today is Hat Bailey’s birthday, and part of me wants to be present and experience the outpouring of support he will certainly be shown. Hat has so many friends, and his congregation will probably be planning something special to observe their good fortune that Hat is in their lives. I’d like to see that, and I just called my neighbor asking her if I could tag along.

“But it doesn’t mean anything,” I was anxious to explain. “I just admire Hat that much.”

She said she understood, but I suspect there is probably a part of her that hopes I am vulnerable to conversion. Most women think it is their duty to reform the “wayward man,” despite anything they may say.

Since I was a kid and read Holden Caulfield’s story, I have always been hyper-vigilant about being in a position where I could be accused of being a phony, especially in matters touching on religion and spirituality. I have consistently stood apart and alone. I have always resisted being proselytized or advocating any particular system of beliefs, even to my own son. I have steadfastly believed—and it has been my personal experience—that God would reveal himself to me through a symbol system particular to me… and so it happened when the runes revealed themselves as at least 24 aspects (or faces) of the one “higher power” that we call God.

runesThe Elder Futhark is an “alphabet” of 24 runes, each of which (either explicitly or through correspondences) describe a wavelength of energy which exists independently and eternally in the Universe. There are many more wavelengths than 24 (an infinite number in fact), and many more runes, too—but these 24 characters have been identified through human experience and tradition as a complete taxonomy which reveals a unified whole. I find them to be indescribably beautiful.

I resolved to attend this service after hearing an interview on the radio this week with Nadia Bolz-Weber, the founding pastor of the Lutheran “House for All Sinners and Saints” in Denver CO.  She is an unlikely cleric: she has sleeve tattoos, lifts weights, and swears like a sailor. Her congregation attracts junkies, drag queens, atheists, and other outsiders—even, I suppose, a pagan or two—as well as a growing number of straights. The thing which attracted my attention (aside from the fact that you could attend a church service without being a poseur) was when Bolz-Weber mentioned that one of the most revolutionary things happening today is that a growing number of people are choosing their own symbol systems of belief. Her words seemed to validate my own experience.


Well, I attended the service, and the congregation didn’t make as big a deal out of Hat’s birthday as I had hoped. But I was nevertheless pleased that I put in a showing. The sermon was good, and the handful of people there seemed genuinely appreciative of my presence. I can honestly say that this reception (plus whatever residual energy had attached itself to that building) imparted a special feeling of peace which I would probably not been aware of had I remained at home.

Hat’s sermon was about “higher order” laws that seem to encapsulate less numerous and prescriptive features which require more thinking by people seeking to live in accordance with them. I have seen an example of this phenomenon in the experience of kids who grew up in prison where their every move is governed by a zillion rules that eliminate the need for inmates to invest or participate in them. As a result, these kids emerge from prison unaccustomed to thinking for themselves. Hat said that one way to judge the evil in a society is by the number of laws on the books—the more laws and regulations, the more corrupt the society. If there were fewer laws, people would have to evaluate their actions at a meaning-level, and we would live in a better world.

My experience has been validated yet again.



Weather Report

84° and Partly Cloudy, Rain at Night


1 Response to “choosing symbol systems”

  1. 1 Hat Bailey
    September 21, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    It was my pleasure and honor to have my friend Dan in attendance at our Sunday service yesterday. I am a big advocate of taking personal responsibility for our lives and the experiences we have. This includes taking responsibility for our health by doing our own research and increasing personal knowledge of what the body needs, and taking responsibility for our spiritual and emotional needs as well. Learning and meditating on our purpose and calling in life, or what gives us the greatest satisfaction and joy in accomplishing something that adds to the positive values in the world is vital. Dan is a man who does that, following his bliss and living a life of integrity and service to a greater Good. Thinking or calling oneself a Christian is only applying a label. Living the essence of the Master Jesus’ teachings and example means taking personal responsibility for seeking to understand and apply the deeper meaning in the things He said and did. Being real and authentic is a crucial value in my view. People must be true to the light and knowledge they have whatever it may be and at whatever level. I try to teach and learn the things that in my experience have led to greater opportunities to be of service without making a big distinction between what is spiritual and what is practical and workaday. I make no claim to be infallible or have the last word on what the scriptures mean, but I have learned a few things that have made a remarkable difference in my own life and so I live and teach those things to the best of my ability. Life is an experiment, which is why liberty and personal freedom are so vitally important values to me. We all have things to discover and constant open communication with the things and people is really helpful in making a life that has meaning and joy, which I think is the basic purpose for which we were created. Jesus told Helen Shucman that The Course in Miracles was a required course. However He added that we all had the choice as to when to take it. The basic principle was encapsulated in the saying: “Nothing Real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Therein lies the peace of God.”

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