A Personal Explanation to My Classmates and Former Students as To Why I Criticize Us So Much
Recently a former classmate responded to something I’d written in which I’d disclosed that I was not a Christian, although I had once been, by expressing concern and letting me know that he prayed for me, something for which I am deeply grateful. He did not understand my allusions to being somewhere between a pantheist and a panentheist so I’ve prepared this response which I hope will at least in part set his mind at ease and explain my aspirations and motivation to him and to the many other former classmates and former students who may wonder at my perspectives.
A pantheist believes that divinity and the universe are one thus every part of the universe is divine, from the smallest grain of sand to the whole. Panentheism adds a plus, the universe is the body but there is more; in some cases, merely sentience. Christianity has frequently espoused panentheism as have most other religions. My version is non-anthropomorphic, more the sentient universe variety. It permits me to accept divinity and to grasp why divinity permits evil to thrive. My divinity does not, however, possess the series of “omni” attributes credited to God in the tree Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), i.e., omnibenevolence, omniscience, omnipresence and omnipotence. Rather, mine is an evolving and learning divinity; in a sense, similar to us and our bodies. Our bodies are comprised of individual living cells sometimes grouped into organs, and we have a sentience separate and apart from the sum of our physical parts. I perceive of us and everything else in the universe as the cells and organs in a divine body.
I arrived at my current conclusions (my mind remains open and my quest unfulfilled) after a lifetime of serious searching in part because of disgust over the conduct of organized religions (the Catholic Church and its Papacy and Inquisition on the one hand, the misogynist bigotry of Saul of Tarsus on another, and the hypocrisy of Christians, especially those who shout the loudest about their religion, in general, in whom a divine Jesus would have to be utterly disappointed). The Old Testament Yahweh also seemed inconsistent to me with any concept of good; he promoted murder of innocents and tolerated cheating and lying among those closest to him, it is no wonder that the three Abrahamic religions are so violent and inconstant. I studied all major religions and many minor ones in very great detail and found personal solace in none.
On the other hand, I acknowledge that faith in an all-powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent and benevolent god is all that keeps many people going in terrible times, something Karl Marx (of all people) also acknowledged in a statement that has been much distorted (“religion is the opiate of the masses”; in his time, opiates where important elements in medical treatment of the most painful injuries-diseases). So I invite your prayers and believe we all need everything we can get, even though my sense of the divine does not help us in any way other than through its own evolving perfection in which we’re a component; it is an expanding consciousness constantly reinventing perfection through our experiences.
So instead of praying, I am called to act and do good wherever I can and however I can; and not to tolerate evil. That is so much like our Honor Code that I have found it easier than many. That is why I am so critical of our actions and unaccepting of excuses, especially those excusing our actions based on the conduct of others. I know I am very far from perfect and have made many mistakes; I still do and expect I always will; but I also hope that I’ll always try my best to avoid them and even more, not to excuse them. When I make a mistake, acknowledge it personally and to others and try to both avoid it in the future and make amends, I am playing my part in what I perceive as the divine plan.
I hope that somehow makes you a bit more tolerant of my perspectives as you are all among the people who, having shared my upbringing and most formative experiences, I most respect, admire and love.
 © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2012; all rights reserved