Sunday, April 08, 2018

Churchy Thoughts

A little bit of background for this post: I am Kemetic Orthodox, but attend a Protestant Christian church with my husband, who is evangelical Christian. I don't feel any particular pull towards Christianity, but I appreciate church time as a dedicated time to (usually) think religious thoughts. For various reasons that will go unnamed at this point, I'm not particularly integrated with my actual faith or its community. I'm kind of stuck between: I appreciate my husband's community, but I'm not really a part of it.

At any rate, when I go to church, most of the time there's something in the sermon or music that gets me thinking. Today, the pastor was talking about the "born again" experience as creating an entirely new person, and he was basically talking about how the old person shouldn't be confused for the new.

I was thinking, "don't mistake the ka for the ba." In KO, a person has multiple souls. The ka is (in our thinking) the personality -- that spark that makes you you, as a person in this lifetime. The ba is that eternal part of you - that timeless soul. It's important not to mistake one for the other, or to think that because of something you've done in your lifetime, that you're stuck with that as who you are. It's part of who you are, and always be so, but doesn't define the eternal you.

I also got to thinking about the shuwyt, or "shadow". I've been thinking about Ma'at a lot, lately, and it occurred to me today that She is the spark at the core of creation: a light that shines throughout all of the universe. the shuwyt is kind of like a keel or sail: the keel and sail help to orient a boat in a fixed or variable (respectively) relationship with the motive force. A shadow always stretches away from the light an an opposite angle from the light source; I've begun to think of the shuwyt like a sail or keel, that shadow of the self-of-you that wants to be in alignment with Ma'at helping to swing you around in the right direction.

I thought a bit about Apep: I thought of Apep as a serpent that wraps its coils around you, blocking off your view of Ma'at, and weakening the shuwyt. It takes strength -- such as in the form of Set or Sekhmet or Heru -- to do battle with this force.

Some of the music lyrics talked about the perfectness of God. Often, I rewrite the lyrics with a Kemetic bent as I go, and sort of "sing along" in my mind. Today I was thinking about how perfect Netjer is, but Netjer as a totality of all the Names. Each individual Name isn't necessarily perfect: how could They be? They're finite aspects of the infinite Whole. But all taken together as one community, They are Netjer and are perfect. This is a model of an idea that we humans, too, can't approach perfection unless we do it together, as a community. We never will reach it, because we're finite, but we can't go it alone.

Which makes it highly ironic, or sad if you think of it that way, that I feel myself so isolated from my community. I'm kind of stuck.

Another thought that occurred to me was that as opposed to the born-again Christian idea of being born again as a completely new person, a more Kemetic thought might be that you're not necessarily made completely new, but that your perspective is widened. That person that you were before, that person whom you may not want to be before -- you needed to be that person then in order to be the person that you are, as "ridden" by God, today. It would be analogous to walking a narrow, rocky path in bare feet: it hurts. The path is hard to follow. You stumble along the way. But a widened perspective reveals that there are gaping chasms on either side: it might still hurt to walk that path in your bare feet, but your widened perspective helps you to understand why you need to walk that path.

So I don't think of religious commitment (at least, my own KO religious commitment) as necessarily being a new person with a new identity. What it is is you becoming more fully the person who answers to your ren (your name, but in this case it's the word that your Parent spoke to make you). The ren was there all along.