How is The Institute For Grace an Un-Church?

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No pedestals, just practice.  We learn from each other.  We are each other’s angels.

In many churches, someone in a robe or special kind of attire stands in front of the room.  The audience looks to this “leader” or “master” or “guru” to tell them what is right and wrong, what to think and how to act.  The members of the congregation look up to the (pastor, priest, minister, rabbi etc.) as an expert.

In effect, by looking up to this “leader” or “master” or “guru”, many people give up their own power.   Questioning the higher authority is frowned upon, if not overtly punished.

Instead of experiencing God/Spirit/TheDivine directly, many members of the congregation count on the word of their leader to give them ‘faith’.  Instead of everyone in the community teaching each other, and discerning what works and what doesn’t, these churches create and advocate power-over/power-under relationships.

Members of The Institute For Grace Un-Church don’t pedestalize anyone – we realize that everyone is human, warts and all. We accept each others’ mistakes and flaws as a natural part of our development and humanity.

We engage in a “power-with” dynamic, rather than settling for power-over or power-under.  Members take full responsibility for their own experience and their own growth.  Members realize we can all be angels and teachers and learning opportunities for each other.

In many church congregations, when the leader or master or guru makes a mistake or does something people don’t like, there is a “fall from grace” in the eyes of the congregation.  The higher the pedestal, the worse the fall.

Although I hope to stimulate conversation and inspiration and practice, I’m not perfect.  I’m not interested in being your sole teacher or guide.  I’m human and I make mistakes.  Just like everyone.

All members of The Institute For Grace are doing their best to embody Life as a Sacred Practice, and committed to doing what they can to get better and better at it every day.  We learn from each other.  We are each others’ angels.

All faces of Divine Play are welcome.

In some religions, certain behaviors are frowned upon or prohibited. As a member of The Institute For Grace Un-Church, can you dance? Yes.  Can you swear?  Sure.  Can you have sex?  Absolutely.  We’re human – we’re practicing the art of how to be human in the best way we can, including the fullness of our humanity.

As a member of The Institute For Grace Un-Church you are welcome to choose any behaviors you wish so long as your actions are consciously and explicitly connected to meeting some universal need, consentual with any others who may be involved, and do not prohibit or impair others’ freedom to meet their own needs.

Choosing exploration, experiments, and experience over dogma and doctrine.

Unlike many churches that claim that other faiths or religions are bad or wrong, members of The Institute For Grace practice curiosity.  We advocate experimentation and exploration.  We see what works best at meeting needs.

We recognize that a new consciousness is arising on our planet. This new consciousness is a consciousness of “both/and” rather than “either/or”.

We can see multiple perspectives all as equally valid at the same time, even while recognizing what works better and what doesn’t work so well.  We can even convincingly represent perspectives that aren’t our truth, as a face of compassion, understanding and play.  When something’s not working, we always have the “Law of Two Feet”.

We can see the infinite interconnectedness of all systems and flows.  We recognize it’s helpful to take the greater system into account when creating solutions or when generating new initiatives.

We practice recognizing when we’re hijacked by fear or contraction, and do all we can to choose actions out of greater love and greater equanimity.  To do it we use our Witness consciousness, or we express transparently with vulnerability to turn our fear into a gift of Love, or we make humor out of our own fears, or we do healing work to liberate ourselves from those fears, or we grieve past traumas to release old pain.  In any case, we are less and less run by fear each day; each day we are a greater face of Love.  This doesn’t mean we won’t crack someone.  If the warrior is the best and most loving, opening strategy, and if it’s coming from equanimity and cherishing, then the warrior appears.

This new consciousness is still evolving and emerging.  So maybe more will be added here later.

We also recognize that every cog in the wheel of consciousness is necessary.  We value other ways of living, even if we don’t choose them, because we recognize how they fit in as a necessary component of the puzzle of Life.

Relaxed and casual.

We can do significant, serious, and heavy if we need to.  But we don’t need to.  Jeans, t-shirts, and beer can be as Sacred as prayer and robes.  We choose to recognize the Sacred right here, right now.  This is as God as God gets.  It’s as Sacred as It Can Be, right here, right now.

In the home, in the heart, at the coffee shop.

We get together in small groups nearby. Everwhere Is Sacred; Every moment can be a Sacred house of practice. Walking a Sacred meditation, the entire Universe is our “church”.


2 Responses to “Un-Church?”

  1. 1 Russell March 11, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    Great article. Not sure if you heard of Father Peter Kennedy of St Mary’s Parish in Brisbane Australia. He is a catholic priest who was going against the convention by conducting mass in a circle as well as other wholesome practices (google him). He has recently be ex-communicated by the catholic church for this. A very interesting story of a man trying to do something like what you are talking about here within the Catholic system.

  2. 2 Gail Taylor March 12, 2009 at 11:23 am

    So glad you liked it! I’ve *not* heard of Father Kennedy, you’ve caught my attention! I love what you describe. Oh how I yearn for the ease of the “both/and” approach over the inflammation (? hehe) that happens from “either/or” demands. Thank you for the heads-up!!

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