01.08.2018 Spirituality

Confessions of a Grateful Westerner

Michael Done shares his views on the pervasive denigration of the West

I’m over ‘Easternised spirituality’. Utterly, tediously, mind-numbingly, boringly over it. I’ve been in it or around it now for about 35 years (more like 50 if you count “My Sweet Lord”). And enough is truly enough. I’m done with it.

I’m done with its know-all conceit, its dogmas and holy-cow doctrines, its self-righteous superiority, its denigration of intellect, reason and critical thought, its routine but laughably superficial contempt for all things Western, especially Christianity.

But it’s the contempt for the West and hatred of Christianity that have broken the camel’s back for me. I’m a Westerner to the bone, deeply grateful for the freedoms and blessings that the West has afforded me. And Christianity, ever since I was a child, has been a wellspring of living waters that has nourished and sustained nearly everything in me that might be called good.

Now, anyone who knows me personally will know that I am a strong critic of (I’m actually horrified by) many aspects of Western culture. And from the point of view of most orthodox Christians, especially Bible-believing, born again evangelicals (I was passionately one of them once), my attitudes and opinions around Christianity are simply beyond the pale. I’m no card-carrying Christian, I can assure you.

But the fatigue of being around decades of spiritual prejudice against my culture and hostile contempt for my personal religious roots has finally sheared off my patience and all but extinguished my sense of belonging in these circles of Easternised Westerners who so pride themselves on their love and non-discriminatory inclusiveness.

Far from transcending the evils of the West and the failings of Christianity, the post-Christian wave of ‘enlightened Easternised spirituality’, in my personal experience of it, has merely recycled (I could say reincarnated) those uglinesses in new exotic costumes.

My rule of thumb with any form of spirituality is: ‘the first shall be last and the last shall be first’. This saying is attributed to Jesus. I take it to mean that as soon as we so much as entertain the thought that our spiritual path surpasses someone else’s, we have already shown our own path to be inferior.

My view is that, on balance, the cultures of West and East have no more and no less to be proud of or ashamed of than one another, and that their respective philosophical and religious traditions have no more and no less to commend them or condemn them than one another.

For my part, I confess I am a grateful Westerner with a warm and friendly disposition towards Christians and their Christian path. I don’t need to be reminded of their imperfections. I am a living embodiment of most of them. But I have somehow found it in myself to accept, embrace and love the glorious, unholy mess that I am part of. And I am not speaking of the West or Christianity now. I’m speaking of all humanity, to which we all equally belong.

Read his blog at http://michaeldone.com

Michael Done

Michael Done is a poet, writer, teacher, musician and entrepreneur who lives in Perth Western Australia