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Awareness Magazine
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The Happy Heretic

By Reverend Leo Booth

At the time of writing this article I had just heard that Health Communications Inc. will be publishing my latest book, The Happy Heretic subtitled, Dancing with Pelagius and Rumi. It is about affirming the metaphysical teaching concerning co-creation and applying it our daily relationship with God.

Throughout the book I trace the arguments that arose between Pelagius and Augustine of Hippo, later known to the world as Saint Augustine. In a nutshell, Augustine said that without God’s grace a human being can do or achieve nothing; Pelagius affirmed that grace is manifested when human beings co-operate with God’s intention for living the good life. Pelagius sees Jesus as the perfect human being who fully and actually co-operated with God’s will and is therefore the example (not the exception) that we should follow in the living of our lives.

It is my belief that everything changes when we grasp what Pelagius is saying, because now instead of waiting or handing over our lives to God we now have been given, within nature itself, divine creativity. It is therefore nonsense for me to suggest that I have nothing to do with my success, recovery, health or ability to live the spiritual life. God supplies one hand and I supply the other in our mutual applause of creativity.

In The Happy Heretic we consider what our part is in the following messages; we discover what is to be found in the other hand. Let’s examine them:

If God wants you to have it, then it will happen.

I don’t believe that we have a job, wife, car or a college degree because God wanted us to have them; I’m convinced that we also did something. We attended the interview with an excellent resume, we got to know and love the woman who is now our wife, we saved for the car that we now own and yes, we studied hard for our exams.

There, but for the grace of God, go I.

I always liked this saying until I began to think about it. Do I really want to suggest that we are not blind, or in prison, or homeless because God’s grace stopped these tragedies from happening to us? Should we thank God that we’re not like those we feel sorry for, or do we need to feel good about the circumstances, actions or choices we’ve made that prevented us from going to prison or not being able to make our house payment? Our choices create success in life and we are necessarily involved, even if we’re not always conscious of it.

When your time is up, God will take you home.

This saying feels appropriate when we die at eighty, in a comfortable bed with our family around us; not so acceptable when our teenage son or daughter is killed by a drunk driver or dies as a young soldier in a war. Are we seriously suggesting that God directed the drunk driver or created the war?

What God has joined together let no man put asunder.

In any marriage, healthy or unhealthy, both people are involved. The choice to marry is made for many reasons and sometimes there are unrealistic expectations on both sides; however, it is the two people who make their marriage work. Yes, God is involved but He does not magically keep the couple together.

It is also unacceptable, especially if abuse is involved, to invoke a promise made before God in order to keep a toxic relationship together.

I have been exploring these ideas during the writing of my book at Common Ground, a Spiritual Center in Tustin, CA.

I challenged the congregation and the recovery people who come the last Sunday of each month (a service called A Celebration of Spirit) to this dynamic Pelagius philosophy; We don’t need to be praying for what we’ve already been given.

In recent years I have come to understand the person Jesus in a different way; He is much more the example than the exception. He is what we can seek to be; He epitomizes the combination of divine and human grace, asking us to do the same.

Verily truly, I tell, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” - John 14:12

He reflects the perfection we are all called to be. Yes, Jesus called us to His perfection. “That’s heresy!” you might say. Well yes, I am the Happy Heretic.

Reverend Leo Booth is a Unity Minister, former Episcopal priest and an acclaimed author, lecturer and trainer on all aspects of spirituality and recovery from depression, addictions, compulsive behaviors and low self-esteem. He is the author of 12 titles including: Say Yes to Your Life, Say Yes to Your Spirit, The Angel and the Frog, The Wisdom of Letting Go and Spirituality and Recovery. To learn more: visit: www.fatherleo.com; email: fatherleo@fatherleo.com and Facebook Reverend Leo Booth.