Love is patient, love is kind, This is the Christianity I was taught overtly. The icing and the pretty decoration. The hidden “healthy” side was God is a just God.
First snip – trusting another’s version of the truth
I was walking up the stairs to get to my condo when I overheard my neighbors talking about God. “God only wants you to be healthy. He wants you to be happy and live your life.” I realized how far I’ve come from that statement. I said that many times myself in the last few years and believed it. But contrast that with other people who spout offensive words. God hates >>insert ugly word here<< and will cast them into hell. One person claims God told them to build a building that cost millions of dollars, while another person sells all his stuff, moves to India, and helps dying patients in a leper colony.
Second snip – infallibility of the Bible
For years this dichotomy bothered me. I taught voraciously that it was only about love and our personal relationship with God. Maybe I didn’t cling to the infallibility of the Bible, but I had my Jesus. I had a friend. Until…
Third snip – my friend in Jesus
With all the erosion that happened in my spiritual life, the last connection was my personal relationship with Jesus. This is what holds most people in Christianity. That feeling that no one wants to let go of. “But I know He’s real. He comforts me.” And yes it often feels that someone is holding you, even smiling lovingly on you. Here’s the counter, each person that tells you that they know what God expects, is only mirroring what they believe already. Those that are loving believe in a loving god. Those that are critical believe in God’s judgement. And He’s not here to correct them. The only proof we have is the Bible and our inner conviction.
My faith dangled
Where’s my proof that I really am not hearing from God or being comforted by him? Derren Brown showed me how it is done. How To Convert an Atheist – short version. In his simple demonstration with a non believing girl, he showed how quickly it can develop.
- First, picture a loving father. He picks up his child and holds her tight and kisses her boo boos away.
- Second, imagine the awe and wonder of life. The grand plan of the universe and it’s beauty.
- Third, bring the feeling of being loved by that wonderful father together with the awe and wonder.
Poof! She felt it. I felt it. This is how it was for me almost exactly. Preacher after preacher. Song after song. Just as Derren Brown brought those concepts together in the atheist’s mind so did my influences. That was when I realized, there may not really be anyone there. Here’s a link to the full version, Full Version-Fear and Faith part 2.
Sorry I haven’t been over here in a while – I’m dancin’ as fast as I can trying to put my life back together now that the cast is off my arm and I can do things for myself again. I am three months behind and I still have not replaced everything that was stolen. Not to mention the phone drama!
But I do love to read your posts. This topic is especially prickly for me – since I am also struggling with similar issues, but from the other end of the telescope.
I was christened as a babe, but not really educated in the ways of anybody’s faith.
Military brat – military chapel. Star of David on one side of a revolving alter. Jesus on the Cross on the other. Everybody’s good books in the rack on the back of the hard wooden pews. A bit confusing for a kid, but I seem to remember the focus of my attention was trying to figure out who did what with the little folding step-stool always tucked under the pew in front of me. It was never used in the services we [rarely] attended.
They took Jesus down for the Protestant services, leaving a simple bare cross that was not nearly as interesting to look at as that Jesus. I watched them do it one Sunday, or I would never have known what he looked like – or that he was ever hung in that Base Chapel to begin with.
The poor Base Chaplain attempted to “service” so many different Protestant denominations at once that about all he could say without offending someone was, “God is good and Jesus was His son. He died for our sins.” Next came that “all rise” time when we all sang verses one thru four-hundred and seventy-two of some six-note hymn.
It wasn’t much of a religious education, but it was mine – mostly on Christmas and Easter. My mother liked the holiday music and, since there was usually a choir who sang harmonies on those occasions, so did I. Plus I got new clothes – sometimes shoes too. I wasn’t as crazy about the hats, so I preferred Christmas, when there were no hats and a lot of candles.
I actually knew a great deal more about the Greek and Roman gods and their mythologies than I knew about the Christian myths — which is how I thought about it. As I grew up, Thomas Troward metaphysics seemed to call me most.
Always spiritual, I never doubted the existence of “more” — and had no trouble conceiving of that more as God. But RELIGION eluded me. I could never get get past the “Huh? factor” I seemed to trip across with any or all of them.
* If you mix meat and dairy on the same plate you’ve fouled it, but it becomes OK to use it again if you bury it in the back yard for a year. * Sex through a hole in a sheet? * Holy underwear?
* No women in the Church’s higher offices – and sometimes not in parts of the temples of worship either. * Forsaking intimacy with man (or woman) to dedicate your life to intimacy with God.
* Only members of our faith go to heaven. * Homosexuals go straight to hell?
I could go on and on and on with “huh? factors.” They always seemed arbitrary, crazy, exclusionary, or mean and small to me. What about “And the greatest of these is LOVE?” Now that resonates spiritually, but it doesn’t seem to belong on the same podium with the rest of the rituals.
And then there has always been the biggest stopper for me: “Eat my body, drink my blood.” I am OK with it as a symbol of union with the divine, but transubstantiation throws me for a loop. So, every time I thought I was connecting with a system of belief, as I got closer I’d hit a wall with something central I simply could not fathom, much less embrace.
Yet suddenly, I’m looking at Christianity with fresh eyes.
And, even though I feel a bit inauthentic in prayer, since the mugging (thanks to a few [non-proselytizing] authentically Christian friends without whom I might not have made it with a shred of sanity left), I have begun to pray. It’s been oddly calming and centering in a way that meditations of other sorts never have been.
I’m reading books on faith for the first time in my life, really — unless you want to count “The Old Testament as Literature” I took as an undergrad. (It was the only English course that fit in my schedule and I needed another English course to graduate.) I was surprised to find the Cliff Notes in the UT Bookstore. When I spied a copy used I purchased it for a song – and that’s how I got through the course intact.
I rationalized the choice. It was a heavy reading quarter for me otherwise – Shakespeare and Modern Drama had me reading several plays each week, and theatre was my major. Along with the rest of my course work and the fact that I was at rehearsal or on stage every night, I was maxed! But I’m not sure I would have made time to read the source anyway, once I found the Cliff Notes.
The Bible itself is still as incomprehensible as it has ever been. It’s not just the language (or the size and format of the type) that makes it a struggle. The numerous Heavenly Father references are tough for me to relate to, since my earthly father was not a particularly warm and fuzzy guy. But – and this is a shocker – I am suddenly opening to it.
I’m too much of a science-nerd at heart to take it *literally* – but I am trying to understand and embrace it as a metaphor from the language of its time. The God I’m praying to seems to be OK with that.
Like I said – a prickly topic these days. But I’m with Einstein, “I want to know God’s thoughts – the rest are mere details.”
Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com
– ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
“It takes a village to transform a world!”
Thanks Madelyn for your contribution. I must be the age we live in because there are a lot of people in similar uncertainties. I appreciate your insights.
Good thing – it seems that nobody has figured out how to stop me from scattering them around the blog-o-sphere! More later. xx, mgh