Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Thoughts on Spirituality

One of the goals I've set for myself on 43Things is "Explore My Spirituality". It's been an interesting task so far.

Ever since I was in my 20s I knew that the stuff I grew up hearing was not something I really believed. That's when I had series of nightmares about the "rapture" and my lack of belief in what I'd been taught.

Lately, I thought about those dreams again and started exploring what it is I do believe and what it is I don't believe, even though I'm "supposed" to. Still not 100% sure where things will end up, but thanks to being reconnected with a much loved friend from my childhood church, I do understand a bit more about WHY I believe some of the things I do and why "christianity" as I've known it just doesn't make sense.

A few months ago, I was ready to completely walk away from the church, Christianity, God, whatever you want to call it, but through our discussions, I've come to learn that the stuff we were taught was just plain wacked so perhaps I haven't really given it a fair chance after all. Maybe I should spend some more time exploring before moving on to something else.

I'm not quite sure how to sort the wacked from the unwacked, however, the one thing I know for sure, is that the universe wasn't created by itself. It's much too complex to have been created out of some cosmic accident or big bang. There has to have been something that created everything and that's true even if there was no Adam and Eve, Noah and the ark or Jonah and the Whale. Even if there was no resurection Sunday, Friday or Monday (which ever day it was)
Even if everything else we've been taught in Sunday School is wrong....

The universe just couldn't have created itself. Think about it....Nothing could have naturally evolved into a cockroach....or broccoli.

For everything created, there is a creator. Simple.

There’s a big debate going on right now between converative christians and a group of folks called the emerging church. Actually, the debate is a bit one sided. The conservatives are the only ones interested in debating as far as I can tell. The emerging folks are too busy living their lives.

The group of emerging folks I’ve found myself most attracted to are highly creative, open and prefer to spend their time creating communities, art and music. They engage people in various locations by various means. I've been watching how they relate to and with each other, and they are wholy supportive with each other's exploration ideas of God, Jesus and the big questions of life. It's been through recently participating in this group's innovations, not effort, that I've found myself reconnecting with God. It's been a relief frankly, to find that I'm not totally shut off from Him because I don't have the "right" thoughts about Him.

Meanwhile…the conservatives are off nitpicking each other and everyone else to death. Condemning to hell everyone that doesn’t believe exactly like they do, sharing each other’s "sins" for all to see and refusing to listen to the voice of anyone with whom they disagree. To me, American Evangelical christians have turned so far inward and become so afraid, that they can't create anything, except chaos and fear. That's not where I want to live the rest of my life.

Even if they are "right", they are so miserable, that most people prefer being "wrong".

After spending the last year or so amongst some of the conservative group and now doing the work of recoverying creativity in The Artist's Way, I am sure of one thing more. My spirtuality is not one of being consumed about figuring out “right thinking” - of reading the right books, knowing the right quotes, following the right men. Instead, it's about being more open, pragmatic, and expressive.

Perhaps I'm a heretic, castaway or a backsliden pagan...I'm not sure exactly what label applies here and frankly, I don't give a damn any more. I'm sick of wearing everyone else's labels.
Heck, I might even try something new, ambiguious or downright brazen and see what other kinds of labels I can aquire. I have quite a collection already.

Which of course means, at least according to my old friends, I'm destined to hell for sure. Some how the threat of that has lost it's hold on me. I just know I'll never have all the "right" answers, I'll never pass God's "cosmic quiz for perfect christian living" and it's gotten to the point where I just don't even want to try any more. I give up.

Maybe I'm wrong, maybe God does want us to spend our life here on Earth miserable , studying all the time and tearing down those different from ourselves.

Somehow, I just don't think so.

Do you?


  1. I don't think so, either, Laura. I am grateful for your honesty and thoughts here.

    Sometimes I feel like a spiritual schizophrenic. So much of what I used to call "Truth" rings hollow now. Yet find myself falling into fundy speak and hypocrisy more often than I care to admit. Not really believing or feeling what I'm saying - just on automatic pilot.

    I read a challenging book the other day - "The Happy Heretic". Although I don't agree with all her points, her humorous way of making her points often reminded me of you - that is a compliment for both of you!

  2. Laura,

    no one who really cares would condemn your search. No one you will meet in this life has the authority to send you to hell anyway so what do you care? I love the story in the gospel of Luke where John sends his disciples to Jesus to inquire whether he was, indeed, the one or whether they should look for another. This great man of God was doubting, reexamining if you will, his conclusions about Jesus. The Lord didn't condemn his doubts, his questions, or his heart. Instead he stated there was never a man greater than John.

    I agree that you need to be in a zone of more constructive personalities and relationships. The others are too high maintenence. Paul warned the people of Corinth they were biting each other so much they were in danger of devouring one another. If it is in an 'emergent' camp, cool. No complaints here. I guess I'm confident in your ability to figure it out and God's ability to come alongside you and help you see Him.

    I wish you peace, joy, and surprises along the way. Those who are your friends will still be around. Blessings to you, friend.


  3. By Martin Buber

    Yahweh, Jesus, Allah God,
    I do not suppose you are very tied to titles,
    You seem to revel more in creating and loving
    Than arguing like we do.

    You are beyond any name,
    Beyond this group or that,
    Beyond ideas or any ability to
    Control You by definitions.

    You are the Utterly Free One.
    You are the Eternal I
    That always allows me to be a Thou
    Whenever we meet.

    You are the Speaker, I am the spoken,
    So Love must be your name!
    Which is always beyond words.

    Source: All Real Living Is Meeting, www.cacradicalgrace.org