On The Edge

July 13, 2007 at 12:30 am 6 comments

Theist Commentary

Edge of CliffLately, I’ve been thinking about my spiritual journey. See, I’m one of the masses in this generation who have kind of “woken up” to the fact that organized religion, in many ways, has done God a great disservice. Still, because of my relational connections and the needs of my family, I cannot totally walk out of “church” (a.k.a. organized religion) and never look back.

So I live in flux. I stand on the edge of westernized religion, and “see” how it has often been perverted and used for personal gain. Like so many other movements, something that I believe started out pure quickly became a tool for control and influence. A friend of mine recently commented to me that “they took Jesus, raped him, and then used his broken body to their own ends.” Strong language, but pretty accurate.

I know that faith is faith — something we believe and cannot really prove. So, at its essence, it is personal and intimate. In my opinion, faith is meant to be lived and shared only with those with whom you already have relationship. I once thought those “afraid” to talk about their faith were denying God. I no longer feel this way. I think they are understanding of others and attempt to keep their faith pure.

I do struggle with my friends who are afraid to question anything. When questions concerning the “foundations” of the faith come up, many run the other way intellectually or emotionally. Or, they resort to the, “it’s been good enough for generations, it’s good enough for me.” This is a similar argument many used for slavery, subjection of women, and the horrors of child abuse. Another escape is the ol’ “don’t ask; don’t tell” policy. Present yourself the more righteous — based on those around you — and if you have “things” (issues; habits, whatever), just keep them quiet. Being an honest person by nature, I struggle with that, too. (Duh!).

So today, after another morning drenched in “the structure,” I walked away full of questions and frustrations. My intellect never broached, my emotions dulled, I felt critical and yet I wasn’t critisizing. I was simply asking questions. I really just wondered what the hell it was all about.

I got on my motorcycle, and rode, talking to God the entire time. Unlike a lot of my friends, I have no problem finding God in lots of other places. “Everything is spiritual” has become kind of a catch phrase for me. I wonder how long I could stay in the place I am — an outsider on the inside — knowing how to “play the game” but feeling like a religious “whore” when I don’t speak what I know.

On the edge. Guess I should make myself comfortable, because I think I’m going to be here a while.

- lostgirlfound

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. HeIsSailing  |  July 13, 2007 at 1:03 am

    Welcome to our new contributor, LostGirlFound! I am looking forward to your future articles.

    “A friend of mine recently commented to me that “they took Jesus, raped him, and then used his broken body to their own ends.”

    Yes, strong language all right. At the risk of firing up any controversy, are you currently looking to renew your Christianity with a new and fresh outlook? Another belief system all together? Nothing I want to argue about – I am just curious. At any rate, it is good to know that you are searching, analyzing and questioning.

  • 2. Thinking Ape  |  July 13, 2007 at 1:03 am

    Power words lostgirlfound. I live with three evangelicals, all to whom I am related by blood or marriage. I often feel that this friction that comes from living on “the edge”, as you call it, actually does more to push me away faster than I really want to.

    One of these people I live with saw a preview of a news story about some corrupt Christian investors tonight. He made a comment to another in the room about how that automatically makes them “not Christian.” Everything in my own Christian training tells me that this is one of the most theologically perverted things I have ever heard. This SHOULD have no bearing on what I believe about Christianity.

    The only problem is that Chrisitanity IS what Christians say it is. It is a collective of peoples and ideas. It definitely is not united, and some may be very wrong and some may be very right. But it is tiresome, but it forces criticism. I suppose thats a good thing.

  • 3. kramii  |  July 13, 2007 at 8:21 am

    lostgirlfound:

    I admire your courage. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Unlike a lot of my friends, I have no problem finding God in lots of other places. “Everything is spiritual” has become kind of a catch phrase for me. I wonder how long I could stay in the place I am — an outsider on the inside — knowing how to “play the game” but feeling like a religious “whore” when I don’t speak what I know.

    You sound so much like a certain Someone.

    I was simply asking questions. I really just wondered what the hell it was all about.

    When he looks at these religious types (like me), I am sure He feels the same way, too.

    You are certainly not alone.

  • 4. Lyndon Marcotte  |  July 13, 2007 at 10:24 am

    I couldn’t echo your sentiments more. Very well written. I feel exactly where you’re coming from. Thanks so much for sharing. It helps to know we’re not the only ones. If we’ve all lost our minds at least we’re in good company. Good luck on the journey!

  • 5. Stephen  |  July 13, 2007 at 2:49 pm

    I suspect the Church has always had a goodly number of faithful dissenters in its midst. Women, for example, who were aware that the system was rigged against them, yet prudently kept those thoughts to themselves.

    You are absolutely right that faith quickly degenerates to become an instrument of social control. Religion has always been used to prop up the people in power and keep people belonging to marginalized groups down.

    It’s worth remembering that Jesus fought the good fight on behalf of ostracized folk, as did the prophets before him. When you read Hebrews 11, with its list of martyrs, be aware that most of them were martyred by the leaders of their own religion.

    It takes a lot of character to be aware of these things and yet not to break faith with Jesus, who obviously isn’t responsible for the mindset. God bless you for taking the difficult road.

  • 6. karen  |  July 13, 2007 at 8:04 pm

    Hi lostgirlfound, and Lyndon, and welcome! So glad you are here commenting. :-)

    One thing that’s helpful to remember is that you are on a journey. It’s very scary, because you probably don’t have a firm destination. But if you can hang in there and “enjoy” the ride as much as possible, that makes it easier.

    You may wind up an agnostic, you may find a home in a more liberal Christian belief system, you may find another religious tradition that appeals to you, or you may wind up an agnostic atheist like some of us here. Try to be patient with yourself and above all, be kind to yourself.

    If you aren’t ready to “come out” to your friends and family, that’s okay. You’ll know when the time is right, so don’t push yourself to do anything that would be too tough emotionally right now. There’s nothing wrong with continuing to attend church while you need to – though I know it can become more and more grating to sit through services when you are finding more and more things to object to and question in what you’re hearing.

    In my case, I continued attending sporadically for several years as I began questioning my beliefs more seriously. The service at my church the Sunday after Hurricane Katrina was the final straw, for me. I was attending for my husband’s sake (he’s still a believer), but I talked to him afterwards about the hypocrisy and the self-centeredness that slapped me in the face during that service. I apologized, but I told him quite firmly that I would not be attending that church again. I simply could no longer live with myself and “go through the motions” anymore.

    You may or may not come to the point. As someone else said, there are many quiet doubters and even closeted disbelievers in church. Some of them are even pastors or leaders!

    The most important thing to remember is to go easy on yourself, and try to embrace the suffering you’re going through now as part of the growing pains that will eventually lead you to become a more fulfilled, more honest person. I read up on some Buddhist thought as I was exiting Christianity, and it was very helpful in this regard – accepting what you’re experiencing in the moment without judging what you’re thinking and feeling too harshly.

    I moderate a support group for those exiting fundamentalism of any stripe. If anyone would like to join us, you’re more than welcome. You can apply at:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/exit-fundyism/

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Whether or not you believe in God, you should live your life with love, kindness, compassion, mercy and tolerance while trying to make the world a better place. If there is no God, you have lost nothing and will have made a positive impact on those around you. If there is a benevolent God reviewing your life, you will be judged on your actions and not just on your ability to blindly believe in creeds- when there is a significant lack of evidence on how to define God or if he/she even exists.

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