Monday, April 18, 2011

On the current state of religion or lack thereof

That is: my current state of religion or lack there of.
Recently this question has been asked several times. For the past several years, since leaving the church, I've been uncomfortable explaining where I am as far as faith goes because I wasn't sure.
I'm still not.
But people are asking so I've had some practice articulating where I'm at.
This is very scary to post because I'm still nervous about defending my feelings but ...
If you're interested in the brief version of my personal faith walk - here it is ...


I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church and home. There are mostly wonderful memories. There are hard memories too. I think any group that gets together for a common purpose would have strengths and challenges.
As my parents grew in their relationship with God and the church they moved away from the rigidity of fundamentalism somewhat. This was enlightening for them (I assume) as well as for me (and I presume my siblings).

When Ren Man and I met, I was only interested in Christian men.
Ren Man was not Christian, he was Catholic.
I learned a lot over the course of several years, including how telling a Catholic that they aren't a Christian is not a great way to make friends.

I asked Ren Man several hard questions early in our relationship (approximately day 2) and this lead to him changing his major (from the practical bio/education major to the impractical philosophy/religious studies major). This in turn lead to a year of adamant Catholicism for Ren Man including Daily Mass for a year.

At some point late in college I realized that Ren Man was no longer attending Mass. When asked about this he said he no longer considered himself Catholic, but now agnostic.

Early Married
Ren Man supported my faith throughout college and our early married years by attending the church of my choice with me weekly, participating in community activities, and tithing.

We attended wonderful, inspiring, uplifting churches wherever we lived (Selma, Al, Vermont, Providence, RI).

New Parents

After Ark Boy was born I started feeling uncomfortable with bringing Ark Boy to church. I was nervous about what he would internalize. I remembered the emphasis in the fact that I am never good enough and I am always selfish and should put others first. This is the message I retained from my church upbringing. I didn't want these to be the primary things Ark Boy learned. I started feeling angry with God in response to these messages as well as feeling angry that no matter what I was still not who God wanted me to be - at least, that's what I was hearing.
I was also looking around at "Christian" friends and feeling frustrated to see them making choices that are contrary to what is taught in the church. It all seemed so inauthentic, so hypocritical.
At the same time I was feeling second guessed on our every parenting move from Christian friends. No, we weren't spanking. Yes, we were nursing - even in public (including church!). Yes, he was sleeping in our bed. Yes, we were responding to his every cry. Yes, we were cloth diapering. No we were not circumcising. Yes, we felt confident in our parenting choices.

I understand that my relationship with God and my relationship with others in light of God are not the same. But I was angry with God and feeling angry with Christian friends ... I was done.
I still am.
And the moment I said I wanted to walk away, it was like a weight lifted off. No more judging. No more inauthenticity. No more second guessing my healthy choices. I think that's probably the feeling people are describing when they find the church.


And it's still a journey. Right now I'm happy being in wonder of the earth and all it offers. If there is a God behind that, I don't know. And I'm okay with that.
I sometimes worry our kids won't have morals. Then I realize that despite what the church teaches, people are inherently good. There are no bad people in the world, just people who make bad decisions. And when I approach the world from this perspective I'm a better person - and so is everyone else! When my expectation is the best, I see the best in every person.

Whew. That's the short version.

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