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9:39 a.m. - March 30, 2006
The Moral Stew - Part 3
So after the first two parts of this series, you may wonder about me, and why Iím back at church?

My Myspace profile says Iím agnostic Ė and thatís true to a point, as I will explain below.

Going back to church fulltime wasnít an easy decision for me.

Liz and I both stopped going to church at about the same time of our lives. She had various reasons for leaving the Catholic Church, and I had my reasons about not attending my Methodist church.

And the more I saw of the Ďfaceí of organized religion, the less I liked it.

Yes, I knew men of God who lived their faith and were honest and good people. Mooseís dad is an Episcopal Priest, and he is a pillar. He lives as he teaches, with kindness, understanding and love in his heart for all.

So I knew people were out there like that. And I knew that, for me at least, there had to be some reason, some purpose, some underlying force driving us all.

What it is, I donít know.

I do firmly believe everything happens for a reason, and whatever reason that is will be revealed in due time.

As I said earlier, Iím not all into that Ďborn againí stuff. I just find it odd that by saying you are Ďborn againí, you get a free pass into heaven, even if you strangle goats.

However, I do believe that the Bible has some important lessons for us, and that God and Jesus are pointing us in the right direction about love, understanding, forgiveness and mercy.

I just donít feel comfortable staking my name against a denomination, or a total system of belief at this time. I have plenty of questions and doubts.

When we moved back to Crawfordsville, after we got settled, we thought about joining a church for the first time. Now, Iím very private (normally) about what I believe, and I have had many talks with God in my life.

Iíve talked to him when things were down, and when I have done wrong.

Iíve talked to him when things were going great, and when I have done right.

But it was also personal for me, kind of like a peace of mind. It cleared my head, a bit, which is always a good thing for me, as it sometimes gets cluttered

Liz was always more spiritual than I was, but religion or the lack thereof was never a huge part of our life.

However, Liz brought up that she would like to start attending a church, mainly for the sake of Katie and Kristin. The reason being is that while we can teach morality and wisdom at home, weíd also like her to learn about it a bit more formally, if you would. Before we even thought about a church, Katie would want to say a blessing at dinnertime (they did this at her home day-care, a very non-denominational ecumenical prayer of thanks, which we were cool with), so knowing that we decided it could not hurt if we attended a church.

But it had to be the right church, one that fit in with our beliefs, not only spiritual, but socially.

We went to a Baptist church with friends, but that church is too conservative for us, and the paradigm shift from Catholic to Baptist is a bit much for Liz.

By fate, we had some cousins come by the house to see Kristin. They are members of the church I used to attend, and left in a hissy fit over 20 years ago. They talked about the church, and how itís smaller now thanks to a split they had a while ago, but itís growing again and needing new blood, and how itís basically one big family now and finding its true calling.

Then we were invited to a Ďfall festí Ė an outdoor picnic they did in the parking lot. So we went.

I recognized a lot of people there Ė met the pastor, who seemed like a very nice, earnest man.

So we decided to attend church the next Sunday. And we were welcomed with open arms.

Itís very low pressure, low key. Thereís a lot of time for personal reflection and thought and building your own personal relationship with God.

Itís a time for Liz and I to spend together as a family, understanding what family is about, reflecting on our good works and deeds, and asking for forgiveness for those sins we have committed.

Yes, I donít agree with the pastor on a few subjects, one of them being corporal punishment (it is NEVER right to hit a child Ė thatís what Liz and I believe) and the other is gay marriage. However, when he discussed gay marriage in a sermon, he couched it in HIS personal belief on his interpretation, and did not say that you MUST agree with him. Sure it wasnít a dialogue, but at least he knows that others in that sanctuary disagree with him and heís not going to force them to change their mind.

I would like to engage him on a dialogue on these issues, because I think we can discuss them like rational, thinking adults. Thatís all I can ask, and knowing him, it will be a rational dialogue, with respect.

So weíre very happy now. Obviously, I still have questions, doubts, concerns, and I havenít bought into the whole program. I guess itís that I look at it Christian theology, especially the Bible and the actions described therein, as more of a symbol and guide, instead of a literal truth.

Jesus was a real person, and the Bible stories of Jesus are great stories filled with symbolism about how to live a life, and what forgiveness means, and what paying the ultimate price for your beliefs are.

But as a man of letters, I question that the events happened as exactly written. As you know there are FOUR accounts of his life, and they donít all match up all the time.

Then thereís Revelations, which makes a smashing motion picture (well, it would, they kind of made a mess of ďThe RaptureĒ with Mimi Rogers) but itís a niceÖstory. Lots of allegory and all that but itís not going to happen like that.

So, yes, I believe in my heart the essays I wrote on Tuesday and Wednesday about my problems with religion and politicians who use religion, and yet, today, I write to you on why I came back to a church. Believe me, had this church not been as accepting and loving, I wouldnít be here.

Theyíre allowing us to think, to grow, to form our own ideas. Thatís exactly what we want, and need.

Amen.

 

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