Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Reflections on the Journey

12 Comments

If you’ve followed this blog at all you know I once was a die-hard fundamentalist, creationist, evangelistic, conservative, inerrant “Word of God” girl.  When I began to explore and question that stance I learned very quickly that there are those who believe anything less than that and you aren’t a Christian.  It’s sad, really.

I was told when I got “saved” that the only thing I had to believe was that Jesus did for my sins.  Later I found out that I had to believe that Jesus was not only the Son of God, but that he was God.  Then I was told I had to believe the Resurrection, then the Virgin Birth, then the Trinity, then the literal account of Creation.  Little by little I was sucked in to the fundamentalist mind-set.  Sucked in may not be accurate.  I went willingly.  Until I was at the point of all the other fundamentalists.  Anyone who dared disagree with even one point of the Holy Book wasn’t a good Christian.  Would I ever have said that out loud…that if you didn’t believe the same things I believed you might need to check your ticket to the afterlife….nah.  That would be rude.

Recently Like a Child posted about the slippery slope in the science vs. Christianity debate.  The problem is not the fact that there is a debate.  I like a good debate.  It’s healthy and you can learn a lot.  No, see, the problem is what happens when healthy debate turns into “my God can beat your God” and “I know you are, but what am I?”.  Like a Child referenced a recent article in the NYT and a subsequent article at BioLogos.     

Using another’s viewpoint about homosexuality, creationism, the immaculate conception, or a myriad of other points as a barometer of their Christianity is kind of anti-Christian.  I don’t have to be a fundamentalist to call on the supposed words of Christ.  Whether he said them or not they are pretty good words to live by.  “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13.35)

When the discussion breaks down to the point that you’re questioning another’s faith because their beliefs don’t measure up to your standards you are treading on dangerous ground.  I grew weary of the ying-yanging.  Not the debating between theists and non-theists, but the discussions that quickly deteriorate into name calling and questioning the faith of those within Christianity.   Yes, Paul did say to test the spirits. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.(1 John 4:1)  Once. One.time. How many times does the Bible say to “love one another”?  I lost count. You don’t have to accept beliefs you oppose.  But you do need to accept the people who believe them. 

I know that recently I haven’t blogged much.  When I have blogged it’s either been about my personal stuff or it’s been pretty snarky.  By nature I’m not really even a snarky person.  That got old for me pretty quickly.  I’d like to have reasonable, calm, respectful discussion about the issues at hand, whatever they might be.   

I’m still pretty unsure what I believe about God or whether there even is one.  Surely even if there is not a personhood of God 1 John 4:8 is true.  Whoever does not love does not have God because God is love.  And finally 1 Corinthians 13:1 speaks volumes for how people should be treating one another. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

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12 thoughts on “Reflections on the Journey

  1. Let me be the first to say that your frequent blogging has been missed. But I know what you are talking about. Sometimes I feel the need to step back and figure out again where I'm going with my blogging efforts. But if we get into a snarky groove every once in a while, so what? If you knew me personally and talked to me regularly you would find I have highs and lows just like everyone. So why shouldn't my blog reflect that? I blog on. Sometimes my posts don't catch on with my readers (judging from the silence). Other times something I write and consider almost filler material stikes a chord with them. Go figure. Lately I've gone from topical to personal posts. I don't how long that will last. (Probably until I get tired of being reflective.) My advice to you would be to just blog. Just be yourself. And we your readers will get to know you better and accept you as are – the way it should be – or else move on. And that's really no loss if people can't accept you for who you are, warts, mood swings, phases or whatever.

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  2. Some of us have grown quiet and probably for similar reasons. I use to be so outspoken. DagoodS and Terry would remember those days. I more political than I let on as well. I've always felt trapped between a rock and a hard place when it comes to my writing. I'm either in a fight or flight scenerio or frozen in fear/paralysis. I hate it. It's why I'm quiet right now. I've been at this over 10 years now. Do I stay on this religion them or do I jump ship? I think I'm trying to say that I "get it." I like what Doug B said, ie. be yourself . . . write. DagoodS once urged me in the same way. In fact, I think I have his comment saved somewhere. Here's the thing though, how I feel emotionally and physically gets in my way of who I am. BTW, who the hell am I? One moment while I step over this existential crack in my foundation.I love this post and long before I knew non-believers online and long before I heard of Richard Dawkins, it was the diversity within Christianity that led me out. I was studying spiritual abuse from a Christian perspective and found an entire confetti-load of Christian doctrine, dogma, literalism, interpretation, consititutions, rules, regulations, discipline, liberalism and on and on and I just couldn't believe the disunity that existed. Unbelievers didn't lead me out.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think we are both coming towards a sense of peace and maybe even closure. I've been so busy with my kid's activities and just juggling life while still nauseous and pregnant (it never did go away completely), that I really don't have the time and energy to invest in biblical study, and I really feel content about it too. if anyone wants to judge, so be it. Perhaps they can come over and tackle our mountains of laundry and 6mo layer of dust and find a way to relieve nausea;). As I've grown self-confident, I've also realized I don't want to leave the church and still find value in its tradition…and like the idea of searching in a compassionate and humble church. The one I've been going to seems like it, but I'm not setting my hope too high either! With regards to blogging…i just haven't had that spark. As my friendship circles have grown to include diverse people outside of fundamentalism, I don't carry the despair I did before. Perspective changes everything, and taking a break from the blogging world and living life has been incredibly healthy. I think if and when I blog, it will likely be much on the same lines as my previous post…my journey is so different than what you read about on blogs, but likely more in Iine to what actually happens.

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  4. You sound like you're in a similar place as me, D'Ma. I know the need for blogging changes as we change and grow in our journey. I wish I could maintain relationships from online without actually having to write! The need to write isn't as great as before, and it's more difficult to write when there's not a driving need to vent or ask questions. LikeAChild,I'm glad your community has grown and that you're more at peace. i think my community has shrunk abit as I'm not as involved in my church as before. I need to figure out what to do there.

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  5. Me again. I'm nursing one heck of a migraine today but I came back to add something. It's not just in Christian circles where one can come up against bias towards one another. I see it in the non-theist circles as well. A lot of clanging going on there too.

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  6. But being snarky can be so fun! ;-)Seriously though, I think you've made a great point here. If this simple message of love and grace was truly the heart and soul of the overwhelming majority of Christians, I know I wouldn't be blogging, at least not about matters of faith.Anyway, thanks for this post. I needed a reminder to extend a little grace an love myself. 🙂@Like a ChildI'm not sure where you live, but if you are in a large city, chances are that there is a like-minded atheist group available. It seems that the charter of these types of groups I've seen has been a secular church of sorts. They focus on encouraging each other in the journey of life, as well as helping people deal with the recent loss of faith.

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  7. Doordonot: To clarify, I don't consider myself involved in this church either. We've only attended three Sundays, and it is a 800plus congregation, so I'm essentually anonymous. This church is on the liberal end of methodism. The friend that invited me is an agnostic ex-mormon…much on the same confusing journey we are on. When I refer to expanding circles, I mean the daily interactions and chit-chat during preschool pick-ups, field trips, soccer games and so on…most of the parents we know are not fundamentalists…so no "christianese"! Keep in mind I basically lost all of our connections through our old church except for a friend I've reconnected with who was similarly hurt by the church.

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  8. Thanks, Doug B! I think this blog is a pretty good reflection of the roller coaster ride I've been on for the past year and a half or so. As for being who I am…that's another thing entirely. I still haven't worked out who that is yet. But thanks for the encouragement to keep working at it to figure it out.Ah Zoe, if you haven't worked out who you are yet I may never work it out myself. That's part of the journey of life, though, right? Right??? Please tell me it is. Anyway I thought our physical and emotional stuff was part of who we are, existential cracks and all. So we're a little cracked? Beats being shattered. About that writing thing…you write so beautifully that even when your not writing about a religious theme you tell a great story. Jump ship on the religious if you like, but please don't stop writing. Unless, of course, you want to. But it would be a shame not to hear from you anymore.@LAC,I'm glad you are reaching some peace and closure. I'm also glad you've found a community. I'm just getting to the point where I really miss that. I don't miss the preaching, the teaching. It makes me really uncomfortable now. Well, in fundamentalist settings, it does. But I sure do miss the people and the fellowship. I'm thinking about joining a club, like Rotary or some charitable organization for that very reason. I miss doing things for other people. I know it can be done without the religious strings attached, though. Before it felt like the implication was that if we did something for an "unchurched" person/family, the expectation was for them to become "churched". @DoOrDoNot,That's the truth! I don't feel so driven to ask questions anymore. I don't even feel so driven to have answers. Maybe that's bad. Maybe that makes me seem shallow. I've just come to the conclusion, at least for now, there aren't any concrete answers. I've gotten okay with not knowing them. That's not to say I won't keep searching or asking, just not at a fevered pitch, not with life or death urgency. We've got a lifetime. And to be perfectly honest, I think of it mostly as a hobby at this point. So many other things take priority, like actually living.

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  9. @Zoe,Oh yeah, I've been to those non-Christian blogs, too. You can't really be atheist if… I don't hang out there very long. It's depressing. And as a side note: It was Christianity itself that started me on this journey. So many viewpoints and "Holy Spirited" directions on so many important things. I thought He was One with the Father. Why's He teaching so many people something different? Confusing. Wait, I thought God wasn't the author of that. I'm pretty sure, even if He didn't author it, He perfected it. @The Wise Fool,Oh, yes, the art of the snark. It can be fun and useful. But when I began to feel snarky I realized, maybe it was a bit of bitterness. I don't intend to, nor care to be bitter. Not my thing.

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  10. Right on the spot, post, D'Ma. A huge amen!!I like the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there ishatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; wherethere is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; wherethere is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; wherethere is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek tobe consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it isin pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that weare born to eternal life. AmenRebecca.

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  11. Like a Child, have you tried ginger. You can put it in tea. It helped me with the nausea when I was pregnant. Hugs!!Rebecca.

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  12. I'm there too. I've not been blogging much about religion or lack there of either. I'm becoming more and more comfortable in what I think and believe. With that said I still think about it probably once a day or so. I just needed a break from it, though I miss my ifriends when I don't blog for awhile. With school starting and the holiday's around the corner life has been busier and when I do have a spare moment, I don't want to write about things that can be somewhat depressing at times. I just want to watch tv. :)Just write what you want to we will all still read.

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