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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Sunshine for 6/6/10: A Crisis Of Religion, Not A Crisis Of Faith



For the past several Sundays I have skipped out on my spiritual post. I haven’t gone atheist, but I’ve had nothing to write.

I thought with all the weddings that I’m in, my Sunday posts would be easy. I see God as the foundation of my marriage and I even officiated my friend’s wedding last night. God was there. But I still struggled to write.

Now, I am not struggling with God. I have been going right along chatting with God, seeing daily miracles, you know, the usual for us God-freaks. The problem that I’m having is with Christianity. I’m not feeling very Christian.

On my path to a God-loving liberal, I found God first. The whole Jesus/church thing came years later. It came as a way for my husband and I to share God. I saw it as a future place to share a more concrete God with my children.

And having a religion made talking about God easier. By saying I’m Christian (well, I usually add the liberal part so as not to be confused with the haters), I have an instant connection with many people. My God relationship is easily explained even if those explanations are more assumptions than truths.

But lately, I haven’t wanted to go to church. At all. I don’t see my family sharing God there. I see my kids in the nursery. My husband and I in church. Sometimes all of us in the nursery (because we have nursery duty once a month, not because we are all infatuated with the train set).

I am jealous of other churches with hordes of children and Christian rock music. (I can seriously rock out to contemporary Christian music. Which may be the most difficult thing that I’ve ever admitted on my blog. Seriously.) But I can’t give my money to those churches. Because my money supports activities that I believe are wrong.

Trust me. I tried to attend a conservative church. I sang and clapped and loved it. But when the basket came around, I shuddered. I couldn’t give. I know that values are often most apparent when it comes to money. Where we give and why. And I couldn’t. Even after an AWESOME ACOUSTIC GUITAR GOD BALLAD.

We finally found a raucous church that fit everything we wanted. We removed the pews. We circled up at the end of the service and sang a song often lead by a young man with Down-Syndrome. We didn’t use the basement until it was handicap accessible. On Epiphany? A man played the drums instead of our pastor giving a sermon. My kind of church.

But we moved. And we found a church that’s more normal. Still liberal. But with pews and hymns. And there are not very many children. I love our pastor and the other members. They are some of my favorite people. But I still don’t want to go to church. I guess that I don’t see it as family-friendly. And the reason I sought out a church was to have my family grow up in God. Because I don’t believe that I need Christianity to know my God.

And maybe it has nothing to do with my church. Maybe Christianity just isn’t for me. Maybe I’m an areligious God-freak.

I certainly don’t believe Jesus is the ONLY WAY to God. Last night, I officiated a wedding between a Jewish friend and her deist/agnostic husband. But I know that God was there. And I see God as Allah. God as the wind in the trees. I pretend to know how God comes to people. I would just like for people to believe in something greater than themselves. I found relief and hope in not being in charge. But I don’t really care what that looks like.

And to be honest, I don’t even care if you’re atheist. GREAT. If it works for you, I’m the first to high five. So maybe I don’t even care if you believe at all. Maybe I just care that I believe. And I’m honest enough to admit that I believe even with my degrees and politics and sarcasm.

But my belief system doesn’t seem to fit in very many places. And the Church of Alex seems a little cultish (although I’m open to the idea).

Mostly, I’m tired. I’m tired of trying to quote the Bible when I see it as one of many important texts. I see God in T.S. Eliot poems as much as I see Him in the Bible. I’m tired of saying I’m a Christian and I’m TOTALLY OKAY WITH YOU NOT BEING A CHRISTIAN. I’m a Christian who believes in the right to choose, the right to be gay, the right to healthcare and welfare and a clean environment. I'm tired of being told that I don’t understanding Jesus.

Maybe Christianity is for the right-wing conservatives. Or the Bible-quoting liberals. I don’t know.

All I know is that having God has made my life something it shouldn’t be. Something amazing and wonderful when I pretty much thought life was full of despair and death. Doors have opened for me not because I prayed for a door a to open but because I prayed for God’s will to be done in my life. Even if it means that my life looks exactly opposite of what I think it should look like, I find that I’m happier with God’s plan than my own. I practice being the best Alex that I can be, which means I am patience and tolerant and kind when I don’t want to be. I’m nice when I think I should be allowed to be mean. Because I have this amazing God in my life.

And at my worst, I want to be self-righteous. I want to say YOUR CHRISTIAN BIBLE GOD SUCKS. He’s mean and judgmental. He reminds me a lot of YOU. But I’ve read enough of the Bible and know enough Christians to know this isn’t true either.

So maybe I’m not Christian. Because I can’t quote enough Bible to defend myself. Because I don’t want to go to church.

Or maybe I’m just don’t know what it means to be a Christian anymore.
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This post is written by Alex Iwashyna, a happily married mom with a BA in Political Philosophy and a Medical Degree and the drive to become neither. She is too busy writing, blogging, and staying at home with her children. She blogs at Late Enough about motherhood, politics, culture, and religion. She also tweets @L8enough and hangs out on Facebook.
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