Monday, September 12, 2011

Spiritual Journey: A Look Back

Looking through the "dashboard" of my blog I found this in the draft files, never having been published. I do not know why... maybe I just forgot or wanted to revise it. Anyhow, after reading it I felt it to be a pretty good summary of my thinking back in April 2010. Since then, I have reconciled somewhat with the United Methodist Church (my local one, not the evil Mother Church) and found particular meaning and enrichment in the stately, high church Eucharist of  St Mary's Episcopal. So much so that I am going to take some classes offered by St Mary's to learn more and perhaps join the church.

I did not want to waste this piece, looking back it was kind of a straight from the heart thing, so I am posting it today, a year and a half after it was penned. ~ Pato

So, inquiring minds want to know, where am I on this "spiritual journey" of mine?

De-railed, grounded, floundering, if you must ask.

As you may know, nasty and saddening events at the last two churches I attended left me cold, bitter and wondering if it was all worth it. Back in March, I went back to the last church I attended and still hold membership therein. As I reported it left me cold, and I have been back once since then. I have not been motivated to return. I remember my grandmother Clark telling my parents that exposure to church was good for a kid, that is where they learn how to be proper ladies and gentlemen. (She hated my guts so I am sure this was a backhanded slap at me directed at my parents who were very lax in taking me to church while my sister practically lived at hers at the time. Ironically, the roles reversed as the years passed.) Now I see church as a place to learn bigotry, hate, distrust, political infighting, greed and power.

Writer John Shore sums it up so nicely in his essay "10 Ways Christians Fail at Being Christian."

Easter, the big holy day of Christianity was spent at a beautiful, glittery, sensuous (not in the dirty minded sense, but one that fills all the senses) ritualized service. Gold and incense, flags, banners, robes and fine new dresses were on display. Any sense of excitement?? Not much. I confess I was sitting waiting patiently for the service to end so we could all head to Amy's for Bloody Marys which she assured me were chilling as we sat. I guess the point of the old style ritualistic services like this one at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral and those of Catholics is that if you repeat the same thing over and over, you soon will believe it.

About 3/4 through the 1 hour and 45 minute service, someone read all the prayers. We were to ask for blessings on everyone from the church high and mighty to the little old lady in the nursing home. The reader came to a point where she read the names of soldiers killed in the silly and pathetic wars Bush started and Obama has not the balls to finish.

Ok... where is god or God or Yahweh, or G-d or whatever in all this? Why do wars and killing persist and we glorify it; all in the name of whatever god or prophet we are hooked on at the time? Makes no sense. So again I was in the middle of a church service and thought again "what hooey....". I glanced at my watch to see how long it was before Bloody Mary time.

My friends Amy and Megan are on a similar journey, but instead of throwing in the towel, they seem to persist in finding a church to meet their needs and wants; one like we had and was dismantled. Of the two, Megan is closer to me in her thoughts. It was one of her blogs (you must read 10 Churches) in which she mused:

"Of course, I’ve tried to contemporize the story. I’ve studied it academically and come up with a logical answer: it’s all one giant metaphor. After a couple days of mourning, the disciples asked themselves, “What would Jesus do?” and headed out to spread the good news. His ideas were resurrected. His body, however, was not."

I think she is on to something. Christianity is absorbed, possessed and verily controlled by a desire to ensure its existence by perpetuating a myth. Thus the message is lost in a cloud of incense scented ritual or rigid dogma. Look what churches are debating: who to let in or kick out, who to ordain or not, money, sex, buildings, structure, scandal, politics, growth, oh yes.. and money again. Where is peace, love, love all, care for the poor... the things that the person that was Jesus obviously taught and very likely died for? If one reads the Bible with a critical mind, you'll find more contradictions, missing chapters, inaccuracies and implausible events than a 5th grader's attempt at a novel.

So why do I even bother, why am I even considering still being a church goer? For me, it has been a wonderful social outlet. I have met my dearest and most wonderful friends at churches I have attended for any length of time. I am not one of those folks who enters a room and immediately knows everyone or glad hands all he sees. I tend to keep my distance and people do the same to me. But for some reason in a church setting, I feel more comfortable and I feel a connection to the people there. "The fellowship of kindred minds" as the old hymn goes rings true. So I have this fear that if I abandon church all together, I will be left in the cold.

That is worse than being left in hell.

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