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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Thoughts
I'm writing two posts in one! Firstly I just quickly wanted to recommend that you read September's Tuesday book club book - "The Faith Club" it is an excellent book which I have really enjoyed reading. The interfaith dialogue is great and I have learnt things about Islam and Judism which I never knew before. I'm really looking forward to the Tuesday discussions.

A few weeks ago (apologies as I've been on vacation) Julie noted in her weekly round up that some of us from Emerging Women had taken part in a synchroblog called "Things I learnt from Church (which didn't prove true and what I'm learning lately)" I wanted to hear some of your thoughts here. What sort of things have you "learnt" from church which you now realize were not true and how would you say your faith is growing lately? Have you found your belief is God put to the test through your "emerging" journey or has it been more strengthened? Do you find your emerging journey difficult or is it more of a relief? Has it put you in conflict with loved ones and close friends?

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posted by Lyn at 4:59 AM ¤ Permalink ¤


26 Comments:


  • At 8/15/2007 02:55:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    I have to say that my journey out of the Sunday morning Show has been a very long and battered one. It's been a year and a half since we left our last church and we have struggled so very much just holding on to the basics of what is taught as faith. Most days I really don't know what I believe to be real. It's very difficult and stressful working through issues and questioning EVERYTHING. It gets tiresome some days.

    Here is a paste from a side blog that went out to a few close girlfriends:

    On the faith issue, I've determined that I'm about as clueless as I ever have been and, at the moment, see no real hopes on coming to any real conclusions on what my choice of belief is. With all the -isms that are out there, there's no way to really know what's the absolute bare truth which is why I use the phrase "choice of beliefs". Just pick something, anything - I don't even care what - and stick with it, could we?!

    "Am I struggling? No... I think I'm giving up - at least for now.
    At the moment my snow-globe of faith has hit the hard-wood floor. There's glass and water everywhere. No, you can't help me clean it up. Don't come in here; you'll most likely cut your own foot just by trying to get close to the mess.
    I'll clean it up ...
    eventually."

    Michelle K

     
  • At 8/15/2007 05:54:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    I can totally relate to the emotions Michelle K has shared. I feel like it has been difficult for me, but for different reasons. I have to say, my emerging journey thus far has been personally overwhelming at times, inspiring at times, and very freeing most of all. The hardest part for me is the wedge that I feel with most of my family. The ironic thing is not too many have said much to my face, but I can tell in the actions. (not getting called any more, the whispers etc.) I had a family member mention recently that "the family" was just worried I was being pulled down the wrong path.

    In the beginning I hid many things. I didn't want to battle but yet felt "they really didn't know what was out there". At this stage I am ok in my own skin. I no longer fear being ostracized, if they are scared for me, I can't change that, but I am ok with where I am at.

    I also feel calmer now. I would say another struggle is that I can embrace the "uncertainty" I have about many things, but what do I teach my kids???
    I am a children's director at my church and I am struggling tremendously with how we teach our children. I am fairly extreme, so luckily I leave a great deal of the curriculum search to my partner. However, my own children are in that program, and I still am concerned about what is going to be soaking in, that I will not be able to explain until they are older. I do believe the more fundamental your background, probably the hardest these changes can be. When fear is replaced with the "security" of fundamental ideas, it can be very hard to embrace the tension and feeling of instability within a new way of thinking (for you anyway). It is even harder when people judge, turn their backs, criticize and call your new way of thought "liberal", "wrong", of "Satan", or a cult.

    Overall, I continue to be grateful for where I am at now. The change in my beliefs has impacted every inch of my life. Overall, I am more confident, at ease, happy, and at peace.

     
  • At 8/15/2007 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Linda

    I think that the most significant thing I "learnt" from the church (that I have subsequently "unlearnt") is about the gospel message. The gospel was taught to me as a completely personal thing that would only really bear fruit after I die (as in, eternal life in heaven). Now I know that it has as much to do with the whole human community and the here and now as it does with the ever after. This knowledge has changed how I interact with others and the importance I place on acts of service that I previously may have considered only a stepping stone for being able to share the gospel.

    Apart from the gospel, my categories for God have been blown open completely. It is at once exciting and terrifying. I don't really know who God is apart from a vague idea of justice, mercy, and love comingled in perfection.

    I also find that I don't know how to pray like I used to and even experience it as distasteful in others (my problem, I know). When someone asks me to pray now, I will often decline or simply speak the words, "Lord have mercy on (fill in the blank)" while visualizing the person or situation. Occasionally I muster up the proper Christianese necessary to please some, but I always feel like an enormous hypocrite for doing so. It simply is not who I am anymore.

    Most of my life has been spent in being the good Christian girl that others have wanted me to be, but I refuse to do it anymore. My faith will either be something I can throw myself into wholeheartedly, or it will die. Sometimes I think the jury is still out on this, but then I remember the life of Jesus, and I can't help but follow. So I'm probably here to stay.

     
  • At 8/15/2007 09:36:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Ahhh Linda...prayer. I didn't even remember to mention that. That is really hard for me also. I never felt comfortable praying out loud anyway, but now I find, I just am not even sure how to pray, if I believe in prayer in the same way. I am not sure where that is going, but I agree, I hear others pray, and it upsets me. I try to remind myself that is how they pray and connect, I don't have to do things the same way.

     
  • At 8/16/2007 08:27:00 AM, Anonymous Lyn

    Thanks for sharing your journeys ladies. Pray can be difficult, I remember a month ago or so a friend of mine asked if she could come over so that I could pray for her. She is not on the journey I have been on and is still very institutionalized church orientated. I spent the next day thinking "how can I pray for .... I don't even know if I have the words anymore." My prayer life has changed a lot, I don't use the Christianisms anymore. Prayer for me is a chat with God, which I do where and whenever, and I say it as it is most of the time - he knows my thoughts so there is no point in pretending everything is great, eh? Another thing I've recently discovered is praying in color http://www.prayingincolor.com/examples.html
    this is a great way to "do" prayer very differently to how we have been taught, it's fun, and you can get your kids involved as well.

    It is difficult when people judge. My husband is a pastor and I know many have labelled us as "backslidders" in the journey we have been on (and I hate that term, always have and always will). I really believe that God has us on this journey though, and that's what keeps me going at times. I am liberal, I know I am, but I kind of think that Jesus was liberal too.

     
  • At 8/16/2007 08:37:00 AM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    I asked some girlfriends the question, "why do we pray" many weeks ago and I never got a really believable answer. So prayer is definitely something that's fallen by the way-side with me. Why do we do ANYTHING actually? As you can tell, I'm still on shaky ground with it all.

    Michelle L hit my biggest concern on the head. I'm ok with me but I'm very puzzled on what to teach my children. I would so love to find some developed lessons somewhere that aren't the normal run of the mill evangelical style.

    Michelle K

     
  • At 8/16/2007 09:38:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    Lyn, thanks for the comments and suggestion. I too absolutely hate all the "phrases" that get used. I never realized how much certain phrases get used within Christianity....they are like nails on a chalkboard for me.

    Michelle K...I have to say that finding stories for children...is quite a nightmare. I have worked for my church for almost a year now. We were trying to write our own curriculum. We started with the "Jesus" stories and co-wrote them with our pastor. Too be honest, we soon ran dry. Then we found a "secular" curriculum about Philanthropy and giving, being friends etc. and would add Biblical references to them. We are now going to buy a curriculum from the Internet. I am more ok with the concepts of this particular curriculum, but still would love to have something else. We thought of even writing curriculum to sell, but at this stage, we are dealing with too many other things (losing church attenders, changing our name, etc.). So someday, I hope to see more for our children. I think some people think it isn't a big deal to teach kids the same way...but it is. When they are taught all of their life to see stories a particular way, it is hard to get them thinking a different way later....isn't that where many of us were? LOL

     
  • At 8/16/2007 11:28:00 AM, Blogger Anne

    I want to echo what Lyn said about praying in color. I used to feel so mute with God, but praying in color has helped me so. I just don't need a lot of words. It is such a relief. As Lyn said, "he knows my thoughts so there is no point in pretending everything is great, eh?"
    What I “learnt” from church about prayer is that it is basically a monologue to God. I am trying to unlearn this and sit in silence with God and listen to God. Difficult, yes, but I think infinitely more intimate.

    Anne

     
  • At 8/16/2007 01:00:00 PM, Anonymous jessica

    One thing I learnt from the church was that a critical part of my faith was doing devotions or spending time with God every day. This meant specifically reading the Bible and praying for at least 10 min and the more the better. As a teenager, I tried to do this regular, but often ended up feeling guilty for missing a day or even a week and at times months. Today, I haven’t done that definition of devotions for several years. Something about the idea that you only spend a certain amount of time with God each day just doesn’t jive with me. I understand that its meant as a time of focus and of worship, but too often its made the measure of your faith. The longer you pray and read your Bible, the better a Christian you are. I’ve found that some of my best times of worship and prayer come from listening to music (secular or Christian) by myself or writing poetry. Even just sitting outside watching the clouds and being “still”, whether that means thinking about God or not. Like many of you have mentioned, prayer is a big question mark for me. I still know how to do it like I was taught, but I feel hypocritical and fake in front of others who have no idea where my faith is at. I also don’t think that God really cares if we bring every little concern before him or not. I think he cares that we trust in his goodness, his grace and his sovereignty.

    This journey has been good, but definitely confusing. It is great to have the freedom of ambiguity and uncertainty, but it also makes it difficult to know how exactly to live as a Christ follower. I often find myself at lack for words or an appropriate response to Christians around me. I, too, have to constantly remind myself that their Christianese works for them, the problems come when they can’t/don’t acknowledge that my lack of Christianese works for me.

     
  • At 8/16/2007 03:43:00 PM, Blogger Lydia

    What sort of things have you "learnt" from church which you now realize were not true

    That God isn't sitting up in heaven with his/her finger poised over the "smite" button, waiting for me to make a mistake.

    how would you say your faith is growing lately

    It's less yellow and sickly than it used to be.

    Have you found your belief is God put to the test through your "emerging" journey or has it been more strengthened?

    both/and. Overall it has been strengthened, but there has been more than once when I've comes inches from throwning up my hands in protest and walking away from the "garden."

    Do you find your emerging journey difficult or is it more of a relief? Has it put you in conflict with loved ones and close friends?

    Relief. No, but most of them are on the same path. And I'm cautious about what I tell the rest anyway. :)

     
  • At 8/16/2007 07:59:00 PM, Blogger Heather

    I have already done the meme on my blog, so I won't comment any more about that.

    But Michelle K, I had not read your blog before. What amazing honesty, and your use of language is so artistic. I am looking forward to seeing where this journey takes you.

    Do you mind if I use the quote you wrote on here about the snow globe on my own blog? It is so beautiful and sad and honest and thought provoking.

     
  • At 8/16/2007 11:10:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Michelle, I too popped over to your blog. I love what you said about "church" and now wearing the other shoe. I remember when I used to think..."how do people walk away and not go to church"...along with many other negative judgements. Now, I get how. If I didn't work for my church, I probably wouldn't be there either. However, I am at a place where I attend there or I don't attend. So I continue. I like how open you are and really respect your openness.

     
  • At 8/17/2007 08:30:00 AM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Heather: Certainly I don't mind if you quote the snow-globe imagery.

    Thank you to you and to Michelle L for your encouraging words on my blog.

     
  • At 8/17/2007 12:45:00 PM, Blogger Lyn H

    I think we are all on wonderful journeys (even if they don't feel wonderful at times!). I love the fact that we can all share here and be honest and open, knowing that others are walking similar paths to us. Some may be new to the journey, others further down the road, but a lot of the struggles and questions are the same. Bless you all.

     
  • At 8/17/2007 07:57:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Michelle L - back to the subject of children's stories ...
    I'm putting my daughter into Girl Scouts because of the teachings of companionship, service, being friendly and helpful to others ...

    I wish that I knew of church based kids' programs that taught this and the goodness of God but the programs that I know of are programs that start off with "we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" and move into our sin and our need of a savior in hopes of culminating it all in the sinner's prayer.

    I'm still so unsure of what all is truth that I feel very hesitant to let my children go too far down that same path just yet. On the other hand, what if by my reserve I'm ensure their soul's damnation?!

    Extreme but ... some would warn me of that possibility I'm sure.

    Michelle K

     
  • At 8/17/2007 08:58:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Michelle I completely understand. I have actually been told blatantly by my own mother that I am "being deceived" and am "deceiving my children", and that if the opportunity is there "she will share the 'truth' with them" (ie. sinner's prayer etc.)

    For awhile I felt...what if I am wrong...and I mess it up for my kids. Over time my position has evolved to the point that "we are all wrong and we are all right"

    I don't believe in the vengeful God who just hopes we "find the truth" anymore. However, it took a while to let go of that.

    I feel your emotions! Keep on going...

     
  • At 8/17/2007 09:03:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Michelle L -
    I don't think that I believe in the vengeful God. I guess that's one of those things that I need to decide on and quit faltering back and forth.
    It's those little nagging, "but what if....."s that pop up now and again.

    augh...

    I know that it really can't be as difficult as we all make it out to be but yet doing nothing feels a little odd too. Not odd enough to force me back into church though! Places like this are church for me lately.

    Michelle K

     
  • At 8/17/2007 09:37:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Hello all. I'm popping in kind of late on this one. I've been thinking about it all week. There's so much I want to say and then quite a lot I'm afraid to say...even in my own mind.

    My journey is somewhat new, but more one that I haven't even really entered yet. I'm still trying to make up my mind.

    I grew up thinking, like Linda, that my faith was all about me as an individual, and mostly about my "reward" in the afterlife. "Dominion" over the earth meant using its resources for our own comfort 'cause the sooner we wasted it away, the sooner the Lord would come. Missionaries were sent to "save the lost", again so that the whole world would know and Jesus would come back and take us away to a heavenly utopia.

    These days, I better realize what it means to act as steward over the earth. I understand that my faith is not just mine, that it is part of a community, a community that extends globally. I better understand that I am supposed to be an agent of God here, not just sitting on my thumbs until utopia comes to me.

    These things sound so inspiring to me at times. And at others, I just want to stick my head in the sand. That's my place of faith right now. I don't know how to live out the things I believe. I'm still thinking stuff through.

     
  • At 8/17/2007 11:14:00 PM, Blogger Heather

    Michelle K: Thank you. My post is here if you want to read it.

     
  • At 8/18/2007 05:45:00 AM, Blogger Lyn H

    Michelle L - don't get me going about the sinners prayer! It is one of a list of "requirements" the church has put on people- can anyone show me where it appears in the bible?

     
  • At 8/18/2007 07:41:00 AM, Anonymous agma

    For those of you looking for children's curriculum~ check out the Live BIG stuff put out by the Methodists. It sounds like several of you are nondemoninational, but check out http://www.ilivebig.com/ anyway. We started using it last year at my church and the teachers & kids both love it. Flexibility, multiple intelligences, lots of choices, sound teaching, real life apps- we're using it again instead of searching for yet another that might meet the needs described above. I know I sound like a commercial, but I promise no one is paying me to say this!! (Oh, how I wish they were...what church couldn't use more money?)

     
  • At 8/18/2007 09:37:00 AM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Heather - I read your new blog. Very well written, as is all of your blogs actually. :-)

    I feel humbled that my words are those that others identify with. Also a little saddened that mine is such a common cry.

    Michelle K.

     
  • At 8/18/2007 10:48:00 AM, Blogger Michele L

    agma...thanks for the resource.

    As for the sinner's prayer...not there! Created carefully by church as "accepting Christ" for entry to heaven...

    Michelle....I get "what if's". I am a HUGE what if person (B.A. in psychology for a reason! LOL)

    All I can say for me...is between this blog for the last year and a half, all the reading I have done, and seeing all of the differing perspectives, I decided faith issues are extremely complicated. With that being said, I decided that I don't believe God,
    1.)expected us all to be Biblical Scholars (what would 3rd world countries do) in order to have the "right" beliefs, 2.) hopes that with all the information available I "figure" out the right one, 3.) would see that my heart really is seeking, and yearning for a connection and wholeness, but "darn she picked the wrong thing to believe". So my conclusion is that we have as humans made it way more complicated than it should be. We have focused way to much on "being right" about proper beliefs. Maybe that isn't where the focus should be. Maybe it is a lot of wasted energy. So now I am searching for how to find a different way of being, when the world around me still wants to battle over "rightness of beliefs". Maybe not in my lifetime, but I choose to be hopeful.

     
  • At 8/18/2007 11:44:00 AM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Michelle L -- I so wish I had finished my degree. I wanted to do psychology. I made an A in Intro to Psych. Does that count? ;-)

    Related to the idea that we've made it too complicated, what are your thoughts (anyone's thoughts really) on if maybe Buddhists, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, etc... all have a piece of the truth and we shouldn't worry about who's doctrine is the most sound?

    Michelle K.

     
  • At 8/18/2007 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Michele L

    Yes an A in Psych counts in my book LOL!!!

    As for the other religions...I guess, without knowing enough about any of them (only recently entering curiosity about them), I find myself descriptively as a 'type' of universalist. My ideas have changed drastically with in my Christianity, therefore I view the other religions as possibly their way to connect with God. What I do know is that each share very similar ideas in many places. There are great "lessons" and concepts that each have to offer.

    I still am on this journey, and where I would probably still feel uncomfortable within the other religions (my psyche that likes my comfort zone) I am less rejecting as I once was. Regardless, I feel I need to accept and understand that others are raised or a part of other religions and that is all they have known, just like Christianity is what I have known. Just as it wouldn't have been very probable that I would have converted to any of these, how can I expect that they would to mine. AND...if mine "is true" then I guess I live with a sense of "guilt". Why would I be "chosen" to automatically "get" the true religion, when others are just born into something else as a "lost" person. Of course my questions go on and on...but my hope is that God connects in ways we will never know or understand.

     
  • At 8/18/2007 09:31:00 PM, Blogger One Voice of Many

    Lyn,

    I was re-reading more of previous things I've written related to my journey out of traditional church. Your original question asked how our emergence has affected family and friends relationships.
    Here's some of my feelings on that topic:
    ------------

    I've grieved over what feels like, at this moment, losses in friendship. The thoughts and avenues that have become important to me have become irrelevant, or at the very least, bothersome, to many of my previous friends. I've had to learn appropriate boundaries within relationships and keep myself from crossing them as to not offend; not because I am fearful of being disagreed with but because I do not seek to stir up strife just for the sake of the act. The problem with that is that surface conversation becomes cumbersome and I eventually stop putting forth the effort.

    I've spent the past hour trying to find C S Lewis' words on Friendship. When I read his take on things in his collection of writings, The Joyful Christian, I felt completely explained by a complete stranger. I've long since returned that book and I can't find the quotes anywhere online so please allow for some paraphrasing.

    When I ask, "do you love me?" what I'm really asking is "do you care about the things that I care about?" Friendship doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with me but it does mean that one moment that I find you interested in a matter that is seen by most others as inconsequential.

     

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