Sunday, March 16, 2008

Hold the Holy Phone One Second...

Holy Week has arrived, and the Lenten season is soon to end with Easter next weekend. Five weeks ago, I committed myself to learning about the church for personal enrichment. I have not done well in my effort to study every day--not even every week. No excuses, not even an apology. I let no one down but myself. Conversations with friends and family lately have brought up a few questions that I never thought I'd be asked at this point in my life. Obviously, there have been some serious misunderstandings that I aim to rectify in this post.

"Do you believe in a god?"
After 24 years of life as a believing Christian, a person who strives to do right, and someone who attempts in every way to lead an honest life, I cannot understand where this question came from. Either I've failed in my attempts to explain myself, or misbegotten assumptions have been made about me. Yes, I believe in a god. I believe in the Holy Trinity. I believe there is something more out there, some greater and divine force that I can't explain. And I am dumbfounded that this question even needed to be asked.

"Why did you devote Lent to studying the church?"
Many people have assumed that I set out to become closer to God. While I didn't shy away from that, my intent was more about church history and tradition. While I wasn't raised in church, I was raised knowing God. I never felt like anything was missing, but rather reached a point where I was (am?) questioning what else is out there. The intent wasn't to "get to know God." I already knew Him. I wanted to learn about the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, and I wanted to know why the church believes what they do (collectively and individually). Just for my own knowledge. No harm in that.

"What have you learned from your church studies?"
Too much for one post, really! I picked up on some important ideas that separate the Protestant denominations, and I've determined what I do and don't like as far as church services go. I've learned, more so than ever, that despite their efforts and doctrines, Christians can be some of the most close-minded, judgmental, and narrow people I've met. Equally, they can be helpful, kind, and selfless. I can't lump everyone into piles, though, and I don't want to seem harsh by my observations. Whether I agree or disagree with Christian attitudes, I am one. My hope is that I can be humble enough to act selflessly and without judgment when the time comes.

"Why aren't you open about religion or God if He's so important?"
Unashamedly, I am not often willing to talk about religion. I don't want to deceive. I don't want people to think I have religion figured out, or that I have answers, or that I have made up my mind on those difficult issues. God is important to me, but constantly defending myself or putting up a front isn't. I don't need you to tell me I'm wrong. I don't need you to throw scripture or sermons or biblical history in my face. I'm not closed to hearing your ideas, but I'm also not going to offer my religious opinions unless I'm directly asked for them.

"So what now? What is your next step?"
I was never in the search for a church or group of people to worship with. I never intended to find a specific version of the Bible, nor did I want to rule out churches or religious viewpoints. I'm in this to learn. I'm in it for the experience and knowledge and fun and growth and all that other important life-lesson stuff. One day, one church, one homily/sermon at a time.

3 comments:

chris farrell said...

That's an interesting post. I've been messing with joining the Catholic church for a long time now, but I can't do it, because I can't believe some of the stuff they believe. I agree that there are a lot of sanctimonious Christians, as well as a lot of sincere Christians. Anyway, joining a church is still on my mind, but it hasn't happened yet.

chris farrell said...

I'd love to discuss religion with you, but I'd rather not do it on the web. my email: christopherfarrell at gmail.com

Amanda said...

I think that your exploring and learning more about different traditions during Lent is/was a great way to observe the season. Being in France has made me reflect more than ever on what I believe about the Church and God, even having attended a Christian college for 4 years. Religion pervades all here, yet it doesn't penetrate deeply anymore, if that makes sense. It's funny, too, because here I am labeled (and often dismissed) as a Protestant, when I have never really called myself that. Here, I'm not Baptist, or evangelical, or whatever...I'm just NOT catholic. It's interesting...
Enjoy the beginning of spring!
A
PS - I like the new design!