A commenter made me realize that if I am going to be posting about religion, I ought to give you some idea of my background on the topic. That way, you can form more informed opinions regarding my sanctimonious harpings.
I said to the commenter, “I admit that I am in a limbo concerning where I fall as far as Christian denominations go. I went from zero to sixty in my conversion, going from having been nothing to being part of a charismatic congregation. From there, I went into the Baptist church, and the Methodist. I’ve been very cranky about churches since the 10+ years I spent with the charismatic group. That has led me to a very bare bones way of looking at things right now, which is to say, if it isn’t in the Gospels, and if Jesus didn’t address it directly, I am wary and skeptical. I feel like, right now, the way to keep my heart pure is to rest it on the shelf of the message Jesus taught. Paul was a great writer, and no doubt a great leader, but after the abuse of power I watched in three different major ministries, I just can’t build my focus around what he, or any other minister says he heard from God.”
You see, I spent a decade in a church where men and women were appointed prophets, and what they heard from god became gospel. I even spent a couple of years writing the style manual for that ministry (which was copied and used by three major international ministries that I know of, and heaven only knows how many others reproduced it without permission), including keeping up with the list of words we were not allowed to say because “God said so.”
I graduated from Bible school after finishing my degree in English, completing 72 hours worth of credit and somewhere around 180 hours of volunteer work in childrens ministry. I went on to act as a lay singles minister, taught Sunday school, and lead three devotional-based Bible study classes.
From 1993 through late 1997, of my own volition, with the exception of the Spice Girls whose allure was undeniable, I tuned out of secular radio, film, and television. I watched Christian broadcasting, listened to Christian radio programming (usually actual ministers because no matter how saved you are, Christian music is still awful), read Christian books, and immersed myself in Bible study. I think it is telling that I went back to secular entertainment after I started working for the ministry in 1998. I would not have survived that place without my internet friends.
I am obviously not just some book thumping yokel. I am educated and I’ve done my homework, and I am proud of that. However, I realize that I know less and less with every passing year, and I also realize that my education is lop-sided, weighted to doctrines of my own former denominations. There are more things about God in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in my philosophizing.
I would tell you this about me regarding my faith, and my discussion of it: I will always be frank when it comes to religion because I have a heavy respect for it. I respect mine, yours, and those other guys’, and I respect those who choose not to believe in a god at all. I don’t take anyone’s religion lightly. I have laughed about space clams and peep-stones in the past, but I realize that I hang my eternal hat on a virgin birth, a resurrection, and an ascension, so I don’t have much room to talk about the whickety-whack. That doesn’t mean I won’t call out doctrines that seem patently absurd to me. I can respect your faith and still think it is nuts that you married a dead guy.
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried.
I believe He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead. That He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
I believe that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.
And I need you to understand that I am aware of the difference between using the words “I believe” and “I know.”
I could be wrong. There’s only one way to find out, and I’m not in any hurry to do that. In the meantime, I have chosen a faith that informs my worldview that every person is worth salvation, and so worth my patience, kindness, humility, politeness, forgiveness and consideration over self. Actually, that might come more from being raised Southern… I kid. I’m also still not good at living that way. If you keep reading this blog, your sure to find easy evidence of that.
I don’t care what color you are, where you are from, who you want to sleep with (as long as it isn’t my husband, a child, or someone/thing unwilling or unable to consent, or else all bets are off–and if it is my child, I will skin you and wear your hide to church and dare the preacher to say a word to me about it), what god you worship, or if you worship one at all. You’re fine by me. Vive le difference, vive et vivant, laisser le bon temps roulez and all that jazz.
And now, no more religion for the day.