Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spiritual Not Religious?

Having a lot of time on your hands is dangerous.  I know this first hand.  The last few months have given me way too much time to stew in my juices.  It caused me to over think some things and finally spend some time on others.  Writing basically carried me over the last hill of thought in order for me to reach a few conclusions.  Add a little bit of stewing, and I was finally able to voice some thoughts I've been having but couldn't articulate until now.  It was hard.  It was really hard.

First you should know that pastors are in my family.  People tend to become business people or ministers in my family - those are the top most popular occupations (with farming as a close third thanks to my mom's side). So when I got handed two ministers as parents, it was no wonder that my Christian socialization was deep.  Even though my parents are progressive, my father's enlightenment thinking (sorry Dad, but it's totally true) and my mother's more hooby dooby perspective (only recently discovered), I still somehow was hemmed into the Christian fold.  Even when I was in highschool, desperately wanting to try out and see different religious customs, I was required to be in church every Sunday.  It is the price of being a child of the clergy.  The rule is that pastor's kids are either very good or very bad, there is nothing in between.  I fell in the good category.

It was through a process of rebellious ebb and flow that I some how came to my current spiritual place in time.  Maybe it was the natural progression, from the wild ride of art school, to studying abroad in atheist Central Europe, to finally studying world religions in the religious melting pot of the world - India.  It must have been the result of these things, and the failure of church after church to do what I thought was required.  In the end, the result was a complete disillusionment, and ultimately, a loss of faith. 

For a time I thought God had been stolen from me by someone.  Someone else hadn't done their job.  I wanted someone to defend God, to make it right, to prove something was good about religion.  And the truth is there are some things that are good about religion - the community of Christianity and several other world faiths, the code of ethics that helps people to be better and strive to change the world for their fellow humans, or the kernels of truth that are gleaned by each of the world religions.  The problem is that none of them are all right.  None of them are completely true, and some of the things are down right false.  It's true.  I can't deny it having studied what I have and knowing what I know from the different experiences I've had.

Don't get me wrong.  I believe in God.  And maybe I'll find a religious community that won't mind my heretical thoughts some day.  It would be nice to be with a group of people who want to do good in the world, who have some kind of faith that guides them, who don't give me funny looks when I say some of the things on my mind or talk about the experiences I've had.  That seems to be the best I could possibly hope to find short of starting some new kind of institutionalized wonder (and that has its own set of problems).

All I know for certain, is that something is out there nudging me in some kind of direction, and I have no idea who I will be in five years.  I hope it will be the person I put up on my goal board, but who knows what that person will believe or seek in the world.  I just know I will be different. Knowing and accepting that somehow makes things so much easier.  I recommend it to everyone, regardless of the journey to your current spiritual place.

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