The Reluctant Christian and the Lone Wolf

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My husband and I attend a Unitarian Universalist Church. If you’re interested in which one, I’ll post their website.

I don’t plan on becoming a UU even in light of the recent developments in my renouncing mainstream Christianity for (hopefully) the last time. I haven’t made any movements to officially move my church member records from the Episcopal Church, but when I become a member of a Gnostic Church, that will happen, and there my records will go, and there my records will stay.

To become UU would not solve the problem; to be a sort of nominal UU solves the problem because, as one teacher one said, it’s a good idea to find a group of like-minded individuals, or you’re going to have a hard time.

No, I don’t have to agree with the secular humanists or pagans or anyone else who attends the UU; rather, I can love them and have them love me in return and experience a profound level of community among fellow seekers. However, to declare myself one of them might actually compromise my integrity- I like them, I sympathize with them, but I am not, at heart, one of them, and to declare myself so would be compromise in what I actually want, but more so, what I actually¬†need.

I should point out that I will always, always, ALWAYS be fond of the time I spent at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama; I have nothing negative to say about my former priest or the parishioners there.

My issue is something I’ve highlighted before; where my spiritual quest, and where it’s going, is somewhere beyond the reach of where most people are currently. That isn’t to pat myself on the back, I’m just trying to explain that while I would recommend the Episcopal Church to anyone who is comfortable with mainstream Christianity as a sort of liberal alternative to Catholicism and so on, I can’t profess doctrines or uphold views that I have constantly qualify.

I’m more involved, along with my husband, at the UU Church than I’ve ever been in any other organization. But then, I realize, I’ve been attending there with him longer than I’ve been attending the Episcopal Church, at least at THIS point.

The other night at the Humanism Class, in context of the discussion, I referred to myself as a “Reluctant Christian.”

I’m reluctant for many reasons, not the least of which is the extremely ridiculous history of mainstream Christianity; I feel like I’m trying to salvage diamonds out of shit at times.

Yet the diamonds in question are often worth the battle.

My home state of Alabama recently had Marriage Equality push forward. Naturally, the bigots in the state have fought and fought and fought the Marriage Equality ruling, and the self-styled Real, True Christians are commenting profusely online.

The usual comments are people slinging Bible verses everywhere or saying God defined marriage as between one man and one woman, and I just have to roll my eyes…or troll the people, depending on how I feel.

Because seriously, I don’t know who decided that firing off Bible verses would convince anyone, but it doesn’t. Ever. If anything, people get tired of seeing Bible verses that are taken out of context and don’t hold any authority over them anyway- the Dead Letter of the Scriptures cannot save us and has never saved us.

And like, if this is the way Christians behave, who the hell wants to be a Christian? I’m thoroughly confused about what’s appealing in mainstream Christianity, and the promise that I won’t burn forever in some hypothetical and probably derived-from-bad-theological-readings Hell isn’t really enough of a motivation.

I finally gave up fighting the heresy label. I just don’t fucking care anymore- by God, I’m a heretic, and I’m proud of being a heretic if it means I don’t get lumped in with all those blithering idiots out that follow the American Bible Religion.

The question is, why even bother with Christianity at all? But yes. There are good things there, even if the good things are in the minority. I need the potency of the Holy Eucharist; I need my prayer beads and my crucifixes and my iconography; I need my Scriptures talking about Sophia’s repentances. Because then my spirit is quiet, and I can slowly fall in love with God again and again, each time the same and yet different, each time a stillness and a movement.

Since I’m probably effectively the only Gnostic Christian at the UU Fellowship, I like to think of myself as the “Lone Wolf.” Yeah. I like that title. Makes me feel special.

My heart does go out to Alabama and to the many, MANY couples there who now have the right to marry but are facing bigots who tell them they can’t, and moreover, the many bigots who seem to be under the erroneous impression that their own point of view is the dominant one.

Judge Roy Moore is an embarrassment. They kicked him out of one time for doing something similar, and people mocked me for being from Alabama and asked if Roy Moore thought he was the Second Coming of Jesus.

Not only is he an embarrassment, he unfortunately reinforces the stereotypes about Alabama AND mainstream Christianity. His attitude is exactly the sort of thing that holds society back and causes the anti-theists to have a field day mocking all religion. Good grief.

I wish I could be charitable; in reality, no matter the injustice, these are just the death cries. Come the summer, the Supreme Court of the USA will rule in favor of Marriage Equality, the idiocy will have to completely stop then, and that aspect of the battle will be done. Non-discrimination policies are a different thing, though.

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On the Statements Made by Governor Robert J. Bentley of Alabama

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I feel like this blog needs to be written, especially at this point in time.

Recently, the freshly inaugurated Governor Bentley of Alabama made a statement to Alabamians.

“Now I will have to say that, if we don’t have the same daddy, we’re not brothers and sisters,” he added, according to the paper. “So anybody here today who has not accepted Jesus Christ as their savior, I’m telling you, you’re not my brother and you’re not my sister, and I want to be your brother.”

Now.

People are making a mountain out of a molehill on the one hand. I think some people are trying to act shocked and appalled that a governor from Alabama would even begin to make statements of a religious nature.

Folks, in Alabama, politicians don’t make a clear distinction between Christianity and the government. That’s not news. That’s an understood reality.

But that’s not my personal beef with the statement.

Do I think it should have been said? Probably not- because in saying it, Governor Bentley has opened up a whole can of worms and turned the unwanted spotlight onto Alabama and its people.

Admittedly, though- and I think we need to be intellectually fair in making this assessment- Governor Bentley’s statement was coming from his own theological system, and he was stating that he wanted to be the brother of those to whom he was not.

In essence, without twisting his words or altering the meaning, Governor Bentley was asking for others to come to salvation in Jesus Christ- which for him was an act of compassion, a reaching out, a sharing of his own spirituality.

He apparently meant it to be a charitable act, not an inflammatory one.

We need to understand that first.

Now that we’ve understood that his heart was in the right place, we can begin the intellectual and theological breakdown of the statement, which is a different matter.

First, he is representing a government office- the office of Governor in Alabama, namely. The inauguration is meant to be a ceremony of the bequeathing and acceptance of the political office, and as such, it must reflect and abide by the rules, regulations, laws, and oaths of the USA. The political office does not require and does not necessitate one to make a religious affirmation of any sort, nor does making such a statement enrich the office. If anything, it detracts from it.

So the real issue here is that the fresh Governor took a private matter of his own life and inserted it into the middle of a ceremony that had nothing to do with the private matter. There was not a reason to bring it up.

Theologically, I could argue from a Gnostic point of view, and go into the extremes of “Jesus-as-Liberator” as opposed to “Jesus-as-Savior” in order to argue that the whole point is that we’re all already brothers and sisters, and accepting Jesus as a Savior gets in the way of following Jesus’s example on how to become liberated.

But I’m not going to argue from that point of view right now.

I think the main issue is that Governor Bentley shared an opinion- a theological opinion– and assumed that the audience shared his theological opinion.

He misses the point, though- Christians aren’t to treat non-Christians as though they weren’t brothers and sisters. To the contrary, the essence of Christianity, as reflected in history and as reflected in the Scriptures, is that Christ Himself helped the poor, the disenfranchised, the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, the sick, the hungry, and the general rejected and neglected of society.

Summarily, Christ was there for those who needed Him.

That is, Christ was there for those people that normal-people society looked down upon.

This is not a difficult concept to grasp.

However, I am familiar with the particular theological angle that Governor Bentley was using as well- the idea that if we are not adopted into God’s family by Christ, then we are not Children of the Father, and so on. It’s a rather superficial and patchwork understanding of Christianity, and that particular approach does more to create a division between the “Christians” and the “non-Christians” which is a false dichotomy, and honestly, categorizing people according to “Christian and non-Christian” doesn’t sound like something Jesus would had advocated in the first place.

So in closing, I would say that Governor Bentley’s statements were at best shallow theological opinions, and that the rest of us, the Thinking Minority, should probably ignore them.

Despite all that, I still wrote this blog.

Beaux