My, How Things Have Changed.

When I discuss faith I'm discussing SPIRITUAL faith. I believe there is a difference.

I’ve written here so many times about how my faith has changed in the past ten years, moving from a belief in my own God, keeping an open ongoing dialog with the divine and NEVER having ANY doubt that there was a Divinity that we could ALL tap into if we only released our doubts and listened for HIS answers.  The answers are ALL around us in messages cloaked in coincidences that don’t exist.

Within the past few years, my faith has deepened further to the point where it’s become such a part of me that it’s part of the very fabric of my life. I haven’t arrived at the point yet where I can discuss what I believe verbally with just anyone. I’m not quite comfortable doing that just yet. I DO believe that faith is EXTREMELY personal and should ONLY be discussed if someone asks what you believe.

You’re probably asking then how writing this blog is any different.  Right?  Well my interpretation of that query is that I’m not addressing ANY ONE particular person and if someone doesn’t appreciate what I’m writing they can simply stop reading and I’ll never be the wiser.  Whereas if I’m face to face with someone and am discussing my paradigm, it would be much more challenging to turn away.

So why am I returning to this theme again today?  That’s easy.  I’m in the middle of a book called Christianity after Religion and the book is bringing up some very strong emotions.  My long time readers should be aware that I often find quotes from various sources to use as grist for my own mill.  (Thanks, JM.). One of the passages from Christianity after Religion that stands out for me is:
Unlike religion as system of belief, religio meant faith— living, subjective experience including love, veneration, devotion, awe, worship, transcendence, trust, a way of life, an attitude toward the divine or nature, or, as Smith describes, a ‘particular way of seeing and feeling the world.’ Accordingly, ‘the archaic meaning of religio [w]as that awe that men felt in the presence of an uncanny and dreadful power of the unknown…. That religio is something within men’s hearts.’

I SINCERELY believe this is what is challenging about today’s organized religion. Organized religion has lost its way and is clinging to its past ideals.
It is NOT welcoming.
It is NOT nurturing.
It is NOT practicing what Jesus taught, that inclusion is what succeeds, that love is what succeeds.

We should be finding our similarities.
We should be be loving everyone despite their challenges, despite what SOME may view as sinful.  How can humanity have ANY grasp on what God sees as sinful?  EVERYTHING is up for interpretation.  It’s why as this book points out that so many people are leaving organized religion and finding their own way.  It’s why I have NEVER been interested in religion.  That doesn’t mean in ANY way WHATSOEVER that I’m not a person of faith.  I think like many people I’m full of faith.  Now this may come across as as crass, blasphemous or full of ego and let me put any of that to rest IMMEDIATELY.  I’m sure there are people who will agree with me but may be fearful of putting words to it but I even feel that I am more faithful than SOME who attend organized religion.  ONLY because I have an ongoing dialog, an ongoing relationship with my GOD as I interpret him to be.  Some in organized religion view God as vengeful, exclusionary.  Some in organized religion attend weekly service and feel that is the ONLY time they can devote to THEIR God.

That’s what I find disconcerting about religion. That and the fact that religion is exclusionary.  I find it particularly challenging when a church that is supposed to be practicing love, that is supposed to be practicing empathy excludes a whole segment of society because that segment is different from them. What right does religion have to deny someone basic human rights?  Not necessarily what right, but HOW can an organization that professes to practice love and inclusion be so unaware that they are not practicing what they preach?

You can see how my indignation has reared its ugly head in the way my tone has shifted in the last few paragraphs.  I become a different person in the face of exclusionary practices of an organization that SHOULD be anything BUT exclusionary.

Am I the only one that feels this way?  Would love to hear your comments in the comment field below.

Be Happy!  Be Well!  Be Positive!
Blessings to you.


Feel free to comment here or jump on over to my blog:
My How Things Have Changed 

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The Best Patriot September 18, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Regarding Formal Religion: Once you Formalize something Spiritual it is no longer Spiritual.
Christopher Jennings Penders September 18, 2012 at 01:04 AM
Hi 20 Row Kid: Thanks for reading my post and leaving a comment.
Olivia Scaros September 18, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Chris, I love your blogs and am usually right there with you! But I have found a place to worship in Madison that is not exclusionary and let's me believe what I believe (and for some people my concepts are pretty crazy). I'd say the only exclusion is for people of Jewish faith at communion, as it is a Christian church, but they are welcome to the service. It is also a community that welcomes newcomers with a gift, and does many things in the community. While I don't feel I "need" a church for my spiritual growth, I do like to have a community, as I feel more can be accomplished for the good of all with many hands. Thanks for asking!
Christopher Jennings Penders September 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
I Olivia: Thanks for reading. Would be interested in hearing some of your "Pretty Crazy Concepts" sometime. My OWN concepts don't generally fit in w/the mainstream either. That's not a bad thing. Like you, I don't need a church for growth. I have visited a church in Madison where I feel I COULD be comfortable attending. Just haven't returned as my life is somewhat busy at the moment. I feel I have a stronger relationship outside of church too. -- Chris


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