Thursday, April 8, 2010

Prayer, Forgiveness, and Pain

I am angry with one of my closest friends. He has hurt me, cut me to the bone and left me bleeding on the ground. All perhaps without knowing but that doesn't undo the pain, and doesn't negate the callousness with which I've been treated. It is times like these when I want to invoke the Russian. My dear, my close друг. Literally, my other.

This scenario came to head in the middle of last week, in the middle of Holy Week. Afternoon of Holy Thursday, I find myself trying to explain my hurt to my friend. And then speaking to him in dark hissed tones as he throws on his mask of the great pastoral one, casting me in the role of the supplicate seeking mercy and succor.

I don't want mercy. I don't an apprentice's attempt at pastoral care, dammit. I want you to recognize that you have hurt me.

Holy Thursday evening, the first of about twenty hours I will spend in services over the next week. I have ceased to shake with rage somehow. I don't know how. Should I be in church right now? Can I give the service the attention it deserves? And seriously, how petty does this betrayal appear in the one that is recalled here?

Oh, Judas, my friend, my other, will you really betray me with a kiss?

I made a resolution at New Years to learn how to pray, and have certainly not done as well with it as I may have liked. But sitting in that pew, I found myself praying. Give me the strength to cope. Please, guide me through what I must do to come out of this. (This was not the first time I have prayed in this crisis, but my ex-Protestant mind has a little trouble understanding curling up prostrate on the floor of the chapel before the icon of the Theotokos and literally sobbing as prayer.) I left the service still quite upset.

Wake the next morning for the marathon of Holy Friday. Three services. Eight hours or more worth. Bow before the icon of the Theotokos in the narthex, and light a slender votive candle for myself. Give me strength. Give me guidance. Give me some peace of mind.

And as the services progress, gradually I find that. I must forgive him. It is not an option. But forgiveness doesn't have to be immediate and forgiveness doesn't overlook or trivial the hurt he caused me. My pain is real, and forgiving him is going to require acknowledging and honoring it. And I will.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I would like to state for the record that I'm a social justice loving Christian.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Paradigms shift like tectonic plates

...another post on much the same thing...

I tried to explain to my ex about paradigms, used hear to refer to metaphors I use to understand my self and the world around me. How shifting them around was so disquieting to me, and while he was the locus a major paradigm shift, the dis-ease on my part was largely from interior sources -- much bigger than him.

I adopted a rather ascetic, Hellenistic, and disembodied paradigm in late high school, because it gave me some space to breath and be myself. It completely removed me from the CofC paradigm of reproduction of the church in which women are "saved through child-bearing." This ascetic idea gave me some degree of spiritual independence and freedom to use my mind and my logic, and damned be the person who would tell me a I couldn't because I had a particular body.

It was also simply replacing one extreme with the other and ultimately left me with some strong mind/body integration issues that I'm still chipping away at, but largely fell apart over the past year. I am much more at home in my body these days.

I've been operating in another paradigm of being a scholar of theology, but not a believer. Again, largely a matter of overcompensation. No, no, I'm not a prudish Christian. I curse. I drink. I commit other various "sins." I am not going to tell you that you're going to hell. I study faith, dammit, don't confuse that with person of.

And once again, the paradigm I was using to understand my self is falling apart. Not in a way that is bad, but in a way that is certainly disquieting.

I don't know if I'm a different person per se. I'm not a prudish Christian. I curse. I drink. I commit various other "sins," and am not particularly repentant about it. And I have little to no interest in telling you that you're going to hell or in bringing you to Jesus.

But I also can't deny at this point some deep seated belief in a transcendent something which may be properly referred to as God. Is this what they call faith? And slowly, slowly I've been developing a need for religious structure and community. A system that is something more than myself. At the same time, I've found a structure than meets my needs, and gives me room to breath and be my self. The prospect of letting go of the paradigm of "exile" and "refugee" and applying for citizenship still overwhelmes me.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Theological Refugee

It has been a strange year. For now, I'll leave it at that.

I've written in the past on doing theology from a place of exile. I walked away from my religious homeland. For the past year, perhaps two, I've been doing theology as a sort of refugee in the Orthodox Church. Moving in a theological world where I am a foreigner, day by day improving my command of the language and learning to pass in the culture.

I am once again faced with the task of discernment. Do I become a citizen of this world? This world that has welcomed me in such surprising ways? This rich, beautiful theological tradition that gives me air to breath and food to eat? This highly conservative, androcentric church?

The Orthodox Church is not a perfect fit for me. But there isn't a church or religion that would be a "perfect" fit for me.

I was recently assigned Augustine's Confessions for a class, the three chapters leading up to his conversion in the garden. This is at least the third time I have read this particular section of the Confessions, but this time, I found myself copying sections out into my journal and identifying so strongly with Augustine. Almost, I'm almost resolved, but not quite.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

He who Loses Himself will Save Himself

It started out as basic work chatter. “How’s life?” My co-worker looks at me and nods in his uber-chill manner. “Life. Life is precious.”

Me being rambling me, I can’t leave it at that. “A precious human life. The most auspicious according to the Buddhists, because you see if you’re a god, it’s too easy, so you won’t work to escape samsara, and better than being born in one of the lower states of existence, because then you’re too miserable to be able to make your way out, but it’s auspicious to be human.”

He nods again. Buddha-like. “Hey, do you ever think religion is just egotism?”

“Um. Yeah.”

And then a rush hits.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

This Just Makes Me Happy

Yes, I do do theology with my stomach. And I would totally give a Food Network show hosted by a priest a chance. If I had cable, that is.

Apron Vestments

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama = Kara Thrace

Harbinger of the Apocalypse and all that good stuff.

As is usual when Tim LaHaye and the monstrous work of bad writing and worse theology known as Left Behind is brought up, the Metra is left to say: What, what now? Of course, Rachel Maddow said: What, what now? with far more style than I can muster.

Question, if the Anti-Christ will be a commie socialist, why was the early Christian community described in Acts functioning as a commune?