Thursday, July 12, 2007

Faith and Devotion

"Hand me my sentence,
I'll show no repentance,

I'll suffer with pride."
Depeche Mode, 'Condemnation'

I pontificate. I preach. That's the main reason I started blogging, so I'd have an outlet that no one had to read if they didn't want to, and I could stop driving my friends batty with the preaching. I think, perhaps, I was meant to be a preacher.

But, as a result of today's Facebook fight picking and follow-up conversations with good friends, landed me in an interesting mood. Think Ivan at the end of the Brother Karamazov.

See, I'm quite devout in my own weird way. I've got a family that's convinced I don't believe in anything and most of them are probably afraid that I'm going to hell. They're concerned because my faith isn't recognizable to them. And, folk have trouble believing in something they can't put words to -- heck, sometimes that aspect makes me uncomfortable. But just because you can't put words to it, doesn't mean that something doesn't exist.

And, I believe in a Divine Being. Not only that, I believe in a Divine Being that has some sort of purpose for the world and for the individuals in the world. And, I don't believe we should cower in terror before the Divine. I think we were put here as inquisitive creatures not to swallow someone else's truth, but to seek our own, and the Divine is more interested in our taking the search seriously than in our getting it right. And, I don't believe there is anything innately wrong with me. I believe I'm flawed. I believe I'm catty. I believe I'm too quick to anger and to judge. I believe there are other things wrong with me, and that I miss most the opportunities to show kindness that come my way.

But there is nothing wrong with the core of me. There is nothing wrong with my stubbornness. There is nothing wrong with my brashness. There is nothing wrong with the fact that I will happily question any authority that comes along. And there is nothing wrong with my gender -- if God had intended for me to be more feminine certainly a larger helping would have come with the vagina. There is nothing the matter with my disinterest in children. There is nothing the matter with my firm belief that I am called to something other than marriage and motherhood. None of that should alienate me from the Divine or from the people of God.

But I've been told all my life that it does. That I'm defective. That if I'm going to be saved, I have to destroy or at least bury parts of myself. I have to be a good girl, ask fewer questions, be silent, submit already. (And granted, I got mixed messages, but honestly, I think that just made it worse. Maybe I could have been pretty and stupid otherwise.) That everything that is me alienates me from the Divine.

And yeah, I'd say there's a great deal of alienation between me and the people of God. Part of it's my doing -- I avoid churches because part of me is terrified of them. I'm terrified I'm going to wind up in another situation with people forcing me into some role that is not me and threatening me with hell if I don't conform. And I don't believe that I need to be within a church to continue with whatever journey I'm on. I don't want the safety of a church fold. I would rather risk an eternity in hell and be true to the vision that I see.

But, damn, it would be nice to have some help sometimes. Some community to talk to and listen to, the experiences of others to draw from. Some group that would embrace me as my individual self and as an equal child of God. Something a little more tangible than dead poets and theologians.


Zan said...

I think we've been living the same life. I could have written that myself. My family feels much the same way about me, but they've fortunately learned to just drop it with me. I was raised Southern Baptist, who may just have the market locked on fundamentalism.

Seriously, I understand where you're coming from. And I'm soooo willing to talk about it :) Which seriously makes my family uneasy. If I'd just be quiet, I could believe anything I wanted!!

WordK said...

It's good to know I'm not the only one. (My family is split between CofC and SBC. With Methodist influences in the more liberal members.)

And there is something to be said about being quiet -- my sister does that, and gets away with lots of thoughtcrime.