Posted by: minnow | December 18, 2009

ADVENT–The Journey

Recently on One Hand Clapping Julie Clawson wrote a piece celebrating the journey Mary found herself on beginning with the angelic announcement that she had been chosen by God.  Julie’s post got me thinking about the journey I have been on for the past several years.  It started as a mental health journey, took on some social political overtones and developed into a fairly drastic spiritual paradigm shift.

Had you asked me before this adventure started if I had any travel plans I would have told you no.  I felt pretty stuck and had no idea that asking myself: what other than suicide might end the hopelessness, anger, pain, and self-pity I was stuck in? would actually have an answer. 

I need to admit, my marriage was in serious danger during most of this journey but it wasn’t until last spring that I shared that fact with my husband.  You see, I realized something I think I always knew but in a way that I could no longer force myself to ignore.  I had been trying to turn myself into a false image and the God-given image I truly was had been fighting for her life for years.  That is why it was so impossible for me to succeed.  Who God was calling out of me and who I was trying to be “in the name of God” were/are considerably different people. 

Honestly, I do not “blame” the Church.  The sad reality is that in most places in America the Church is as sick as I was.  Not only is Christ’s bride anemic, she needs a lung transplant (an infusion of the Holy Spirit), a pacemaker (an outpouring of the love of Christ), cataract surgery (new vision), and hearing aids (a desire to recognize even His whisper).  She needs to quit being so afraid of her environment (the world) and start remembering who she married. 

In my own life, I am finally realizing who I was becoming before my stupid choices damaged that  person and I began living in a place of fear and self-loathing.  Soon after I got married I developed my own brand of penance by continually trying to squeeze myself into the “good Christian wife” role the lies I believed  had painted in my mind.  Some of the lies were handed down to me by well intended Christian leaders, mentors, and friend.  Most, however, I constructed for myself through a skewed reading of scripture and an over zealous religious spirit.

Now, when I am confronted by one of those lies, pretending to be the truth, an anger rises up in me that is difficult to control.  Whether in my personal relationships or my ongoing exposure to Building-based Christian thinking I feel the need to not only resist but to protest.  The result has been many of these posts.

I understand most conservative evangelicals see the emerging Church (and I use that term loosely) as watering down the gospel, wanting to stomp on tried and true doctrine, and not holding to scripture.  It is a normal parent-child relationship.  You can’t honor your Mother and Father if you don’t look, sound, and act just like them.  The criticisms which indicate the Evangelicals’ real problem is: Emergers do not function like denominations (with statements of belief and a clearly delineated leadership) are telltale signs.  This also explains why so many strawmen are built: those who would never in a million years include themselves in the emerging group–define the group, choose leaders for the group, explain what the group believes, and then wage war against the group so that they can feel like they are defending the faith.  The irony is most emergers could be right there with them (on most doctrinal points) if those “strawmen” really existed.

I understand too that many, if not most, emergers have played the role of the rebellious teenager pretty well.  In order to feel like we are truly independent adults, some of us have felt the need to throw the baby out with the bath water (which is sad in my opinion), and most of us (including myself) have been highly critical of our “elders” and what they do for a living (to carry the analogy a bit too far).  And, while much of the criticism is legitimate, a fair portion of it could and should have been done with a whole lot more grace (AKA: tact).  Some of us are emerging (leaving the Building) after having painfully worked to try to change the system from within, others (like myself) have been frustrated by an inability to fit into or find a place within the system from which to work.  So, we are simply choosing a different route.

I believe the journeys most emergers  are on do not take them away from their faith.  Certainly this is true for me.  Most of us, I believe, are actually trying to find a deeper expression of our faith, one we can grab onto, wrestle with, see in the walking out of our lives.  Many of us are simply tired of having faith in a creative God sound so much like being a patriotic American or a finger-pointing Pharisee.  I for one, prefer to look at what I have been doing right and keep doing it.  But, I also want to be willing to look at what I have done wrong and quit.  I get  that because I am no longer “in the building” my confessions about what I have done wrong can come across as finger-pointing.  But the truth is I am still part of the Church–capital C.  I still belong to Christ.  As painful as it can be to try and tell my brother, “wake-up” it is even more painful to hear from my brother, “Go to hell.”

Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hey Minow,
    It’s Jim. I just did a piece on Advent. Just wanted you to know,
    I just figured out a way for me to keep up with my former blogging pals and promote your blog. I am permitted to post the same content on Blogspot as I will at Richmond Evangelical Examiner. So, I have created a Richmond Evangelical Examiner blog, in Blogspot. Your link is already on my page. Just use this url to add my link to your side bar and we can begin exchanging traffic again and staying in touch.
    I’m polling the group I have linked in my side bar to ask if you all prefer that I use the link list format or the blog roll format. The blog role format is the one that places the most recent blog postings at the top of the list. Let me know what you prefer. I tally the vote in a week. Email me at jeleasure1@verizon.net

  2. Hi Minow,
    Wow. I cruised right on bye here yesterday.
    No, don’t go to hell.
    The brother in sin does not want to be corrected.
    My understanding of the Emergent Church is it is a church that works to find new ways to promote the church. I thought that meant, “inovative”.
    Well, I think we met under these circumstances, didn’t we?
    Not many people will understand what you are saying here. I hope I have understood you. That is the problem with written communication. Communication in writing is difficult to interpret because it lacks the ability to use most of our senses to discern what is being penned. But, if I’m right in what I have understood, thank God.
    I also am of the opinion a person in the Emergent church does not lose their faith. On the contrary. What it seems to me is people of the emergent church are babes in Christ. And, eventually, they grow up. That is how it is with the word of God. If a person is willing to allow the word of God to speak, it does.
    Now, please add me to your link list. Your link is already on my page.
    My new blog spot page is going to be next year’s New Year resolution. I want to do something for charity. So, however my page views are calculated at my editorial page, the result of next years credits will be going to charity.
    You can help me earn credits by going to my blog and clicking on the ‘click here to continue reading’ links.

  3. Happy Christmas

  4. […] shared my story of emerging from religious oppression here, here, here, and here, and in numerous other posts.  The short version goes something like this:  […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: