Unpacking Faith

Unpacking Faith is a blog about my spiritual journey.

I used to go to church about 3 days a week. I was married to a pastor. I was his assistant pastor. I had my reservations about the Church (with a big “c”, as in the universal institution as opposed to my local church) while I was actively participating in church leadership. As my marriage failed and I peeled myself away from the church and the people that, in many ways, kept me from dealing with the issues that were affecting me most, I grew even more disillusioned. I don’t attend church anymore and I don’t know if I will ever return to organized religion. I can’t say for sure, at this point in my life, what I believe about God and religion. I’m in the process of sorting all of that out.

My religious experience has been Christian, in various incarnations. I have very strong negative sentiment towards Christians and the Church for many reasons. I express those feelings freely on this blog. This in no way implies that I believe Christians are dead wrong to the exclusion of any other faith, it just means that I’m reacting strongly against what I was a part of (and in many ways ashamed of). If any of this interests you, I’d love to discuss your belief system and any journeys through, to, or away from faith that you may have experienced. It helps me to hear other voices. I’d love to hear yours.

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6 thoughts on “Unpacking Faith

  1. I thought first to e-mail my response, but didn’t wish to get that personal without first introducing myself. Your last entry here was June 29, 2007. I’m not sure if you’ve abandoned this blog, or that no one has offered a response.

    I’ve followed you from blogspace to this new site, and have enjoyed the many facets of your thoughts. I like the passion you bring to your writing, and like to think that “passion” runs deep in your personality. I like your candor, and your willingness to bare yourself to public scrutiny. But more especially I’m interested in your spiritual journey and the set-back you’ve recently experienced.

    What I can’t discern from your writings is whether you’re disillusioned with God, or with the Christian church, or with both.

    If you’d like, I’d like to part of your quest to sort out “…what [you] believe about God and religion….”

    I’m not a minister, not particularly religious, and would describe myself as mainly spiritual, someone with many faults and many virtues, but not ashame of any of them.

    I think I might call myself a mystic, since, for most of my life, I’ve straddled two worlds, this world (The world we experience through our senses.), and that other world (The world we intuit through spiritual sense.)

    Here, in one sentence, is what I believe. It may fly in the face of what you’ve come to believe. And I hope that’ll be okay. I must warn you, you may find it upsetting, if not challenging. I believe in…

    a perfect God; a perfect Man; and a perfect Universe.

    If this is not what you currently believe, I invite you to take me on. The worse you could do is come to a firmer realization of what you DO believe.

    GIWYA

  2. “These moments didn’t look or feel like anything anyone had ever said a moment with God should feel like.”

    Wow, what a statement! As you can see, I discovered several of your other posts. You are prolific. I’m looking forward to reading them all. I pasted the above statement from one of them. Not only do you write well, but you express yourself well. I feel that you’re coming to an understanding that God and Church are not necessarily the same thing. At some point, someone told you this, or you inferred this.

    What insight you’re gathering! You’re beginning to learn about God on your own terms. That takes courage. You’re doing the hard part–you’re testing what you’ve been told, with what you feel. I have no magic formula. You and ONLY you hold ALL the answers. To one of the questions you posed in one of your posts, and a brief one at that, I offer the following answer.

    What is Truth?

    It’s what YOU say it Is.

    If this doesn’t feel like YOUR truth, discard it. What it will do is bring you to your OWN truth.

  3. If you had gone to my blog, as short and seemingly out of date as it is, you will see that I lost my daughter to suicide when she was 15-1/2 some 15 years ago. Yes, she has almost been removed from my life for as long as she was in it.

    But the words there dont tell the story behind her death. The main force was that we had just gone through a forced sale of our home by the IRS, had just gone through bankruptcy and loss of my chosen career all within a year of each other. We had to move from the only town she had known, the only school she knew and her friends that she had known. We could see that she was going trough major depression, and since we were members of a non denominational Christian mega church, that had a christian counseling center with all the makings of a fine secular trained faith based professional psychological staff, we sent her there. In 3 short weeks, she went from being a troubled depressed girl to a dead daughter.

    During these short weeks, we had every oportunity we had, which numbered well over several times a week, asked the center and its associate pastor PhD pschologist head how she was doing, but all we ever got was that they were not at liberty to discuss specifics, but she was doing fine. When we asked her, she said it was fine. But the events of December 4 1992 revealed that things were not going fine at all.

    The ensuing investigations on our part showed that the center decided it wasnt worth the $35.00 to run the standardized MMPI psychological test with built in lie detectors to her, for in spite of the 3 page survey we as her parents provided prior to her treatment that showed all the classic signs of major depression, when they asked her if she was depressed, she said “No”. So they moved on. What they did was turn her case over to a 4th year undergraduate college student training to become a licensed marriage and family therapist. The plan was to make my daughter become more forceful in her relationships, so they started her on assertiveness training.

    That much they did correctly, as she was very assertive in hanging herself. My wife, who was having major health problems at the time, was an investigative reported for the local paper, and she dug into it all. She eventually sued the center, the church and the associate pastor. The pastor it turned out didnt have a PhD in psychology, he had a PhD in Education, but he did stay at a Holiday Inn, and he passed himself off as a trained and licensed psychologist. The student was not allowed by the college to take ANY case where their was a threat to the patient, but she was never told of the parental provided intake form that described major depressive traits. The church didnt check out the guys claims as not being a trained psychologist, even though they advertised in the local phone books as having staff of trained psychologists.

    But the long of it is that I stopped going to “church”, as the church is corrupted by men that have egos’, sins and the like. I dont trust churches that put money into buildings, building palaces to themselves and not to the people. I communicate with God, not nearly as often, and I have changed dramatically my views of God, religion and the everlasting. I dont think God has a role here on earth, he is not for this life, he is for the next life. Man has to build himself up to make it all seem worthy, and yet, when you study the major religions of the world, there are so many similar milestones for each to almost make them as beliefs of a man trying to figure it all out, and not as some magic divine being.

    Still, I believe in my God, but i also know that my God may not be your God, and that is OK.

  4. Hey Larry,

    Guilty as charged! I did visit your blog, but I popped off as quickly as I popped on because I saw that your last post was back in June. I have since read that post and I am really sorry for the loss of your daughter and the role the church had in that.

    I think my views of God, religion and the everlasting are changing also the further I go along this journey. I have a lot of anger and pain associated with the church, but it can’t come close to what your family must be experiencing, even now after so many years.

    I don’t have any answers or concrete decisions about my faith. If you click the Unpacking Faith in the first paragraph there, it will take you to my blog by that title where I am sorting out my thoughts on it all.

    I’d like to hear more about your belief in God and relegation of him soley to the next life. I’m not so sure what I believe about a next life.

    Thanks for coming back and for the swift kick in the rear. I’m sorry for not paying attention.

  5. So today I read your first entry here related to you struggles with divorce and the church, I find myself almost to tears because I moved away just this weekend from a man that is also a minister in a church (a Bishop in the Church of God faith). The relationship was so overbearing, that I almost wanted to do harm to myself and I hated my life. I stayed with him for three years because of the church and wondered what people would say…………, even-though on the honeymoon it was determined that he was not interested in me but what my relationship was with God and he was the person to ensure that and enforce it as well.

    Last night I began to journal and remembered remarking on what it would feel like to be happy again. Trying to find who I was in a positive light before I haphazardly entered into this darkness of a marriage.

    I thought that no one would understand my situation, but I can see that your story is somewhat similar.
    I too just cant find myself to visit another church………….just yet.

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