Friday, October 2, 2009

Soft Spots

I've always wondered why most people (or at least the ones I've met) are uncomfortable talking about faith and spirituality. I have my reasons why I'm uncomfortable speaking about faith to someone face to face but, for example, whenever I casually mention faith to people I meet in school it almost seems like a topic they'd rather not talk about. I know whenever I was questioned about faith in my youth I had a sick and guilty feeling in the pit of my gut. Being personally preached too at a young age is not the best feeling in the world. I never got into any serious trouble but since I was a teenager I was expected to get into trouble, hence the sermons. People today equate faith with Christianity, and, sadly, Christianity with intolerance. It's sad because the Christians I have met so far do not tolerate liberal Christians (or at least those who don't vocalize it say a prayer for my salvation). So I'm stuck between being mentally labeled as intolerant by non-Christians and being intolerated by actual Christians.

I may just be the only religion nerd on campus that actually wants to talk about faith and spirituality in general and not as a campus ministry echo chamber. There are plenty of Christian Ministry groups on campus that I could join (I walk by one daily that offers free wi-fi, free breakfast, and free Starbucks coffee from 8-10 a.m.) but the conversations would be limited to the denominational beliefs of the group. I want to go beyond the repetitive talks and reach into the spirituality of others. This is where I am confronted with silence, not because they lack an opinion or view but because when people open themselves up about faith and spirituality they are revealing a very vulnerable soft spot. A person's spirituality is bound to their being, it is a part of who they are. So when we open ourselves up to talk about faith we are making ourselves extremely vulnerable to attack. An attack on someone's beliefs and faith is a direct attack to their inner most being. God doesn't need defending nor proof but we do because we feel we are being attack (even though we don't come out and admit it).

Does it really have to boil down to who is right or wrong? Who is following the straight and narrow path and who is not? The experiences of Universal Truths can be relative because it speaks to all of us differently. How does it speak to you? What images are used? What do you get out of your communication with the divine? When you answer these questions I CAN NOT say that your experiences are false, because they belong to you. Yet when we are moved by the divine we seek out others who are moved like us so that we may share with one another. It is through these shared experience that we begin to define tribal boundaries. Any foreign imagery and experiences are shrugged off as not reflecting the divine BECAUSE we have not personally experienced the divine in the same manner. There is so much we can be learning and so many people we could be sharing with if we only choose not to erect barriers in the first place. This is my journey and my daily prayer: to seek out how the divine has touched, moved, and continues to impress upon the lives of others so that we may share, grow, and love.


shallowfrozenwater said...

you're not alone in this prayer. i'm trying to be more inclusive in my spiritual thought.
i mean, what if Jesus were a woman? how does that affect what i believe? does faith alone save? what if it's faith that doesn't use the name of Jesus as the object of the faith?
i don't know that Christians have the market on truth, and i call myself a Christian. a passionate one if you ask me.
keep asking the questions and keep searching for fellow seekers.

captron52 said...

So many questions abound whenever one is seeking spiritual enlightenment. Personally Ive come to find that if something feels right in my heart I roll with it not really caring if it fits any particular creed or teaching of anyone else.But I also keep an open mind (and heart) and Im not afraid to change my beliefs as new truths are discovered.Hence I do not belong to any organized religion or belief system and therefore I am at times considered a sinner, an agnostic,or any other number of labels. Again I dont really care what others may label me because I know who I am and what I believe. My greatest freedom in this life was when I finally realized I didnt have to be RIGHT.So therefore I never have to defend my beliefs to anyone, I can just accept others as they are and allow them the same freedoms I demand in my own search for spiritual truths. BTW I love your blog, it points out so many different things and gives us all reason to ponder life and spiritually. Keep up the great work!

Eruesso said...

Ian- Inclusiveness is something that Christianity lost at some point in history and I hope that we can bring it back. The Exclusiveness of Christianity seems so contradicting against its primary message of love. I hope I live to see the day where Christianity swings back to a loving message backed by a loving and accepting attitude.

Ronnie- It's always great to receive your insightful and uplifting comments. And I wholeheartedly agree that the greatest freedom in life is realizing we don't have to be right. It took me awhile to realize this but it was worth the wait.

Thank you both for your encouraging comments.!
Peace and blessings...

Faithful Progressive said...

Yes, yes! My daughter just started a Unitarian discussion group at her school, and many people were willing and able to approach an open discussiion in that way.

Don said...

I, too, go with my heart. The still small voice is the one I follow regardless of whether it fits the mold I was raised to believe. I am convinced the heart is the voice of the Source in my journey.

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