Monday, September 26, 2011
If you were to ask a Christian (let's stick with Southern Baptist only because I know next to nothing about Eastern Orthodox Christianity) what God is, I mean really ask, they will inevitably end up telling you a story. Regardless if it's the Gospel story or their own testimony you will end up hearing a story. And why? Because there is power, beauty, and creation in words. Jesus is envisioned as The Word, as the source of all life, how can Christians not keep themselves from telling the Good News. But in the end the story points back towards That, the source beyond words! The story and the language are just vehicles and modes of expressions expressing a shared experience. It is that sense of community, the sense of connection with one another which is truly sacred. My personal choice to move beyond Christianity wasn't because the faith was lacking a sense of community but that I wanted to connect with a much larger community.This was as much of a personal choice as the personal choice of someone choosing to accept Christianity. The stories in the Bible don't have to be factually true to contain Truth, however, the Bible was written in a different time and place and many ideas, beliefs, taboos, etc. are no longer relatable or even morally acceptable. We've evolved (mostly) beyond slavery, treating women like property, and believing that the gods are the cause of natural disasters, so why can't we move beyond the need for our stories, our myths, to be factually true for them to hold any meaning or any values?
While I personally believe it's pretty messed up to turn to an outdated text for morality and daily guidance I understand why people do it: life is uncertain and people turn to something, anything which may anchor us through the chaos. But I find no peace or feel any transcendent love while reading Scripture (any scripture), just an interesting collection of stories. When I chose to leave Christianity I wasn't leaving behind Love, I was leaving the restraints which were keeping me from Love. This doesn't mean that Christianity is a monstrous, archaic evil organization filled with fearful angry bigoted people. Christianity can and is as beautiful and loving as the community of people which call themselves Christians. The beliefs and rituals don't speak to me, they don't help me to let things go, to move on, and to love my fellow man. It may work for others, and it worked for me for a time but not anymore. I know that may sound smug as if I were saying I'm too good for Christianity, and I apologize if that's the impression some may get. I see religion as language, it attempts to express something worth expressing but is limited by the words and symbols it uses. To me life beyond Christianity is an attempt to go beyond language to reach that something it tries to express. Or at the very least learn something about my own struggle, my own humanity, while attempting to reach THAT. The struggle, the journey, the experience itself is what I consider sacred, and the choice of leaving behind the Christian faith was my choice alone (not the Devil "tempting" me, nor the secular media "seducing" me into a life of Reason, etc.). I just want to express Love in other languages, or even using no language at all. We all know love when we see it, so can't we learn to let go of the words and experience it for a change? Is it really so evil/bad/sinful that I want to be more loving and understanding of my fellow man than I was yesterday?