November 17, 2004

My (un)Faith Walk

When I was a child a picture hung on my wall. A young black boy and his pet cocker-spaniel kneeling at the foot of his bed praying. The caption read Lead Us.

I hated that picture. Mostly I hated it because it was cute. But increasingly I hated it because my connections to religion as an organized human construct was coming a part at the seams.

I remember somewhere around the age 8 or 9 saying if God was real he's show up in my room to prove it. I would then hide under the covers just in case. Slowly I would realize the Big Kahuna was not going to take me up on the challenge.

Two of us filled out our application forms for Boy Scouts. Under "religion" one of us put Druid and the other put Atheist. I can't for the life of me recall which was which. But I do recall getting a dressing down from the scout leader. Scouting is a Christian organization. Could have fooled me. One the lousiest bullies in my grade was in the troop. And since then my old neighbourhood has formed a Raja Cub Pack for Hindi boy scouts.

Somewhere around the same time -- or maybe a tad later I made a pact with God. This Christianity thing wasn't doing it for me. I wasn't even certain God existed -- in fact I was getting increasingly convinced he didn't. So I was going to try and figure things out for myself. Only thing I asked, was that if I got it wrong, then when the time of judgment came -- show me what I did wrong. Show me what I missed.

I read a lot of occult, philosophy and religious stuff through my teen years and into my 20s. If there had been a Goth movement I likely would have been a part of it. But there wasn't so I wore blue jeans and T-shirts like everyone else in the 70s/80s. And I was alone with my searchings.

November 10th of 1982. Matters came to a head. I was suddenly weighed down with the realization I could not live up to my own ideals and principles. The issue was harboring anger towards someone who had disappointed me. Add to this mix that I had recently been to my first Quaker meeting and felt like God has spoken to me -- so I was also wrestling with my metaphysics. I turned my life over to God.

You have to appreciate that the Quaker Meeting I was attending was not one to encourage born-again religion. My wrestling was not going to stop nor was it going to get easier. It was just going to move in a slightly new direction.

From this you will see that the gonna-go-to-heaven notion of salvation wasn't on my agenda. The salvation I sought and continue to seek was the wisdom to know the morally right path and the empowerment to walk it. That's all I have really ever wanted from God and faith. Sometimes I pray for other stuff -- like an end to a migraine or healing of cancer for a friend or a new job (yes God!). But at its heart -- my faith is about right action -- knowing what to do and then doing it.

I often mess up.

5 Comments:

At 1:11 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

A druid, huh? :-). You asked below what's the next step ... I don't know. That's probably why I'm doing the retreat over, because I don't know what to do next. I had a falling out with the Jesuit who was helping me, and whose view of God so inspired me. That really shook my faith. I keep daring God to appear, to come for me, to DO something. So far he's not and I don't know if that's because he's not there or because I'm not good enough or what.

 
At 2:28 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Crystal, you wrote: "That really shook my faith. I keep daring God to appear, to come for me, to DO something. So far he's not"

I have to respond to that. His first coming for me involved an R.C. barber raving about the Power of Positive Thinking. When God came to me (the unique experience of my life), I started asking, and things started happening.

The next thing I asked was for someone to love (I knew I was the most loveless creature on God's earth.) The next Sunday at a youth church social, I found a young woman with a come on expression on her face. We had a relationship. (I later found out that she already had a husband, but that's neither here nor there.)

Crystal, it looked like God was a vending machine. I asked, and out came the answer. This didn't last long, and has never returned quite like that.

I reflect on the difference between you and me at that point: I didn't dare; I asked--expecting (at least open to the possibility). I certainly don't think that I'm any holier than you, just more fortunate in that particular case.

Praise God. He loves us both equally-- like a father.

 
At 4:20 p.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

Kwakersaur said: "My wrestling was not going to stop nor was it going to get easier. It was just going to move in a slightly new direction."

This is helpful to me. For awhile when I was in the Bible Study class, I felt like everything was so rosy spiritually. Then it was hard, but I stuck with it. Then it had its ups and downs. When I'm in the downs, I always wonder what I'm doing wrong. Its helpful to think its part of the journey.

I have to add another post, I stopped my earlier post because it seemed to go on so long. I take David's point, but as far as blogging, there does come a point where I stop reading if a post is too long. Anyway...a teaser ad for the upcoming post: My Hypocrisy.

 
At 4:32 p.m., Blogger david said...

We do not know why bad things happen to us. It is a mystery.

I have met evangelical Christians who argued that it is so we can have free-will.

James just told us to count it as joy becasue it builds endurance.

The medieval mystics tell us its so we can learn to love God more than the gifts he gives us.

Jesus said the man was born blind so the glory of God may be manifest.

The one answer I cannot fathom is the notion that we are somehow paying off a sin-debt or bad-karma.

 
At 4:34 p.m., Blogger Larry said...

Don't flagelate yourself, my dear. You're just one of many.

A man said to the preacher, "I'd go to your church if there weren't so many hypocrits there."

"That's all right, brother; there's always room for one more."

 

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