Sunday, February 27, 2005

Who Am I

Yesterday was a very religion-packed day, which was nice. I can't bash in every entry (trust me, there will be enough of that). This is actually a positive one (*gasp*).

I went to a Christian music concert. I used to be into Christian music big-time when I was younger, and it kinda stuck with me. So I went.

I was waiting at the bus stop, reading a book, when an elderly man walked up to me and handed me a pamphlet entitled Jesus is Wonderful. I took it, not because I wanted it but because I feel bad saying no. During my bus ride I was wondering if he went into stores and gave them out. Then I thought maybe he couldn't do that because you can't solicit in stores. "Is that soliciting?" I wondered. "I suppose he is trying to sell Jesus, in a way. I hardly think that advertising is the way to go, but if it makes him feel good, why not?"

Anyway, in the beginning of the concert I was iffy. I had one of those "Why am I here?" moments. I felt very out of place among all those Christians because I don't feel like one as much as I used to.

After that, I got into it and really enjoyed myself. It made me feel a lot better, for some reason. This has been a stressful time for me and that was just... I don't know... good for me.

During intermission, the person I went with (my mother's best friend) asked me, "So, what's the story? Why do you hate the world?" She was asking because of a joke I made while my mother was talking to her on the phone. My mother told her that there are a lot of Christians around at the rehab center where my father is, and I remarked, "Goodness, I'm never going there again." I assured her that I do not hate the world. She kept probing me in order to find out why Christians bother me. She asked, "Is this because of Pastor So-And-So?" Just because Pastor So-And-So was best friends with my father for about seven years, and my father gave his all to that church, and when Pastor So-And-So heard the horrible news, he told my mother that he's too busy with his church activities to come pray with him? Why should that bother me? But seriously, it's not just that. I have seen a plethora of hypocrites in churches, and it has made me very wary of people who claim to be full of Christ's love.

However, I am completely torn right now because the concert reminded me of a life I once led and I missed it a lot. I went to a counselor a month or so ago, and when talking about my faith crisis, she told me that I seem to feel a loss about it, rather than having a "I don't buy this crap anymore!" attitude. That's definitely true.

So I'm screwed up now. Am I a Christian, or am I anti-Christian? Can you be an anti-Christian Christian? (Actually, I think I have always been a bit of that. When I was 16, I left a church after being involved in a scandalous, Gandhi-esque civil disobedience episode on a youth retreat.) Quite confused. I decided to start going to church more and get myself involved in order to be fair, because I know all my bitterness towards it will balance that out. Today I signed up for a weekly book group through the church I sorta frequent (if by frequent you mean once every two or three months). They're reading The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. I adore Lewis, and that is the type of book I need to read right now (well, re-read). Let's see where this goes.

While she was driving me home from the concert, I bombarded her with questions. This is what it sounded like:

"Do you think the Bible is sexist?"

"No, not at all. That stuff Paul wrote was contextual. He also said women shouldn't braid their hair *rolls eyes* Back then, that was considered provocative and sexual. A woman teaching a man was considered an insult."

"What about the whole man-is-the-head-of-the-house business?"

"That's so that there's no discord."

"It's not fair. Why should he be the head?"

"I think that the Bible is actually attesting to the strength of women, because it is much harder to submit to someone else, and men aren't able to do that, whereas women are."

I also asked her about the Christian belief about people of other faiths going to hell, which I won't even get into yet because it's such a huge topic and will definitely come up later. I accept her answers about women - they don't put the question to rest for me, by any means - but they're legitimate and worth thinking about.

You know what's strange? This stuff has actually made me consider the possibility that women really were only created to be wives and mothers. At one time, I wondered if even though we're equal, God really did only create us for that. Then I slapped myself. Inferiority propaganda is strong.


Fence said...

Maybe you're a cultural christian, or a retro-christian. Going back to Jesus' message of love and peace and communism, and ignoring the centuries of abuse and rewriting history by various churches

sojourness said...

Hmm...good point. A friend of mine (Skeptic) predicts that I'll come up with my own brand of Christianity instead of going back to the one I was handed.

A. Estella Sassypants said...

I just have to say, I'm really enjoying reading about your journey. I can especially relate to the question: "Do you think the Bible is sexist?"

Musing said...

Hi, sojourness. I found your site thru Catherine's Ruminations blog. I wanted to say that I sympathize with your journey. Five years ago I was an orthodox Christian. Blood, sweat, and a few hundred pages of notes later, I now refer to myself as a spiritual agnostic. I have a good friend, though, who also questioned many doctrines of the faith but has managed to maintain strong ties to Christianity. If you're interested her blog is:

sojourness said...

Thanks! I will definitely check it out (and yours also :)

Mushroom said...

this is quite amazing, ive only been on the internet ten minutes and stumbled onto three religiously linked blogs..
and this one.

my ramble on religion which was gonna be here has been inserted into my blog because it looked too long. i'm pretty much in the same situation, except i like church but im realising i dont like the way it works. anyways, i think that it takes up too much time to analyse the bible over and over again and you might as well just do what comes naturally, a bit vague i know. on one hand you could investigate into why you liked the concert but on the other you probably shouldn't feel pressured to jump into anything. might as well just take your time finding out exactly what it is you want.

sojourness said...

Thanks for the links Mushroom.
I know what you mean... I used to love church, and I like it sometimes (depends on which I visit). I'm not as mean towards them as I sound. You have a good point about doing what comes naturally. I do, however, have to overanalyze things. It's this sick thing I do and can't get away from.

forgottenmachine said...

Hi Ms Sojourner.

Linked from Non Vocabulum and although I'm sure many have already said it, I read this post and could relate to it so strongly. I know our situations are vastly different, but coming from a heavily christian family and a history of church involvement (youth leader, church band etc), I have been wrestling so hard for the last few years with where I stand on all of it. I know that I now view certain aspects in such a way that I could never go back, but it's such a struggle, isn't it?
I'm so sick of people saying I think too much and that I should just have faith.

Anyway, that went on a little longer than anticipated.
Thanks for your time.

sojourness said...

Thanks for commenting, forgottenmachine. I know exactly what you mean... certain things will never stop bothering me unless doctrines change, and that won't happen. You reminded me of that Bob Dylan song that goes, "Well, the emptiness is endless / cold as the clay / You can always come back / but you can't come back all the way."