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.

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Since I've mentioned Adam and Eve, I thought I would continue along that path. I have been looking at Renaissance art for one of my classes and came across some interesting depictions of the famous couple:

This is Michelangelo's masterpiece. I love the way he feminized the serpent by giving it breasts (well, one). As if women didn't get enough flack for Eve's sin... now we get to be the cause of the temptation too!

Gossaert's version shows Adam trying in vain to stop the mischievous little Eve from destroying mankind's chance at perfection and eternal bliss.

No wonder the church fathers hated us so much. But, that's a subject for another entry.

At the bottom of my facetiousness there is a point: How does a woman wholly embrace a religion in which she is represented in an unfavorable manner? It's not just Christianity, mind you - it goes far beyond that. But that is the question du jour. I went to a message board a few days ago and asked if there were any Christian women out there who have ever struggled with the patriarchal nature of the religion. I only got one response, and that was from a woman who said that her struggles with it led her to forsake Christianity altogether.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Things We Said Today

I saw Fellow Seeker and Skeptic today. I sat and listened while the two of them debated whether or not it is a good idea to baptize a child. Fellow Seeker, having a similar experience to mine (Christian upbringing, current questioning period), feels that it is important not for its religious implications but for its sense of community. He looks at it as a celebration of the child's birth. Skeptic disagrees. He feels that it is putting a child into something it doesn't understand and consequently can't accept or object to. He thinks that it is important not to impose any of your beliefs on a child whatsoever. I can see both of their points. I would baptize my child, though, for the sake of tradition. Christianity is so ingrained in me, isn't it?

After S. left, F.S. and I had another discussion. He is reading Doubt, a History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson. You can imagine how interesting it is to talk to him while he's reading it. He said to me, "I never realized how sexist the Bible is, but wow, it really is. Eve is not created for her own innate (funny word to use, don't you think?) worth, but only because Adam needed something." He raised an issue that is one of my major concerns about Christianity. The Bible is, without a doubt, clear on women's role in the world. What does one do if they don't agree with it? Disregard the Bible? If you were raised as a devout Christian, you know it is not as simple as that. Some key verses to consider:

"[W]omen should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church."
-1 Corinthians 14:34-35-

"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
-Ephesians 5:22-24-

"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."
-1 Timothy 2:11-15-

Tryin' To Get To Heaven

Bob Dylan is the man.

The air is getting hotter
There's a rumbling in the skies
I've been wading through the high muddy water
With the heat rising in my eyes
Every day your memory grows dimmer
It doesn't haunt me like it did before
I've been walking through the middle of nowhere
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

When I was in Missouri
They would not let me be
I had to leave there in a hurry
I only saw what they let me see
You broke a heart that loved you
Now you can seal up the book and not write anymore
I've been walking that lonesome valley
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

People on the platforms
Waiting for the trains
I can hear their hearts a-beatin'
Like pendulums swinging on chains
When you think that you lost everything
You find out you can always lose a little more
I'm just going down the road feeling bad
Trying to get to heaven before they close the door

I'm going down the river
Down to New Orleans
They tell me everything is gonna be all right
But I don't know what "all right" even means
I was riding in a buggy with Miss Mary-Jane
Miss Mary-Jane got a house in Baltimore
I been all around the world, boys
Now I'm trying to get to heaven before they close the door

Gonna sleep down in the parlor
And relive my dreams
I'll close my eyes and I wonder
If everything is as hollow as it seems
Some trains don't pull no gamblers
No midnight ramblers, like they did before
I been to Sugar Town, I shook the sugar down
Now I'm trying to get to heaven before they close the door

Monday, February 21, 2005


In September, I decided to conduct a personal study of various religious experiences in order to better understand it all. My recent crisis has thrown a wrench into that plan, but perhaps I can ease back into it. Until then, I can discuss what I have done so far. At this point, I have done *a little* reading and *a little* visiting for my experiment.

I began reading God's Breath: Sacred Scriptures of the World, which is a collection of religious texts. I have read the book of Genesis and the Tao Te Ching. The book of Genesis was not new to me, as I am well acquainted with the Bible. The Tao Te Ching was very new, and while I came out of it with some inspiring quotes, that was about all. It was a bit difficult to wrap my head around.

"We look but don't see it
and call it indistinct
we listen but don't hear it
and call it faint
we reach but don't grasp it
and call it ethereal"

"When a great person hears of the Way
he follows it with great devotion
when an average person hears of the Way
he doesn't know if it's real or not
when a small person hears of the Way
he laughs out loud"

"Were I sufficiently wise
I would follow the Great Way
and only fear going astray"

I have visited non-denom churches, an Episcopalian church, and a Catholic chapel. I haven't branched out of Christianity much (I have spent some time in an Eastern Religions bookstore, does that count?). I have been a member of a Catholic club, and I am currently a member of a Jewish one, although I am neither Catholic nor Jewish. I enjoy attending the rabbi's lectures.

I've watched the History Channel's documentary entitled "A History of God."

As you can see, I am hardly equipped to make any judgments just yet. I know that I have beef with Christianity on several levels, but it is also my foundation from childhood. I am seriously intrigued by other religions, and that's not something that will just go away.

Punky's Dilemma

Me: One confused chick.

You: Someone to offer thoughts and ideas, or just to laugh at me along the way (or is the the Way?).

The Point: To collect my thoughts as I consider different religious ideologies... To promote dialogue about them rather than just me talking to myself... To seek truth...

Background: I was raised in a non-denominational Christian family - one of those seriously involved ones. When I was around 10 years old, church politics got to be too much for the folks and they gave it up. They're still Christians but haven't gone to church regularly since. I started going by myself when I was a teenager, and that continued up until a few years ago. Now I go sporadically, if at all. Recently my father had a very bad accident and his recovery seems like it will take a long time. This threw the fam back into the religious life, myself included (what choice do you have? you can't do anything but pray). But these past few years have been littered with doubts and serious questions I can't seem to resolve. I have had times when I've actually been hostile to Christianity. I decided the best thing to do would be to investigate other things as well through books, religious services, and whatever else would help. I started a journal to record it all, but I never write in it anymore. Maybe I'll be more motivated to write here.