Admittedly, my opening post was a bit on the cynical side. This is actually a characteristic that I am working hard to root out of my life, and trust me, the level demonstrated in that post is far less than it used to be. While it disheartens me to see it come up, I am encouraged by my progress.
That being said, I feel I owe a little back-story. I spent 30 years in church, and when I say that, I don’t mean that I sat motionless in the back pew, or that it was just one congregation/denomination. During those 30 years I explored a wide variety of denominations/theologies–from Apostolic to Friends, fundamentalist to progressive, Armeniest to Reformed, and everything in between. Also, I didn’t just swallow what I was fed. I read, I investigated, I searched.
After 30 years I had become very well informed about Christianity and Christian theology, but I had found no relief. In 2009 I left, in the midst of a bout with alcohol and substance abuse that lasted from 2005 to 2010. Today, if I was to encapsulate my change in perspective, I would say “religion is for those who are afraid of hell, and spirituality is for those who have been there.”
Now, I am rebuilding my life from the ashes. At times it is a daunting task, and often I feel that my emotional composure is but a thin veneer that can be stripped away by a wisp. When I look into the past it is easy to find regret, when I look into the future it is difficult to see through the mists of doubt, but when I stay in the moment, I find god*–and it is only in the present moment and in the presence of god, that I find hope and relief.
I begrudge no one the path they choose in order to find their relief–I get it, I truly do. For me, though, the path of the christian religion is far too bound up in expectations (expressed and implied) of behavior, appearance and success, to kindle any true hope of closeness with god. Real life-problems are almost impossible to address because it is far too important to appear “christ-like”–if you are truly a follower of christ, then you shouldn’t have these problems. After all, the word “christian” means “little christs.” How can that not utterly overload anyone with unmeetable expectations?
This is not to say, however, that I don’t think there are some powerful and insightful truths at the roots of “christianity,” it’s just that my long and broad experience tells me that the practice of these critical truths is almost completely missing from that institution–hence the reason I refer to it as “churchianity,” preferring not to label it as something that it is not.
Today though, instead of discounting all those years of searching and learning, I choose to utilize that knowledge and experience in my awakening–applying the insights from god and rejecting the constructs of man.
*The challenge of vocabulary–words serve us well when it come to labeling the physical world. In the discussion of higher/spiritual concepts, however, they are far less effective. I use the word “god” not for its accepted contemporary definition, but because it is a convenient three a letter label to reference an otherwise unexplainable, undescribable higher/highest power/entity/consciousness within or encompassing or embodying or reflected by existence and intimately engaged with his/her/its creation/expression (“god” is just a lot easier to use than all that). It is important to reject preconceptions in order to seek understanding.