Monday, June 22, 2009



There seems to be an inverse relationship between the level to which I agree philosophically and theologically with a particular religion … the degree to which I am comfortable with the language and assumptions and interpretations of a religion … and the degree to which that religion shows evidence of a significant spiritual expression. Much to my consternation, if I am honest about my experiences, (and please let me be clear about the subjective nature of my experiences) I have to say that the churches I visit that are closest to my thinking comfort zone are farthest from my spiritualization hopes. And the ones with which I have the least in common … the ones that I find based in a theological and philosophical assumptive ness that baffles me, tend to be where I see and feel the spirit moving. This is very subjective. I have been in dead churches that I disagree with, and I have felt the spirit in churches I am aligned with. But there is a general theme along these lines to the extent that I find myself facing the question: Do I go to the church I am in agreement with intellectually and values wise and accept a lackluster spirituality, or do I go to the church that I am completely unable to accept doctrinally, that has the stronger spiritual expression? The deeper questions, of course, have to do with why I see it this way? Is my intellectual agreement with a religions premise and tenor something that by necessity tamps down the potential for free expression of soulfulness. That would be ironic being that my intellectualism is suppose to be so liberal and open. Does God mess with me by showing more spirituality in a church I don’t agree with to get me to tamp down my intellectualism? Maybe I mistake something else for spirit moving, or just don’t see it when I am too at home in a place. Maybe I am too intellectually inclined for my own good in a realm where ignorance is bliss. Maybe. My problem is that I want to embrace a church but I don’t see myself embracing doctrines and premise that conflicts with my basic values and character. I have been in that situation and it doesn’t work. And I can’t seem to find a church that is fulfilling and embraceable. My resolution at present is to attend and tolerate, but not embrace, while doing what I can on my own to connect spiritually. This is a holding pattern that lacks the connection of community I long for. So I am still seeking.

5 comments:

René Wing said...

I have gone through this with churches too. At one point, a friend and I went on a church visiting tour, week after week. :) She ended up choosing to attend an Episcopalian church. (They brought her bread and wine at her home, and that sold her!) For a while I attended a Unitarian Fellowship, but that lacked a strong enough spiritual component for me... Some of us are just spiritual mutts and finding a place where we are at home is tough. Fortunately, the best church of all is right outside your, and my, door. :)

John J. Franks IV said...

I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology.
-Thomas Jefferson

Randy Watson said...

Hey Rene. Spiritual mutts is a good phrase. It's funny, I did the church crawl too. And found my self aligned whith, but unsatisfied by both the Episcopalian and the Unitarians.

Thanks for your comments

Randy Watson said...

Hey John:
r.e. "I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike founded on fables and mythology."
-Thomas Jefferson

Chech out Joseph Campbell and Jung with respects to fables and mythology and why they arise. It is pretty interesting stuff. One might not brush off that which arises from the relms of consciousness and manifist in imperfect renderings, which is, what religion is, an imperfect rendering of our grasp at things knowable only to an inpenatrable sub conscious (our reptilian consciousness, or as I like to think of it, our rock consciousness, which has little to do with making sense.)*

be well.

*Opinion not fact

John J. Franks IV said...

Randy,

Upon some reflection and re- acquaintance with Carl and Sigmund. I have found most of what I remembered about them, to be based in ubiquitous terms. Wise and intelligent certainly, dealing with theories and "science" that still are not consistently proven.

Not that I disagree with them on a blanket approach, they tend to only answer questions with more questions. A bit hard to come up with answers, to questions that invoke even further questioning.

Process of elimination at best, wild goose chase at worst. Neither guarantee you will in fact find the end all / be all answers You are in search of.

The Philosophical Side of them both is fascinating. And Learned, Thought Provoking, and Reasonable.

Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.

-Carl Jung