Thursday, July 7, 2011

Now For A Message From Our Sponser

Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur d'Aix
I watched the online feed from my Hubby's church this morning, and the strangest thing happened.  Part way through the sermon, they broke for a commercial.  I was so stunned I can't even remember what the product was, but it was a 30 second video advertising some product.  You couldn't click though it, you just had to put up with it.  It started me thinking about how church is considered the last bastion of purity where you would not dare to use commercial advertising.  The raising of money is done with good old-fashioned guilt tripping, and use of the phrase "tithes & offerings".  Well I guess, with the exception of TV church where anything goes, all the time.

I am a decided outsider in the Church community.  You wouldn't think so.  I look the part, female, heterosexual, married for 20+ years, 2 children, husband who volunteers and is a nice guy.  I look like the perfect church pew filler, but I am not.  Here's the low down on why I don't fit in.

First of all, I am an extreme introvert.  I don't like idle chit chat.  I can't stand pop psychology sermons and fluff "improve yourself by being nice" topics.  I am a meat and potatoes theologian.  It's got to be something I can use to make a difference in my neighborhood, my block, my yard, today.  The theoretical stuff I will debate for a little while, but if it starts to waste our real time.  I have a big problem with insincerity.  You know when people are nice to your face and then stab you in the back.  Or when you council people with serious needs using platitudes, or even worse, you choose to pray for them with trite and saccharin words.  I can't imagine that God is really happy with that.  Treating his people that way, rep-resenting Him that way.

There's another way I don't fit in.  I don't think that God is just male.  If we as human beings are created as a representation, an image of God, and we are created male and female, then God must be more than just one sex as well.  Maybe God is all sexes.  Maybe he (as a pronoun not indication of gender) is the only one who can truly understand all of us as we were created in our own individual gender, and sexuality?  Maybe homosexuality is not a sinful act of the will, but a biological evolution of the gender structure of the brain.  Uh oh, that one is gonna get me kicked out of middle aged women having coffee and gossiping while doing something charitable club (you know,  the MAWHC&GWDSC Club)

Yet another square peg for the round hole of tradition round hole of Christianity.  I am a Christian Evolutionist.  I don't believe that God created the universe in 6 days, not because She can't, but because She is a complex being, who delights in the development of secrets, and unfolding of mysteries.  Why the rush?  Was there a press deadline for the printing of Genesis?  Had the gold edged paper been purchased, was in transit and had no place to be stored, so the show must proceed as planned. 
The story of Joseph in the old testament shows a man that had to wait for years on end for his story to unfold.  It is a long and interesting story, and full of meaning not only for his life, his family, his adopted nation (Egypt), but also demonstrates for us how God is patient to piece the intricate details of the life, the building of a strong, courageous man who could lead a nation out of disaster and save his own nation in the process.  Can not this same God work the intricate details of the creation of a complex universe with even more finesse through evolution?  I think She did.

Then we move to the area of life's work, and once again I don't fit in with the missionaries, the people to serve the sick, serve the public through politics (sarcasm  alert), I don't feel a calling to any of these in particular.  My skill and passion for work is directed at one of the things we as "Christians" are supposed to ignore.  The outward appearance of people.  I deal in the superficial, the outward beauty, which is frowned upon in church circles.  It's not "important work" in the eyes of the church to make clothing for a living.  Of course, try showing up to church without clothes, maybe then the superficial would seem a little more important.

So what am I left with?  Sit down and shut up.  Na, not going to do that anymore.  Leave the church.  Well I did leave "a" church a couple of years ago, and found another one which values the arts, so that does help some.  And they ordain women, and it's OK to take a bottle of wine to a church potluck.  It helps.

Incidentally, I will give you instructions on how to leave a church.  It is complex like a legal separation.

1.) Stop going to the building for any of it's activities.  That will trigger a response from the "management".  It is a bureaucratic management so it does take some time.  In my case it took three years.
2.)  Then the inquest.  They will at that point be very interested in knowing why you have left.  If you can remember, it is good to give a brief summary.  So maybe start taking some notes after step one so that you can remember.  Someone will want to meet with you and discuss it.  It will appear that they are trying to learn from the situation, but most likely they are not.  In my case, the interviewer concluded with saying that it was only for my benefit that we met.  Had I known, I wouldn't have wasted my time.
3.) There you are done!  Don't worry about explaining your decision to a lot of people.  I haven't had one phone call from anyone in the congregation since.  My husband and children still attend there, and nobody seems to notice or care that I do not.  Course I am introverted, so they probably didn't notice me when I was there.
It continues to be one of my biggest struggles, feeling like I am the only one out there who being raised in progressive core Christian ideas, gone to Bible College, joined all the obligatory women's groups still feel like this all very pointless in reality.  Yes, I still believe in God.  (Don't worry Mom.)

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