Today’s Oxymoron: Christian Community

Christian Community.  Is that an oxymoron now? It is SO incredibly hard to want to be a part of the wreckage of whatever this is that is happening right now… Spiritual unrest? change? implosion? Because it sure as hell isn’t community.  

My gut turns when it sees the battle starting (yet again) – battles against culture and with guns blazing into our own little Christian Civil War. Why would I want to be part of this?

I don’t.

I’m not.

My beliefs are happily different from probably most Christians today and you know what? I don’t need to fight for that. I just need to live it.

I used to have a lot of answers, a lot of stances and thought-out retorts but at this point all I have is knowing God is a God who has never left me. For some strange reason, this is enough for me.

He hasn’t left me.

And so I don’t want to leave him. Not because he needs me, but because I’ve seen how deeply I need him. So I am committed to this little faith of mine and this God of infinite love.

I suppose I could go it alone, if I wanted, but I have been moving toward trusting, letting go and attempting to find community.  It is the spiritual path I am on right now and I don’t want religious boobs out there that just want to rant and rave about being repressed in the land of the free to scare me into fight or flight.

My initial response to the typical “Christian Response” is always major flight mode. Get me away from these fuckers.  Shut all systems down. If you are Christian, you are expected to be like this? Buh-Bye then!

But then I remember my faith isn’t about them. It’s about following a God who has never left me.

That slows me down from running enough to remember that yes, there are the bully Christians, but there are also the Christians who speak common sense and uncommon love. I don’t believe in the black and white world that the zealots tout, so I don’t need a black and white response.  I don’t need to fight back. I don’t need to flee from their takeover. I just need to continue to stay on my path with the God who never left me. 

Here is a list of people that keep me sane in my Christian faith.  I might not read everything they write, but when I do I tend to be hit with the knowledge that I really am not alone here in my own little world.  I love what they bring to the world and the fact that they don’t make me want to bang my head against a wall. They make Christian Community much more bearable. 😉 

Nish Weiseth

Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

Nadia Bolz-Weber

Matthew Paul Turner

Dan Haseltine & Jars of Clay

Don Miller

Rachel Held Evans

Richard Rohr

Rob Bell

Sarah Bessey

Jon Foreman & Switchfoot

I think they all have twitter & FB pages too.

Am I missing someone that you really connect with?  Let me know! :)

The Amish – Who Knew (reposted)

Somehow I started watching a documentary on PBS about people who grew up Amish and decided to move to the modern world. Their reasons were different from each other but an overlaying theme among them was that the lifestyle traditions became too restrictive. Not in a technology way… in a spiritual way. There wasn’t opportunity to think for oneself in their culture… to process spiritually why a certain rule had to be followed.

The WHY’s. That’s the good, gritty spiritual stuff.

The response of the community elders was that you don’t question because you don’t need to…”This is the way it has always been done and the way it will continue to be done.” It was drilled into the culture.

So these people stepped away and made a new life despite growing up being told that it’s literally making a choice between heaven and hell.

These people lose their community, their families, and their sense of tradition. Although they know it’s the right decision for them and they would never want to go back, they grieve that life. They grieve the comfort of what they can never experience again. That ease. Conversations with once close family members (if they aren’t excommunicated) are difficult and strained because they cannot relate to each other anymore. The worlds are too different.

So….I’m watching this and hearing their stories and it’s like a switch was flipped and I totally got what they were experiencing. Needless to say, the day I related to the Amish took me by surprise.

But I do feel it is a small, extreme example of my experience with the christian bubble. When I was an avid, loyal church goer, it was my LIFE. It is 100% it’s own culture in this American landscape, so I don’t feel it is reaching to compare it to an Amish person stepping away from their spiritual culture.

I relate not only because I have struggled with a spiritually legalistic background but also because of the way they discussed the aftermath of what comes after stepping away. To be so wrapped up into that world. To LIVE it day-in and day-out since the day you were born, to know the ins-and-outs, the lingo, the rules, have all friends and family from this culture, know the traditions/events… Even if you want to get away from all of it, it is known and there is a certain level of comfort in that.

Every once in awhile it’ll hit me. I miss the relationships that are created when you’re all on the same page. I miss the instaCommunity of the typical church …. I could walk in and have 10 new best friends at the new women’s bible study…. but now I just don’t feel like we can relate. I don’t have anything to say anymore. We’re just not looking for the same things.

I’m trying to find myself a new normal in spiritual community, but am floundering trying to move where I feel I’m supposed to be. I want to walk this road with people, but feel like I kind of suck at building relationships in this unknown territory.

I wouldn’t change a thing, would never go back… but tonight I’m a bit weary and perhaps spiritually lonely.

So for now I’ll just be thankful to a few amish rebels for giving me a little moment of “I’m not alone in stepping away from all that once defined you.”

Relating with the Amish – Who knew?

Practice

I did some playing around today with watercolor, oil pastels, colored pencil, and charcoal. I wasn’t feeling very inspired when I began, but wanted to start somewhere… so I started with a place to sit. Thank you, Mandy! 😉 Then I moved along trying different techniques with the record and the apple, but made sure I told myself I was pressure-free.

If things turned into a heaping, pathetic mess? Who cares, because well that’s it… who cares? Why do I create a everything-needs-to-be-a-masterpiece tension?

3

Turns out I like them all and they were good little practice pieces. :)  I especially love my impromptu watercolor paint still life… they were the tubes right on my table and I like the way they looked.

watercolors

Now it’s your turn. Go create something!

 

And Be

 

The floor of the National Gallery in London is lined with stunning, intricate mosaics all across the lobby steps and landing.  Art that is largely unnoticed and trampled on by hundreds everyday.

But I noticed.  And it was important.

2014 Bookshelf

Here are some of the books I’m planning on reading in 2014.

I’ve been ever-so-slowly reading Falling Upward on and off during 2013, which is unusual for me.  Dave always marvels at how fast I get through books, but this one needs you to take your time! I’ll read a bit then put it aside to digest what I just read… so long that I’ll forget I was reading it… then see it and return to repeat the whole thing over again. It is definitely not what I’m used to as far as reading goes and is truly NOT because it’s slow and/or I don’t like it.  I just feel like it’s speaking so much sense and I just love Rohr for it.

Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr

Longbourn, by Jo Baker

Surprised by Hope, by N.T. Wright

The Crowd, The Critic, and the Muse, by Michael Gungor

The Painter’s Handbook, by Mark David Gottsegen

I have all but The Painter’s Handbook waiting on the bookshelf, but hopefully will get it soon.

What are you reading?  Any suggestions?

Here’s to a full bookshelf for 2014! :)

The Year of Yes

yes

New Year
 
Here’s to a year of
sensual
silly
living
 
A year of
conceiving
crazy
thoughts
 
A year of
leaping at opportunity
soaking in peace
burping laughter
 
A year of
growing
community
new ground
 
A year of
hopelessly giving
to steady the hopeless
 
A year of
sinking
into
aging skin
 
A year of
soul
 
A year of
yes

Traveler

 

The ultimate, handpicked traveling mother.  She wasn’t born to sit at home and dream glassy-eyed about the future. She was born to run from the rulers, break the rules of society and help obliterate the binds of humanity. Mary is one tough mother.

Traveler