Thursday, August 25, 2011

Help, my brain won't shut off!

So when my mind is not otherwise occupied with the demands of my tenant who rents just a wee bit of space up there (jobs are like that, aren't they? Our bosses rent our brain space for their purposes?)

When I am not responding to our rental agreement, my mind this week has almost immediately gone back time and again to a spiritual wrestling about truth. And I consider myself a seeker of truth. I can never shake this gut feeling that there is something more, something deeper, some innate drive, an inner impulse.

I have to be honest, I have not found this truth in the church - or at least not that often. While I regularly attend, I often leave feeling as if I had a spiritual snack that doesn't always even taste good. The promise is always there, but for me, very rarely delivers. The hunger for truth remains - and I keep seeking.

This week I began reading a 21st century biography about Jesus - He was a person after all. No one denies that the guy lived and walked on earth. The author said this: Jesus was a revolutionary who tranformed the entire Judiac religious scheme into an affair of the heart and an adventure of the spirit. He did not exactly repudiate the law. What he did was to extract its moral code and ignore the rest. Instead of the law he spoke of the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom or Heaven. A faithful soul was not one who obeyed the law but one who, by transforming his spirit, "entered" the Kingdom.

And then I thought, why do we get this so wrong?
Maybe it's just me who gets it wrong...

And then I came across an article - because my brain won't shut off - Quitting Christianity to Follow Jesus. The same kinds of revolutionary thoughts were there: "Instead of living out the value of a Christian life, we cling to theology and short catchphrases on what it means to be a Christian ... We wear our Christian t-shirts, listen to Christian music and attend Christian concerts, where we have a true experience of emotion, and thus we buy a lot of Christian-themed shirts.  We go on retreats and return on spiritual highs. We buy devotional books that do nothing but gather dust.  We support Republican candidates because they’re fighting to save the family and to protect us from the evil that is homosexuality.  We abhor everything that doesn’t fit in our “Christian box” because of course it’s evil, and of course we’re supposed to flee from it, never mind that the actual person is a person.  When hard times come along, we cite verses that people normally cite and we say that God’s testing us, or we’re just going through a trial and we remind ourselves that if we just have faith, we’ll get through it all.

But get this. The author then writes: "Seems like we’re putting it all in a perspective that just makes us feel good.  It just makes us feel better about things.  Gives us warm and fuzzy feelings without breaking a sweat and putting on a fur coat.  We orient everything so that we don't have to change our way of life.  And we pursue what we want because it's our God-given desires.  We distance ourselves from the reality of Christ's call because that's comfortable."

Wow! I did not learn THAT in Sunday School!

"I quit Christianity," the author wrote.  "I'm no longer a Christian.  I just wanna follow Jesus.  I don't want the demands and the politics of being a Christian anymore.  I don't wanna follow the church.  The church could be great, but it's so uninspiring.  There's no longer any room for imagination, but there's plenty of room for theology and doctrine.  There's not enough space to be limitless and to believe in a limitless God, but there's plenty of time to chain God down into a series of statements and responsive readings.  

The reason that we chain God down and we no longer imagine the possibilities, is because we like to think that we can control God and we can control what the statements of Jesus say.  We can control the message of dilution.  But when we encounter something real, something mystical that defies theological and doctrinal beliefs, we realize that we can't answer things with our prepared cliche statements.  It's not enough."

Gandhi says:  "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

It's true isn't it? We don't look, feel, speak, smell like Jesus.

But I want to.

Honestly, so much of Christianity today seems foreign to me - at least this 21st century Christianity. I don't understand the language that Christians seem to use with fluency but feels isolating. I don't understand the judgment and condemnation. I don't understand the "bootstraps" we are suppose to use to help ourselves not one another. 

As I read about Jesus, I don't think he would either.

Is this part of that inner impulse, that drive for something more?

Seriously?? The tenant is calling with yet another demand. What time is it anyway??