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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faith v. Religion: mean memes

If being hurt by the Church causes you to lose faith in God then your faith was in people, not God
 We could talk exhaustively on the subject for the duration of human existence and never attain 100% agreement on anything. Yet, we have so many questions and so many issues that it is impossible to NOT talk about them despite knowing there will never be accord. We are people who ask question. We seek knowledge and certainty. We may even simply enjoy questioning for the sake of the quest itself. In this age of religion versus the rest of the world, to have no allegiance to a church seems more an unpardonable sin than it was back when all three networks aired the Pope's Addresses, when Billy Graham Specials were to adults what Charlie Brown and the The Wizard of Oz was to kids. Much has changed in the 35 years since I've last seen a Billy Graham Special. But what has not is that the church refuses to accept it has anything to do with driving congregants away.

I came across this quote in a meme from a simple lady who has some pretty vague ideas of life and hasn't experienced anything beyond a high school level. Her life is very vanilla, she seeks no diversity in our meagerly diverse city and everything he believes is dictated by her church. So when this meme came up I was a bit angry. She's been pestering people to go to her church for years. And when she can't fill the pews in her own church she begs people to go to any church. Her life is a constant plea for help, then the resignation of "Letting go and letting God" then having her power cut off because neither God not her friends have bailed her out of some poor choices. But she still has faith. And this is some thing that in discussions with her has angered her about me.

I won't put my butt in a pew unless I am in Europe and can see one of the splendid basilicas myself. She gets very angry. First because she assumes that I mean her congregation will be as nasty, self-centered and condescending as any other I have been in. Which I do mean. Secondly because she resents being lumped in with that group. Well who could blame her. And thirdly she gets made at me because of the logic. I saw this meme and was reminded of the last conversation that we had on the subject.

Of course my faith was in your people! You all told me that I could trust you. You all told me I was welcome as I was. You ALL told me that my marital status didn't matter.

But that is what all churches say to get your butt in the pew. Then when you've been there awhile the demands to change who you are, how you live and how you relate to God start rolling in. Now if I were an alcoholic I could see demanding giving up drink. I demand that of potential partners after having been abused by one. If I were a card carrying member of a Satanic cult then yes, I would say that change was due. But I am not any of those things. I am not anything that should be objected to.

Other than: single, feminist (not the anti-male feminazi), infertile and therefore childless, intellectual therefore full of questions, independent therefore non-conforming to the bland uniforms and the daily ritual of child-rearing because... oh yeah, STILL INFERTILE, and I am comfortable with who I am. I'm not one to wail and gnash my teeth about being single or childless. It is not my lament. But every church I've been in has tried to pull the gut wrenching sorrow up to the surface, to define my female identity in a shroud of motherhood and deny the identity I was given by the very God they worship. Infertility was not my choice. My biology chooses it. Biology that is bestowed or controlled by God according to the peoples of faith I have met. The very same people for whom reproductive science is an unholy and unnatural interference. Unless of course it pertains to making me a mom. Then all the hormone pills, invetro-fertilization, surrogacy and "junk science" should be deployed to get me pregnant and make me a mom. Gays can't do it because it is an abomination to alter what God has done. But by God I'd better alter what God has done if I want to be considered a real woman.

When you point out, logically, the hypocrisy in their argument they get mad. As did my friend. I've let it go. I am at peace with the choice to screw up my insides so that I can not have kids. Isn't that what Letting Go and Letting God is about? Isn't that the advice that I am given for other things that I can not change, like the choice in Presidents, the state of the economy, my inability to make headway in my chosen profession?

So in a matter of such personal import and profound self loathing that other infertile women experience I am at peace. Now I am a slap in the face to those women. Of course I am going to leave a church like that. They promised trust, security and belonging and then took it all away from me. Of course the part that sours me on a church is the church.

I wear a lot of purple and have been told in a few churches that it is obscene. What? yes. I prefer sleeveless shirts for working in because the range of movement increases productivity. I prefer pants and jeans for the same reason. It's not feminine. Well, I don't have a partner, I don't want to attract a partner and I am not saddled with children so I have an obligation to productivity therefore... leave me alone. I can wear what I want. It doesn't bother God. It bothers other women who subconsciously don't trust their men. It bothers men who consciously know they themselves can not be trusted. Of course no one balks when the skinny women wear sundresses. Just us tubby girls. Too bad. This is who I was when you invited me to your church. It is either wrong for every body type due to modesty clauses or it is not. There is not supposed to be a "some are more equal than others" in a church. And yet here we are. But when you point that out you are suddenly an enemy of the church. Well sure. Here's the thing. If a man gets turned on but a tubby chick in a sun dress then that is God showing him a weakness that the Bible and Church teaching for 2000 years has told him is his responsibility to fix. If a woman is offended because she is afraid that her husband will cheat then she is confronted with a few uncomfortable truths: 1. she chose the wrong man, 2. she could take that as a kind of sign that she needs to be more than a maid and mom. 3. she can identify her own jealousy and covetousness and work on that. If it is a matter of being disgusted my a bit of cellulose and arm flab then that is the opportunity to work on "being judgmental." After all, are we not warned against judgment lest we be judged as harshly?

But that is the problem with churches. It's the conservative snowflake's safe haven where nothing should disturb the surface calm. And everything is only surface calm. The deeper one goes the hotter the mess. And the mess is where the sins are, the fun lies. If you stir them to the surface and someone sees it, it has to be dealt with. And then there goes the fun and indulgence. Personally I find nothing more humorous than the gluttonous in a church getting down on me for a sundress while they are pigging out on the 7 layer bean dip and pistachio layer dessert at a potluck. More Hawaiian Salad?

The church welcomes people in to increase their number to fulfill a mandate. But once in, they start treating you like the enemy to be subjugated and squashed. It is contradictory to the promise of welcome they made when they "rescued" you. So of course the faith that you had in the people of the church is dead. But, does that diminish your faith in God?

And this is where I take issue with the quoe and the people who spout it. Faith in a Church body should not ever be equal to your faith in God. If it is, then you have set the church equal to God which is to create a false idol. Direct violation of the Commandments. If your Pastor has your devotion on the same level as God then he/she has become an idol which must be torn down. God is before everyone including the Pope, a King or Queen, rock stars, athletes and yourself. If not, your faith is as rickety as a 200 year old outhouse. Your faith, not mine, is on shifting sand. The Church equates faith with attendance as if counting the number of times your butt is in a pew is the measure of true faith or of placement in Heaven. I can assure you all, no where in the Christian Bible, even in Paul's letters to any one, is this stated. In fact, the closest you will ever see on the discussion of who is entitled and who is worthy of a place in Heaven Jesus' words have been, I paraphrase here, "Don't be to sure about that." Those dudes healing the sick who weren't run through the same "program" as the 12, Jesus didn't care who was doing the work, just that it was done. Those people who were talking about Jesus and his sermons where ever they were held without the 12 being able to control the narrative, Jesus didn't stop them. They got the word out, that is all that mattered. It was only centuries later where that became an issue. So yeah... the Church doesn't always get it right. And the Church is supposed to be second to God.

My butt doesn't have to be in a pew for God to know where we stand. That is what personal prayer is for. And according to Jesus, that is between you and God and was never supposed to be dictated. The Church doesn't shake my faith in God or the Holy Spirit. The church shakes my faith in it. Never more so than with this meme that seems to intimate that faith in Church and faith in God are one and the same. So far, the only thing that makes me dislike the church less is the wisdom the Vatican showed in Pope Francis' election. Pope Francis is the first pope in I don't know how long that really seems to understand the Yeshua part of Jesus and the Holy Spirit part of the Christ. Everyone else has been about power and acquisition of goods, the control of Empires while Francis is about shepherding. John Paul and John Paul II made some progress, but even they were bound in some respects by the politics of their time. Not so Francis.

Faith is independent of where one worships. This meme is a knee jerk, public relations response of butt hurt churches who are upset when they get called on their collective bullshit.

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