Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thoughts on the Bible

One of my scriptures that I'm trying to read through is, of course, the Bible. To be precise, my NRSV Bible  with Apocrypha. I try to daily read one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament, with the goal of reading it and understanding it through my now more progressive, and objective, eyes, as I have not made any efforts to read through the Bible since my days as an evangelical fundamentalist, when the church of my childhood basically forced us to.

Today's topic in the Sunday School/Religious Education series of Kathleen Norris at the UCC church was "Bible Matters". The focus was the role of the Bible in modern, progressive Christianity. The question was put to us "What does the Bible mean to you today?"

The first thought that came to my mind surprised me: Not a damn thing. 

 As I think about it, I realize that, although Jesus has some words of wisdom in the Gospels, and even moreso in the Gnostic Gospels (my favorite being the Gospel of Thomas), neither Jesus nor the Christian scriptures hold much meaning for me anymore, beyond a vaguely spiritual, mostly academic sense. When I think of the Bible, and Jesus, I no longer feel the emotional connection that draws me to say "I'm a Christian".

I think I've felt this way for some time now, and not just because of the spiritual stagnancy mentioned in previous entries. I genuinely no longer rely on Christian scriptures or center my spiritual beliefs around Jesus. Indeed, I've been much more interested in reading the Buddhist scriptures. I've said for awhile that if I ever left Christianity again, it would be for Buddhism. Maybe I'll take a more serious look at that.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Refusing to Choose

I went to church today. For the first time in ages. Two of them, actually. It really was quite enjoyable.

My primary church of membership, a United Church of Christ church, recently began having two services - one at 8:30am and one at 11:00am. The content is mostly identical - the membership has just grown so much, that they had to create a second service in order to make it easier for everyone to fit.

Interestingly, the themes for the services mirrored things I've had on my mind lately, including the subject of focus in my previous blog post.

At the first service I attended, the theme focused on was "Hurry Up and Wait", and being patient. Something I always struggle with.

After the service, I attended the Religious Education class, which is held between the 8:30 and 11:00 service. Interestingly enough, they began a DVD discussion series by author Kathleen Norris. Kathleen was raised Christian, left the faith for a period of time, and then re-converted with a new understanding of the faith. The topic of today's session was "Belief". She made a point that I hadn't thought about before - how belief is a daily process, rather than static, and is not the same thing as "thinking". Our beliefs constantly change and are being evaluated. They drive everything about us in some way or another. We talked about our beliefs which give our lives meaning, and it was even asked of us, what aspects from other faith traditions have inspired us?

After that, I went a couple of blocks over to the Unitarian church and attended their 11:00am service. The focus was on Robert Ingersoll's writings, and the importance of being "happy" as being the Only Good, the ultimate goal in life, no matter what your religious belief is. Which resonates with me, because happiness, I think, really is the ultimate goal, as even if we subscribe to a faith which focuses on helping others and self-sacrifice, if we didn't get some kind of pleasure from it, we wouldn't do it.

As I'm in a phase of reassessing where I am spiritually (which, after what I learned in Religious Ed today, is kind of a lifelong process I suppose), I highly enjoyed attending both the UCC and Unitarian churches. For the moment, I think I'll try to make it a regular activity.  Between church(es) and getting back into my daily spiritual readings (which I'll perhaps elaborate on over the next few blog posts), maybe I can get a spiritual focus back into my life.