Monday, June 13, 2005

Sunday Morning Coming Down...

I went to church yesterday for the first time in, oh, 12 months, here in Oxford. The last time I attended worship services regularly was when I lived in Baton Rouge, at St. Alban's Episcopal Chapel on the LSU campus. Living here, I had lost a bit of my spiritual side. I realized part of the reason I've been, well, feeling depressed over my situation and choice to come to Oxford has been my refusal to see why God called me here in the first place, to acknowledge the Creator's guidance and providence in my life.

When I recieved the Eucharist for the first time since Fr. Howard offered me the bread and wine down in Louisiana, my tongue went numb. I cried after the service; it was so powerful to once again feel so liberated from the guilt and bitterness I've felt for the last few months.

For those unaware, yep, I consider myself a man of faith. I'm not some Bible-thumper, nor do I consider myself "Born-Again," nor do I buy into the whole concept of applying capitalist principles of material wealth and prosperity to religion. I even debated entering the ministry at one point in my life, until I realized that's just not part of God's plan for me yet. And my steadfast refusal to blindly accept any church dogma without meditaion and contempation makes me a less-than-ideal candidate for spiriual service in today's world. There are things and behavior considered sinful in the eyes of many within the Anglican Communion, and Christendom, that I think are more matters of sexual politics and individual Scriptural understanding than within the realm of faith.

I fully accept the gay and lesbian community, and other pariahed groups, as members of the Body of Christ - as members of the human race. I refuse to judge, because only God has the right to judge a person's true heart and moral values. I have seen too many couples who are in loving, caring nontraditional relationships with wonderful partners who contribute so much good to the community to believe otherwise. I believe human sexuality has become too tied to old beliefs that are, yes, based in Scripture, but which have been accepted as as diehard spiritual fact in place of contemplative points.

Wasn't sure if I should blog these thoughts, until I realized those who know me best know this side of me.
JWJ

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Finding your center is good and the memory of why you go is good but don't get lost.

Smurf said...

Wow! Hearing you speak with such passion is nice. Question. You don't consider yourself born again, by that you mean you don't believe Jesus is who He said He was, "I am the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE, no man cometh to the FATHER except through me." (John 14:6) What is being rejected? The Dogma I mean, are you saying you don't believe you need to die to self to evolve spiritually, so to speak? I am just curious.

The ZenFo Pro said...

I guess I should clarify that a bit. I believe Christ is who he said he was. I also believe that all men arrive at the Creator through Christ.

Where I differ is in the belief that somehow man has some influence over the process. By proclaiming such a thing, Christ opened the doors for all men; the rest is open to intereptation as to how one actually arrives. The authors of the Gospel of John had a different agenda, obviously, than the Matthew authors, as did other NT authors.

I believe there is power in religious sacrifice and acceptance, but the concept of being "Born Again," as used by many of the more modern conservative, fundamentalist doctrines, is more often motivated by trying not to end up in hell than actually living more Christlike. A concept so simple as salvation, in modern interpretation of Scripture, has given rise to a belief system generally more focused on shielding the spiritual self FROM growth by creating a dualistic "All Good/All Bad" environment.

Often ignored in the modern "Born Again" belief system is the forgiveness of all sins through baptism (which, according to the Nicene Creed, is the only way to salvation), the concept of the need for good, selfless acts and faith as outlined in James and transendental lessons of the Gnostic texts.

I reject, wholeheartedly, the current "Born Again" movement because it relies in only one small part of the big process of spiritual development. Being saved or saving others is hollow without growth from the "rebirth." Basically, being born again doesn't actually "save" anyone - that's still Christ's job. Regardless of acts, faith, sexual orientation, etc., it's still Christ who's the gatekeeper. And there are really no easy, one-size-fits-all ways to figure out who gets through the gate and who doesn't.
JWJ

Anonymous said...

Jay you went there. This is no bump to anyone just an observation.

Spiritual belief, Faith, and the Bible are all different things. One can have spiritual belief and faith and think the Bible is a good book written by men whos experiences are left to their minds to record and the mind can weave it into whatever it wants it to be.

For some church is the outlet to express their spiritual belief and faith others use the mountains or the lakes while others use quiet reflective time. No one is better than the other. It is unfortunate that a group of people who believe in the commandments of love thy neighbor can be so judgemental of others and their lifestyles or choices and that they can believe that they have the one true answer.

Anonymous said...

Jay you went there. This is no bump to anyone just an observation.

Spiritual belief, Faith, and the Bible are all different things. One can have spiritual belief and faith and think the Bible is a good book written by men whos experiences are left to their minds to record and the mind can weave it into whatever it wants it to be.

For some church is the outlet to express their spiritual belief and faith others use the mountains or the lakes while others use quiet reflective time. No one is better than the other. It is unfortunate that a group of people who believe in the commandments of love thy neighbor can be so judgemental of others and their lifestyles or choices and that they can believe that they have the one true answer.

Smurf said...

I totally agree with you anonymous. That is why man is different and scientifically classified as HOMO SAPIEN. Sapien specifing we have the ability to reason. That is what "Faith" is all about. Believing in something. That is why I don't claim a denomination. I know I believe Christ was the Messiah. I believe man was given the ability to reason for a REASON. That is the only place I differ from you to a point Jason. I believe that since man has the ability to reason, he does have a part to play in it all. We live by our convictions. We learn from others and often tweak,so to speak, our views on things as we grown and learn. Christ is the one who does the changing and saving, however if you don't play a part in it, how do you think and accept he is who he said he was. You choose to. NOt trying to disagree... like anonymous just observing and sharing my observations. I love you Jay you know that! :)

Smurf said...

BTW, Jason, PLEASE don't taking my thoughts as judgement or criticism. I really wanted to know where you were at. We all have very different definitions of words and concepts. I admire and respect you for your learnedness ;) and taking the time to really think things through and try to see it from the most compassionate way possible. I really do value your friendship and love you to death!
Blessings, Shirley

The ZenFo Pro said...

No prob. No offense taken.

Ms. Jen said...

Okay...too deep for me...but I think God loves everyone, even me :)

Rosie said...

When the fuck did you get religious? Remember the Morro Bay incident? Um...that stupid soroity slut from hell you dated? Um...

LOL...good for you, actually.

Chewie said...

i haven't heard you talk like this in a while.. at 1st it started to scare me.. you sounded a lot like shirley :)

but i know where you are comming from.. and i am glad you are getting back to the place you were

chew