Wednesday, February 10, 2010

i'll probably be kicked out of my small group for this

I just responded to a comment on my last post, that I thought I ought to just put up as it's own post. Because I think it's important to be clear about what we are - and where we are on this spiritual journey. Maybe no one cares, but I do and I don't want for anyone to perceive me as something that I'm not.

What's odd about this "journey" that we're on is that I'm still conflicted on a number of issues. Writing down what I hear each week in church helps me to "vent" things out and think about them. Please keep in mind - the Bible verses from my last post are not verses that I tracked down. Those are verses that were provided in a handout at church, which was great because they are applicable to the topic(s) that we discussed.

Regarding topic #1 (1. Embrace God's Plan) - I don't want our children to have sex before they are married. Because I'm their mother and I can see why holding out until you are married is the RIGHT thing to do. Physically, emotionally, spiritually.

That being said, I still strongly believe that people are born they way they are meant to be born and if they are homosexual - they have every right to be united in a ceremony that would grant them the same exact rights that any married couple would enjoy. The next time something like Prop 8 comes up, you better believe, I'll have a sticker on my car and a sign in my yard touting EQUAL rights for EVERYONE.

Although I once thought that it was intuitive to be kind, compassionate and treasure your family and I didn't really need church, I like hearing the message week after week. It just reinforces what I should be doing with my life and the example I should be setting for my children. Aside from that, church has been absolutely wonderful for our marriage. Charlie and I have been following the instructions we've received each week and we have grown in ways I never imagined. For example, last week, my husband took the incentive to hire a maid to come in one day a week and clean the house so I wouldn't have to.

Not only does it make me happy ... he hasn't stopped smiling since.

We go to church each week and I recently joined a small (Bible study) group that meets every Thursday. So I'm definitely diving more and more in to the Christian life. But ... I still wouldn't call myself a Christian. I haven't been baptized as an adult. And well, I have a few questions surrounding the immaculate conception and resurrection that might keep me out. As a scientist, I'll never believe the concept of Creationism. Although I do believe that much in life can be explained by science, God is what started the whole thing in motion and what comes before and after your life. And during, if you are honed to listen to that little voice in your heart.

I love so much of Christianity. I love, love, love the teachings. I love the philosophy, the principles, the simpleness of it all. I love the beautiful road map that it provides on how to live a good life. Now I'll tell you what I don't love: I don't love some of the incredible closed mindedness that I see at times. I don't love it when people absolutely DENY things that have been PROVEN by science. I don't love it when people call themselves Christians but condemn people who are different than themselves. In the words of Gandhi, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Poor me. I don't think I'll ever fit in with any group. So, I'm just chugging along. Quoting Bible verses and plugging gay rights. I'm an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Some would probably say, on my way to hell in a hand basket.


  1. Well said.

    I was raised Catholic, but bailed on that, and eventually found my way to the Unitarian Universalist church (sprinkled with some Buddhism). My issues and sentiments about organized Christianity, in many ways, mirror your own. And I'd even be so bold as to say that the concerns you have and the questions you ask make you a more highly evolved Christian than someone who simply accepts on blind faith a doctrine of exclusivity and inequality, or rejects scientific fact in favor of fantasy and dogma.

    Of course, I'm a heretic, so what do I know?

  2. Hey Jen,

    I've read your blog for a long time. I think I use it as a form of birth control. Haha,just kidding, your kids are adorable. You answered something that I wondered a lot about, how as a geologist you were also so supportive of Christianity. I feel the same way as you, to a degree. Whenever I do have kids I'd be tempted to start going to church again even though I don't believe in God or Creationism, but I don't think that I could do it because of the closed mindedness of the majority of Christians (at least in my experience) and how easily I was sucked into that mentality.

    I once "didn't believe" in gays (they were just confused), outwardly refused evolution lessons in middle school, and was generally a nutcase... All by the time I was 14 because of what I feel was a good dose of brainwashing by our church. I believed that I wasn't the one able to change my life, that all things happened because of God's plan. I attended church on Sundays with my parents, but voluntarily on my own three other times a week.

    What I'm getting at, I'm not quite sure. Obviously I am still confused by all that happened. My husband is a staunch atheist, so I am fairly confident my extreme doubts about church coupled with his complete doubt will lead us to raising our children without Christianity.

    I definitely feel that there is morality without religion. I just wish there was some sort of group that met in the manner of a church and some of the philosophies of Christianity (or other similar religions) without the actual religion.

  3. I'll join you in that hand basket. Individual thought is a god given right and going along with the masses for any sake, is not always the right thing :)

  4. As the priest that baptised my children would say you are sitting on the fence and getting the best of the world. Nothing wrong with that.

  5. This is why I like you. You refuse to be labeled. Keep it up, sista. Are you my long lost twin?

  6. Oh my. What a touchy subject. I usually veer away from those - but this one? I'm jumping in with both feet.

    Here's the thing (from MY point of view). I am a Christian (and a Catholic - YES Catholics are Christians! You wouldn't believe how many times I've been asked that one! Anyway....) but this is what bugs me. A lot of people make "assumptions" when you say you are Christian.

    Just because you are a Christian does NOT automatically mean that you don't believe in equal rights for the gay and lesbian community. Just because you are a Christian does not mean that you ascribe to the notion that everyone who does not believe the same as you or have the same faith is going to be condemned to burn in hell for all eternity. Believe it or not - in MOST Christian faiths - our God is a benevolent God.

    Some Christians make the rest of us look bad. Period.

    So if the way I am living my life, practicing my faith and believing that we were all created equal - then apparently I'm in that handbasket with you on the way to hell - we'll have a great time - I'll bring the wine!

  7. Jen -- I appreciate your Soul Food posts, and based on this post here, I see we have our religious views very much in line. I'm not a current church-goer (I have been on and off in the past). I don't necessarily identify as religious of any sort (though I was baptized Catholic as a baby), but I am spiritual, and I agree there are a lot of good messages in Christianity -- like the messages you're sharing with us.

    You and I are so on the same page with this stuff, and your Soul Food posts make me feel warm inside, they are inspiring and provide good reminders for all.

  8. I hope that you are not kicked out of your small group for this post. I love that quote by Ghandi. Another favorite is "I Love God and Jesus.. I just really don't care for their fan club."

    I think you are doing the best you can be doing for your relationships and your family, and how can wanting equality for all manner of people be an evil thing, really?

  9. BlackOrchid2/10/10, 6:18 PM

    In order to prevent too much worrying about Hell, you might check out the New Church - the Swedenborgian Church. Emanuel Swedenborg.


    Not kidding.

    At least take a look at some of the books, with all your spare time, ha ha.

  10. You should watch "Everything is Spiritual" by Rob Bell. It is pretty good.

  11. Jen, Love your blog! You may be slammed for this post but I really understand what you are saying. I think Christianity is really fairly simple, I think it is the people who mess it up. I also don't understand how people can say that if you haven't been saved as an adult you are not a Christian. I know plenty of wonderful Catholics, Lutherans and so on who haven't been saved and are amazingly Christian people. Keep up the amazing posts I love to read them!
    Jen from IL (who also had a fourth whoops baby that has brought so much joy to their family.)

  12. I love your blog and these posts. I love the honesty and authenticity behind them.

    You might like to check out mars hill ( and Rob Bell. I don't know if you have heard of either, but Rob has a couple of books- including Jesus Wants to Save Christians and Sex God.

    Hope you are having a wonderful night.

  13. It's a relief to me to read your posts like this and to see similar-minded folks commenting, because I am similarly conflicted about religion. I don't go to church, though. The more vocal, narrow-minded, even hateful Christians totally turn me off from organized religion. My husband and I choose instead to try and live our lives as good people, by the Golden Rule, and our son probably won't get any more church than he gets from his grandma (she's a more respectable, kind Christian than many, so that's fine).

    Also, I fail to see why religion and science have to be exclusive. For example, I don't go for the hard-core Creationism theory, and I'm a believer in evolution . . . what I don't get is why some Christians can't accept the possibility that God started it all off but then things evolved over all that time? Or at the very least, perhaps God planted fossils to give us something to occupy our minds in a productive manner for hundreds of years! (Just kidding.)

  14. This is why I come back here! Well, plus you're awesome and your husband is a tv superstar!
    I posted something similar to this recently. I've been feeling uncomfortable in my mainstream Christian church and I'm not sure where to go, I'm not sure where I fit. I call myself a Christian because...well, I've always been a Christian. But I don't like the label and I have no doubt that many Christians would not think I'm really a Christian. So I've settled on Christ follower for now. I believe he was who he said he was and I want to live the way he taught. That's it. I'm looking at some more liberal churches.

  15. I appreciate your openness about your beliefs- I am on the fence about a lot of the same issues but because of what I think would happen if I brought attention to it, I just keep my mouth shut:)
    Is there room for one more in your handbasket?

  16. Your posts are always thought-provoking.

  17. I have never commented before, but felt compelled to this time being an Indian. Just wanted to let you know that you made a spelling error while spelling "Ghandi". If you are referring to Mahatma Gandhi (like I think you are), its spelled "Gandhi".

  18. Thanks Indian Anonymous ... I knew there was an "H" in his name. I just had it in the wrong place!

  19. Believing in God is a matter of faith. Creationism is an act of faith. I do believe things have evolved as time has passed, but since I wasn't there in the beginning and I believe in God and the Bible. I still believe in Creationism. Charles Darwin wrote the "origin of species" in 1859. Christianity emerged during the Roman empire almost 2,000 years prior.Perhaps in the scientific future evolution and creation will reconcile with one another more clearly.... My husband and I totally disagree with one another on this.

    In the Bible, marriage is between a man and a woman. Equal rights for gays.... In CA you can register as a domestic partners and in my opinion that does not provide as many benefits that it should/could. (and the tax ramifications of being an RDP....what a nightmare! Its a specialty in itself-seriously) So while I don't think that what is out there is good enough to provide equality currently. I'm hesitant to take something from the Bible, a religious ceremony between a man and a woman, and apply it to a man and a man or to a woman and a woman.

    Are we really believing in God if we don't believe in all of the Bible? Should the Bible be taken literally or does the interpretation change as culture and science change? I don't have those answers...I just have my beliefs...which are completely subjective.

  20. I think your perspective is wonderful and actually pretty courageous too. I feel that a lot of people who follow Christianity will not admit the issues the the practiced religion has, b/c it's perceived as blasphemous or something along those lines. It would be so nice if more people were evolved enough to pick out the good and leave the bad behind. But b/c so few do that, I feel that Christianity leaves behind a great deal of really kind and spiritual people who simply cannot reconcile the closed-minded ways of a lot of "true believers". I keep hoping that in the future, religion can evolve in the way you are evolving it in your own life. I am someone who would benefit a great deal from practiced religion (like Christianity) but can't seem to find anything in common with the traditional church goers that I encounter and therefore stay away. This was a good reminder to me that maybe I can just forge my own unique path as well...

  21. So many times when you write about religon, I want to copy your words and paste them on my blog. You It's like you've managed to sum up the jumbled thoughts in my head and present them in a much more coherent manner. Thank you for making me feel like I'm not alone in this arena!

  22. I'm going to hell in a handbasket too. We'll make it a party.

    I am with you on the questions and concerns about what is taught in church. I do believe that the bible provides us with a guide as to how we should live and act toward others and reminds us that being kind is a good thing.

    But I do not like that there are people that want to impose their beliefs onto others in the name of religion. It's not right. This country was founded on a separation of church and state and our founding fathers would be having a FIT about this craziness over gay marriage.

    I am pro marriage for everyone - we are all equal.

    Keep the separation of church and state. You can believe what you wish and practice your religion freely - do not impose it on me or condemn me because I do not believe what you believe.

    It's sad our country is coming to this and there are so many closed-minded people out there.

  23. I'm right the with you, only I/we have not found a church where we feel comfortable enough to just plug along. My husband and I were both raised Catholic. What has become so clear to me, and I find so much irony in this, is that the more devout the Christian/religious person, the more judged and uncomfortable I feel being around them, especially on Sunday (nevermind what we do the other six days a week). And ultimaely it's that judgement that keeps me from going back. -Karen

  24. jen, i am thankful for you, your family, and your blog.

  25. really we could just make our own group. my parents never attended church although my grandfather is a minister, his son turned out to be an atheist (my dad). my husband and I never go to church, we don't feel pulled there nor do I believe everything in the bible, I believe it is there to teach certain lessons but does not need to be taken literally. WE choose to enjoy the outside world and sitting in a building just doesn't do anything for us. Also I do believe in science and the bible was written by man so once again literally just doens't work for me period, I am not a crazy liberal but much more liberal then conservative, and you go prop 8 I hope they get soemthing passed again.

  26. I have just started reading my boys Catholic Children's Bible because I felt that I had no clue what the Bible says since I am a practicing Catholic. I thought you would be interested in what it says about the creation of the world and it mentions the science aspect. (I sent this in an email to my family since we all don't know much about the Bible).

    I'm shocked what I am learning....even just on the first few pages. Like for example, it is telling the story about God creating the earth in 7 days...this really is just a fictional story the writer made up. At the end of the story in a summary... it says....basically that God inspired holy men to tell us the great truths of creation in simple, imaginative stories. The Biblical writer describes God as talking, consulting and resting. He knew that God did not do these things. God simply willed and things came into existence. But this manner of telling the story helps us to understand more easily the great truth that God created the World.

    Also....The six-day arrangement of creation is a plan the writer used to impress Jewish people with the holiness of the Sabbath, their day of rest. Again; the author had no intention, when speaking of a "day" to limit the work of any creative act to 24 hours. He just arranged an orderly way of telling us how the many creations of this wonderful world came into being.

    The story of creation is a story about religion and not about science. Therefore, creation as told in the Bible does not offend against science. It is true, though, that in His creative act God set masterful forces of science into motion.

    Isn't that weird??? I feel I have grown but trying to get my head around these stories in the Bible that we are supposed to believe that everything they said is truth. Like that God created the world in 7 days. This Bible is telling us that that was just a story to embellish that God created the world.

    I wonder if this is what other Christian religions believe too or if they take it to believe each word is truth???

  27. I think there is a HUGE difference between Christians and Christian fundamentalists. It's the Fundies that are ruining it for the rest of us.

    I belong to a Christian church that has very liberal views- we allow openly gay member, and openly gay men and women can also become ordained ministers.

    I believe that Jesus' ONE message was take up your cross and follow me. We are each responsible for doing that, but we are NOT responsible for how OTHERS are doing it.

    There ARE liberal Christians out there, but more and more we are starting to not want to be called "Christian" if that's what the conservative, closed-minded, and in many cases thinly veiled racists are calling themselves.

  28. You certainly better not be kicked out! Sounds to me like God is whispering in your ear, spurring you onto places He wants you to go. And you are a typical child...wanting to understand, digging your heals in a bit on things you don't like or don't understand, but yet kind of liking somethings about this (maybe secretly on some!). That is OK! He is bigger and stronger than you are and you aren't going to stop Him...that is the awesome thing about God!!! I haven't caught up on all your posts. I just starting reading your blog a month or two ago. So I don't know exactly what your religous background is. But I would just like to enourage you with a couple things. First, God could care less about your religion. He just deeply desires a personal relationship with you. That means you should talk to Him...about what you like, don't like, thank Him, ask Him for help..CONVERSE! He will talk to you, and if you are delving into His word He will talk to you a lot! I belive with all my heart you can develop that relationship in any Christian based religion...if you are in the place HE wants you. And in any Christian based church in the world you will also find people who don't know Christ, and don't want to. They are just there to check it off their list for the week, or maybe to feel good about themselves, or a myriad other reasons! There is stuff in every religion that isn't "right," stuff that is man made extras. I belive that some of it really doesn't matter to Him, as long as we don't try to change the core beliefs. But some of those core beliefs you will learn as you read...they are hard. I know I don't like some of them. But as you read, you have to decide..either this book is true, it is the word of God, or it isn't. If it is, I have to accept the stuff I don't like on sheer faith..much like I accept Christ's gift of redemption. I didn't earn it, I don't deserve it, I CAN'T do anything to get it. I simply say "I accept." And that which I don't like or understand, I ask God for help with. And as for Christians not being like Christ...that made me laugh! How could we possibly be??? We sin...plain and simple. And He didn't. So we can strive to be like Him, and we should. But until we are made perfect in heaven, we will not even come close to being like Him. Yes, there are those Christians who fail to outwardly acknowlege their own inequity yet outwardly judge others for theirs. It is wrong...and so easy to fall into. It is easy for every human to do, but someone who calls themselves a Christian may take a little more heat for their judgement. After all, when you tell others you are a Christian, people want to hold you to a different standard, and some people sit in wait until you fail to live up to that standard. So, interestingly, the judgement goes both ways! But that is OK, because He still loved us enough to die for us! And so He made it right! And I (and you) will not be measured by men according to the standards of men. We will be measured by God, according to God's standards. And that is where we stand in awe, in worship, and in adoration. How cool is that (and scary, and hard to wrap my brain around, etc, etc)?? I will say a prayer for you right are touching people thru this blog and God knows who He is talking to when you write what you write. You may never know how you affect this world for Him, but it is pretty cool to think about! Keep on keeping on...for Him!!