I'm not really one to openly discuss religion. my mantra for a while now has been "what I believe is between me + God." but this stuff has been floating around in my head and needs to come out. there's a lot I'm trying to figure out in life right now, and I guess theology just gets wrapped into that. I know it's a risk I may come off controversial or offensive. but my intent to be open and honest, and maybe a little brave. so, here it is:
I was raised Christian, Lutheran. I went to church and bible study every sunday, and Lutheran schools during the week from K-12. I had doctrine and doxology shoved down my throat daily. I was required to memorize and regurgitate the entire small catechism and most of the Bible without really thinking about what it said or meant. I was told to follow the rules, so I did. I was meek and repentant and turned the other cheek and believed I had no worth on my own.
there were times when I felt close to God, that I could really feel my faith. but those times are far outnumbered by moments when all I felt was obligation and a sense of duty. the church did not make me feel like I was part of a community. it made me feel like I was continually being judged, and continually failing. I'm sure part of that was my own perception, but it still makes me hesitant to walk into a church.
maybe it was your typical go-away-to-college-and-learn-how-to-think-for-yourself story. but at some point I started questioning, not just blindly accepting what I was told. I stopped going to church, much to the dismay of my parents. and I started to realize that maybe I was worth something. maybe my opinion had value. maybe I didn't have to go through life apologizing for existing. maybe, just maybe, I could actually enjoy being alive.
I actually felt guilty about it for a while. but eventually it occurred to me that God might want that- for me to enjoy being alive. for me to feel good about myself. for me to be confident and healthy and kind and compassionate. I think he would want me to run, enjoy my body and what it can do, to use that talents I have to appreciate the good in the world he created. and I think that maybe out there somewhere I can find something- a church, a doctrine, a people- to align with that view.
at this point in time, I'm not exactly clear on how to define what I believe. I don't trust that the Bible is an infallible document because I don't trust humans to accurately transcribe God's words without putting their own spin on it. I'm not saying I want to deny Christianity. but I don't exactly believe in what I was taught anymore. I need more time to explore my thoughts and feelings, and more information.
the other day Husband and I got into a theological discussion over dinner. one thing led to another and we wound up in the philosophy + religion section of a bookstore. a place I don't think I ever frequented before. I saw this book on the shelf and laughed at the title, and decided to pick it up. I read the description and instantly decided to buy it:
"The Buddha Walks into a Bar is a book for those who are spiritual but not religious, who are disillusioned by the state of the world, who are sick of their jobs (and just started last Tuesday), who like drinking beer and having sex and hate being preached at, who are striving to deepen their social interactions beyond the digital realms of Twitter and Facebook. This is Buddhism presented to a generation leaving the safe growth spurts of college and entering a turbulent and uncertain work force.
The Buddha Walks into a Bar is Buddhist teacher Lodro Rinzler's introduction to Buddhism for anyone who wants to ride the waves of life with mindfulness and compassion. You'll learn how to use meditation techniques to work with your own mind, how to manage the pervasive "Incredible Hulk Syndrome," how to relax into your life despite external pressures, and ultimately how you can start to bring light to a dark world."
it just really spoke to me, so now it's next on my reading list. I'm not necessarily converting to Buddhism, but I think there are valuable practices and tenets to be found there. I'm trying to be open minded, since my "world religions" unit in school didn't even touch on anything eastern. please know I feel that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, so long as they aren't forced upon or used to harm others. I'd love any suggestions on books or websites [even Christian denominations] to check out... just trying to quench my thirst for knowledge while I mull things over.