Sunday, September 16, 2007

Taking my spiritual temperature

I wouldn't have expected it, but as I sit here in September of 2007, over a year since my mother's death and the ridiculous, maddening end to my involvement in the church that I served on the board at for three years--which coincided with my last desire to have anything at all to do with evangelicalism--as I sit here now, I frankly am still pissed off. I can't even pretend to believe much of what I used to believe about what I used to profess on a weekly (if not daily) basis.

I feel, for deeply personal reasons, that Jesus did live and that he lives spiritually. But as for doctrine... I almost don't even care. I don't read the Bible, I don't seek secondary sources, I don't pray, and I hardly even think about spiritual matters. I find plenty of time to drop f-bombs on the stupidity and ham-handedness of stupid church people, but don't have the desire to slice off much time at all to reflect on who Jesus still is or what I am supposed to do with him.

I can't say I am proud of the degree to which my anger at the evangelical church controls my life. I spend hours every week moving among blogs that discuss evangelical issues, processing and processing my thoughts and feelings about evangelical doctrine and praxis. Were it not for my incredible wife, I almost certainly would say Fuck All and forget about this nonsense, but she is too much a part of me to write off the process. Where I end up is not academic considering her devotion to me and to God.

And yet I feel like I now have an antibody in my system that makes me want to vomit out anything that tastes like my old evangelical diet. I feel as if I have crossed a spiritual Rubicon, and contented belief lies back on a shore that I can't and won't return to. So somewhere along this path, the anger has to get replaced by a right-minded seeking so that I can, to the extent that I still believe in Jesus (as opposed to believing about him) actually structure my life in a way that reflects that belief. For now, I do what I do because I believe it's the right thing to do. I would expect that if I take back on belief in Jesus, absent the make-work, busy-busy, nicey-nice of Churchianity, my life will actually have to show that.

Anyways, that's my spiritual temperature as of 9:07PM on Sunday, September 16th, 2007.


At 4:08 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

I know almost exactly how you feel, from the anger to the f-bombs to the antibody. My wife, my kids, and a few close friends have kept me from chucking it all. I don't know about you, but even though I still think I have the high ground, morally and intellectually, mine has become a very self-centered and selfish walk.

At dinner with friends last night, my hostess shared for a little while about the hatred and anger she held for many years toward her father, and how she came to be free from it. I was completely envious. I don't know how to be loose from all this bitterness, but I want to.

As far as belief, I find myself clinging (sometimes for dear life) to what you said to me over some fabulous Italian food. You asked me about the things I couldn't deny, remember? There are days when that's all I've got. But, I've got it. Love you, man.

At 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find myself believing in Jesus, still reading the Bible, although no longer rigidly adhering to the schedule I've had structured for about 15-16 years. I stepped down from the deaconate at our congregation about a year ago. I could no longer serve on a country-club grounds and charity committee. We've quit attending and teaching Sunday School classes, and have started designating most of our giving because I cannot trust the elders and deacons to make good choices with general funds.

Lately, I've been wondering whether I'm even a Christian because I'm not in the least bit culturally Christian. And I see no value in cultural, small "c," christianity.

I use profanity, too. Sometimes it seems like the appropriate word according to the need of the moment. It's that following verse in close juxtaposition about not grieving the Holy Spirit that gets me. Sometimes. Most of the time I just open my mouth and speak wrath.

The reason I continue to attend worship services at the brick shoebox is because, before marrying my wife, I promised to attend church with her somewhere and regularly. The other members of the congregation have become like family - are familiar - and a lot of them I have little to do with. I'm managing my disgust by disengagement. And blogging. And posting to Internet discussion forums. And spending as much time as I can on lakes in kayaks.

I dunno what happened at your congregation. For me the last straw was, as a deacon, being expected to countersign a $25,000.00 check for a new baby grand piano. Our congregation has maybe 70 adults in attendance on a Sunday morning.

Anyway, man, that's my two cents,


At 10:18 AM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Babe nothing not a thing besides your belief in Him and a willingness to let Him lead you is required.

God knew you would be right at the place you are. So your struggle is with yourself. Your a wonderful man who loves God I know this because of who you are, your just stuck in a place that seems to be never ending.

Like so much we have talked about over the past few weeks this is part of it. We have been through so very much in such a short amount of time that we have accepted what we know which is better then what we do not, circumstances taught that. It's not true but dang babe take some time and breath

So how about you just be who you are, quite taking your temperature and do the best you can. Let it go.

Your pissed, be pissed. Just let us love you and this to will pass cause God is not a liar.
Your are the same man Christ died for when you accepted Him as you are now you just want more.

I hate f bombs so call Dorsey when you want to be a potty mouth :P

Love you, God loves you better

At 11:34 AM, Blogger dufflehead said...

"For now, I do what I do because I believe it's the right thing to do."

seems the best approach to me.

at dinner recently with some similarly minded friends, the question was raised of "do you believe in God?" to which i answered "i think so, but i'm not sure if it's from fear of death or from upbringing"

At 11:36 AM, Blogger dufflehead said...

(from the rest of the comment that was dumped)

i think in the end what we believe doesn't matter near as much as what we do. because, what if what we do is all there is? does God, assuming God exists, give a damn what we believe?

all rhetorical questions, obviously.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger dorsey said...

That's a huge question, Pete. I suppose it can be argues that action follows belief, but I think we spend too much time thinking about it. The bible seems to suggest simple answers. Ecclesiastes says that the whole duty of man is to love God and keep his commandments. Another place says to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. And, of course, Jesus said to love God and each other.

Sometimes I wonder if we don't just believe too much stuff?

Zeke, yeah, call me. I love it when you talk rough.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

I don't know how one can do right without the belief there is a right.

Then in order to have a belief there is a right way there would have to be a author. Unless we say we are the author but then looking around I can't think of much we humans do as right...

It might be over my head though
Be loved

At 3:22 PM, Blogger dorsey said...

", joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such, there is no law."

"...resolved to know nothing while I was with you, except Christ, and him crucified."

That's all I really meant.

At 10:25 AM, Blogger Lora said...

thanks for the condolences re: libby. junior did seem to have some withdrawal, and a lingering fear of other dogs while on the trails which he did not exhibit when libby was around, but other than that he appears to enjoy being the sole object of my canine affections.

btw, yours and my spiritual temperatures are similar!

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Recovering said...

I may be a bit more "fundamental" than you but but I DID name my blog Evangelicals Anonymous for a reason. I'm sick of the average evangelical churc-i-ness too.

I'm encouraged by your honesty because one thing evangelicals tend to not understand is that weird verse in Revelation where Jesus said it would be better you were hot or cold, but becuase you are lukewarm I will spit you out of MY mouth.

I think He is saying that being 'cold' is just as valid and OK as being 'hot.' I've blogged about this before, but churcianity has a real problem with anger, struggling, or questioning. I think God is imperturbable with your situation. I think all He requires is that you love Him in spite of ex-church-people like me who tend to piss you off. :)

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Kris said...

Hey Zeke,
I think you know you are in good company by the comments. I've been there to, I just didn't blog or even know what blog was in the 90's. You have one awesome wife though and I mean that respectfully. She has a great mind and excellent spiritual sense.

My wife bought me a CD a few weeks back its called "Better Questions" by Todd Agnew.
If I knew your address I would fedex it today. I don't and I am cheap anyway(not really) so go buy it, if you don't then Mrs. Zeke you go get it for him. I promise you both will like it, its good music.

anyway I don't know why I linked in today, but for some reason I did while at work.

Peace & Grace

At 9:45 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I appreciate your honesty and what you shared here.

Timing is everything isn't it... and the stupid old saying that time heals all wounds is proving to be very very true for me... in so many ways.

Much love.


At 5:35 PM, Blogger tkn said...

you guys give me hope.

Dufflehead is right, it doesn't matter what you believe, it matters what you do.

I think this is a consensus that the world is coming to. When we take extremely seriously the question, wwjd? and live according to that, the world will change.

God is ineffable. The Tao that can be named is not the Tao. Lets stop arguing about what unprovable hypothesis is true and start acting according to our understanding of Christ, trusting our God given conscience.d

At 10:50 AM, Blogger SocietyVs said...

I think what you are saying is honest and why should you be afraid to say something like this - it would be a denial of who and what you are at this moment.

I have a lot of the dis-illusionment you have about the faith - namely that virus thing - I have a very tough time swallowing any doctrine being proported by mainstream Christianity without wanting to refute it or at the least challenge it. I always say 'I learned from being burned'.

But to say all that - I still love God and this faith - these are some constants that never let me down when all else failed - they were something that could not be stripped of me even when I dropped almost everything else related to church. For some reason faith means a lot to me - and I have to live with that oddity - since I sure as heaven don't like church.

I like the blog - this is very heart-felt and we need more of this reality in the blog-a-sphere (and in real life) - enough of this playing church stuff - let's keep it real out here!

At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I get really mad at the church the real problem is that I've somehow let them come between me and God and I walk away from God because I have Him confused with the church. The cure is time spent alone with God and pretty soon the confusion between the two disipates. After all, the church is made up of confused human beings just like me who often confuse me with God also.

"Let God be true and every man a liar."



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