Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Seeking II

For a whole rainbow of reasons, I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of "shopping" for a religion. For one thing, I was born into the "One True Church," which, as a matter of policy, frowned heavily upon any such practice. Hellfire licked at the heels of the Catholic who even considered the possibility of finding "more" or "better" at an altar without a crucifix hanging above it and flanked right and left by curtained confessionals. The lingering affect of having cut my teeth on that spiritual xenophobia is a persistent unease with the perceived disloyalty of going from church to church until you find one you can live with.

Childhood prohibitions aside, I simply lack the social "eptitude" required for the search. One of the primary functions of any church body worth its tithe is to make new-comers feel welcome. Very welcome. Extremely welcome. Way too welcome. For a person like me, whose modus operundi in any social situation is to hang back and disappear into the woodwork until I’m comfortable enough to stretch a testing toe toward the waters, all those warm handshakes, friendly hugs, and enthusiastic invitations to coffee and donuts after service are enough to send me screaming toward the exit before the first candle is lit. It is a cultural ritual for which the most enthusiasm I can muster is to simply grit my teeth and bear it.

And then, there is the problem of my left-leaning political philosophies. I challenge anyone who is not a card-carrying conservative, or at least willing to fake the credentials in the interest of peace, to wade into the arena of Faith without fear of being burned at the stake, or worse. I know I won’t be happy being a closet liberal in a right-wing world. Been there and done that, and I have no intention of doing it again.

Considering all this, I must have felt, ultimately, a deep need for things of the spirit; acute enough to give me the courage to set my qualms aside and launch a quest for a spiritual home. Loneliness and fear can be powerful motivators. The loneliness of a life lived to an ever-increasing degree inside my own head; the fear of moving ever more swiftly toward the end of that life, and having no idea what might lie beyond. And needing to believe that something does, if only to calm my fears enough for me to be able make it to the end without losing my mind. Does this constitute a deep spiritual need? I suppose not. But I guess I thought that desperation for human connection and a need for reassurance on the question of an afterlife were good enough reasons to embark upon the search. Perhaps the purity of my motivation, or lack thereof, was responsible for the outcome of the visit to the first church on my list.


  1. I did not comment in your last entry because I feel that religion, like politics, is a very personal thing. I was a lapsed Catholic for a long time. After going to Catholic schools for many years, I dropped out of a Catholic college and went to a state ran one. I felt very relieved to leave my hypocritical affiliation with organized religion. I told myself that God is everywhere so I do not need a church to validate my faith. I explored a lot of Western and Eastern religions/philosophies through research. Each one have tenets I admire and respect but I did not find one that embodied all my personal beliefs.
    I went back to church when my children started asking me spiritual questions. I went back to a Catholic church but I did it cafeteria style. I picked the principles I want from it and took others with a grain of salt. I do not do coffee with my congregation. I participate in community outreach and youth programs because I enjoy them.
    My children are products of the Catholic school system. My teens refuse to go to church and I believe that they have the right to.
    As I said before, spirituality is very personal. I hope you find what you are seeking.  

  2. When I visit the Abbey in my home town, I'm overcome with awe and can almost believe that it is truly a house of God.  However when I last visited, to attend a service that my little niece was singing at (she's in the choir), I could not believe the seriousness written on the faces of the congregation.  So serious were they, that one could've been forgiven for thinking they were in a state of perpetual misery.  

    I know that if I want to be welcomed into the fold, there are many that will hold their arms out and purport to wrap me in love.  I also know that if I were to turn my back on God, they would turn their backs on me.  It wouldn't matter that I was a loving and honest person.  It's their ability to do that, that leaves me questioning the faith.

    My mother never went to church Lisa.  She always said that she didn't need to.  God was in her heart and that was enough for her.  I admired her for that.

    Thanks for your comment in my journal.  I've dealt with the situation sensitively, by letter.

    Annie :-)


  4. I also have a problem with the come right up and hug and call you by your first name at first intro. Please give me a little time get used to the idea first. Great post as usual. :-)

  5.     Isn't it amazing, the grip that the Catholic Church has on people.  Like you, I was raised in the "One True Church."  And, like you, there are things that just don't sit well with me.  But, as you said, it's that chip that plays over and over again in the back of my mind: "This is THE one ... don't stray."  
        I guess the conclusion I've come to now is, which church will bring out the best in me?  Which one will restore my faith and  inspire me to be the best I can be?  I would have to think that THAT would be the one where I belong.  And yet .... where did I find myself returning to on Sunday mornings?  Yup!  However, I haven't closed my mind to the idea that there might be something else out there that suits me better.
       It sounds like you and I are on the same path these days.   I will be interested to see how your search goes.  Best of luck with it.  Tina

  6. How ironic....I was raised in a Protestant church who thought THEY were the only true one. I have to wonder does every religion or sect feel the same way?