Writing about what I have been reading and encountering in the media.
|There has been a lot of talk about the apocalypse, the second coming, the end of days in the media. Today, I ponder this. When I moved to the Ozarks I soon heard the word “rapture.” When it was defined for me, I was quite puzzled. Why were people talking about it so much? I never really learned the answer. It would be fun to research. Meanwhile, I have thought a lot about that and about my experience of Christianity.
As a small child, I learned the song “Jesus Loves Me.” It was such a warm and comforting thing to know that a total stranger loves me no matter what, and I could trust that was so because “the Bible tells me so.” What a happy life for a child, until the other learning comes along, like you can’t trust strangers and you can’t even trust some people you know. I learned this from their actions. Then there were the rules and codicils: Jesus loves you only if you confess your sins and turn away from sin; you can’t be ordained into the ministry because you are female, no matter what you do; if someone hurts you and you tell, you will be asked “and what did you do to make him hurt you like that?”; God speaks to you in your heart, but you will never receive new truth or knowledge from God because it was all revealed 1700 years ago and put into a book called the Bible; and, love your neighbor always has exceptions. There are many others. Very slowly, the church became more of a source of hurt than of comfort, but, the song did not. I realized somewhere along the way that Jesus loves you is true, no matter what, and thank goodness for that. How would I have survived all of the rejection without that?
As an adult I pondered the “death on the cross for your sins.” I am horrified by the gruesomeness of the image. If God would kill his son because I sinned, how could I live with that? I can’t stop making mistakes of judgment. As soon as I get one under control, another pops up. And, I study and practice Social Work. All of the research into social learning is contrary to the idea that use of aversives and fear of aversives is the best teacher. How do I reconcile the opposites present in the story as it was presented to me? How do I love and trust a god that kills his son, no matter what the reason? How do I trust that all wisdom is in a book put together by men (not one woman,) and the wisdom of women was deliberately excluded? How do I find my way through all these contradictions?
I looked at the Bible I was presented at my confirmation. It was a “red letter edition” of the King James translation of the Bible. I read the red parts. It became clear to me that Jesus is not quoted anywhere as saying he was going to die for my sins. When asked “what is the greatest commandment?” he is quoted as saying “the first, love your God with all your heart and all your mind and all your spirit, and the second, like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself.” Well, that is much more understandable. And, there are all the stories of Jesus welcoming and loving all of his neighbors equally. Here is my answer. The church can really confuse all of this.
I quit attending because I was sick of the pain, the confusion, and the gruesomeness.
I really miss church, the music, the liturgy, and the conversations I had there. But I can’t truthfully say the Apostles Creed. I can’t say that I believe Jesus died for my sins. I don’t think he did. I think he lived to help me with my humanity. I don’t want to focus on life after death. That is relevant to death, but not to life. I don’t believe God will judge “the quick and the dead.” I believe God loves me, like the song says.