As you may have noticed, Princess Little Tree subtly cut me off mid-sentence with a “uhh…” this morning in our meeting. I’m accustomed to this, so it would be understandable if you didn’t notice it. And because I trust her implicitly, i stopped speaking. She felt I “was just about to get too passionate” in her words, and felt it best to cut me off.
I recognize My views are extreme and can be viewed as harsh because I dare To point out what would be the obvious to anyone who is not religious in the world, but I do so in a christian environment filled with christian people. That’s the only thing that makes it controversial in the least. And yet I admit I do Feel a tad of compunction for doing so, just out of consideration for the feelings of others who may not be aware of the things I say.
But I get the feeling you do…
The problem for me, the problem for so many all over the world right now, are the people who vote to disaffiliate — why can’t they just say separate? — from the Methodist Church, ostensibly because they don’t support the church because they are about to revolutionarily change its 200 year bylaws to openly accept the LGBTQ community… and personally yes, I’ve been having a very tough time with this.
Hence my tens of hours of studies this past week trying to understand the whole big picture of why more than half the Methodist community nationally is right this very minute voting to leave Methodism…. I wanted to understand. Turns out, it appears they just don’t like gay people. Or at least they believe their “god” doesn’t like gay people.
And as many people have pointed out, there are only 3, at best, references to homosexuality in the entire Bible. So this idea that it’s “sinful” “in the eyes of a god” is a bit far fetched seeing how human beings wrote the damn thing in the first place. And even they didn’t dedicate more than 2-3 sentences to it in a book that’s thousands of pages and was written over a span of time of more 800 years.
So are human beings really anti-homosexuality because it’s Bible based or against their religion, or is it something else?
Princess Little Tree felt that I was On the verge of letting my passion get the best of me, saying something out of line or offensive to some folks. She recognized immediately that I was Aiming my speech toward certain kinds of people…. Which I was In a way. Trying to understand more than anything… because it breaks my heart. It’s NOT what I signed Up for. But she was right. Despite my own beliefs and feelings, it wasn’t appropriate for me to start demonizing others so outspokenly.
I started attending Christ Church in New York for research purposes because of that supernatural spiritual experience I speak of, yes. Voices whispering in your ear “What you’re feeling is God’s love. Ed God loves you so much…”, an event that last for a good 4-5 minutes. Over and over again they whispered these kinds of ideas into my ears. Who wouldn’t pay attention to something like this? Only a fool wouldn’t return that Sunday a few days later after an experience like that…. At the very least just to see if it happened again.
(And it did. This time the voices said things like “this is your home Ed. These people are your family…come closer to God who loves you. Stay…” So i stayed a little longer. Kept coming back. I was still skeptical and cynical of religion… But I kept Coming back. Out of respect of and honor to “my idea of a potential God” and this experience of these voices, not a “normal” thing and I recognized that. I did not want to be one of those people we read about who miss out on some incredible divine gift because they’re stubborn or close minded. And I was Right to do what I did. It was indeed some kind of divine blessing. I get it. And I have been blessed multiple times by the decision i made.
I can honestly say I believe in a Divine Force, that which others call “God”. And though my view is that this Divine Force is a scientific phenomenon like gravity or electricity and yet at the same time is also conscious like sentient beings i.e. think dark matter and energy if you want the major key to understanding God, I still believe we are all speaking about the same thing. And though no I have not figured out the puzzling problem of Theodicy, I believe we will eventually… it’s most likely due to what we vibrate in our consciousness… combined with higher purposes that we are not or can not fathom from this level of Awareness….
And yes I can often FEEL the presence of, hear the voice of and connect with this Divine Force. I get what a gift that is. So yes in that respect I am “religious” or at least spiritual or “of God”, or “of believing in a God”. But again, as “a force with sentience and consciousness.”
But I became a Methodist precisely BECAUSE the church had such a wide diversity and gays were a big part of the congregation. It was the opposite of how “Christianity” is and is viewed in this country. Gay people serving me Communion?!?! Work trips alongside blacks and Hispanics and Indians and Asians?!?! It was a revelation to me. Black people taking me and welcoming me to their home country in africa?!?! So humbled. So grateful for those whispers…
But then all this. The plastic bags come off the faces and it is revealed that nothing’s changed.
American Christians for the most part are still exactly what the rest of us, the majority of us, in America believe them to be. Using religion to be the problem, and never part of the solution. Always dragging the rest of us back hundreds of years.
And trust me when I say that the rest of us, the majority of the American population are extremely resentful of having to deal with Christians and these shenanigans. Whether it’s Trump or Israel or gays or immigration or abortion, Americans do not look fondly on religious people, specifically Christians and the negative influence they have on society as a whole.
Then there are people like me who totally don’t make sense and boggle the mind of the “regular folk”. After 20 years they still think I’m “undercover for some secret project” or why else would I “attend a church”… when I’m clearly on the opposite side on all the issues, including the intellectual side of proclaiming there to be some invisible all knowing higher power. It doesn’t go over well in academic or intellectual circles. It’s baffling to 99.9% of my friends.
But I try to explain that “some churches are different” AND “because I had a supernatural spiritual experience” they would be perfectly fine had that happened to me through Krishna Consciousness or Buddhism or Avatar or Baha’i or Hinduism etc….
So why not accept that it happened to me through Christianity?!? Hell, I get it. It’s not optimal. It’s not what we expected. It’s not aligned with being “cool” nor “intellectual”. I get it. But it’s real. And it’s honest.
And it’s better to be honest about finding God through something as uncool as American Christianity than it is to walk around pretending that you’ve found God through practicing buddhist meditation yoga and sat sangs when you’ve never even heard the whispers or felt the Presence, which is what so many do.
The point is it’s worked up until this point because CC has always been so progressive, so ahead of the curve, caught up (almost) with modern society and the progress we’ve made. As you stated, we are still in perpetual repentance because of some of the mistakes we made in the past. I LOVE that. I can totally get on board with that. Especially if we continue. As has been hinted at regarding this 2024 General Conference and the potential changes the church might make.
Do people have any idea how revolutionary that is?!?! How exemplary that is to the world? The leadership it shows and will show?
For once the christian church actually shows the world it supports what’s RIGHT instead of old-world backwoods dogma?!?
People like me can step out of the shadows and consider the idea of embracing and connecting with a divine force…tens of thousands of them… hundreds of thousands worldwide. Hungry for spiritual fulfillment but far too ashamed to get even close to a religion because religions are far too close minded and exclusionary and harmful.
Because “the church”, i.e. “religion” will no longer be “the dark hearted uncompassionate unintelligent enemy” we’re always fighting. Religious people have no idea they’re viewed that way. Or maybe they do, but they just persist in their “who cares? We’re right because we have Jesus on our side and we’ll be proved right when He returns or in the afterlife”…. Which just further stokes the flames of the viewpoint that “religious people are ignorant and batshit crazy”. That’s the general viewpoint of Christians in America or Jews or Muslims. There are simply way too many fallacies involved in leaping toward embracing it.
I haven’t minded being part of that group in the minds of some because at CC we are NOT part of that group. We stand out and rise above because we truly are different.
But all this “separating from the UMC Organization because it’s too progressive” threatens the ability of people like me to stay true and loyal to the whole affair, not just Methodism, but Christianity as well.
After all, if it’s always going to be on the side of stifling equality and human rights then how can people like me stay a part of it? Let alone not openly fight it publicly?
So yes I got a little too passionate. I said some things in the wrong way. I was a bit too challenging… but it’s precisely because I’m fully on board with us aligning with the ideals of the Gospels. And I’d like us to preserve that.
Banning abortion or banning pastors from marrying gay couples or banning gay people from becoming clergy is NOT aligned with the ideals Jesus preached while he was alive.
And yes I’ve read what Paul says in Romans about gay people and I could Care less what Saul-Paul said. He’s not the foundation of the faith and practice. Jesus is.
I’m tired of this. Tired of the fight. Tired of the struggle. Tired of talking about it. Tired of writing about it.