@na1alie Natalie Burris
Pacifist, gay rights supporter who rejects 6day creation &probably substitutionary atonement seeks church in Aurora area...# whydoistilltry
It's been difficult for me to get involved in a local church again for several reasons. I'm conflicted with involving myself in a community that wouldn't welcome gay people, or that prohibits women from serving in leadership positions. I also don't feel comfortable with churches that are pro-war and that fail to somehow address the massive wealth--and resulting consumerism--that is present in our country. I would love to be involved in a multi-ethnic community, too.
And a broader reason is that I struggle with the issue of theodicy, especially after grieving the unexpected death of my dad. This means that even little things got to me, like a song lyric that was just hard for me to sing, so it became much easier to sleep in on Sundays instead.
After having the chance to attend Snowhill last week, I was motivated to start the search again. Another reason is that seeing someone like Rob Bell put himself out there (and possibly endangering his career?) to encourage a more loving view of God has spoken to me. I have also seen others do this and it is encouraging. That willingness to articulate so publicly an alternative view (it's definitely not a new view), combined with the judgmental responses, somehow made me want be a part of this craziness again - maybe I could take part in decreasing the judgmentalism?
I had heard through a co-worker about a local church, so I attended one of their services this morning.
@na1alie Natalie Burris
Visited new church & we sang the Derek Webb t-shirt song. That is kind of awesome :)
It was great. The pastor apologized to those who had been hurt by the church, and recognized that Christians can be extremely judgmental, imposing litmus tests, rather than loving. He acknowledged that people felt repelled and couldn't attend a local church because of this. This meant a lot to me, and I was touched by the fact that he recognized this.
Manuel couldn't go with me because he had to work, so he called to see how it went. I told him about the apology, and he was also very touched. In fact, he wants to go with me next week. (He has issues with the Catholic church the same way that I have issues with the evangelical church. I have listened to conversations between him and his Catholic friends that are nearly identical to the ones I have had with my evangelical friends).
The apology wasn't the only thing that stood out today, though. The pastor also stated that it's easy to become cynical and point out what's wrong with things. It's much harder to engage the problems than to criticize them.
I had seen Christians choose condemnation and judgment over engagement and grace, and was disgusted by it. I also felt repelled by often-arbitrary litmus tests created by Christians. Not only that, but I participated in this behavior in the past and felt ashamed, so I wanted to distance myself from it. But in the end, I'm still choosing to judge -- this time the Church. My new litmus tests are whether a church has a much too fancy building, is too lily-white, or doesn't outright condemn the latest U.S. military action. No matter what end of the spectrum I'm on, I still don't have the right to impose a litmus test and insist I'm completely correct about what the gospel looks like.
This does NOT mean that I'm simply giving up some of the much-thought-out beliefs I've come to these past few years (although I would hope my beliefs aren't completely static), but at this point I want to value community and try to overcome this crippling cynicism. Not everything is puppies-and-rainbows; in fact, I'm still far from that. But thanks in part to that apology and to becoming aware of my own lack of grace, perhaps I can start moving away from only criticizing? And maybe I should start thinking about an apology I might owe, considering how potentially powerful apologies can be...