Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm Coming Out (Gasp!) an Unfundamentalist Christian ;)

I've felt for a long time now that I just didn't quite "click" with the traditional fundamentalist Christian views. It has become very clear to me I'm not like the mainstream "Fundamentalist" Christian. It has caused me brief periods of anxiety as I wondered if I was being honest and authentic as I attended Church and professed my Christian Faith. It is not because I doubted the existence of God, nor because I doubted Christ but because the God I came to know was so different from the God that was described by many more traditional Christians preaching from the pulpit or leading the typical Sunday School class.

The God I love is pretty different from the traditional Old Testament depiction...and that sets me apart right away from what many Christians believe to be true. And that doesn't bother me a bit, although my heart aches a little at thinking anyone could believe God would Create just to destroy. I cringe at thinking anyone could believe our God would truly pick favorites...either by gender, by race, or by orientation! A loving God would not create to exclude! I believe God loves each of us equally regardless of race, gender, body shape, age, or orientation.

So here I am finding myself drawn to the label of "Unfundamentalist Christian"! Why does it matter? I'm not sure I have a good answer for that. All I can figure is that is always nice to have company on any road trip, and the Spiritual Journey is no exception! These tenets as described on the UnFundamentalist Christianity FaceBook site ( are to me like a beautiful travel brochure on my that I wish to share with those who might like to travel along with me! ;)

The Unfundamentalist Tenets:

1. Jesus Christ was God incarnate. He performed miracles; as a means of providing for the irrevocable reconciliation of humankind to God he sacrificed himself on the cross; he rose from the dead; he left behind for the benefit of all people the totality of himself in the form of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
2. Christ and Christianity are meant to be understood, appreciated, and experienced as galvanizing inspirations for living a life of love, compassion, fairness, peace, and humility. Period.
3. The Bible is a collection of a great many separate documents written by different people in different languages over thousands of years. Properly understanding both the letter and spirit of the Bible necessarily entails taking into account the historical and cultural contexts that so greatly inform so much of its text. The size, density, history and complexity of the Bible render unfeasible the idea that not one of its words reflects more man’s will than God’s. The spirit of God is inerrant; people—even those impassioned by the conviction that God is speaking directly to or through them—are not.
4. Anyone seeking to mix Church and State has failed to understand the nature and proper role of either. Belief that all people are created equal and equally deserving of protection under the law is foundational to the American democratic system. To incorporate into public policy any "Christian" values which are not universal but rather unique to Christianity is to compromise the very essence of America by pushing it away from a democracy and toward a theocracy. The same is true of any democratic nation. Religious law and democracy are necessarily incompatible.
5. It’s not possible to read Paul’s New Testament writings and remain unmoved by his open heart, intellectual prowess, and staggering bravery. And yet Paul (who, after all, spent years zealously persecuting and having executed untold numbers of Christians) must remain to us a mortal man. More than reasonable, it is incumbent upon those who claim to seek the deepest knowledge of Christ to subject the words of Paul to the same kinds of objective analysis we would the words of any man daring to describe the qualities, purposes, and desires of God.
6. With regards to the written identity of God, the pronoun “he” is a necessity of the English language, not an actual anatomical designation. God is neither male nor female; God contains all of both.
7. The Biblical scholarship supporting the idea that Paul never wrote a word proscribing natural homosexuality is at least as credible and persuasive as the scholarship (if not typical Bible translations) claiming that he did. Any person who uses the words of Paul in the New Testament to “prove” that homosexuality is a sin against God has either never themselves researched the matter, or has simply chosen to believe one set of proofs over another. Though laziness is easily enough understood, we remain mystified as to why anyone who purports to follow Jesus would choose to condemn an entire population over choosing to obey Jesus’ self-proclaimed Greatest Commandment to love one’s neighbor as one loves oneself.
8. It is much more reasonable—and certainly more compassionate—to hold that throughout history God chose to introduce himself in different ways into different cultural streams than it is to believe that there is only one correct way to understand and worship God, and that the punishment for anyone who chooses any but that way is to spend all of eternity having the living flesh seared off of his or her bones.
9. “No one comes to the Father except through me” does not mean that in the afterlife only Christians can get into heaven. It means that Jesus/God decides who does and doesn’t make it in.
10. The question of whether or not hell is real is properly subsumed by the truth that a moment spent worrying if you’ll be with God in the afterlife is an opportunity missed to be with God in this life.
11. God’s will and intention is to forgive and teach us, not to judge and punish us.
12. The only person who should be actively endeavoring to convert non-Christians into Christians is God. Jesus does not need our help drawing people towards him. He does need, or could certainly use, our help in making sure that people know that they are, just as they are, loved.
13. Getting a divorce is painful, and if at all possible should certainly be avoided. But ultimately the act in and of itself is not immoral.
14. God does not want any woman “submitting” to anyone.
15. There were no dinosaurs on Noah’s ark; Jesus didn’t have a pet stegosaurus. An all-powerful God and the theory of evolution are not incompatible.
16. The single most telling indicator of a person’s moral character has nothing to do with how they define or worship God, and everything to do with how they treat others.

Now, John Shore ( has his unique way of phrasing and explaining these ideas, but the general spirit & message behind them resonates with me so very much! It has been such a blessing to have stumbled upon a group of other souls that call themselves Christians and also share my strong call for equality and love as we are all loved, valued, and accepted equally in the eyes of God without the man made judgements and rules that only function to separate us...from each other and from God.

After opening the UnFundamentalist Christians FB page and reading "What We Believe" I realized I was not the only one that believed this way! I realized I am not alone on my journey! I had what best could be described as Spiritual Recognition of Truth. Although I cannot say that I am "no-questions-asked,100% on-board" with all of the "UnFundamentalist" tenets....some parts of which I'm still absorbing, contemplating, considering...this has come as close as any set of stated beliefs from any Christian group that I have come across thus far! Reading these stated beliefs I've felt so much of a recognition of God's Loving Presence in these words that now I consider myself an UnFundamentalist Christian! Not that God love me more because I do, or would love me less if I didn't! After all, I believe He calls to us and loves us each the same.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Coming Face to Face with Forgiveness...

So, I've chosen forgiveness...but when I come face to face with my transgressor or even if they come to mind I feel like I have to chose forgiveness All. Over. Again. Each time I'm hoping that this will be the last time I experience agitation or resentment when confronted with the past. Sometimes after weeks, or even years, the pain reappears and can suck me right back to those feelings of loss and betrayal that I experienced long ago. How could this be when I honestly thought I let it go?

Perhaps it's because forgiveness is not just a one time thing but also a process. Oh, if forgiveness were only a switch to be flipped...when flipped from GRUDGE to FORGIVE it would result in Peace eternal! If it were that easy many marriages would be saved from divorce, families would never be divided and friendships would last forever! For even the well intended forgiver can find that being around the person that wounded them is just too painful to bear! Faced with their inability to truly forgive it is just easier to let them go (or sometimes shove them) out of their lives forever and (try) to move on.

Knowing you should forgive, even telling yourself that you have forgiven doesn't always translate to a true healing or wholeness...but why? I believe it's because the true essence of forgiveness is misunderstood. Forgiveness is simple but it is much more than a "right decision" to be made, but a true ongoing change of the soul.

I've heard of some pretty amazing forgiveness stories in my time...and I continue to hear them, even today! A wife who has forgiven her husband for repeated adultery, parents who have lost children due to murder who have forgiven their killer, and grown children who have forgiven those who have violated their innocence. Their stories inspire me to search my heart and purge my spirit of my petty resentments & grudges, for if they can forgive their transgressors how can I justify withholding forgiveness from mine? I watch as they take the bold path of Forgiveness...choosing the only path that offers true healing & hope.

Forgiveness is a decision and a process...the choice to start to look within ourselves...and the process of learning to love as God would have us do on Earth as it is in Heaven. Forgiveness truly is a change of vision in how we SEE our fellow brother or sister. To forgive someone is to love them and not withhold this gift due to their wrongdoings. To forgive someone is to see Gods Creation and see that we are all fearfully and wonderfully made! For what could be wonderful in God's eyes that is not worthy of love in our lives?

In facing Forgiveness we are brought face to face with the willingness to truly love as Christ loves us. Facing forgiveness means taking the time to think about the transgressor as God would, as one of His children just like you & me. You remember we are all equal in His eyes...and we are loved no less nor more by our actions. We are saved & forgiven by Grace.

Facing forgiveness has been one of the best things I've done for myself. Sometimes forgiveness has been automatic, and other times it has taken (and is taking) time...but it is always worth it! My life is better after facing Forgiveness...and I assure you, yours will be too!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Forgiveness...Why Bother?

I got my list, do you have yours? I bet most of us can come up with a list of people who have done us wrong in one way or another...and just the thought of what transgressions were made or even just thinking of the guilty party that made them brings back the pain, the frustration...the feelings of loss and betrayal.

We deserved better...we would never have done that to anyone! How could they? How can anyone ever forgive THAT?! And likely the pain feels nearly as real as the day the transgression occurred...with us white knuckling our version of forgiveness. Never even trying to forget. Forgetting would be weakness and vulnerability...the chance of somehow the pain occurring again and again and again...

Many resist forgivenesses call because somehow it seems linked to condoning the transgression...or minimizing the pain their sinful act caused, and yet somehow we know that unless we embrace forgiveness we will not embrace Peace.

This is something I struggle with of course. Just when I think I've let my grievances go to God I come face to face with my transgressor and...BAM! I'm back in the trenches fighting for my sanity & peace of mind! And then I begin again...why am I bothering?

I bother because I want Peace, I want closeness to my Creator. On a visceral level I have begun to realize that I am the only one standing in the way of just that!

Forgiveness is what God has offered us free of charge...whenever we are willing to accept it...if He could offer it to me, how could I not try my best to offer it to others? I bother because He wants me free of the lingering resentment & pain. I bother because He promises it will be worth the choosing. I bother because He bothered about lil' ol' me.

Monday, February 18, 2013

It's Not The Message, It's the Method....

Today was quite an interesting day, with another learning opportunity, another "failure" in taking the high road. It happened during a staff meeting, so worse yet my "sin" was witnessed by a whole group of folks...who, as it turns out (all except the object of my distain), don't think I really did anything wrong because what I said was true. But what bothers me, is how I reacted in anger and total frustration. Immediately afterward I was embarrassed at my tone and lack of "emotional control"...everyone present knew I was mad. The delivery of that message just felt all wrong.

So many times in life we can see Truths and feel totally justified in speaking out! But "an eye for an eye " a.k.a. "attacking back when felt attacked" just doesn't feel right. Nor Peaceful. Nor good. Afterward the recipient likely missed out on any of the message with the negative vibrations of how it was said clouding it all, lingering on and on ...

The big challenge for me is being able to visualize how I could have done better. Somehow sitting in that meeting passively not saying anything just doesn't feel right either. I'm not even regretting what was said (basically I told a coworker to stop judging my actions unless they were in my shoes and did my job) but my method of delivery! I felt thrown under the bus and attacked! Attacking back felt so automatic and justified...but it didn't give me what I most feel heard & understood.

After the staff meeting I was told by several folks how pleased they were that I spoke out! This left me feeling briefly consoled & justified. Deep down though I knew I could have handled it better because I'd given away my Peace. I felt remorse right away, but was somewhat confused as to why. If I was in the right, why did it feel so wrong?

Less than 30 minutes later I apologized to my coworker (the target of my angry reaction) for my poor responds to her criticism and for my angry and disrespectful tone. I clarified that what I said was honestly how I felt but I regretted and was sorry about how I said it. She didn't look me in the eye when she said "That's fine" so I knew I wasn't yet forgiven and the sting of negativity was lingering still. It was clear from her nonverbal language she was not fine, but what did I expect?

Two "wrongs" just DO NOT make a right! Argh! Even if the intent is good, when speaking out of anger or fear (and I believe the root of all anger is just that, fear) it loses positivity and turns that potential good into a negative energy or vibe...moving us further away from the ultimate goal of mutual understanding.

How many times in life have you spoken the Truth but were left feeling like somehow you did something wrong? I'm admitting that I did & look forward to the day when I react automatically without defensiveness but inclusion, without anger but with compassion, and without fear but with love. For who can ever really hear the Truth if they feel threatened or not valued? Not many people that I know...and as of today anyway, not me.

It's my hope one day I will look back on this post & realize I've learned the Better Way and I will be able to be heard because my method will come from a Higher Place of kindness and Love...

Can Jesus Really Be Your Friend?

Friendship is a wonderful thing! Don't get me wrong, friendships have their share of troubles, but for the most part the essence of friendship is pleasant, rewarding and good!

Friendship usually involves two people who have commonality and mutual positive regard. "Friends are the family you choose for yourself" can be found on everything from t-shirts to coffee mugs. There is also a Facebook Page devoted to the Friendship experience:

This page describes Friendship as "a relationship between two or more people who hold mutual affection for each other." 

And to quote my 10 year-old son "A friend is someone who likes you, who treats you well, who sticks with you think & thin, someone who is honest (hopefully), and someone is trustworthy and treats you with respect!" Children seem to keep the friendship concept pretty simple and straightforward, but with Jesus as a friend it seems anything but!

"Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus" is a well known hymn I have sang often as a child and young adult. How could he be a friend? It always seemed odd to me to be told that Jesus should be a friend of ours! Jesus? A friend? What a strange and marvelous concept! How can this be? I mean, really? Aside from the physical contact, no audible voice, no shared hobbies or interests that you can engage in together & bond over, how about the fact that he is the King of Kings! All Powerful! Lord of ALL?! Hardly the typical friendship dynamic!

Jesus as traditionally understood is on a Spiritual God's Only Son above us mere mortal men. It's this inherent inequality that for me seems to undermine His ability to be a genuine friend as we are on such uneven ground. With this understanding He seems to me to be more of a mentor, a Father figure, someone to look up to and admire...and perhaps to worship, not a friend! Not to mention if He is All-Knowing, All powerful and Omnipotent why would Jesus even need friends?!

Its just got me thinking...can Jesus really be a friend? It seems either the definition of friendship must be altered and adjusted or my understanding of Jesus does. Perhaps I could be His friend if Jesus was a Spiritual brother...someone who could relate to my humanness and who is an equal to me in the eyes of God.

I'll just have to admit I'm not sure this true friendship thing is even possible...but I really love the idea! It would just be so absolutely cool & perfectly wonderful to have Jesus, the Christ, the Anointed One as a friend! Maybe I'll just call on Him & invite Him to hang out & see what happens! ;)

Do you consider Jesus to be a friend of yours?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Calling on Christ in Conflict: a.k.a Reacting in Love not Fear

Sometimes when I try my on God for help...pray seems like I'm still stuck in my humanness, with all my Earthly problems & my predictable reactions to conflict! (Sigh). Even as I seek enlightenment, after Spiritual "ah-ha" moments, after feeling like I just might "get it"... I seem to be sucked back down to the gutter in my life as soon as I get into a fight.

To share it simply, I screwed up. My hubby & I had a fight. I fought dirty. I reacted. I lashed out. I felt justified. I took the verbal knife, stuck it in to my beloved and twisted it! And...I had prayed only moments before! I mean, on my knees 911 to God! Arghhhh! Seems like the more emotional I get the less Spiritual I get! What is up with that?

What will it take to turn the other cheek, take the higher road and not lash out "eye for an eye" when I feel threatened?! Is not reacting in such a way even possible for an ordinary God Seeker such as me?

Sometimes it seems that reacting like Christ can only be accomplished by those special souls that are able to meditate for hours, who have tediously studied spiritual doctrine, who are somehow spiritually gifted with a speed dial to the Divine...and the rest of us at best can expect to respond like a predictable broken records with life's needle stuck on pain...pain...pain...pain...

With all the WWJD fan-fare and publicity I just pray that actually "doing it like Jesus would do" is possible in due time! It is my prayer that one day I will react more in line with the Christ-mind when in the throes of "battle" and less with my own. I'm just so frustrated how quickly & easily I went down the road of destruction and how Love was just waiting by the roadside as I rushed by....

When asking "WWJD?", can you actually follow through and do it when entangled inside conflicts emotional web?

Monday, February 4, 2013

God Can't Help You If You're Perfect...

God can't help you if you're perfect...even if you just think you are. Actually, I'm not sure I know many people who fall into this category, but if one did I'm convinced God to them would be irrelevant. It is through our weaknesses and regrets that God enters in with a better Way. Its through our pain & imperfections that we have a reason to accept His help, His try it His way.

Do you want more than there is offered on this Earth...a reason to stop trying to do it on your own? Do you have pain, separateness, weakness...a window to let Him in? Our wounds are our windows.

God can help you if you are willing...even a little willingness is all you need to have His Light shine onto your Spirit and change you & your life for the better. He will always answer your call. This is His promise.

If you were truly perfect it means He already answered you & you no longer need His help. It would mean you are already with Him. Perfection is His promise! But only WITH God is this possible...

Perfect Love is God is Perfect Love.