Monday, December 8, 2008

Jesus, Christianity and me

Of all the topics I could choose to blog about after my long hiatus, of all the titles, that is the one that will make the most of my readers (aka friends) go HUH?! but it fits, so bear with me...

To give a little background, I was raised Methodist in a heavily Christian home. Somewhere around the age of 16, after intensive involvement in the church, Bible study and lots of youth camps, groups and a stint on the Methodist youth Council I decided that while I respected the teachings of Jesus I did not follow the Christian belief that he was the son of God. This belief was so heretical in my church that I was dropped from the Council and I quickly found myself completely separated from my Christian life. Now I won't lay the complete blame on the church, I was exploring my own paths at the time and wanted a separation. But the experience did cause a great rift to develop between me and ANY Christian-labeled teachings.

Fast-forward 16 years to now. Over time I have come to realize that while I still do not believe in the Trinity or the Immaculate Conception, among other Church teachings, I do believe that Jesus was a great teacher and holy man. I believe he was a prophet, like many spiritual leaders of the ages. And I believe he would cry (or laugh) to see how his words have been twisted by the Church and many of it's followers.

I also believe in a God. Not the God of the Bible or the Torah or the Koran, but the God that all of the contributors to those great works were trying to understand. The God that Jesus, that Mohammad, that Chief Seattle and countless others talked about. The God that all humanity has been trying to describe for all of our history and the one that is incapable of description. I have long felt that be you Christian, Pagan, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist or any other following, we reside with the exact same God, just under different names.

So, what does all this rambling have to do with this post you may ask? I apologize, I needed to give a little background, now on to the meat of the thing.

I am a Unitarian Universalist. I am so because I believe in the precepts and tenants of this faith. I believe in humanism, in tolerance, in social justice and protecting the Earth and all of the other things which are so central to the UU faith. Yet for a long time, I found the UU faith sadly lacking in FAITH. There wasn't much religion to our religion. Happily, the Reverend at my church has been working hard to fill that need and I thank him for that. It's been a balm to my soul to discuss these topics again, and I feel a part of me growing that has been stagnant for at least 10 years. I have been continuously surprised to find that I am not the only one who has these ideas about the teachings of Jesus. In fact, I just started reading a book called "The Gospels According to Jesus" by Stephen Mitchell that expresses my beliefs in a much more profound and thoughtful way than I have hear. It's been a joyous to learn that others appreciate his teachings on love, forgiveness and living in the Now (i.e. Kingdom of Heaven) outside of the traditions of the Church.

A separate and yet related struggle for me is one I've been having with the Lutheran daycare my youngest attends. Since she started full time this fall, I have become aware of a heavily Christian curriculum in her classroom, including weekly visits from "Pastor" and Bible lessons. I've been worrying a lot as to how these lessons would affect her beliefs later down the road, that they may "convert" her at a later date. Yet at the same time, I've been mourning the lack of moral teaching for my children in our UU church, the teaching which I received as a child growing up Christian. Because it is the morals of the stories that impacted me as a child, "be honest, be kind, do unto others as you would have done unto you." Those teachings were missing from our curriculum at my UU church, even though they are the basis of our faith. Happily, we have begun a curriculum this year covering World Religions which begins to touch on these tenants, but we have more to do. But that's another post all together...

To wrap it up (if you're still with me) I came to the realizations that:

1) What am I complaining about with Fiona's daycare? She's getting the moral teaching that I wanted her to have
2) What a beautiful opportunity her schooling is giving her for me to discuss my beliefs with her
3) No discussion of the teachings of Jesus can hurt my child or myself
4) I'm happy to welcome Jesus back into my life. Not as the Son of God to a Christian, but as a teacher to a student. I think I'm finally ready to learn...


Lweeks said...

Chrissi! I get this. I'm glad you are finding peace with your beliefs.

Sara said...

Having had no real religious upbringing or education myself, Fiona can get values and morals from her most important teachers, you. What her school teaches her won't over-ride what you show her.

I really like how you said this, and it really sounds very close to how I feel. I wish you luck in finding your way.