Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lackadaisical Spirituality

Okay, this thought will be a little hard to follow . . . yet I will try.

A long time ago in a university far away, I had a roommate that had a brief obsession with miniature furniture.  I never figured it out. But he sanded, glued, even nailed with nails smaller than a stick pin, for hours.  Maybe, years later, when I was trying to restore a real piece of antique furniture did I get it. At least the miniature version would have taken a lot less time and money to complete.

But I was thinking today how we come up with hobbies, interests and obsessions and sometimes loose them.  Maybe I've lost a few. I used to be an avid backpacker. But I haven't been since . . . oh, that's right I went last summer. Hmmm . . . and the year before that I backpacked in Nepal for three weeks. But it doesn't obsess me like before.  I think part of the reason is that I now live in the woods.

So this is the season of Christmas . . . and the Republican primary.  Because of the two aforementioned things, one theme keep showing up on the news . . . the life of Christians and Evangelicals in particular. So it is really strange, hard to put into words, but I have virtually no interest in the things I once thought were the essence of being spiritual.

Sometimes I find it scary.  Am I spiritually dead? That would have been my conclusion if me from 15 years ago was to judge me from today.

But, one way to look at it, is that evangelicalism use to be my hobby and obsession.  Now, I have zero (with a big Z) interest in going to a Bible conference, a Christian concert ("contemporary Christian music"), or anything that smelled of religion.  I don't even feel motivated to visit Imonk any more. I do rush over now and then to check out the topics. Some of the more philosophical or cultural issues interest me. But I have no interest in the more "religious" conversations, even Advent. I think Mike Spencer use to deal with more of the non-religious issues of Christianity. But I still like that community.

So, I'm not sure what's wrong with me.  But, I have a sense that it is not spiritual dead-ness, but the typical loss of interest in the hobby of churchianity or whatever you want to call it. What gives me this assurance (that I'm not spiritually dead) is my great interest still in topics of real philosophy (what I mean by "real" is not just the history of philosophy, who said what, but the real questions of life).  While I would not want to go to a Christian concert, I would love deeply to go to Handel's Messiah, with a full orchestra and wonderful choir and we swept away by its (actually pointing to God's) grandeur.

I have also never been more sure of God, the Christian God that is, being there . . . but, like I said a few post ago, I still don't have certainty. But fifteen years ago, when I did have surface certainty, I had deep and dark doubts in my private world.

So, just like when you were in a miniature furniture making club and then loose interest, it is hard to strike up a conversation with those who were once part of that club.  I feel out of place when I run into my Evangelical friends. The things they want to talk about, "God blessing the Denver Broncos with wins because of Tim Tebow's faithfulness to the Lord." doesn't interest me. However, I could sit, spell bound, for hours discussing a good book, a great film or piece of art  . . .  and how it relates to us being human, and God being God.

I have the feeling that others are in my shoes. Loss of the hobby of Christianity, but wrapped up in the essence of it.

In conclusion, I wanted to watch a very interesting film on PBS last night . . . Lord Save Us From Ourselves, by Don Merchant.  I wanted so much to follow it, but I kept falling asleep.  But it seemed to me that Mr. Merchant also had this strange outsider view of people of his faith.

Okay, I'll shut up for now.


Eagle said...


Yesterday I got a Christmas card in the mail. It was from a guy I knew who works in Campus Crusade for Christ out west. Before I continue (and right now I can't find it....) there's a video of him on Youtube. It shows New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina in which he is thanking God for the hurricane and that the people of New Orleans will find God's blessing in it. I felt sick to my stomach when I watched it.

So then I get a Christmas card from this same individual in today's mail. And in the Christmas card he says the following:

"A couple of weeks ago, Yamin, one of the girls in our Bible study was hit by a car while riding her bike. Thankfully she did not sustain major injuries. Through it she has seen the Lord's protection on her. It seems the Lord is using it to draw her to Himself."

So....God orchestrates accidents and a bicycle rider being hit by a car to draw that person to himself. That's how God works? (scratches head) The other day in Fairfax Station, Virginia there was a pedestrian who was walking on the road who was hit by two cars who died when the person made it to the hospital. I guess God didn't love that person.....

Can you imagine that twisted logic of God using a bicycle rider being hit to be said about the following:

1. Someone committing suicide
2. Someone dealing with cancer
3. Someone being sexually molested
4. Someone being murdered.
5. A major terrorist attack
6. Outbreak of pandemic flu

I can just see the next Christmas card I get from someone in Campus Crusade for Christ...

"A few years ago one of our children was sexually molested by a predator at First Baptist. Thankfully the molester was apprehended by law enforcement. Through the molestation she has seen the Lord's protection on her. It seems the Lord is using the sexual abuse to draw her to Himself."

I look at this stuff and I feel sick MJ. That's why I am lackadaisical abut faith overall. I don't see why Christians are like this? I don't....

God using a bicycle accident to draw a person closer to himself? Well it allows one to look ath drunk driving and hit and run in a new light....

Anonymous said...

What scary is how similar your experience is to mine. Besides the things you mention, here's a couple other things that I've lost interest in: Bible studies, and theology in general. I'm just tired of trying to figure everything out, whether it be eschatology, (especially eschatology), or what the parable mean. I still read the Bible on an almost daily basis. (If I don't feel like it on some days, I don't beat myself up about it). And if I run up against something that seems contradictory to some other passage, which seems to happen pretty often, I just don't give it much thought, and keep on reading. I don't know why I read it every day, but it's somehow comforting to do so.

Anonymous said...

And oh yeah, also lost interest in fighting the culture wars. So, a store wants to wish me "happy holidays" instead of "merry Christmas"? No problem, I don't care. I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that there will always be abortions happening, and there's no way to fight the porn industry, it's so pervasive. And David Barton is not the scholar I used to think he was, and he's likely dishonest as well.

Johan said...

I don't often comment here anymore (where's the time?) but I must say I do resonate with this piece of yours.
It's where I find myself too. I just can't get worked up about churchianity and the 'christian' work-work-work-message.
As I tweeted to a friend today - Maybe church (or christianity) is 'just' being fully (or renewed) human, being yourself truly in community. I find my relationships with friends (also a small house church I sometimes visit) and discussions over a drink, (often about movies - I love stories) and sharing life together, build me up more than hearing sermons, or singing praise music.
Glad to know there are more on this journey, as always.

Anonymous said...

Your sitchie sounds so much like mine, only you describe it better. "Loss of the hobby of Christianity, but wrapped up in the essence of it" is right where I am, and occasionally I have to check myself and remember that all the stuff I used to do -- all the stuff I was told I MUST do as part of the normative Christian life -- isn't necessary (and maybe never was). Jesus is all, and He's living in me -- that's more than enough.

Collette said...

Mj just read this post and can't tell you how much it resonates. I am tired oh so very tired of churchianity. I have been for months. Haven't been to churchsince december , oh everyone misses me etc blah blah but my door is rarely knocked. I can't separate my annoyance with fellow christians from my relationship with God. Tricky! Oh and have kids so double the guilt trip!

Helen said...

I know it's like a year and half after you posted this, but just wanna say that this is resonating so greatly with me at this point in my life.

Only, I agree with Anonymous, I just don't have the strength to figure things out anymore. And I don't read my Bible very often, I'm afraid.

But yeah, just wanted to say how good it feels that there are other people out there feeling like this (so I'm not crazy ;))

jmj said...

I think you will find a lot of people in this boat. It was great to come to a place where I did not equate the interest in evangelical things with my connection to God.