Thursday, August 2, 2012

Turning From My Faith: An Introduction

I have mentioned in other blog posts, and on Twitter, that I am currently in a serious state of disconnection with my faith – Christianity. Mostly I make jokes about not being ready to throw the Baby Jesus out with the bathwater yet . . . it’s easy to make jokes when you don’t know exactly where you stand or where you will stand in the future.

The point of this post was to explain where I stand on a specific issue, in relation to my history as a Christian. It kept getting longer and longer, though, so I think first I need to give an introduction. That’s today’s post.

I was raised in Wichita, Kansas, a conservative city in a conservative state in a conservative region. My parents were moderate liberals, but they operated within a conservative life and lifestyle. They were raised in the Church: strict Lutheran for my German/Czech Dad and small-town/rural Bible-based churches for my Mom, not sure what denomination. My Mom was more devout and definitely more evangelical than my Dad. I spent time in an assortment of churches – Nazarene (a conservative off-shoot of the Methodist church), Lutheran, Church of God (evangelical) and Presbyterian (though this was a youth group that was pretty separate from the rest of the church so I don’t know much about Presbyterian theology). These churches were almost all White. The Church of God had a separate service for the local Korean community. As an adult, I have been a member of a mostly-Black, gigantic United Methodist church (which was effectively Baptist due to the way most members were raised), a tiny, all-Black non-denominational “prosperity gospel” church, (a post for another time!) and I attended a multi-racial Vineyard church, which was my last church.

I didn’t just go to church, I was a believer. I have been devout most of my life, excusing the years in college where I decided to put my faith on hold so I could party without too much guilt. My faith was a very positive and affirming thing for me. I wasn’t raised to believe in God because I feared him or hell. I was raised to love the goodness of God. I am fascinated by theology and have spent a lot of time in biblical study. When I decided to go back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree, I considered degrees related to theology, ministry. I not only enjoyed religious courses in college (both times), I chose to take them as electives while my classmates shuddered at the thought.

For almost all of my married, parenting life (which started at age 21), I have been actively pursuing my faith, a deeper and more meaningful relationship with my God, and the ways I could be a better servant of Christ. My faith, and the relationships with others who shared my faith, sustained me during really difficult times, especially as Vincent and I were trying to figure out how to be married. We made a lot of mistakes and we didn’t end up divorcing because 1) we were too poor and 2) my faith gave me incredible drive and support to stick it out and figure it out. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that my faith was very important to me and it played a large role in much of my life.

Tomorrow: So, what did “my” Christianity look like? What kind of believer was I?

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