1. What are your own lenses and biases? What are the gifts and limitations they bring to the task of doing theology?
I am nearly rabidly anti-Christian. Despite being one. After a fashion. I am so ready to believe the worst of anyone who is a member of any church. Never mind that I was an active member of my church in Kalamazoo. Never mind that I’d like to find a place now to belong. I think that most “Christians” are Pat Roberts.
I am highly opinionated and if I think someone is wrong, I think they are dead wrong and there is no room for negotiation. I do not have a very open mind when it comes to religion and/or theology. I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of the Christian Reformed Church of America. Among the most conservative of religions. It was all over the news a decade or so that they were discussing whether or not to let women talk in church, let alone be ministers. The cloud of CRCA covered much of Grand Rapids and conservative Christianity much of Michigan. Christianity has been used to hurt so many people and to justify everything from murder to slavery to war that I have the hardest time aligning myself with it publicly.
The gift that this brings is that I do not just believe something because I’m told it. The limitation is that I often reinvent the wheel. I want to be more open minded, so that is a gift. I’m becoming more “tolerant.” Well, I guess the truth is, I find that as I age, I’m far less intense. I can hear people more readily who disagree with me.
2. What words do you use most frequently to describe the Divine, your spiritual beliefs, and your ethics? What do these words reveal about you?
I usually think of God in terms of a traditional Christian God: white old man. I’m shifting more towards a gender neutral idea of God. The minister at my former church says “Mother-Father God” or “Sweet Spirit.” I tend to like the Mother-Father God but what that does is leave me with a void where God should be. I can’t visualize a Mother-Father God and I’m a highly visual person. I think because I did not have a good relationship with my father, I look to God to fill that role, which is why I think of God as male. Plus, you know, all that indoctrination.
However, I believe that God reveals God’s self to a person in the way that they can best relate. To me, that’s the WMG. For you, it might be a woman, or something in nature or multiple manifestations.
As for you spiritual beliefs, I think of myself as a New Thought Christian. We are far more progressive that your mainstream Christian, but still have a Christ-centered theology, in a way. We at Unity believe that Jesus was our elder brother and wayshower, both fully human and fully divine. As everyone of us has the ability to be, if we allowed ourselves to fully experience the divine. Frankly, I think that Jesus had to have some “divine intervention” because it’s hard to maintain even a modicum of divinity in my daily life and, by all accounts, he managed it most of the time.
Ethics are always evolving for me as I gain new information. I suppose I can sum it up as “don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to see plastered on the headlines.” Spiritually speaking, I strive to be Christ-like and loving, but I fall short of that quite a lot. If I think of God as a father, then I want a good relationship with my Father. I want to learn from Him and model myself after Him, much the way small children learn about the world from their parents. Since I’m ever-learning, my sense of ethical behavior evolves as well. For example, the abortion debate. I’m staunchly pro-choice. I had an abortion when I was 16. I will be eternally grateful that option was available to me. Now, though, at 39, I know that if I got pregnant, by whatever means, I would not have an other abortion. The dilemma for me is that I believe that women have the right to control their own bodies but I feel sad for the life that doesn’t get to live. Not that long ago, I wouldn’t have even considered the fetus. Things are simply not as black and white as they once were.
It’s taken me quite a while to respond to this post! I hope my life settles down enough for a while that I can do things more promptly.