Questions for Reflection: 1. What are your own lenses and biases? What are the gifts and limitations they bring to the task of doing theology?
My lenses are varied. I think that in a lot of ways I've rejected mainstream Christianity. I am not sure who Jesus is really --although I haven't rejected him per se. He's worshiped in so many ways and perceived in a lot of different ways and some of those have put me off. Others I'm confused by. A lot of the people who are Christians really offend me--mainly fundamentalists, but others as well. I'm offended by the concept that gay people and gayness are evil. I'm offended when people want to start nuclear war because of their religious beliefs. I'm offended by people who think their religion is better than anyone elses or the only way to God. And I'm especially offended by people who think that as Christian Americans we are better than anyone else. I am not comfortable with "speaking in tongues." And I'm not comfortable with people who actively try to spread their religion. I'm much more comfortable with people who want to find a deeper expression of their own faith rather than spread it to others. I'm not comfortable with Christian cliches.
I have explored other religions and faiths and have found things of value in Hinduism and Buddhism.
Having said that I do attend the Episcopal Church, though I often feel that I'm "barely hanging on" as a Christian. And yet I love the Sunday ritual and the closeness I feel to god in communion.
The gift that those viewpoints gives me is that in a lot of ways I'm able to overcome my early experience and be open to other ways of looking at theology. The limitation that gives me is that in a lot of ways I don't feel I have a spiritual home. I don't feel totally comfortable in the church I was brought up in . And I don't feel totally comfortable in others' churches because I wasn't raised in them and don't know all the background and expectations.
One place where I have recently been experiencing god a lot more is through the lenses of my twelve step groups. I like the fact that I am encouraged to find a god that I personally can relate to--not just one handed to me by religion. I also like the entire process of finding god through reconciliation with god's world. That's something I feel that is missing in many protestant churches.
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?
Oh, I use a lot of different words. I don't stick to one. I use the term "higher power" a lot since I've found that term in 12 step programs. But I also use a lot of other terms. I've found god in Mother, Jesus, Siva, Buddha, Kwan Yin, Ganesh, and Pan. Each of those ideas represents a different way of looking at the world, and a different spiritual journey I have taken. I am currently seeking to expand my concept of God to one of "Friend."