I Once Was (a) Lost (Stupid Cat), But Now Am Found

Things all happen at once, for a reason, and I have no control over them, the bastards.

The more I try to not talk about my more recent religious experiences, the more they keep popping up like so much cat hair on black trousers. I need to let the cat thing go, but I can’t. Jesus is now irretrievably linked in my mind with crazy cat ladies. Yes, this is another Jesus post.

A very sweet, extremely kind new friend has sat through my nonsense & answered my questions & not ever preached at me. I mentioned him in my second to last written post. I am only going to post my responses to his responses to my questions, but here you will kind of see how I got here, where I was before, in a way I could not organize in my usual rambling goofball manner of writing.

“My experience with Christianity was almost the opposite, as neither of my parents were much interested in church. When I was a little girl, I was what some people would term a nearly psychotic born again Christian. When I embrace a religion, there is no grey for me. If the Bible said not to do something, I didn’t do it. In my linguistic ignorance, I even took the no swearing thing to mean I couldn’t even call my little brother a jackass.

It made other Christian kids in my Christian school nuts, of course. Not only did I have a funny accent & wreck the curve, but I was goody goody to a fault. I guess. I was fairly obsessed with Jesus. Any thoughts not dedicated to She-Ra were dedicated to Christ.  I loved music but since all pop music was evil, I rewrote songs with Christian lyrics. I witnessed to anybody who gave me 4 seconds. And etc. Is it any wonder when I realized how badly I was being hurt by [omitted] that I would cling to a more positive male role model? And when I was old enough to realize how much damage I had sustained, to completely turn my back on a God who didn’t protect me? Yeah, through the last 3 years of high school, I was an ardent atheist. And a mess.

It’s hard to be an atheist, though, when all your prior life has been an orgy of faith. In college I discovered & militantly upheld the strictest tenets of other religions (like a Christian, someone once derisively said). However, over the past year or so Buddhism has not really met my “needs”, I guess. Buddhism totally jibes with Christianity, seeing as how Jesus is viewed as a Western bodhisattva, & my insistence that Greater Path Buddhism is superior to the more-traditionally-embraced-in-the-West-because-it’s-more-“intellectual” Lesser Path speaks to my inherent, unshakeable belief in salvation. So…what am I doing?

This is going to sound stupid, but the final straw was when Adam posted that photo labeled “Resurrection Day”. As it was a clear rejection of the pagan celebration of Eostre, I looked it up to see if he was a Jehovah’s Witness or something like. What shocked me is that I came across one particularly well done site, I guess, because I read more than a couple of paragraphs. By like the 4th paragraph I was actually in tears. I still can’t tell you why, as I have no idea. I just became unbelievably sad, like I had abandoned a sweet old relative who loved me, but couldn’t tell me, in the hospital, for years, without visiting. I was also overwhelmed by the sense that I would be welcomed lovingly back if I had the bravery to walk in the door.

Not quite yet.

Jeez, have I rambled enough yet? Look, I haven’t talked to anybody about this yet, but you seem like the sort of person who might understand. I’m just not sure what to do. Even hinting to some of my friends that I am considering Christianity again sends them into peels of laughter or funny looks. If they’d known me longer, they’d totally get it…

My fear is that I will become inflexible again. I really was insufferable as a kid, and I also have no idea how to reconcile Christian belief with the sort of lax way most people practice. To me it has always seemed that if you’re going to believe something, you ought to live it every moment of your life, not when it’s convenient. However, I am single again, & it could be inconvenient. A lot.

I really don’t know how to do this.

Thanks for enduring.”

And later… 

“So for witnessing, as I’m sure you’ve noticed I just sort of speak my mind. I was like that as a kid too. Even in other religious systems, I’ve been something of a teacher; it’s just my way to explain the tenets of faith & ethics to people. What you’re doing w/ your blog & posts etc. is the same thing.

And now for the Once Saved Always Saved stuff. I was in love with a boy for a long time who was allegedly a Christian. He, despite being my friend & clearly attracted to me, rejected me in part because of my religious beliefs. He also drank too much, lied, slacked off, all the things I didn’t think Christians should do. He said that it didn’t matter what he did, because he was saved. That pissed me off. I told him that being saved didn’t give him license to be a prick (this clearly is when I was getting over him) and he actually said it did.

After reading those passages I now see he had fallen out of fellowship with God.

My revelation that I had the other day was that Jesus wants me back. He’s going about it in a weird, circuitous route, but I see how it was necessary. When I read the thing about how no one can snatch us from His hand & how it’s His job to shepherd us, I realized He’s been doing that all along. He just had to do it in a way that would make sense to my brain. He had to bring me back to Christianity from atheism by appealing to my rational mind, exposing me to doctrines that seemed less harsh than the Bible so I could find the compassion in it again. The compassion was missing from my school, from my study. We clearly spent far too much time on the angry God of the OT; how else would I have missed all the NT passages re: grace?!

Reading works about Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, & reading works by the Dalai Lama kinda prepped me for the reality that Jesus was also a teacher of compassion. It would take an act of the purest compassion for a supernatural being to allow Himself to be crucified for others, much like Kuan Yin in her corporeal form, Princess Maio Shan, died in a fire to save a house full of nuns or cut off her arm & leg to heal a selfish king (depending on the story) except of course Christ’s sacrifice was for all mankind, including those yet to come.

Kuan Yin hears the cries of the world & will help even the most horrible person if they call on her in faith. This is what Jesus does, but I didn’t quite get that until I came to understand Kuan Yin.

So. From study of Wicca leading to a study of Taoism leading to a study of Buddhism which lead me to greater vehicle Kuan Yin stuff, I was prepped to come back to Jesus, I think. He was trying to get me back all along, He just had to shepherd me through a strange & winding forest first. I’m getting that now. It’s amazing how much trouble He’s gone to to get me; I only hope I don’t disappoint Him!

Trying to sort out what to do next…

The What Next of course was to stop being a pussy & just realize I was a Christian. And to not be ashamed to tell people. I mean duh. And this is the world we live in, where it’s harder to admit you’re a Christian than Wiccan or Buddhist. Really & truly, we live in strange times. Exciting, open, & one would hope, conducive to dialogue, but a strange time nonetheless.

And weirdly, Adam Baldwin blogged about it sorta today. Check it out: http://bighollywood.breitbart.com/abaldwin/2010/01/05/secularisms-drones-sting-brit-hume/ Here is my response, which was posted to the site (yay, they fixed it!) but it might also show another part of the process I had to go through, which is rejecting high & mighty fusspot-ism. I did it as a Christian, as a Wiccan, as a Buddhist, as an ‘intellectual’ secular “Wait, everybody gets equal time by getting NO time” goober-pants. I now realize that religious devotion, even devotion to non-religion, does NOT equal the right to indulge in fusspot-ism. Observe:

“Holy cow (or not, since we’re not Hindu), you have hit the nail so hard on the head, you’ve made pennies. And I can say this as being a reformed jerk who might at one point have snarkily agreed a little with our histrionic friend Keith. There was a time, when I myself was a Buddhist, where I would have insisted on the secularization of society at the same time perfectly willing to discuss my religion with anybody personally who asked. Don’t ask me how this made sense in my head, because I have no idea myself. I seem to recall not wanting to offend anybody, & not wanting to be beaten over the head with other people’s religions. However, I’ve finally noticed that when we go out of our way to treat everybody the same, we end up being jerks to everybody & giving them the lowest consideration possible. *cough HEALTHCARE cough*

Buddhists are pretty mellow about other people’s beliefs & are meant to extinguish desire & all sense of the self, existing only for the greater good. Horrifying to a Republican, huh?! Part of the reason I returned to Christianity (yeah, Keith, here’s your PERFECT example!) is because I felt the tug of the personal relationship with Christ. And seriously, I was practicing a salvation-based version of Buddhism anyway. Greater Path Buddhism, which most Westerners dismiss as superstitious & too “religiony”, is very much rooted in the idea that the bodhisattvas can help us be better people. Although I developed a prolonged and enjoyable study of Kuan Yin, the female bodhisattva of compassion, who hears the cries of the world, I was still constantly missing something. It wasn’t until I got back in touch with Christ that I felt that thing *clonk* into place.

That thing is what Mr. Hume is talking about. It’s not a get-out-of-hell-free card, it’s not an instant pass for committing adultery (um…Keith, have you READ Matthew 5:27-28?! Jesus is kind of sour on the whole adultery thing). It’s not “Look at me, I’m a Christian now! I don’t have to meditate any more or work on extinguishing desire like Buddhists do. It’s easy because Jesus forgives everything!” Not so much. Meditation, or prayer, is a necessary component to a relationship with Christ. Extinguishing desire (though bloody infrickenpossible) is treasured in Christianity, too. I think the way Jesus, who does forgive us all even though we’re jerks, sees desire is that if we put our own wants & needs before other people, that’s not cool. But He gets that we’re stupid humans & we do stupid human tricks. I recently talked & blogged about this very thing, comparing Jesus to a crazy cat lady…you had to be there, I spose.

Mr. Hume’s suggestion, from his own experience I gather, that Tiger Woods can benefit from a relationship with Christ was hardly bombastic, jihadist (don’t make me cackle) or even preachy. It was just a suggestion. “Yo, here’s what works for me, brah. This is something you might want to look into, since you’re in a bad, bad way right now.” Jesus gets people out of bad ways. In Buddhism, you really have only yourself & your own self control to rely upon. Clearly Tiger has none of that. God has infinite power, and can do more for us than we can do for ourselves.

Thank you for bringing this story to an audience who might not ever have noticed. Yeah, they’re all angry & secular now, but any time we are exposed to other ideas, we learn & grow, even if we don’t accept those ideas. An open, respectful dialogue regarding religion & salvation is certainly preferable, I see now, to shutting everybody up about their faiths & making them go inside & practice in secret (kinda like smoking in CalNeva). Has religion become masturbation now?! It honestly feels like that’s what atheists want us to do…go do that in the bathroom! Nobody wants to see that!

So what if somebody who doesn’t believe as we do prays in front of us, even if it’s in school? The amendment says freedom of religion, not repression of it so nobody is potentially offended. Freedom is being offended sometimes. It’s the price we pay for getting to be who we are. It’s not that bad a fine; it’s way better than the alternative.”

I realize now my response was about as long as his original post. *headdesk* Well, to me it’s always like we’re having a conversation when I respond to a blog. And I did high school debate, so everybody gets their ten minutes for Poz & Neg, and…ACK! I really need to get over that, apparently…

Please don’t hate on me because I’m Christian. Please?

 

 

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8 thoughts on “I Once Was (a) Lost (Stupid Cat), But Now Am Found

  1. R.L. says:

    “It’s hard to be an atheist, though, when all your prior life has been an orgy of faith.” I feel that. Massively but Jewish flavoured.

  2. Carter Dotson says:

    Brit Hume’s comments equated to religious conversion as effectively a PR move – becoming Christian because its popular, and its dogma would provide the easiest path to forgiveness, not because he actually came to realize that was ‘the truth’ and ‘actual’ forgiveness for his actions, and that’s what the calling out has been – it seems like bad faith, literally.But there has not been anyone who’s said “Brit Hume should not be allowed to say these things” – they don’t agree with the viewpoint he espoused. The Liberal/Secularist/Atheist Boogeyman that gets spears chucked at it whenever it disagrees with popular conservative viewpoints certainly isn’t saying that Brit Hume shouldn’t be allowed to say that (I have no problem with him saying it, even if I disagree with it) or with him sharing his religious beliefs as a private citizen on a privately-owned podium. The problem is that disagreeing with a belief – even being vehement in that disagreement – IS NOT the same as saying that YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO HAVE THAT BELIEF. And it’s frustrating to even see people like you seem to forget that at times – when you say you worry about people hating on you being Christian, and being surprised that no one’s being loud and vehement about it, I think that you need to remember that people can disagree with the overarching belief but respect the person’s right to believe that and not have a problem with them coming to that belief. Discovery of belief or lack thereof is something based on so many factors in a person’s life, and is such a personal experience that I and many others don’t have so much a problem with it that maybe no one’s complaining about it, because there’s not really much to complain about? And if they do complain about it, that’s just inherently disrespectful; what you believe is your business, not anyone else’s.

  3. bethanyactually says:

    I won’t hate on you because you’re a Christian! Not least because I am one too. I’m not nearly as outspoken about it online, though I’ll tell someone if I’m asked. I admire your willingness to lay it all out there. Also, I applaud your point about taking a path back to faith via rational means. It’s hard for some folks to understand that having faith doesn’t mean turning your brain off; quite the contrary, it means turning your brain on and using that God-given brain to discern what’s true and sensible and exactly when and where you should take those leaps of faith.

  4. Ellie says:

    I’m glad to see you’ve arrived at a place where you’re comfortable with what you believe. There’s something really wonderful about departing from the faith that’s handed to you and arriving at your own set of beliefs that resonate with your observations. It’s reassuring to read someone feel the need to figure things out for themselves, and that that someone went through a much stranger set of twists and turns than I did to arrive at their spiritual destination makes me feel much less crazy. Thanks for sharing! =)(I originally typed a whole long yarn thinking that I’d reply with my own personal journey to where I am now in regards to faith, but when I finished and looked back on it, it reads like a kind of selfish “me too!” reply. I’ll save that for a post to my own corner of this site, which I think I accidentally signed up for in order to post this comment to begin with!)

  5. taracat says:

    Nice exposition, KJ. If you haven’t already, look up the apologetics of early Christianity (Origen, Tertullian, etc.) Interesting parallels in the intellectual pantheism of the intellectual class then and the secular progressivism of today.Being a rational anarchist (to use Heinlein’s phrase) I avoid identifying with movements or churchs, so I do not call myself a Christian. My own intellectual integrity requires ‘all or nothing’ conviction, and some of the fundamental dogma of Christian Faith elude me.But careful and intense study of history DOES convince me that the combination of Greek thought and Judaeo-Christian belief created the world view that requires individual sovereignty, freedom of expression and opportunity, and the personal duty to protect and defend one’s self and community. No other belief system had created a culture where the individual is valued above the group; all others require submission to authority as the highest ethical value.I think this traces directly to the Christian idea that NO-ONE but YOU can make the choices to save your OWN soul. Your salvation is entirely up to you. Talk about individual sovereignty! And inalienable right – as Heinlein also noted, you can’t enslave a free man; the most you can do is kill him. Corallary, you can’t free a slave; he has to break his own internal chains.So I endorse and support Judaeo-Christianity as a basis for a free and successful life and culture. It’s proven itself and shaken out most of the detritus.So good on yer, kid! Unlike Whittaker Chambers, I think you’ve joined th winning side. 🙂

  6. ThatBobbieGirl says:

    Wow. Get out of hell free card. I can relate to that way of thinking, because it’s how I viewed salvation for a good bit of my life. “Hey Jesus, thanks for saving me and everything. I’ll just take it from here.” And boy howdy, did I make a mess of things. Ya know, I was baptized twice. First time, as a teen, and the second time just a few years ago. Why? I realized that the first time it really had meant nothing more than membership in the church my family had attended. I hadn’t changed anything about ME, and still did pretty lived pretty much as I wanted. I understand why so many people say that they don’t go to church because they’re full of hypocrites. Well, that’s what you get with the “once saved, always saved” mentality. “Hey, got me my fire insurance. Look out world!” Of course, not everyone in those churches live like that, but way too many do. How does that fit with what Christ said was the second greatest commandment, that each of us is to love his neighbor as himself? A few years ago, we left the denominational church we had been attending since we moved to Gettysburg in 1999. A series of events involving my children made my family never want to go back, so we didn’t. We went to a place that had put on a Bible forum my husband had attended and liked. They don’t belong to any denomination – just a group of people who want to be like the New Testament church, as much as possible. It was so refreshing — and these people were trying to live like their eternal destination depended upon it. They believed that while God will never leave you, nor forsake you, we have the free will to leave Him and forsake Him. That sounded much more like what I’d read in the Bible than anything I’d been taught at any church. Eventually, I realized that I had been baptized for the wrong reasons before, so I asked to do it again, after I’d repented and really changed my heart. More accurately, God changed my heart, after I hit bottom and repeatedly prayed for Him to “creat in me a clean heart”BTW, The “resurrection day” photo was the first inkling I had that there was more to AB than I had realized. Not just another pretty face, that one.

  7. bsgfan28 says:

    OK I so have to go back & read your earlier posts to see how you relate Jesus to a crazy cat lady 🙂 Lately my faith in my fellow human beings has been restored. I have noticed that more people are now openly discussing the fact they are a Christian. I live in a relatively conservative part of the country yet even I’ve noticed in the last few years that when someone finds out you are a Christian they make all kind of assumptions about you (you are intolerant, think women should be relegated to a lesser role, aren’t very smart etc.. you get the idea). For a while it really got me down & I became reluctant to talk about my faith with others for fear of being mocked. Well first of all..shame on me…there are those who have suffered much worse for their faith. What can I say I’m human & I don’t always do what I know I shoud do. OK Back to my faith being restored part 🙂 In general I’ve noticed that the last year those of us with conservative beliefs in general have found our voice & we are using it despite the fact that we are labeled as right wing nut jobs etc… Since I’ve become a little more open about my beliefs I have found that having people call you names is not so bad because there are plenty of others who are willing to stand behind me & let me know that I am not alone. So like you I’ve had a winding path (albiet of a different nature) that has led me back to where I need to be. There are more people than you think that believe in the idea of a right & wrong and that there is something more to life than what this world has to offer. We need to stick together and maybe we can make it through this crazy messed up world.Yvonne

  8. Becky says:

    Oh, please. I would never hate you due to your religion, only if you’re prettier than me! 🙂 Welcome to the club, my dear! (The Christian club, because, regardless of what people say, Mormons are Christian!) Love you, KJ! Well, except for the times where you’re prettier than me.

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