Leaving Church Finding God: Being Done not None

The old adage goes, “You can talk about anything, except religion and politics.” On this blog, I guess I throw…

The old adage goes, “You can talk about anything, except religion and politics.” On this blog, I guess I throw that advice out the window. My hope is that you find this blog an outlet to those lingering thoughts that you find in the back of your mind. Those things, that at least for me, I am usually not bold enough to say. In this post, I can feel that I will probably hit on both religion and politics. So, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Pew research and many blogs analyzing their research has made a big deal lately out of the rise of the “Nones”, those people who identify no particular religious affiliation. It’s no secret that the category, “Nones”, that researchers use can be deceiving and does not really tell the whole story.

For instance, I don’t hold any religious affiliation, I would qualify as a “None.” However anyone who knows me personally would say, “Wait! You talk about Jesus, say you follow Jesus, etc.” Yes, this is very true. I do follow the teaching of Jesus, someone who I believe was very anti-religious. In fact, frequently when Jesus found himself at “church”, violence erupted. I’ve talked about this some here, but that whole topic probably deserves its own blog post as well.

The point is, I don’t identify a religious affiliation, yet I do not consider myself secular. I’m not a “None.” I’m a “Done.” This term, “Done”, first came to me through a blog post by Derek Flood about being done. My lack of religious affiliation doesn’t reflect a lack of belief, instead it reflects my state of being done with religion. I’m done with the systems and institutions that have proven themselves unworthy stewards of the Divine.

The scandal of religion is that it never was really the steward of the Divine. The mystics, prophets and even Jesus himself all flow from a counter-religious movement that has always been present. In fact, I’m convinced, if I look closely at my own religious heritage, I have had the beginnings of being “Done” for much longer than I have been able to name and recognize it.

So yes, I’m done with religion. I’m not trying to start a new group, a new synagogue, a new church, a new mosque, a new temple, a new anything. The tribalism that all of these things carry with them is simply too much to overcome for whatever redeeming qualities they may have. This is a big shift for me. I’ve long held out hope that the next movement, the next organization would be different. I’ve been around religion long enough to realize that they aren’t. So, I’m “Done.”

This my sound very cynical. I hope and pray that in reality it isn’t. Don’t mistake this for something that it isn’t. I’m closer to God or the Divine (whatever word you resonate with) than ever. Losing the ties of religion has freed me to find the Divine in places I simply didn’t feel permission to find it in the past. I’m more alive, more free than ever.

Religion has the never ending pull towards tribalism that I’ve become more and more convinced we can’t escape. To identify as Christian simply carries too much baggage of things I don’t want to be associated with. The devaluing of women, persecution of minorities, creating taboo around sexuality, authoritarianism, false humility, devaluing of human experience, tribalism, the list goes on and on of things that are completely valid critiques of Christianity. The same is true of Islam, Judaism and Hinduism. There is simple too much done in these religion’s names that are counter to the law of love.

Islam cannot call itself peaceful. Why? Because if you want to be tribal, you take the load of the entire tribe upon you, including ISIS. Christianity isn’t peaceful. Why? because if want to be tribal, you take the load of the entire tribe upon you, including Donald Trump. Ahh, there I go, I just hit on politics. Well I guess this post has probably offended everyone now.

The point is, it’s simply too complicated, too confusing, too divisive to try to distinguish between the good and the bad that come with organized religion. For me, it’s better to be “Done” and live a simple life, ruled by love, that connects to God in my own way.

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April 30, 2016 @ 1:25 pm Trackback URL No Comments on Leaving Church Finding God: Being Done not None

Leaving Church and Finding God: Tribes, Temples and Trajectories

This is a continuation of my “Leaving the Church and Finding God” series, yet, this is something new. It’s an…

This is a continuation of my “Leaving the Church and Finding God” series, yet, this is something new. It’s an experiment. I’m not sure what it is exactly yet, maybe they’re sermons, maybe it’s a solo podcast, maybe it’s nothing. I’d love it if you would give this “thing” a listen and let me know what you think!

Hopefully this will all be on iTunes etc. shortly. In the mean time,  feel free to subscribe thought this simplecast link http://pca.st/IgCP.


This series of posts comes from the experiences and explorations that I am currently living. Being a long-time, church-going Christian I have recently moved beyond the confines of traditional Western Christianity and consider myself somewhat of a spiritual nomad currently. Though I am not currently in the church, I have many friends and family that find the church context extremely valuable. These posts are in no way meant as a criticism of that context. Instead, I hope to share a little bit of my journey. Some of this journey may wander outside of “Orthodoxy” and what is considered safe within the church. But I, at no turn, mean to offend or cause hurt. You can find an archive of this series here.

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January 20, 2016 @ 3:39 am Trackback URL No Comments on Leaving Church and Finding God: Tribes, Temples and Trajectories

Leaving Church and Finding God: Sabbath

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads…

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

I have heard this set of verses from Mark 2 quoted frequently. Most often as a prooftext for why it is ok to work on Sunday. I think that I have even used this as a prooftext for that point. Sadly, this application misses one of the richest practices that Christianity and Judaism have to offer, Sabbath rest.

Our world’s pace is increasing exponentially. We are able to do more, access more information, connect with more people than ever before. First we had laptops that would allow us to take our work home. Then phones that allowed us to take our work to the beach.  Now we have watches that allow our work to follow us everywhere we go. It is somewhat ironic that in this digital world that is largely controlled by on/off electrical signals, there is rarely anything that turns off.

This “always on” phenomenon is very new to our species. Nature as a whole has ebb and flow, on and off, activity and rest. Trees sprout leaves, grow, then lose them again. Animals migrate south in the winter and then north once again in the summer. The earth itself marks every 24 hours with light, then dark, then light again. Sine waves are the mark of nature, not the hockey stick growth demanded by wall street.

This same sine wave, on then off then on, pattern is what Jesus is pointing out about the Sabbath. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Turning off is an incredibly important part of being human. Indeed, the inability to turn off physiologically leads to death (Fatal Familial Insomnia).  I would suggest that just like sleep, Sabbath rest is indeed made for man. It was instituted to be a time of restoration. The “off” in an always on world. The bottom of the sign wave. Christians often get this confused and say that the Sabbath was created to worship or honor God. Not so, according to Jesus..

What Jesus is getting at in the story that I introduced this post with, is that the sabbath isn’t about rules of working or not working but instead, it is about rest and refreshment. Resting, but being hungry, is not very enjoyable. That’s Jesus’ point. The Sabbath is to be enjoyed. How does this all actually play out?

For me, it means turning off devices. Taking photos. Going on hikes. Enjoying good coffee and good food. Letting my mind rest, and my relationships with my family grow.  And, not just “when I have time.” Because in reality “when I have time” never comes. Sabbath for me has become a restorative practice that needs to be regularly observed. In my case “Sabbath” is most often observed on Saturday mornings complete with sleeping in, getting coffee and muffins from a coffee shop and visiting the local farmers market.

My employer recently implemented a benefit that captures this same spirit of Sabbath. Called “True Days Off”, each employee receives one day off each month to unplug and do nothing. The idea is to let your mind rest so that you can return to do your best work. The “off” is what sustains and makes the “on” possible.

Sabbath may look different for you than it does for me. But, it just doesn’t feel right if the focus is not on refreshment and rest.  It’s something we need. And it would do us well to heed Jesus’ advice.


This series of posts comes from the experiences and explorations that I am currently living. Being a long-time, church-going Christian I have recently moved beyond the confines of traditional Western Christianity and consider myself somewhat of a spiritual nomad currently. Though I am not currently in the church, I have many friends and family that find the church context extremely valuable. These posts are in no way meant as a criticism of that context. Instead, I hope to share a little bit of my journey. Some of this journey may wander outside of “Orthodoxy” and what is considered safe within the church. But I, at no turn, mean to offend or cause hurt. You can find an archive of this series here.

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January 1, 2016 @ 1:58 am Trackback URL No Comments on Leaving Church and Finding God: Sabbath

Leaving Church and Finding God: Incarnation

As we arrive at Christmas I wanted to reflect on some thoughts I’ve had recently about the Jesus narrative. And about…

As we arrive at Christmas I wanted to reflect on some thoughts I’ve had recently about the Jesus narrative. And about how our our presuppositions about God can greatly change His story. These thoughts, center around making sense of incarnation. That beautiful, confusing, controversial, incredible idea that God in some form became a man. This post presupposes the desire to believe in God. I know not everyone is there. But even if you don’t need a God in your belief system, hopefully this post will help you think about the idea of incarnation and Jesus in a different light.

The narrative that I have followed for most of my life about incarnation has gone something like this: God the Father, a being in heaven, told his son, Jesus, to go to earth and become a human because people were sinning and He was going to send them to hell. Jesus, another being, then is incarnated into a third being. A human being. This human being then is killed by God the Father to satisfy His wrath so that he doesn’t send all of us to hell.

The fact of the matter is, if I took this story out of the context of the Christian narrative, it would make my head hurt. Why does God need to kill his son to not send us to Hell? Why is it Jesus and not God the Father that is the one who gets incarnated? Along this line of thinking, I arrived at a fundamental question that has changed my perspective on incarnation.

“If God was already a being, why did he need to become another being in order to come among us?”

This line of thinking blew the lid off of one of my most basic assumptions about God. The idea that God is fundamentally a “being”.

If God is a being, incarnation seems to ring a little hollow. God becomes something like a shape shifter that transforms from one being to another being. Why couldn’t have God, after all, just come among us as God? This idea of God existing as a being somewhere else is rooted in what many have called a three tiered perspective on God. This is the idea that there are three tiers to reality. There is a a God up above (Upper Tier) looking down on us on earth (Middle Tier). And we  are in danger of being sent down to the depths of hell, shaol or whatever you want to call it (Lower Tier).

This idea permeates the way we talk about God. We say things like, “God came down and touched me” or “I’m sending up some prayers for you.” While this idea can be nice, it also muddies the water by assuming that God is a being that is mainly somewhere else. It’s also a very old idea that isn’t very congruent with what we understand about the nature of reality. When we look up at the stars today, we don’t see “heaven”, we see our galaxy. Our exploration of the universe demands that we at least consider the language we use to describe God and his location in reality.

Our understanding of God is ripe for a renewal. Along with this, our understanding of incarnation is also ripe for new life.  Consider this famous Bible passage, “God is Love.” What if we actually treated that verse as reality? What if God instead of being “a being” in our minds was instead “Love”? What does that mean for incarnation? It means that Jesus is the physical, here and now embodiment, flesh and blood example, of Love. Now that is something incredible. The idea that something as intangible and abstract as Love, incarnated itself as a man, is truly a powerful idea. It also just makes a lot of sense. One being doesn’t become another being. Instead, God truly puts on flesh and bones and dwells among us as an example of the new life that is possible.

Now this may all sound like idle ponderings to those of you who are tightly tied to the Bible as a basis of understanding. I would suggest you at least hear me out as I leave you with my favorite description of incarnation.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”

Word made flesh. That’s the incarnation I’m celebrating this Christmas. Merry Christmas!


 

This series of posts comes from the experiences and explorations that I am currently living. Being a long-time, church-going Christian I have recently moved beyond the confines of traditional Western Christianity and consider myself somewhat of a spiritual nomad currently. Though I am not currently in the church, I have many friends and family that find the church context extremely valuable. These posts are in no way meant as a criticism of that context. Instead, I hope to share a little bit of my journey. Some of this journey may wander outside of “Orthodoxy” and what is considered safe within the church. But I, at no turn, mean to offend or cause hurt. You can find an archive of this series here.

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December 26, 2015 @ 4:37 am Trackback URL 2 Comments on Leaving Church and Finding God: Incarnation