So this blog is born. Jhem Terriac is a character in a book I was writing but will probably never finish. He was an autistic half-elven called a manling. Which has got absolutely nothing to do with me. I just liked the name and wanted to use it somewhere else.
So...to begin...the rug had been yanked out from under me. My spiritual foundation crumbled and I've been falling for the past several years, ever since I found out the Bible wasn't the inerrant word of God. I was tired of falling, grabbing onto handholds wherever I could find one to stop the inevitable landing.
I have landed. And I didn't get hurt. I didn't break every bone in my body. I didn't die in the fall. I survived. In fact, aside from a mourning process for the culture and religion I grew up in, nay, that was my whole life, aside from that mourning process. I thrive.
It all started several years ago when I was a member of an Assembly of God church. A tiny bit of background to show you a bit about my journey: I was raised in an American Baptist church. As I got older my tastes ran to more fundamentalist teachings, even venturing into Messianic Judaism for a while, thinking that I needed to get back to as much of the purity of Christianity as I could. I was very rigid in my beliefs and absolutely believed that I was right and everyone who didn't think the way I did was wrong. We ended up in the AoG church because it had a youth program (for Zach) and a drama program (for me.)
Now...on with the story. I was asked to write the play for out annual Walk thru Bethlehem program. I was honored, touched, thrilled beyond belief and eager. The pastor wanted the temple to be a part of it, which was a bit tricky since that took place in Jerusalem and not Bethlehem and was around 33 days after the birth. So I set the scene about a month after the birth and had the guides as narrators, walking the crowd throughout the "town" looking for the young couple and their baby. There were moving, inspiring vignettes and the surprise visit to the temple in Jerusalem after a short sojourn through the desert. The temple set was lavish and a bit breath-taking, if I do say so myself (I also did set design, she says modestly.)
What happened during the writing of the play was that I couldn't get the chronology to work out between the different gospel accounts. I struggled, read commentaries, and prayed fervently that I could find a way to work it out. That's when my soft, cushiony carpet was pulled out from under me.
I went through a period of time when I just couldn't even believe in God anymore, let alone Jesus. I had no one to talk to because I knew exactly what they would tell me: it was an attack from Satan. All doubts and questions were attacks on your faith from Satan. So there was no point in bringing it up. I knew it wasn't an attack from Satan. It was a discrepancy in the Gospel accounts.
In time, I did renew my belief in God and Jesus although I still didn't know what to do with the Bible. But the bloom was off the rose, so to speak, and I could never be a fundamentalist again. Ever.
We left that church after a couple of years of having my eyes opened up and seeing what they were doing to my son and how they were wearing him down psychologically and emotionally, not to mention spiritually. We joined the Episcopal Church which was a perfect fit for us.
For a couple of years.
Then the doubts started coming back again. I loved this church. I loved the people. This was freedom and joy. There was acceptance of Zach, both his Tourette/OCD situation and his homosexuality. He could be open there.
But something was still missing. I couldn't read the Bible anymore. In fact, Christian contemporary music was repugnant to me (aside from a few favorites...very few) and I would switch channels very rapidly if I found a televangelist on the station. I still loved the hymns but more for their classical sense rather than the words themselves. I was/am on the altar guild and I enjoyed it immensely but it felt very pagan and ancient to me, not at all what it was supposed to represent. I loved the sense of preparing the "temple" and bowing to the god who resided in the cabinet.
But he wasn't Jesus. At least not to me.
I started questioning the patriarchal oppression in the church, even today, and even in some Episcopal churches. I wondered why the Holy Family consisted of three men, yet my son was an abomination. I wondered if God was my father, who was my Mother? And why didn't I have one?
I wondered why the only way I could remain Christian was if I shut out the world and read only Christian literature (not the Bible...that led me away from Christ no matter how I tried to read it devotionally) and listen to Christian music (even though I couldn't stomach contemporary stuff) and only watch "family" type programs.
Boring beyond belief.
Yet...it was all I knew. And as far as I knew, leaving it behind would cost me my immortal soul. Or worse, I would end up in the lake of fire burning with Satan and his minions for all eternity. It was a terrifying thought.
I didn't know what to do but I did know that any religion that required its adherents to shut their ears and sing the lala song so they don't hear things that might contradict what their leaders are saying, couldn't be the right one. I had to find a way to fill myself spiritually without leaving Christianity (because that was my cultural upbringing after all) and without costing myself my immortal soul, because I still believed that was at stake.
More on this tomorrow.