I feel like I've turned a corner, opened up a door that was previously unlocked, or something like that. I hadn't realized how much Paganism had integrated itself into my life and how familiar it has already become. I found some prayers that I might incorporate into a prayer book/Book of Shadows thing. I don't know what else to call it although I'm not Wiccan. Possibly some Druid leanings but I need to find my own way and not join a "club" right now. I'm still hurting from fundamentalism in ways I hadn't realized and need more time to heal before I allow myself to become a part of a group.
I don't regret joining the Episcopal Church though. In some ways I'm still proud to be a member of a group that is so inclusive and loving, but I need some distance from Christianity.
I promised Tana I would talk about what I think about Jesus and what I mean by "not believing in him" anymore. It's complicated and I haven't recovered my logic centers post-chemo so I might not make a lot of sense but I'll give it a go.
As I mentioned early on in the formation of the blog, I lost faith in the Bible which led to a loss of faith in God. I've been reading a lot of books on the history of the Bible and the history of Christianity in an effort to make sense of it all and hopefully regain my faith. Instead I had to admit it was gone for good. In fact, most of what I've read has left me a bit bitter because I feel like I've been made a fool of, believing in something that wasn't as neatly and tidily correlated as had been taught to me all my life.
The bottom line for me is that I don't believe the Bible to be either infallible or inerrant but it goes beyond that. I don't believe it to be reliable either. For hundreds of years, word of mouth about Jesus picked up steam adding and subtracting various other Pagan beliefs and Jesus "became" the Son of God/God/Messiah as a result. There are too many similarities with Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythologies to make me believe that this time it's all true. The fact that he resembles Mithra more than any Jewish figure plays a lot in that.
So I can't pick and choose out of the compilation of various mythologies which really belong to Jesus. I agree with Bart Ehrman that he was probably a Jewish apocalypticist who was sorely disappointed to find that God didn't really pick him to rule the Kingdom of God and went to a bitter death on the cross. I believe Christianity grew as a result of various men on power trips trying to set a kingdom for themselves. Misogynist men at that.
I feel that both groups of Christians pick and choose the Jesus they want to believe in. Conservative, fundamentalist/evangelical tend to view the Jesus of judgment and rules who is planning on coming back and kicking ass. Liberals tend to see a Jesus who is loving and inclusive and never said anything harsh except to the legalists. But both sides wade through the gospels looking for the Jesus they want to believe in.
I've tried to see him as just a good man who had a good message but then I have to discount the things he said about hell for unbelievers and punishing people who didn't obey his word. So I don't believe in him at all, as a messianic figure, as a man of peace or as a god.
In a way I have a bigger problem with the liberals (although I like them better for obvious reasons) because they believe that it's okay to dismiss aspects of the gospels that don't align with a Jesus who is a man of peace. It seems to me that the religious right have the more accurate picture of the biblical Jesus. They might downplay the sunny-side Jesus but they don't dismiss it entirely whereas the liberals dismiss the wrathful, kick-ass Jesus.
Now...this is just what I believe and I don't assume that I have the truth of everything. I would never proselytize my view of Jesus to anyone because I would never want to change how people see him. But I felt like I had to clarify what my beliefs were. If only to myself.
In some ways I regret losing my faith. And yet in other ways I feel like a lot of unanswered questions and doubts have finally been put to rest for me. It puts me outside the mainstream that I was used to living in and that's a bit uncomfortable. And had a lot to do with why I feel pulled back now and then. Because losing my faith was so painful for me I would never want to be the cause of anyone else losing theirs.
I've seen so many people talk about their experiences with Jesus and how he impacted their lives, how he answered prayer but I never had those experiences. I said I did because I didn't want to feel left out. But the only times in my life I've ever felt really spiritual were when I was dealing with the metaphysical, which I avoided like the plague once I was told that was all satanic.
I struggled for a long time with this and couldn't let Zach know because I didn't want to influence him. But I found out that he had had the same struggle and didn't want to talk to me about it for fear of me being influenced by him. I wonder how much anguish we could have saved ourselves if we had just talked about it.
I tried to talk to my husband about losing my faith when it first started happening but he didn't seem all that interested. I don't talk to him about my spiritual struggles now because I don't want lectures especially from someone who hasn't picked up a Bible in over 10 years. My sister got condescending when I tried to talk to her about my path veering toward Paganism.
Only online am I open about it. Except on facebook where I've got family members. It would be nice to find others but as I talked about online, I'm not ready for group worship just yet. I need to be someplace where there aren't any "rules" so I can find my own way. And having been burned by people who were supposed to be my brothers and sisters in Christ I'm a bit shy about opening up to anyone. I never really opened up at St. Mark's. I had acquaintances but no friends. I just couldn't bring myself to let that happen. And now I'm glad I didn't.