Sunday, November 25, 2012

Watch Out : I'm Feelin' Irreverent Today!

Hi!  I've decided to move my blog.  I've been thinking about it for a while.  I've come to realize that I feel a bit constrained (constricted and confined) by the possibility of some of the people in my community reading my blog.  Have I ever mentioned that I live in a very conservative (and constraining, constricting, and confining) community?  While I realize that it's not impossible for someone who is even slightly motivated to stumble upon my new location, I don't think (based on the readership so far) that it's likely that anybody will be interested enough to do it, and if they do, they'll just have to be upset if they read something they don't approve of.  You've been warned.  Stop and turn back while you still can!  Protect your innocence!  The people in my life who matter the most are probably not going to disown me, anyway.

There's always the possibility that one or more of my readers have recently been in an accident and have been confined to a boring hospital bed for weeks on end and need something new to read, having exhausted the complete works of Shakespeare available on .  So if you're very desperate, my old blog can be found at . May God have mercy on your soul.

And now for the public confession.  Two, actually.  The first, no one knows, no one at all, and I am now ready to come clean.  The second is only known by a select few people.  Are you ready?

Number One:  I've actually read 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.

The devil made me do it.  Well, that and the fact that these days one can download a Nook onto a laptop and read inconspicuously.  Actually, everybody told me it was a terrible book and I shouldn't read it, so naturally I had to.  To tell the truth, I read the entire trilogy.  Parts of it more than once.  (Nobody tell my mom.)

In that vein, I've also read Harry Potter, the Golden Compass trilogy, and the Da Vinci Code.  Among other things.  And there's a fair amount of pretty good fan fiction out there, nestled amongst all the crap.

O.K. (deep breath) Number Two:  I am no longer a Christian.  Wow, is this what it's like to be gay?  This has been coming for quite some time, although I've been keeping it mostly to myself, out of fear of other people's reaction.  Only my immediate family--parents, sister, husband, and children--know about this.  And I've gotten to the point where there isn't much to be lost by going public (although using the word 'public' to describe a blog that at most has had three or four readers at a time is stretching it).

Before I say anything else, if one of you out there is getting ready to hit me with 'you're-going-to-hell-if-you-don't-believe-in-Jesus', I will delete your comments.  Gleefully.  I am the queen of this blog, and what I say goes.  However, I am a benevolent queen, and no one will be forced to remain in my kingdom (queendom?  I hereby declare it a word.) against their wishes.  Go in peace, I wish you well.  Or stay--people of all faiths (or none) are welcome here.

And isn't it nice that we don't burn people at the stake anymore.

Asking questions in church is something I learned early on not to do.  At least, not out loud.  If I had trouble believing that the Earth was created in six days, I kept it to myself.  When I was told that I would go to heaven if I believed in Jesus, and to hell if I didn't, in spite of any good or bad behavior on my part, I stuffed my disbelief deep down where it wouldn't cause anybody any trouble.  I certainly wasn't going to repeat that early Sunday school experience--no more hand-raising from me.  I let a few people know that I wasn't going to mindlessly obey my husband, but I didn't make an issue out of it.  I tried to be a good wife anyway.

In spite of all the questions, I believe I was a pretty good Christian.  I went to church regularly, I read the Bible, I prayed, I (thoroughly) enjoyed the old German hymns, I went to Ladies' Bible study and diligently completed my homework, and I even helped with Kid's Club (as much as one can be said to be helping when one can't tell which kid is which or hear what any of them are saying).  There's a lot of good literature and sound advice in the Bible, which I seemed to know as well as anybody else at church besides the pastors and their wives.  I also tried to love my neighbors and generally obeyed the Ten Commandments.

What drove me from church in the end, however, more than any point of doctrinal contention, was those neighbors.

I don't want to test the limits of my readership's boredom, so I'll try to make this brief.  It was the neighbors.  The former church that put my family on a 'secondary membership' tier because ten percent of our limited income wasn't tithing enough.  The lay leader who everyone knew had beat the hell out of his wife and children (one of whom happened to be my husband).  The people at the next church who paused in their petty bickering long enough to let me know that I wasn't really sick and that I should get a job.  The people who hated me right from the start because their grandfather hated my husband's grandfather or some such.  People who stopped speaking to me when my husband decided (against my wishes)  that we would leave that church.  The in-laws (who haven't been told about my lack of faith) who couldn't be bothered to have anything to do with me (or their granddaughters/nieces) because of my illness.  The couple of Christian friends that I tried to hang onto but who eventually dumped me.

Being kind to the sick and the poor (see, I told you I read the Book) didn't seem to be high up on the priority list at any church I attended.  I'm sure there are some decent Christians out there somewhere.  And I'm just as sure that Christians don't hold any kind of a monopoly on bad behavior.  I read the news.  Honestly, if there were another 'intelligent' species on this planet, I'd see they had an open membership.

My husband and my daughters are going to a new church now.  I don't go, and I don't imagine I ever will.  I still pray.  I like to pray outside, day or night, or while I'm getting dressed, or doing housework.  I ask God (or whatever his (her?  its?) name is) to make me a better person, and to give me wisdom.  (And cash.)  And I read--the Bible, and books about Shamanism, Islam, Mormonism, the Amish, Judaism, Kabbalah, and Wicca, and internet sites about Tao, Buddhism, Catholicism, and Orthodox Christianity.  I haven't found a new place yet.  I'm not really interested in atheism.  I hunger for spirituality.  What I have now is a plate at a buffet, but no one main course.  And not a lot of human companionship.  I sit at my buffet table alone.

Things like bitterness and self-pity and hopelessness, I try not to put on the plate, but sometimes I still do.