Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

I’m not a big church person

I’m not a big church person. I pray, I believe in miracles, I believe in wonder and that unexplainable, unimaginable awe exists above the creational abilities present solely in the minds of men.

I do not believe that there is nothing more once we die. Maybe it’s because I can’t. It’s painful to realize that I will leave Tucker, permanently, one day. I much prefer the idea that I’ll be there, if only in spirit or energy.

I have doubted religion and been disappointed by the fanatics that reside within them for years. For longer than I remember, probably. I recall being in Confirmation class and feeling uncertain whether I was worthy because I did not understand the difference between the Bible saying that Jesus is God’s son and it saying that all of us are His children.

I still don’t completely get that.

I have gone to church. I have felt the connections to one another, and the blessings that come from sharing beliefs. When I found out that my pregnancy was in danger, we went to church. While I was too shy to raise my hand during prayer request, I prayed, and felt that simply being in church gave those prayers an extra boost of volume.

I have been humbled by the community that church can provide.

And been equally appalled by some church’s beliefs. Some have beliefs that focus on hate, judgment, and man presuming to know what God thinks due to a twisted interpretation of a single sentence written in the Bible.

That people use religion to judge fellow man and other religions goes against the whole point of worship the way that I learned it. Certainly Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists all believe in celebrating God, life, and kindness. There are more similarities among these religions than there are differences. Those similarities are what I hold to be the truth. The differences are less significant to me and, in fact, the more detailed the difference, the more fanatical it becomes.

When Presbyterians branch away from other Presbyterians to create a new church that discriminates against gay people is when it’s not working. When any religion focuses on hating a group of fellow humans is when I have to shake my head and feel like we just don’t get it.

My mother-in-law attended a church that I’d dismissed as ignorant and horrible, because they do not believe that God loves gay people. I disagree. Strongly. I think they’re wrong. But they also got some other things right. When she was dying, I witnessed unparalleled acts of kindness. Her multi-cultural community went above and beyond providing prayer and meals. One of her church friends was able to borrow a wheelchair, walked to my mother-in-law’s house, and pushed her to service when she was too weak to walk there on her own. Her funeral was the best that I have been to. It was miraculous and confounding to witness members who truly believe that homosexuality and alcohol are the devil’s tools come together without judgment, hate, or racial discrimination. People who I find to be ignorant, conservative, and prejudiced celebrated her life in a way that I’ve never seen before or since. It was, in its entirety, beautiful.

I suppose my point is that even within religious groups that I do not agree with, there can be overwhelming kindness, compassion, dignity and community. Perhaps that is what is meant by the expression “the duality of man.”

It’s confusing. How can people, who rallied around a congressional member when she was so ill and show such immense acts of kindness, also go to their place of worship and “pray” for the “afflicted” (gay people) to redeem? I don’t get it.

It’s beyond me how any single person or group is able to justify righteousness when all of us are interpreting His word, no matter the book from which we interpret.

We may feel God in our daily lives. Some of us may even feel that we know what he wants us to do with ourselves while we celebrate life on this crazy beautiful planet. But I don’t buy it if you tell me that what he wants you to do is to right the wrong of homosexuality.

In church, I learned that God loves all of us. In life, I learned that judging fellow man will not make you feel more complete. It’ll hollow you out and leave too much room for despair and darkness.

Like I said, I pray, I believe in miracles, I believe in wonder and that unexplainable, unimaginable awe exists above the creational abilities present solely in the minds of men. But I don’t always believe in church. And I certainly don’t believe in hate.

That’s what I learned in church.

That, and that on any day when the pews are crowded and the air conditioner struggling to keep up, somebody near you will fart. It may even be you.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The sentence is “I learned in church/my place of worship…”
Your lovely hosts:
Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic (TwitterFacebook)
Can I get another bottle of whine? (TwitterFacebook)
Mommy, for Real (TwitterFacebook)
Dawn’s Disaster (Twitter, Facebook)

  • Courtney - I am a christian and I cannot believe that God would create people he doesn’t love. I honestly don’t understand those who do. I don’t necessarily believe in church but I believe in Jesus and God. I think religion was created by man, which is why it is so flawed, but God is greater than us. I don’t spout scripture and I DO study Jesus’ words. I believe in grace, forgiveness, and repenting. I don’t know if any of this makes sense. I don’t understand illness or suffering. I guess I have questions for the after life, which I do believe in. I believe in prayer, but sometimes the silence is horrible. I love how you strung this together, Kristi. I agree with you on the big accounts.July 19, 2013 – 11:55 amReplyCancel

  • Kerri - I am what you would call a Cafeteria Catholic. I take what I like, what speaks to me and I leave the lima beans back in the line where they belong. David, who is not Catholic, is a my wife dragged me here to Church and I will see what kind of trouble I can cause. He might have caused the fart, except you forgot the bolt of lightening for the person who thought OMFG 🙂

    And, as always I am totally with you on this one. How can God make us in his image, call us his child and then say XYZ isn’t loved.

    I also never got how God could be Jesus, the Holy Spirit and God at all the same time.July 19, 2013 – 12:21 pmReplyCancel

  • Janine Huldie - I am with you on there are some things that I totally understand in church and others not so much. By the way, I didn’t see the end coming at all. Great job and totally put a smile on my face today. Thanks for linking up with us again 🙂July 19, 2013 – 12:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica Smock - That’s sort of where I’m at too. I’m always amazed at the contradiction between religious groups that can participate in such astounding acts of generosity and goodwill during times of crisis, but also advocate for positions that may be intolerant or make other people’s lives more difficult (i.e. campaigning against gay marriage). Thoughtful post!July 19, 2013 – 1:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I totally agree with you. I still go to church (though not as much as I’d like) at a very small Baptist church with people who generally mind their own business and love and support each other. We were always taught that God loves us and is always there for us, and that we should love each other, no matter what. In Sunday School, we were even introduced to some Jewish customs in which Jesus participated. I don’t get how things go bad in some churches, or how some Christians can judge others so harshly for just being themselves. I guess I was lucky to have a good church experience. And not too many farts. Although, my stomach growling… that’s another story. It loooooves to talk in church! 🙂July 19, 2013 – 1:30 pmReplyCancel

  • Lisa Nelson - Man is fallen, what can I say. We are by nature imperfect. We are given choice – one of the greatest of all blessings. It is from the results of these choices that we must learn and grow.

    Man in his non-infinite wisdom is always incorrect. Man is weak. Man is more often go with what they want the final result to be. They want to drink alcohol, a group goes off and makes it okay to drink. If someone wants to have gay marriage, a group breaks off that is like the church, but allows gay marriage within it – so on and so forth.

    It’s all about tolerance. We have to tolerate each other. That’s what it’s all about.

    I had an incident in my personal life, about gay marriage or transgender, or something to this affect. It turned into a bunch of religious bashing – which was totally unnecessary. Everybody has their own beliefs that they are comfortable with (whether it’s religion based or moral beliefs). Everybody has thoughts as to what is right and wrong. We don’t have to accept the thoughts, but we do have to respect them. It’s about being a decent human being – and I think that embodies who Jesus Christ is. He never ever judged. His heart wasn’t filled with judgement, it was filled with love.

    Just because the church group fought against gay marriage, doesn’t mean they are not loving and giving people. They just think the idea of gay marriage is wrong. That goes for anything else in life. I might think something is wrong and advocate against it, but it doesn’t make me any less loving. In fact, I can love someone who I think has done wrong. I have loved someone who I think (in my opinion) had done wrong. That’s actually the best thing you can do.

    As mortal beings, we don’t know everything – and I have just accepted that fact. All is not revealed to us – as it should be. If it were, we would certainly screw it up – I’m sure. We need not know certain things. I think it was designed beautifully.

    This is what I talked about in my diversity post. Everyone just has to be accepting of diversity. It goes beyond skin color. It’s beliefs, religions, sexual orientation, size, sex, mental capacity, and the like.July 19, 2013 – 1:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - I’m kind of speechless. This is one of my favorite posts of yours- EVER. I wanted to start highlighting sentence to refer back to you and say, “This was so amazing, ” or “This was my favorite line,” and then pretty soon there were just too many of them. You had such fantastic insights with this post, friend, and I agree and relate 100% to your thoughts. That story about your Grandma’s church will stick with me for a long time, and the whole duality of men bit was genius. The whole opening sentence/paragraph was perfect. Must go re-read. Amazing work. And then of course you leave us with something hilarious and awesome. You are gifted. Like, GT gifted.July 19, 2013 – 2:49 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - Hmmm, maybe that’s really why they started swinging the censer (Poorvahr in Armenian) of incense during service?? 😉July 19, 2013 – 3:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Alana Terry - haha, love the comic. And I love how you capture the complexity of religion, with all its faults and so many of its benefits!July 19, 2013 – 3:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Shay - WOW, Kristi, this was an awesome Finish the Sentence Friday! You have summed up the way many, many people feel about church and spirituality, and you’ve done it in an eloquent, very relatable way. Great job!!July 19, 2013 – 4:18 pmReplyCancel

  • Susan Zutautas - I’m not much of church person either. I really should have written a post for FTSF but too darn busy 🙂July 19, 2013 – 4:32 pmReplyCancel

  • Dana - There are so many sides to religion, and you really captured that Kristi. It’s so easy to pigeonhole people, but your story of your mother-in-law’s congregation illustrates that we are so complex and multifaceted. It’s not church we have to believe in, it’s people. Brilliant as usual, my friend – with a fart and a laugh at the end to boot!July 19, 2013 – 4:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - Kristi – This is lovely. I love the analogy that some have used that God/Absolute/Divine is the sun, and we are all inside a gorgeous cathedral with stained-glass windows, and each of those windows bends and colors the light differently, interprets it differently, but at its core it’s all the same light getting in. I too have a hard time understanding intolerance and hate in religion. Karen Armstrong (who I quoted in my post for today) also says that our modern notion of a God who would “love you but hate gays” is such a foreign concept of God that even great church thinkers like Aquinas or Augustine would not have agreed with. Great and thought-provoking post.July 19, 2013 – 5:03 pmReplyCancel

  • Lizzi Rogers - Great drawing.

    I’m with you on lots of that.

    And the Jesus thing – we’re adopted. Because He wanted us. Kinda like that (well, the offer’s there anyway)*.

    *as I understand it.July 19, 2013 – 6:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Rich Rumple - As I read your entire belief structure, of which much I share, I knew that among the sincerity, the honesty, the conviction, the confusion, the sanity, the wonderment, the hope, and the disappointment, you were going to have to cut loose with a joke. The last line allows me to continue my faith in you! lol I’ve kept a feeling within for years that if I could just make one person laugh at least once a day, I was contributing to the betterment of mankind. It relieves pressure and stress, allows one to gather oneself, and gives them a new starting point. You can say anything you want to as long as they’re smiling at the end. You’ve learned that on your own and do a great job at it. Good Post!!July 19, 2013 – 8:38 pmReplyCancel

  • karen - great post and I posted a while about not being a good Catholic because I don’t exclude. Yes, God loves us all and knows who the good people are from the evil ones who pretend to be good. He knows that faith and worship is more than just going to church, it’s how you live your life. He’s not going to hand out high fives at the pearly gates to those people who burned down abortion clinics, protested funerals, excluded gay and lesbian worshipers, or sold their soul to make it in politics. He will hug and comfort those of us who lived a good life and respected others.July 19, 2013 – 9:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Amen!July 19, 2013 – 9:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Clark Scottroger - (I thought I would write my comment in this here box here, which by the way I need to ask, ‘you have two Comment submission forms, because…”).
    In any event, I read your Post with interest and it resonated on many points and perspectives.

    Religion is a funny thing* it can be source of so much good and so much evil.

    Clearly it (religion) is grounded in something more than, I don’t want to say something like, ‘clearly it reflects a need for believe to believe in something more’ because that is too pat, too self-assured. It is something that is, in one form or another everywhere at every period in human existence, in one manifestation or another. The thing that turns me off the fastest when it comes to ‘discussions’ and ‘arguments’ relating to religion is that when the participants begin citing Chapter and Verse or some other ‘fact’ or ‘theory’. It is when they begin to ‘prove’ their point that I begin to stop listening.

    My own experience leads me to believe that the ‘real thing’ (in terms of) religion and such, involves faith, not facts.
    I’ve been fortunate in having experiences with people of such quality and and know that genuine faith is a thing that is truly remarkable.
    In my opinion, it is the individuals demonstration of faith in the way these people live their lives that is what separates the ‘do it our way, it’s what god wants you to do’ people from the people with something that is special. (Funny, it seems those with genuine faith aren’t in your face demanding that you listen. Hell!** they are demonstrations of this power, if one has the wit to see it, the ‘proof’ is simply and clearly seen in the lives they lead.
    I’m seeing of lot of this in some of the comments today, people who make themselves available to help, but do not have an agenda to push.

    Good Post

    (you do know that, according to the Doctrine, rogers tend to be drawn to religion and clarks to spirituality***).

    *Now, take my Deity….please!
    ** good going, clark… way to clear the room lol.
    *** and scotts? they’re out in the parking lot with the radio blasting waiting for the service to end so they can get to the picnic.July 19, 2013 – 9:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Mary-andering Creatively - Finding God is a journey. I don’t think I have found out all that God is or has been. He/She is a mystery to me. I know that in the Biblical Hebrew God is called the First and the Last. God referred to Himself as He only so we humans would have a reference. It is the great mystery of all times. When we seek God, we seek an eternity and impossible perfection. We want atonement for our failures, and we want to grow and meld with God so that The First and Last can create in us a new eternity. What you see when people reach out to help one another in times of crisis, death is a true definition of God and Love. My God sits drawing in the sand, looking at my faults but seeing me as an eternal creation that wants to return to full fellowship with the First and Last. My God will ask where are your accusers. My eternal heart is what is important to My God. To me it is the most profound mystery that I have to accept by faith. I am not perfect and I can’t judge anyone else’s seeking. I pray that they find their way to the God that the is First and Last. God also came as a sacrifical lamb in the form of Jesus. He died for gay. He died for the sinner. He came for the weak and rejected. We accept his sacrifice on face value. He served the First and Last and wanted to show the religious hyprocrites of His day the way back to the true God.July 19, 2013 – 10:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Mo at Mocadeaux - This is such a heartfelt story about the zig zag route that many of us take in our lives. As I grew up and became more aware of the world around me, it sometimes was harder and harder to follow my religion blindly. But ultimately for me it came down to, as you so beautifully put it, being humbled by the community a church can provide. I find myself focusing way more on the relationships and support and way less on the specific teachings. Maybe this is a little bit of a copout. I still struggle a bit with that. Thanks for the laugh at the end of the post!July 19, 2013 – 10:33 pmReplyCancel

  • just JENNIFER - I think you took the words right out my mouth – er- fingers? I chose to be baptized, confirmed and married, and baptized my children, as an Anglo-Catholic as an adult. Now though? I too am not sure there is any church I could go to that would embody everything I believe. My values and beliefs have evolved so much over the years. I cannot tolerate hate or judgement anymore. I refuse to believe God is out to get us for anything we might do. But I believe wholeheartedly that there IS a God, who Jesus was, that there is a beautiful “place” to go to when we die, in angels and miracles.

    Complicated is right!July 19, 2013 – 10:34 pmReplyCancel

  • Jen - And then she brings the green fart juice. Leave it to you to diffuse a tense situation with farts. You crack me up because you are really silly. I don’t know what to say. I keep my religious beliefs to me as far as the blogoverse goes. I think what you learned about support and praying is pretty darn right on.July 19, 2013 – 10:34 pmReplyCancel

  • mummyflyingsolo - What a great post. This, is largely how I feel about religion in general because of church, fanatics and hypocrites. I def believe there is a god of sorts but it is in a way I don’t believe we understand as opposed to the way someone wrote, it, all in a book years ago. You wrote this post so very well. It’s a hard topic to cover and you’ve done it so articulately.July 20, 2013 – 12:27 amReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Religion sure can get complicated and I agree with your views. However, going to a holy place of worship…the wish gets volume by n number of people there and gives one the confidence to fight it…no matter what!

    Happy Friday!July 20, 2013 – 12:40 amReplyCancel

  • Katia - What a coherently-written wonderful essay about religion’s complexities. I love that you did not give a black and white description of this. While I completely support and share your opinions about the ignorance of a church that makes hate (whether it be for gays or another religious group) its main axis I thought it was very powerful that you demonstrated how the same church was capable of showing such kindness and support to a dying person. This is true life. It would be so much easier if the bad was JUST bad and we could dismiss it as such. Great job reflecting complexities in this post, because church is not only about finding the common denominator that unites it, it’s also about ‘who dunnit?’ when somebody farts.July 20, 2013 – 7:05 amReplyCancel

  • thedoseofreality - Well said. That is my struggle with church. When I was growing up I learned that Jesus loved everyone. And if you were a good person you would go to heaven…I struggle with that teaching versus what I so often hear today. This is a great post.-AshleyJuly 20, 2013 – 9:16 amReplyCancel

  • Kathy Radigan - I really loved this post. I too have had some difficulty with organized religion and have not even been a Christmas /Easter attendee. I have a real problem with any organization, but especially in God’s name saying that one group of people are welcome but one group is not, or that the way someone is born is wrong. Thanks for speaking so well on an a difficult topic. 🙂July 20, 2013 – 9:40 amReplyCancel

  • Muses from the deep - I agree very much with the duality of man. There are two standards everywhere in the best, and worst, of places!July 20, 2013 – 1:55 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel Demas - Church is a “human” endeavor. Because of that fact, it will always be flawed, as all humans are flawed. For me, that doesn’t take away from church or from religion. In fact, it’s kind of what religions all about, isn’t it? That we are flawed human beings who are capable of receiving God’s love and redemption. I love how you fleshed out how complicated it is. I think it’s very easy for people to put themselves in one of two camps: pro-church or anti-religion. It’s clear that a person can be anti-church and pro-religion. I guess you can be pro-church and anti-religion…Satanism? Ah, maybe, just scratch that last bit! I consider myself to be both pro-church and pro-religion and, the funny thing is that I don’t really believe in an afterlife either! It takes all kinds!July 20, 2013 – 7:09 pmReplyCancel

  • Tamara - I don’t have a long response to this mainly because it’s the internet and people creep me out when they talk about politics and religion. Not you, by the way! I meant that I’m too afraid to argue.
    I am with you nearly 100%, except I’m Jewish. I see a lot wrong with so many conflicting religious viewpoints. I want to say, “You can’t all be right! Why not try a little humility and admit you might not know everything?” And yet I can’t believe there’s nothing more either. I believe in something – I just don’t know what!July 20, 2013 – 9:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Donetta - Just wanted to say I completely understand everything you just wrote and it almost seems as if you’re in my head. lol. I was raised in church but how I feel about churches and religions in general is not at all how I feel about God. I think what really turns me off is anytime a religious member doesn’t have an answer to a question I ask, I usually get the: “Don’t question God. You have to have faith”. Well, if God created me, He surely knows I am full of questions. Great post.July 21, 2013 – 11:42 pmReplyCancel

  • Cathy Harlow - Great post, Kristi. You have become one of my favorite bloggers. Your mix of thought-provoking prose and your warped sense of humor make you quite unique.

    You are right, my friend, God loves everyone. He created each and every one of us perfectly in His eyes. It is us who complicate things and try to rewrite what Jesus came to teach.

    Even in the early days of Christianity there were those in the church who would create their own rules. Rules that were unnecessary to a religion whose God’s main message was, “Love one another.” Perhaps the message is too simple. Perhaps it’s just not in our nature to love one another.

    The church is supposed to be a place where believers gather for worship, community and ministry. Unfortunately, there are churches whose teachings are twisted or not biblical. Fortunately, there are churches who get it right. Those who find these churches are blessed, indeed. (Well, unless they sit near the Gassy One.)July 22, 2013 – 11:31 amReplyCancel

  • Anita @ Losing Austin - I could have written much of this. The biggest difference is that I’m actively involved in a church. It has it’s faults, but I’ve come to accept that ‘duality’ and the fact that I can love people without agreeing with them on everything, and that I can serve God alongside other people who are serving God, knowing our methods are different, and views are sometimes opposing, but heart is the same. I wouldn’t be in a church where I didn’t feel our heart’s intents were the same- I’ve been in those scary places. Not for me.

    My church is not perfect, but it’s because as people we’re not perfect. But to find a place that is about love and serving, and has people that can love your kids and your family so much that they become family…. that’s powerful stuff.July 22, 2013 – 12:04 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Evans Hall - Ahahaha! Love the levity at the end. The green fart juice – awesome. Your thoughts on this topic are kind of like mine. Church, in general, is a place where I’ve seen some of the most amazingly beautiful parts of humankind and some of the most wretched, hateful parts of humankind.July 22, 2013 – 1:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Jak Cryton - I’m going to pull a Clark! I want to feel “nested” and such. So much cozier that way, am I right?

    Yeah, this whole church question would be interesting to contemplated. I think Clark alluded to me breaking miracles >.< Or maybe that wasn't in the non-religious post and in the "change something" post. I need to get more sleep. Anyhow, I am mostly in agreement with much you've stated. I personally never subscribed to a hateful/jealous/vengeful God, that I feel many establishments use for the sake of fear/control. I believe God is simply Love. Love of all. Period. Unfortunately, so many individuals seem to get sucked into the fear/hate mongering and judge on so many levels it's depressing. That being said, though, I do feel there is definitely some power of prayer. Possible so many people focusing on one thing? Almost a product of manifestation? That and the community you speak about, which I'm glad you did, regardless of some of the less than desirable beliefs shared among some groups. I know Christine talks about all the help her church has provided for her and her family and it really is amazing! Beautiful really. I'd like to think there is more after "death". I guess we all find out eventually >.< . Curious to test out the linkage... please forgive me if I break something. It's a nasty habit. Jak at
    http://dreamsintheshadeofink.blogspot.comJuly 23, 2013 – 12:15 amReplyCancel

  • Joy - I agree on everything you said! Religion is always a sensitive topic but you handled it so well! I applaud you!July 23, 2013 – 2:38 amReplyCancel

  • Deb @ Urban Moo Cow - Ok, trying again with this comment! I don’t know if I can remember what I said! I think it was:

    To me, church is about defining the “other.” It’s more anthropology than religion or spirituality. That’s why a church community can be amazing and rally around someone who is sick AND, at the same time, be convinced that gays (or some other group of folks) are evil.

    I’m not a big fan. I won’t lie….July 23, 2013 – 11:22 pmReplyCancel

  • SocialButterflyMom - And then how do you raise your kid? Being raised Catholic, my criteria now is just finding a cross and rainbow flag on the same building.July 24, 2013 – 8:40 amReplyCancel

  • Kim Pugliano - Mom is Jewish. Daddy was Catholic but not practicing and told Mom she could raise Beth and I however she wanted. So I was raised Jewish with some Christianity thrown in (Aunt Sharon – two blocks away). Then I grew up and did my own thinking and came to the conclusion that I just don’t – can’t believe. I die and I’m dead. No heaven. No hell. Just here then not. Hot Joe believes the same and Noah knows this but he believes in God (not the Jesus one). We agree that if one of us is dying or dies we will let Noah think we suddenly believe and we’ll see him in Heaven. None of this matters. Macklemore and Lewis have a song called “Same Love” on their album. Have you heard it? Youtube it if you haven’t. It’s beautiful. This is my most favoritest line in the entire song: “Whatever God you believe in, we all come from the same one.” I love love love that and personally believe it to my core. I still don’t believe in God, but I love this line.July 26, 2013 – 6:17 pmReplyCancel

  • Brynell - I don’t know who you wrote this for but you helped a brteohr out.August 27, 2014 – 3:20 pmReplyCancel

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