Sunday, September 23, 2012

where we worship

This morning I went to church for the first time since Christmas (and Christmas had been the first time in, oh, probably a year). Strange for someone that grew up attending religiously (ba-dum-bum!) and even taught Sunday school for many years.

Or perhaps not. The more I stumble my way back to Christ, the more I realize how normal it is to disavow the religious teachings of one's childhood, only to pick them up in a deeper way later on down the road. In some ways it seems so obvious, and yet it wasn't -- not to me. Plenty of people cast off their childhood beliefs permanently; others never believe in much to begin with. As for me, I never really stopped believing in a higher power; I just stopped going to church.

Is refusing to admit one's allegiance to Jesus the same thing as denying him? When praise is kept private, a sort of silent thanksgiving, is it as meaningful?

I don't have any answers, not really, just the knowledge that the desire to return to church has been growing inside me for months now. To be surrounded by people straining for light, beauty, and truth amidst the muck of the world. To know more about God and to know God. Still, admitting I'm a Christian (and not just a Christian, but a Catholic at that) kind of gives me a sick feeling in my stomach: I hate the stereotypes associated with what it means to subscribe to the three-in-one.

It's easier knowing I'm not alone. Two weeks ago I picked up an awesome book that I've been poring over on my commute to and from work. And last night I listened to a wonderful podcast that brought Bonhoeffer to the forefront of my mind and has me lingering on these words, from interviewee Christian Wiman:

"I am convinced that the same God that might call me to sing of God at one time might call me at another to sing of godlessness. Sometimes when I think of all this energy that's going on, all of these different people trying to find some way of naming and sharing their belief, I think it may be the case that God calls some people to unbelief in order that faith can take new forms."

I've also been reading the work of a former professor (I never took his classes, but he was associated with the Honors Program Office, where I worked for a while), which I find extremely helpful in exploring questions of art, too.

Not sure what's prompting me to share so very much on a topic I've hardly covered before, but it's such a crucial part of my universe and experience of the world right now, and this space is where I record life in my little corner, right? So. Peace be with you, I suppose. x


All paintings featured here are from Michelle Muldrow's Catherdrals of Desire series. I was reminded of them by the opening lyrics of today's recessional hymn: "Some folk would rather have houses and land/ Some folk choose silver and gold/ These things they treasure and forget about their souls . . . "

Titles, from top to bottom, are: "Jubilee" | "Altar in Orange" | "Delirium" | "Reconfiguration" | "Cathedral II" | and "Every Gain Divine"