Thursday, October 13, 2005

Me & Jesus

I am not a Christian.

I was baptised as one shortly before my first birthday.

Neither of my parents were really Christian, (I think) though they were, nominally.

My mom, and her family, even, have been of the "you will be when you really need it" school of thought (ie: Christ isn't in our lives every day, but in crisis, we lean on him, at least that's how I heard it.) Actually advocating Christianity, not as the truth, but as something we need to get us through tough times. This has never made sense to me (though I have been there now, I have called out in my darkest hours. I'm not sure what effect it has had on me)

My dad is now a quaker too. I learned as an adult that our views are very similar (which means I probably picked his up, somehow, as a child, though I don't remember him telling me anything about God) I don't even know if he would say he's christian (isnt' that odd?)

Sometimes, I would love to be. I want to have mystical experiences, and feel that Jesus walks with me in my life (or I walk with him I guess, wouldn't want to get 'uppity')

But really, when I think of that, I am afraid. I don't feel like Jesus is bad, but I do feel like he's been "stolen" - that so much hatred is justified in his name, I don't know if I can even use it anymore.

And more than just hatred, it's not just that. I can't put my faith in someone who hates gay people and is part of sending people to hell, and doesnt' want women to speak in church.

But I dont' believe that about Jesus, that's just crazy stuff that's been made up about him.

But, still, there's the power thing. I don't experience God as a King or "Lord" (a word I think I was fond of as a kindergartener in Catholic school), or as "above" me.

No part of me believes (or wants to believe) that there is a being that is:

1- seperate from me
2-more powerful than me

That I must beseech, or pray to, even whose "will" is differently from "my will" and I must do his

A lot of people seem to choose the term "a higher power" as less offensive somehow, than specific 'religious talk'

It offends me more. that is thet whole point - that is why I'm quaker. It is not a higher power, it is a broader power. It is not a parent to ask permission of, it is an earth, a universe, a life-force, to feel in the cells of your being. It is different from distracted, superficial, "every day" life, but it is not higher. It is deeper

I believe that perhaps Jesus was the most (only?) perfect manifestation of this in human form.

Or maybe he was a spiritual leader who said and did a lot of amazing things. And had some cool stories written about him.

I do believe he called us to do amazing things.

I do believe that we can do them.

I believe that he died on the cross because many people, in every age, choose not to do them.

I feel sick when I try to even understand people who claim that he died on the cross because his father loves us and doesn't want us to go to hell, but would have to send us to hell, even though he's God, and theoretically shouldn't have to do anything he doesnt want to.

I dont' even know what to do wtih the fact that people believe that.

Every now and then, in moments, I think I am a christian.

the last time was a year and a half ago, on Easter. I went to a UCC Church, right after having attended my first (and only) passover seder at a friend's house (where all the non-jews sat at a "kids table" and the conversation among us degenerated into a terrible discussion of what sort of motions christians might make if Jesus has been stoned or electrocuted)

But anyway, at the seder I learned about the Elijah cup, the one everyone pours part of their wine into, to set a place for Elijah, who will come and announce the coming of the Messiah. At the sermon the next day, the pastor said he took that cup (not just "the wine" which I had always heard) and gave it to everyone to drink in rememberance.

And for a moment it was all clear. It was not a call to blind worship, to some sort of magical thinking about human sacrifice, but a call to be the Messiah, in rememberance.

I could almost be that kind of Christian.


earthfreak said...

ah, there are already so many things I wish I'd written differently!

Most importantly, I think, is my perception underlying the idea that there is "that of God in every person" -

that there is not an entity "more powerful" than me, but that the broader being (humanity, life, the world, the spirit, or "that of god" in each being) is infinitely more powerful. Like the ocean is more powerful than a drop of water, but another drop of water isn't.

And so I did not mean that nothing is more powerful than me (!)

And I did not mean that we are each called to be the Messiah (?) but rather that we are all called to be the Messiah. (even if each of us is called to start being our part as soon as way will open)

Did I just make it more confusing?



Sebastian said...

^^That is a good read for this type of thing Friend. I think someone can know more than I do, I think someone can be wiser than I am, I think that someone may reach loving peacefulness with everything at a greater intensity than I do without that changing the nature of us as both sacred kindly beings. In the same manner I think Jesus reached that enlightment, we are called as Quakers to live as Jesus did, if you look carefully, all of the most important times of his life were of decisition making, of being faced between good and evil and letting the spirit guide him towards that universal love. Facing the devil with a decisition to be made on hunger, fear and weakness, it wouldn't be surprising if more of Jesus could be found in the desert than in the city.

Liz Opp said...

I agree and resonate with much of what you have written here. And I am moved by this part in particular (emphasis mine):

here is not an entity "more powerful" than me, but that the broader being (humanity, life, the world, the spirit, or "that of god" in each being) is infinitely more powerful. Like the ocean is more powerful than a drop of water, but another drop of water isn't.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Joe G. said...

Hello, Pam,

I just found your website via a comment that you left at "The Good Raised Up".

I'm one of those liberal Friends so I don't believe someone has to believe in Jesus in the traditional Christian sense. I can't call myself a Christian either if I had to agree to the entire Nicene Creed.

OTH, we Friends have always felt that it was the openness to the experience of God in our hearts and with each other, and how this changes us, that is as relevant as anything else that is religious or spiritual. The Bible, particularly the words of the Hebrew prophets and the teachings and life of Jesus are "markers" for us as to testing those experiences (that is, evaluating them and whether these lead us to greater love, compassion, truthfulness, etc.).

At least that's how I (partly) understand it. Certainly, what others who call themselves Christians have said or done might mar those teachings in our own minds and hearts. But, Friends have traditionally believed that "Christ Jesus has come to teach his people himself". It cam be a kind of tug-of-war between what we sense God teaching us through the Bible and our ouw spiritual experiences vs. what we see others do that tarnishes the "good name" of Jesus or the Bible. Of course, distinguishing the two can be daunting at times, as well as confusing.

I'd suggest, trust your experiences of the Spirit that encourage you to understand Jesus' teachings, and that of the Bible, that prompt you toward more equanimity and kindness to others. These, we are told, are the "fruits" of the Spirit.

Also, I often think of the Divine as being both transcendent and immanent - something (someone) beyond us and yet intimately exeperienced by us.

Just some thoughts in response to a thoughtful post on your part.

Zach A said...

I appreciated your thoughts.

I tend to lean in the direction of wanting to reclaim Jesus from those people who take his name in ways that I am repelled by. There's a bumpersticker that I really like (I may buy it) that goes, "Jesus Called / He Wants His Religion Back."

And I feel like we need to not be afraid to claim the name of Christian if we decide we want it. It's a crying shame, I think, when we allow ourselves to believe the "orthodox" Christian propaganda – I don't mean to be inflammatory, but I think it's the truth — that one can only be a Christ-ian if one can say the Nicene creed, or thinks of Jesus in the exact same way that a bunch of male bishops in the fifth century did. There have always been lots of ways of understanding Christianity, and the Protestant and Catholic ones that are mainstream in the West are just some of them.

But I still, like you, don't feel completely comfortable with the word Christian, because of the unavoidable connotations. These days I like the idea of referring to Jesus by his (more) Hebrew name Yeshua, and perhaps using "Yeshuan" as an alternative to Christian.

TV said...


You are right. Jesus was stolen. He was stolen by men who put themselves before putting Him first. These men served "their father" and these men have always lived with us. WE ARE THESE MEN. If we deny the truth of the word of God, HE WILL GIVE US STRONG DELUSION. Strong delusion can only lead to one thing, hatred of His name. If you deny His name, you deny His authority, His nature, and His power. He cannot deny Himself. For any man to deny Him and His name is that man putting HIMSELF BEFORE GOD. It is no wonder what Jesus said in John 6:66. READ IT. See what it takes to take the mark of the beast. Enoch and Noah did the opposite, they WALKED WITH HIM AND KNEW HIS NAME. Don't, Dear Jesus, don't fall into the lie that the evil done in Jesus' name was Jesus' doing. MEN HAVE CHOICES. I WILL SAY HIS NAME, BECAUSE I KNOW HIS SPIRIT IS GREATER THAN MY FLESH AND IT IS MY FLESH, NO MATTER WHAT MY LIPS SAY, THAT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EVIL DONE "in Jesus name".

The Devil loves PATSIES. Don't be one!!