Sunday, March 13, 2011

the journey continues

It has been several months since I last posted here. Now I wish I had been journaling my faith experience during the past few month. What's new? I am still on this journey. Ever moving closer to God. Still unsure about the right path for me to get there. With each step closer, more questions arise. New pathways open up, as old doors close. As sunlight draws me toward one pathway, another pathway that I thought I'd left behind beckons me back. How can one discern whether a powerful feeling, a stillness or calm, a warmth that overcomes oneself, how can one tell if any of these "feelings" or "experiences" mean that one is on the right path? Can't we all get swept up in something that isn't true? And is there one Truth or many?

I used to feel very strongly that there was/is one Truth. One explanation for life, for all that is/was/will be. Many people claim that they own the Truth, that their Truth is The Truth. But, really there is only one Truth. I felt this strongly - that even while we may not be able to discern in this lifetime what the real Truth is, there really is only one. And then I began to feel differently about this. Perhaps there are many truths out there. Is one person's experience not true if it's not The Truth? How could an evangelical, a Muslim, a Catholic, a Jew, a Hindu, a Buddhist, an agnostic, a philosopher, a wanderer all have different, yet powerful and spiritual, experiences and not have them all be true to some extent? I have so much I'm thinking about that it's hard to even put words to my questions. I have a friend who left organized religion some years ago and is now on a path of discovery that has led her back to God, in some ways, but not in the traditional ways. I'm not sure she'd say she's a believer at all. She finds divinity in her own way. She is one of the most present, spiritual people I know, but she is not religious.

Right now, I'm feeling so drawn to the LDS faith. But I have so many questions. And having not grown up in that faith (in fact, I'm pretty certain my relatives would be shocked and probably upset to see me convert), I don't even know where to begin.

What I love, at this point, about the faith:

the idea of a premortal life
eternal progression
a heavenly father who loves me
a heavenly mother
the strong community
the faith being a life-faith, not a Sunday only faith
the emphasis on families
the de-emphasis on the cross and suffering, sorrow (in comparison to other experiences I've had in other faiths)

What I am not so sure about:
the Book of Mormon as historical fact
the patriarchy
how accepted are single mothers, single fathers, working mothers, liberals, people of other ethnicities, people who still love and cherish their family and respect other faiths?
the stories i've heard of what happens when one leaves the church. (Obviously if I converted, I wouldn't be considering leaving. But the sad stories I've heard of being abandoned by one's friends and family when one falls away seems so un-Christlike, so terrible, so unfortunate.)
and lastly, would God and Christ truly have abandoned His children for over a thousand years until there was a restoration?

What I still love about the Catholic faith:
the ritual
feeling part of an ancient faith
the sacraments

What I am not sure of (and never really have been):
the Pope
the adoration of Saints (and prayers of intercession)
the abuses of power of recent and past
the obsession with the pro-life agenda (at the cost of other, very important issues that Christ calls us to)

What I love about the progressive Protestant church I have attended for much of my life:
the inclusive, reconciling congregation
the intellectual stimulation (intellectuals are not feared)
the feeling that it's ok to question things
the hymns
the emphasis on social justice

What I feel is lacking for me spirtually there:
a strong community of families and younger members
a feeling of structure and identity (while I truly appreciate and find so welcoming the acceptance of people on whatever stage of their journey they are on in this denomination, I have always longed for something more - something I could grasp and say, yes, this is what we believe, how we worship, what we do, this is our culture and our religion).

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