Monday, October 19, 2009

Who We Are

T-Bear – I was raised Southern Baptist, became Methodist in college, married into the Church of Christ and over the last decade and a half followed along as God brought me back through the Southern Baptist Church and to the Methodist Church once again. I attend a Methodist Mega-church in a moderately large Southern City. I was a rather mainstream Methodist looking around though I began to observe some things that seemed consistently to put me at odds with the mainstream. For example: I believe in the radical idea that God actually loves and accepts EVERYONE. That puts me at odds with the "Our Way is RIGHT" mainstream. I also believe that God would have us raise our children with gentleness and reason rather than trying to shape their character through behavioral modification techniques involving pain. That puts me at odds with the "Christian Parenting" mainstream. I have a burden for the GLBT community born of burying 4 friends in 5 years at the height of the AIDS crisis in the early 90’s. That puts me at odds with the "Sanctity of Marriage" mainstream. I am a home-school mama who is also a belly-dancer, that that little hobby put me at odds with my peers really surprised me. Apparently I don't fit into either the "public/private school" or "Christian home-school" mainstream. It was probably about that time that I finally realized I must be a rather Unconventional Christian, hence the title of this blog. So I invited some of my Unconventional Christian friends to join me in this experiment in cooperative blogging. My friends and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Sometimes we don’t even agree among ourselves. This is a place to contemplate and discuss stuff we encounter along the journey. Welcome. * update *I am currently worshiping with an amazing group of rather Unconventional Christians at First Baptist Church Memphis and I love it!

Matthew - Raised Free Will Baptist, I began to question the marked difference between the way the Bible said people were supposed to act, and the way the members of my dad's church behaved. This dichotomy grew over the years, until I came of age, and dropped out of organized church life altogether. Burned out and saddened by the discovery that yellow bricks sometimes just lead to the bank, I set out to determine for myself exactly why it was that so much of what people claimed were the words of God actually turned out to be misquoted, misunderstood, misused, misogynist, misanthropic, misappropriated and missing from the Bible itself.

RobynHerself - "Eclectic" describes me because I never can squeeze myself into any prescribed mold, whether political, denominational or anything else! When asked to choose my "favorite" of anything, I am overwhelmed by the many possibilities because life is a palette and how could I possibly choose just ONE of anything? I think most of the streams of theology contain bits of the truth and the Christian denominations hold pieces to the puzzle. Politically, I look at each issue on its own merit. I have come to value "consensus" rather than "majority" when it comes to government, in church and in every level of American government. Democracy works best when rooted in the collective wisdom of people seeking to meet needs rather than a "survival of the fittest" mentality. I pray that my opinions and attitudes will be grounded in scripture and God's truth rather than any prepackaged manifesto. God is continually "deprogramming" me and teaching me new things. All my answers seem to lead to more questions. Am I an idealist? Yes... if believing that respecting others and cooperation would bring us to a whole new level spiritually and in society is idealistic. Some call me naive, usually when I bring Jesus' teachings into political or religious discussion! The longer I live, the more "idealistic" and "naive" I become. The more Jesus' teachings merge with my experience of the political and church landscape, the less "at home" I feel among conventional Christians. When I begin to flounder, fearing I'm losing my foundations, this scripture helps me regain my balance: "He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8) Everything else is unnecessary complication. Life is HARD, people. Let's love each other.

Lil Spoon - I’m supposed to tell you things I think it’s important for you to know about me. I’m liberal, almost painfully so, although in the past year or so I’ve found myself becoming slightly more conservative on the scale of being liberal. That probably makes no sense, but that’s the next thing you need to know anyways: sometimes I make no sense. I’m in college, and I’m probably going to be a religion major. I’m a strange hybrid of a Methodist and an Episcopalian and a Quaker, and I grew up in a Methodist/Baptist family and went to Episcopal school, though I have a close affiliation with both the Jewish and the Quaker community. Go figure on that one. But at the end of the day, my heart belongs to the Episcopal Church. I love hymns and kneelers, and I simply can’t function without my copy of the Book of Common Prayer. The formality of most Episcopal churches seems to be an odd contrast to my relatively relaxed life views, although their overall liberal attitude makes it a perfect fit, and I actually love the formality and the sense of unity it brings to a congregation. I don’t want to give too much more away though; you can just figure me out as I go, because that’s pretty much what I’m doing myself anyways.

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