My Religious Background - Livin' the Good Life
Apr. 17th, 2009
11:06 am - My Religious Background
My parents were both brought up in the Christian Science Church, which in the 1930s and 40s was an active, thriving church. They met there as teenagers and were married with the full approval and support of their families. It was into this atmosphere that my brother and I were born. My mother was supported by the beliefs of her religion throughout both her pregnancies and births. This meant that she called her “Christian Science practitioner”, sometimes daily, during her pregnancies. Together they would pray and affirm the perfection of her condition, the positive expected outcome for the pregnancy and birth, and the utter goodness of the child inside of her. Because Christian Scientists do not go to doctors, I was born at the “Griffith Park Maternity Home” in Glendale, CA where my mother, and every Christian Science mother there, experienced a totally natural childbirth. My mother had nothing but positive things to say about her births, and, for that matter, her children. I grew up with an empty bathroom medicine cabinet (except for a box of bandages) as all our illnesses were treated with prayer. My brother and I were remarkably healthy, and even though my parents changed religions when I was a few years old, we still continued to use prayer and positive thinking to deal with our health.
After my parents left the church, which they considered to be too restrictive, they studied The Infinite Way and ultimately joined the Religious Science Church, which was an outgrowth of Christian Science. In my young religious life, words like sin, salvation, Satan, evil, repent, guilt or the term “being saved by Jesus” were reinterpreted to mean different things than most people understand them to mean. Mostly, I didn’t hear those words. The word I did hear over and over in my church was “Love”. I think this is the reason I have the life perspective I do today and is the cause of my persistent Pollyannaism toward life. We did read the Bible, however it was viewed as a very important book of stories and lessons that were mostly metaphorical. It was not a book to be taken literally, word for word. That view worked well for me in many ways, and though I haven’t regularly attended a church for my entire adult life, my early teachings have sustained me. These days, though, I am longing for a church community. I am still strongly attracted to the vitality of Agape in LA, which is a very special form of Religious Science. But, I can’t exactly be commuting into LA (5 hours round trip) every Sunday morning! It’s just not sustainable.
So, through the lens of my unconventional metaphysical background, I am taking a new look at Christianity these days. Frankly, it’s hard to find a church that isn’t offensive to me. All that emphasis on sin and guilt is still hard for me to relate to. However, I am finding a lot of palatable answers to my questions, and experiencing a softening of my resistances, with the reading of Marcus Borg’s book THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY. Borg is a well-known and sought-after Biblical scholar and professor of theology. I’m certain he is quite controversial in conservative Christian circles, because, although he considers himself a devout Christian, he does not take the Bible literally and he does not believe that Christianity is the “only pathway to God”. His detailed, scholarly examination of the Bible and his reported conclusions appeal to me enormously, as I consider them to be broad, big-hearted, and highly intelligent. And he is an Episcopalian…
Knowing this about him has caused me to study up on this brand of religion, and I find it has many faces. Certain forms, like the “progressive” form, appear to have a lot to offer a person like me. I am really having quite a good time learning about it! And though I am in no way ready to go out and join a church at this point, I am thoroughly enjoying delving into my options. In my mind, there is a lot of truth and wisdom out there and an equal amount of folly, and even downright destructiveness, carried out in the name of Christianity. Wading through it all could take a lifetime. But, I don’t think I will have to wait that long because I am on FIRE…. and patiently determined! If nothing else, I expect my life, and the lives of others, will be richly affected by my investigations and studies and that my relationship with God will deepen… something I truly welcome.