Friday, January 14, 2005

My journey (so far)

I was inspired by Dave to briefly recount the stages of my spiritual far. It may have a few more hills, with many more to come. And since recent posts have dealt with the inadequate labels of 'liberal' and 'conservative,' perhaps this will thoroughly confuse you as to where I fall, if you aren't already.

A fair warning. Various people who read this blog are intimately connected with some or all of these events, and may encounter a few thoughts they didn't know I was having at the time. Should be fun, eh?

So right after I pour myself a second cup of coffee, we shall begin. Hey, the blog title is no joke.

1979-1992: A preacher's kid gets moved around a lot. I live in three different locations around Michigan before moving to northeast Ohio. As a PK I am in church every Sunday whether I like it or not, so I mostly settle in during Sunday School and learn the stories. I have little to no grasp as to their relevance, but they're nice stories. I remember really liking to hear about David and Elijah in particular.

In retrospect, our last stop before Ohio had me color blind, that is, I didn't notice or care about different races as the church's population was very integrated. I note this because soon we move to mostly white rural Ohio where any deeper appreciation for this is squashed for the next five years. Subtle hints at unchecked prejudice exist at our new location, but I remain largely indifferent to it. Why am I sharing this tidbit? Just interesting to note the radical change in cultural makeup.

I continue to learn the stories eeeeeeeeeeveryyyyyyyy Sunday, this time with a greater appreciation for Jesus. He was a really nice guy, I thought. He cleansed lepers and talked about guys helping other guys who got beat up on the side of the road. I could get behind someone like that. This is to note that things were beginning to stick and a real faith is starting to form.

Well, before too long things went to hell at that church. I'm in 6th grade now, and it's a lazy afternoon spent doing whatever a 6th grader is doing. My dad's out calling or doing whatever a pastor is doing. The phone rings. Being the dutiful phone-answerer that I am, I pick up. It's an older woman asking if my father is around. No he's not. Can I take a message?

"You tell him that if he doesn't change his tactics, he's not going to have a church."


Now explain to this 6th grader who heard all those stories about people helping each other from Jesus how someone professing to be a Christian could act like this. I get to relay a threat from some anonymous church member to my father who I knew to work hard at what he did.

Well, needless to say we moved soon after. I'm still trying to figure out why any of this is happening, why Christians do this to each other, but we move to another northeast Ohio town and begin attending the UCC church. My dad begins exploring other career ventures, and I end up in the church's confirmation program along with a new school system which is notably more ethnically diverse than the one I just came from. At this point I'm not totally sure why I consider this piece important, but somehow it is.

Confirmation is what it is for most junior high age kids: a boring chore that your parents make you go through. I was legitimately wrestling with faith questions, especially after, as a seminary professor would later put it, my family "just got clobbered." Despite the incident at the other church and despite confirmation (let's be honest, hardly anything from that year stuck), I still have a faith that I'm trying to figure out. Jesus was still a really cool guy who talked about really cool things like loving each other. "So," I kept asking myself, "how come people don't actually do that?"

Let's call this the end of part one. I didn't realize that I'd go into this much detail and there's much more to come. On this timeline I'm not even in high school yet.:)