Category Archives: Seasons of doubt

The Prodigal Son, Re-revisited

I was in the process of rewriting my “About Me” page on Spiritual Drift, and I came across a few things I’d written in the past, including my belief on hell. I decided not to include any of that there (yet), but instead, I wanted to write something here about my beliefs; first off, on whether (or if) we are born “sinners.”
Well…
No; I no longer believe we are born sinners. And I certainly don’t believe we are born sinners in the hands of an angry God.
If anything, we are born, lost.
In fact…
Maybe we wake up, and maybe we find ourselves with a case of amnesia. Confused and alone. In a pig’s sty of all places. Surrounded by slop. Dirty. Aching. Scared. Hungry. Looking even at the cobs the pigs eat and wishing we could somehow fill our own bellies.
Then, we look up, across the waters, to see a small town on the other shore. Somewhere, in the back of our minds, we recognize that place. We don’t know how, we don’t know why, but somehow we just know; that village is “home.”
Maybe it’s because we feel a tug, a yearning in our chest, in our hearts and deeper still. Urging us on. Pulling us toward that place.
To “home.”
Not all of us will heed that call though.
Some will raise their eyes and look across the waters but feel, even though we are not sure where we are, why or even how we got here, it must have something to do with there, with that place, even if we recognize it as “home.” And our mind is torn: Either sorrow and shame eat away our hope, and we end up feeling we no longer deserve to return, or; even if we could, anger and bitterness arise: Whoever is there must be responsible for why we are here; and though we remain unsure of where we are, here must surely be better than there.
But, for those of us who do rise—those who see hope in the distance and let it live—we will round the waters of the vast lake and, eventually, reach the horizon, unsure of what we will say or even who will greet us. We will prepare our speeches, our prayers of forgiveness and penance, chanting them over and over again, trying to hold the guilt and fear at bay until our throat is raw and our mind aches.
Then, we see a figure cresting the horizon, rushing toward us, arms outstretched.
Are they friend or enemy?
Are we the enemy? Will we be allowed to say our prayers? Will they be heard? Will our penance be enough?
Before we can even decide, the figure descends, wrapping us in His arms.
Fear grips us and yet…
His grip is stronger.
His delight is clear.
His laughter rings in our ears.
His tears of joy stream down His cheeks and onto our bare, dirt-caked shoulder.
He calls us “son”, and “daughter.”
He takes us by the hand and leads us inside.
He says we are honored guests. In fact, He orders a feast in our honor.
He calls us “son, and “daughter.” Is this our Father?
No, it can’t be: To dare and dream that we come from such splendor, such joy, such warmth?
No.
We came from the muck and mire of a pig’s sty. We know nothing more.
We believe we are filth and yet He calls us royalty.
We believe we are alone and yet He calls us family.
He insists, we are “son”; we are “daughter.”
And we are welcome.
We are honored.
We are family.
Long forgotten is our speech, our prayer, our forgiveness and penance.
It was never needed.
It was never asked.
The only thing asked was our presence, our return, our willingness to come, to heed the pull in our hearts, to choose “home”, and to accept that we are, and always have been, loved.
To accept that we were born royalty, that we were born family, that we were not born pigs, but born “sons”, and “daughters”. That we were, are, and always will be, loved.

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Today’s a cookie day

Today’s a struggle, and I thought long and hard about whether or not to even put this post out here. Sometimes I write because I feel it’s something I want to say. Sometimes I write what I believe needs to be said. Then there are those times that I write just for myself.

It’s a cheap form of therapy and, even as I hit the “publish” button, I wonder if today isn’t one of those days.

Obviously, I decided to put it out there.

And I decided to air this not because I was searching for some sort of confirmation, or even some sort of sympathy or encouragement. Not really.

I did it because, when it comes down to it, I know I can’t be alone. I’m not the only one who feels, or has ever felt, this way.

This is a “me, too” post, because today’s a day I’m really struggling with faith.

Today is one of those days where I can understand those who feel that religion is just an opiate for the masses.

Today is one of those days where I can see that a belief in something beyond myself is a necessary part of existence for a species blessed (or cursed) with a higher consciousness; if we don’t believe in a “something more out there” what’s the point of our existence at all?

Today is a day that I see the argument of those who believe that faith and religion are panaceas for the poor, the marginalized, the “less than” of the world; those who’ve realized that they will possibly, probably, never make it in life, at least to the extent the world’s advertising would have us believe is possible; or, to the extent of those we choose to compare ourselves to, always coming up short because there is always someone on the other side of the someone we’re emulating.

Maybe it’s because the bootstraps we’re supposed to pick ourselves up by just aren’t long enough. Or we’re wearing the wrong boots altogether. The poor, the marginalized, the widows and orphans, we need our brass ring, too. Even if it’s something we have to wait for some fine day, when this life is o’er.

Today is a day I get all that.

And there’s one thing this kind of a funk makes me realize (maybe this is even where my hope is, at least for today): having a faith in something beyond ourselves is not an upward trajectory. It is not a slow climb up a long mountain. It is not even the constant unveiling of truth upon truth.

Sometimes—most times—faith is a roller coaster. Sometimes we’re at a peak. Sometimes we’re in a valley (and the transition can be swift). Sometimes there are twists and turns. Sometimes there are brief moments of respite.

Sometimes the goal is to reach the end, wide-eyed and winded, excited to find out what’s next.

And, sometimes it’s all we can do to reach the end without losing our cookies.

Today just happens to be a cookie day.

Encouraging Children to Doubt

I thought this was a fantastic article by Ryan Stollar, echoing many of my own thoughts on doubt vs. faith. In it, he says, “Children need to know that doubt is not antithetical to faith. Rather, doubt is not only permissible, but also healthy. Doubt enriches faith. Doubt is faith’s dance partner.”

Read on here….

Source: Encouraging Children to Doubt

The Rebel God: Evangelicalism’s Two-Faced God

I have been interested in neuroplasticity for a few years now, especially as it relates to addiction, and in how our brains process emotion, reason, and the dichotomy between the two.  This is a fascinating article by Derek Flood that addresses a possible psychological basis for how white, Evangelical Christians can sing songs of the love of Jesus one minute, and “amen” to a sermon on the evils of ______________ (insert your minority, religion, lifestyle, etc. of choice).

“…it makes sense to think “There is just no way a person could experience love like that and be so angry and hurtful. They must experience God as angry and hurtful.” So when Mike said essentially this, my first reaction was to agree. Then the more “science-y” part of me began to kick in. The fact is, people are very capable of compartmentalizing and showing great inconsistency in different parts of their lives.”

Here’s the link. It’s a lengthy post, but one I feel is well worth the read: The Rebel God: Evangelicalism’s Two-Faced God