The Traveller’s Rest- Losing My Religion?

I’m Not Religious, I’m a Christian???

How often I heard this while I was part of the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church. In fact I probably said it and put it in sermons myself, the proud fact that I was not as boringly religious as the trads, I was totally rad because I was led by the Spirit. The fact that I was led by the Spirit to do the same things every week religiously never seemed to cross my mind. On a Sunday the Spirit led meeting always had the same format and structure strangely enough. The Wild Goose, the fire, the ever flowing water from the temple obviously lacked imagination when it came to doing church. But at least we were freer than the trads! And we would definitely not call ourselves religious. The Spirit, you don’t know where He comes from and you don’t know where He is going, but you knew exactly what you would get from us, even if you had radical whack times or Toronto fall overs. If we are honest with ourselves there is a certain comfort in the familiar pattern of the tribe we feel most at home with, whether that be Church of England bells and smells and chanting or Pentecostal swinging from the chandeliers. Maybe we are all more religious than we think we are.

I’m Religious, I’m Not a Christian???

The problem comes when you totally lose the safety net of weekly religious activity. When the part of your identity that is your tribe is given up, divested, buried. When I found myself in that place just over seven years ago I went through incredible identity crisis and even hit a brief period of depression, I was thrown. I had not appreciated how much of me was entangled in the machine and the system known as church. I entered periods of doubt and found it hard to grasp faith, I found myself doing stuff that when i look back on it I think was that me there? It was like the skin called Christianity, the cocoon I was wrapped up in was was being shred. It was uncomfortable, it hurt, it was like entering a void, darkness. There was times I wondered if I wanted to be a Christian at all. I was losing my religion. But maybe I was not losing my religion, but losing the one people wanted me to wear. The one that history said was the right uniform. The one that my Pastor and Bible college dressed me up, a Saul’s armour that never quite fit who I was. Expectations and position held it in place. Church attendance kept it moulded to my body. Even if my own identity snuck through every now and again it was soon suppressed in the machine once again. But things were changing, was I now a person of belief and if so what did I believe in?

I Believe In…

“I believe in the worker’s revolution And I believe in the final solution I believe in, I believe in I believe in the shape of things to come And I believe, I’m not the only one Yes, I believe in, I believe in            I believe in the immaculate conception And I believe in the resurrection And I believe in, I believe in I believe in the elixir of youth And I believe in the absolute truth Yes I believe in, I believe in                  I believe in perpetual motion And I believe in perfect devotion I believe in, I believe in I believe in the things I’ve never had And I believe in my mum and my dad And I believe in, I believe in                      I believe in original sin And I believe what I believe in Yes I believe in, I believe in I believe in the web of fate And I believe, I’m goin’ to be late So I’ll be leavin’, what I believe in” Peter Shelley (The Buzzcocks) I Believe.

In losing ‘my’ religion and yet finding ‘my’ religion there is a road of loss and discovery. Loss of stuff I held as fundamental; infallibility of Scripture, heaven being the reward of eternal life and hell the punishment of eternal death, Christianity being the only way to connect with God, weekly worship gatherings connecting me with God etc. Discovery of fresh and new ideals; Divine Feminine, God in and through all creation, art being stronger communicator than truth etc. What I am also learning is not to hold onto anything too tightly, even what I discover afresh today I may well bury tomorrow. But when I talk like this how can I have a solid foundation for faith? Strange as it may sound my faith is stronger than ever. Stronger because it is not anchored on doctrine or belief, but it is anchored in people and the Divine, two things that are constant, even though their appearance is ever shifting. I believe in stuff and have faith in stuff, but the stuff is not where my belief and faith lay. Truth is truth except where it is a lie. And if truth sets me free maybe it has to be more than a doctrine or less than faith. Do I still consider myself Christocentric? I was asked this by a good friend Rob James (thinking of you mate while in London). I suppose in many ways I still am, but that is allowed to flow out into the outer reaches of borders and margins of the Mystical and the Divine. I sometimes find greater connection with pagans than with Christians, but discover even there a Christocentric belief in the world around them, without them using those words. I still believe, I still have faith, I still hold certain things as truth, I still sit under a ‘Christian’ banner but uncomfortably at times because of what that is associated with. I am losing my religion but in the pattern of life probably still religiously living week to week. We all have religious patterns whether that be within religion or outside religion. As Peter Shelley wrote ‘I believe in, what I believe in.’ Maybe it is time for you to believe as well. To believe in yourself and believe in what you believe in.

“Don’t believe the devil
I don’t believe his book
But the truth is not the same
Without the lies he made up
Don’t believe in excess
Success is to give
Don’t believe in riches
But you should see where I live
I, I believe in love

Don’t believe in forced entry
Don’t believe in rape
But everytime she passes by
Wild thoughts escape
I don’t believe in death row
Skid row or the gangs
Don’t believe in the Uzi
It just went off in my hand
I, I believe in love

Don’t believe in cocaine
Got a speed-ball in my head
I could cut and crack you open
Do you hear what I said?
Don’t believe them when they tell me
There ain’t no cure
The rich stay healthy
The sick stay poor
I, I believe in love

Don’t believe in Goldman
His type like a curse
Instant karma’s gonna get him
If I don’t get him first
Don’t believe that rock n’ roll
Can really change the world
As it spins in revolution
It spirals and turns
I, I believe in love

Don’t believe in the 60’s
The golden age of pop
You glorify the past
When the future dries up
Heard a singer on the radio late last night
He says he’s gonna kick the darkness
Till it bleeds daylight
I, I believe in love

Love…

I feel like I’m falling
Like I’m spinning on a wheel
It always stops beside of me
With a presence I can feel
I, I believe in love, stop” U2 ‘God Part 2’

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