Saturday, 18 October 2014

Surprise! A Reconciliation with God and with Church.

Some of you may have noticed that in much of what I've written in the last year I've had lots of bad things to say about traditional views of God and about much of what goes on in churches.  I've not been shy about being outspoken in my rejection of a personal God and my embracing of a nontheistic belief.  I've not been shy in talking about how painful attending church services has been and about the causes of that pain.

Things in my life seemed to be sorting themselves out.  I was coming to know where I stood with my non-personal god of being, god of wonder.  I was settling into worship with the Quakers, The Religious Society of Friends.  And I was settling into worship in a very different service style with the Unitarians.  And I was actively planning my departure from Northern Lights MCC - the only place I've attended recently in the last year where the majority of people have some kind of traditional notion of a theistic god.  In fact I knew I was leaving.  Every service was painful no matter how hard I tried to ignore it.  I was only staying for the sake of a particular friend who I knew would be upset if I went.  She's moving away from the area soon so I'd done a deal with myself to stick around at MCC until she goes and then leave the place.  I'd miss the people.  That's true.  But I'd be glad to get away from the pain, from the parts of the service that stung my wounds and the parts I just couldn't participate in at all.

That was the plan.  Leave MCC.  And then possibly join the Unitarians.  Or stick with the Quakers and consider joining them in the future - Quakers don't just take anyone into full membership on a whim so it would have to be the future.  And the plan included going elsewhere too, seeking spiritual light wherever I thought it could be found and wherever my nontheism would fit into whatever was going on there.

That was the plan as a confirmed nontheist.  No personal God.  Just wonder and awe in being.  Which is an exciting, massive thing in itself.

Yes, that was the plan.

Plans sometimes change.

There has been a lot going on recently in my spirituality and spiritual practice.  Much of it - the meditation, the writing, the listening, the work with chakras, and so on - I'm not going to write about here.  So much going on that I can't just write off and blame on a bit of oestrogen.  Minor transgender update: I've officially started the HRT treatment.  Hey, this is me.  Gotta get the gender issues in somewhere!

But of God I write ...

Imagine my surprise to notice that my meditation language was becoming firmly Biblical - from that book I hadn't picked up at home for a year because just the idea hurt too much.

Imagine my surprise when some of what I "listened to" pointed out verses from the Bible and said they applied to me.

Imagine that surprise when messages from that "listening" told me that Christ is still my way, my path, and that in reality I never stopped loving God.  I'd blog all that I've written down but I think that would remove any doubts people may have as to my sanity.

Imagine how I felt when I sat down at church two weeks ago and everything suddenly clicked inside.  I knew I could sing the songs.  I knew I could pray (most of) the prayers.  I knew I could receive communion for the first time this year.

And imagine what a shock it was to me, committed nontheist, to find myself later that evening at the back of the church (I'm not keen on pews for these things!) falling to my knees, lifting my hands, singing words of thankfulness and being very lost in worship of a personal God.

There had been many surprises that week.  That one out surprised them all.

Yes, me and God have had something of a reconciliation.

I won't say much more now.  There is a lot to say.  I've watched myself recently and seen someone doing, saying, thinking things that she would never have said before.  It's been very nice to observe her.  And it's been very nice to be her and break out of some old ways.

The strange thing is that I am still a nontheist.  I am just a nontheist who happens to worship and sing and pray to a personal God.  I know full well that this is some kind of contradiction.  But I'm fine with that.  The Real is often beyond contradictions.

Much more to say.  People have seen the changes.  I know this.  They've commented.

Oh, and those church plans?  I am leaving one of the churches I thought I might be joining.  I'm staying with the other at least for now, because it is good for me.  And the church I was leaving in the near future?

I am officially becoming a member in the near future.  And I find that I am very pleased about that.  That place, those people can do me good.  And I believe I'll be able to do good there if I allow myself to become the person who is becoming free.  I've deliberately kept myself on the outskirts of that community because I believed I wasn't staying in it.  Now is the time to being to pack up and move into the church's city centre.

It's all good.  It's where I'm meant to be.  And as our pastor pointed out once, through all the trials and pain and spiritual problems and doubts and fears and struggling to find a healthy spirituality, through all of that I never stopped believing in Northern Lights MCC and her reasons for seeking to do what she does.


  1. Good to hear this Clare

    Shirley Anne x

  2. Good to be experiencing it - and all the other parts of the story.

    I know the faith I have now is far healthier than the faith I used to have. But that's something for another blog post!

    Blessings, Clare xx

  3. Oh, I do so hope that your Higher Power is of the Friend-ly persuasion! xx

  4. I can't watch that video in the UK. Looking up "Friendly Persuasion Full Movie" didn't give me the movie. It did give me "Liane, Jungle Goddess" but I somehow don't think that's quite the same! Especially given the images google showed me.

    What is a friendly persuasion higher power anyway? The options are almost infinite among Friends round here. I do like that variety and that freedom in seeking the Divine, or Source, or God, or Spirit. I think the probability is I'll be involved with them, at least in some fashion, for a while. As long as being there brings life to that side of me, and as long as my being there might bring some kind of life to them.

    I hope so anyway - I like it there, both the people in silence and the people in conversation.

  5. I'm very glad to hear this, Clare. I suspect that quests to define God - Unitarian 'one', Trinitarian 'three' or non-theistic entity - are doomed to end in frustration. Perhaps the Jewish 'I AM' is the clearest of all -- the God who just 'is'.

    Maybe it's a peculiarly British thing, but I often find it hard simply to accept my experience of God, without trying too hard to rationalize it. Surely God is ultimately known by the way he touches our lives - the Bible verse that leaps off the page, the worship song that stirs our emotions, or the star-lit sky that speaks of his greatness.

    Of course theology is important - it would be silly to claim otherwise - but I reckon the Psalmist was on to something when he wrote, "Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good." We can stand on the sidelines and analyse God, but to truly experience him/her/it you need to get a good spiritual mouthful.


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