Friday, April 25, 2008

Emerging through trial...

My friends, I realized today that my blog has been in existence for over a year now. That's crazy. I remember I started it last year after Peter Clothier (whom I now consider a somewhat distant mentor of mine) came to Drury last year and read poetry to us. He mentioned his blog and his religious beliefs, so I got online and started my own for the sole purpose of commenting on his. I have since tried to turn this blog into a chronicle of my spiritual journey in order to not only keep a record of the ways in which I'm changing throughout my stay here at Drury but also to keep myself sane throughout my drastic reformation of self. I'm not the most diligent poster, but I do enjoy this blog and I appreciate the people who read and comment a whole lot. So I thought I'd begin this post with a cheers to those of you who make my life brighter and more interesting, to those of you who challenge me spiritually and emotionally, who critique me into becoming the best me I can be, and to those of you who are with me when things have gotten really hard. Thank you.

Recently I've been getting into a new movement in Christianity which I feel really suits me. Interestingly enough, the more I read about it, the more I realize that I embody this movement and have somehow come to the exact conclusions that these people do without even knowing it. Rob Winger, a friend of my Dad's for many years and now recently another sort of mentor of mine, recently gave me a copy of a book called "The New Christians: Dispatches from the Emergent frontier" by a man named Tony Jones. The book, about Emergent Christianity, gives me a sense of relief and comfort spiritually that I haven't felt in a long time.

Basically Emergent Christianity is Christianity's reaction to the Post-Modern era. Studying philosophy has taught me that reason is fallible and truth is subjective. Knowing this, it's difficult for me to ascribe to a belief system held by only one quarter of the world's population which says, "We know the absolute Truth (with a capital T) and if you don't believe it, your eternal soul is in trouble." Everything that statement says is completely unjustifiable epistemologically, so I can't necessarily call it "truth." A lot of Emergents think the same way I do, and have reacted.

The focus has been put on conversational spirituality, on non-literal interpretation of the Bible (and the whole Bible, not just selected passages which are easy to swallow), and following the way of Jesus as lovingly as possible. This doesn't mean that everything is loosey-goosey in the Emergent church, but it does mean that every belief, every profession of faith, and every interpretation comes with a deep sense of humility. The reality of the situation is that not only do we not "know" the truth behind our faith statements and beliefs, but we CAN'T know, so we have to hold them very humbly.

As such, orthopraxy is given grounds to take the stage. The Emergent movement, which realizes that life isn't just about "me and Jesus" but that we live in a community which is affected by every action we do, strongly emphasizes that faith without works is dead. If one truly wishes to be a Christian, they have to live a loving, open, virtuous life. Jesus cared for the sick, helped the poor, loved the unloved, and tended to the broken in spirit. That's exactly what we're called to do as well. The thing that I love about this is that regardless of race, sexual orientation, religious creed, gender, etc., we can (or should) all agree on this point.

So for now, I think I'm starting to settle once again into Christianity, but with a much more humble, accepting, and loving approach. I've still got a lot of thinking and reading to do, but as I've started to put down in previous posts, it just feels good to be able to go back to the tradition I once loved so much. So here's to another day of reflection, to humility, to agape, to community. Thanks, Rob and Dad, for being there and helping me out even when I didn't necessarily ask you to. This semester has been really hard, and I feel like through the trials I have emerged with a spiritual foundation.

1 comment:

citizen of the world said...

This is a nice example of my belief that if you take your spiritual journey seriously, you will find a path that works for you. Good for you for steppping onto one that fits.