One of the first priorities in grieving, during the worst of the pain and shock… was to find out what I had to stand on. As part of making some sense of it all, I needed to know what of my internal systems were working. I definitely needed to find my way back to God to discover if my faith was something I could hold on to. And not only did I find my way back to a different, maybe even a deeper part of my faith, I found a very functional and useful Church. You find amazing people that surround you… When you are in a bad place you may need systems to keep you alive and bring you home. And in that you find out what may be valueable.
I think I’ve written before about that Apollo 13 moment… “Houston we have a problem.” Once the spacecraft stops spinning and you figure out what you need to shut down to keep from losing oxygen… you have to take stock of the systems that are functioning… and figure out how to use what works to keep you alive and get you home. I think sometimes you need to take stock, communicate with ground control, ask for help, come up with a plan and be intentional and flexible.
I needed God. I needed my faith. And I needed the prayers and encouragement of the people of my faith- those closes to me… their love and kindness and actions. And I still do. And I needed this core of family… and lots of people who aren’t what anyone would consider born again Christians… some atheists, some agnostics, some pagans, others from less conventional strains of faith… all of whom I am grateful for, and for their amazing help and support.
And it is also worth mentioning that gratitude is one of those systems. Experiencing and expressing gratitude… it really does help pull you out of the darkness and keeps you along that path homeward.
I found that prayer is one of those systems. I have found that art and words are part of that system. I also know that activity is an important system. And even when I know that it feels forced or artificial, I believe it is important to be focussed and intentional.
So sometimes I walk around the neighborhood and I question Christianity. I wonder if I really am part of the church… if I belong… if I fit… if I want to fit. I have all these Christians who I surround myself with, that I love…. that politically- I don’t get. And public policy to me is important… it isn’t something that should be forgotten. But so much of it seems, for lack of a better concept, very white- very American, very Republican. And if this is the new shibboleth- that you have to be a tea party libertarian… a real Republican to be a real Christian, then that isn’t me. If the system doesn’t work… if it doesn’t keep me alive or help me to get home, then I do need something that will work.
My faith is far more important than my politics… (politics is not a system that will keep me alive or bring me home.) and it becomes important to me with public policy to align my political ideology with the basic precepts of my faith… with solid Biblical Christianity… the politics that I feel best align with the teachings of Christ.
I can’t see myself looking back from eternity regretting that I didn’t stand up for the rich and powerful, fight for lower taxes for the wealthy, and for the rights of oil companies to pollute. Does God want me fighting for billionaires and having contempt for the least of the least or denying global warming or hating Obama? Will He be happy when I look at the needy, the powerless and the voiceless with contempt? I can’t see myself hanging with Jesus regretting not fighting for harsher public policies to make the lives of the poor even harder, or to somehow deprive millions access to health care so that we could save a little in tax money at the top. I don’t see God chiding me for not siding with Capitalism, and pushing programs to deprive kids of education, food, and medical care.
I don’t worship the God of money, of Capitalism and lower taxes and regulation. I don’t worship a god who helps those who help themselves or who values the wealthy over the needy.
I don’t find conservative policies consistent with my faith… and every time I am told on Facebook that I am not really a Christian because I’m not a good American Republican… I feel a little further from that Church- that I belong a bit less… and I know I am a little different. So I find myself many times with Church refugees… those who still love God, follow Christ, but can’t find room in the Church.