Thursday, September 11, 2008

Stuff I Don't Get - Again

I am so sick of the politics already. I don't understand why everyone has to hate so much. I mean, I know who I'm voting for, but I don't HATE the opposing candidate or his running mate. I think both candidates have issues which are good, and issues which are bad. For me, it will come down to voting for the person who most closely matches my beliefs. He won't agree with my point of view 100%, but I don't think that's part of the job description.

And, one quick comment about George W. Bush: For pete's sake, people, he is not God. He is not perfect. He has made some mistakes. But come on. Is everyone out there going to continue to insist that he did NOTHING good while in the White House? As my husband would say, "You can't tell me the sun didn't shine on that guy at least once in 8 years." So cut him some slack already. Will all the name-calling, complaining, and offending other people really change what has already happened? Um, no. So, back off already.

Okay, you may be surprised to read this but today's "Stuff I don't get" actually doesn't have to do with politics. Well, not directly. It has to do with church.

Now, y'all may realize that I am a Christian. A Lutheran, no less. And my husband is a pastor. I am not going to wax poetic about the wonders of the Almighty or His saving grace, I am just going to pose a question or two...

How many of you, when you got married, held the ceremony in a church/synagogue/temple? Let's just call it a house of worship, K? And further, if you have children, how many of you had some sort of baby dedication/baptism/christening/baby naming at a house of worship? How often do you attend that house of worship now? Is it regularly? Occasionally? Sporadically? Rarely? Never?

Another question: How many of you go to church only on the big holidays, like Christmas & Easter or Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashana, and Passover?

Before I tell you what I don't get, I have to make sure that I am clear: I am NOT judging anyone for their choices. I am not chastising anyone for not attending regular worship. I can't make a person a believer any more than the obnoxious guy from the gym can get me to lose another 15 pounds. I believe that faith comes from the Holy Spirit working in a person, not from someone else saying something to magically convince them to believe in God. So all my "Amen"s and "Hallelujah"s wouldn't make a difference. So, on with the question:

Why do folks go through the bother of getting married in a church, taking their newborn to church for a ceremony, and attend only twice a year, if they really have no intention of taking part in that religion? As parents, aren't we supposed to practice consistency with our children? What kind of message does that send to them when we take our kids to church only 2 weeks out of 52? And, why would anyone choose a church/temple/synagogue to stand up in front of all their friends and family, to have a minister they barely know declare them to be husband and wife? Why not just go to a park or City Hall? Or how about at the threshold of the hereafter?
Why do people who don't go to church, and their parents don't go to church, suddenly want a church burial when a loved one dies? Does that really represent their last wishes??? And what is the minister supposed to say? "This person had a deep faith.... a Godly follower... " That's just patronizing to all the people who really know the deceased person.

Wouldn't it be easier to chuck the church altogether? I just want to know what motivates people to connect themselves to a house of worship, only to abandon it so quickly.

So do people do this sporadic attendance of church just to set an example for the children? Because I feel, if anything, it's setting a BAD example. Like, "We are just going because we're supposed to, even though we don't want to." What is that teaching children? To tolerate church and hate is instead of trying to enjoy it? or "I know we don't go all the time but we go when it's important." So, would it be okay for your kids to only use their seatbelts when they think it' important? How about only twice out of every 52 car rides?

Another thing I don't get is when those folks who go to their house of worship - and by belonging to a house of worship I would say that you are joining them in their beliefs - call politicians who share those beliefs as crazy, or religious zealots, or fundamentalists. I just don't get it. If someone really feels that way, why in the world would they want to associate themselves with that house of worship at any time, including Christmas, Easter, weddings, baptisms, and funerals?And, last I heard, no political candidates are supporting a single religion for all of America. So why can't a candidate make up his/her mind on an issue and stand up for that issue without being called a religious zealot or Christian fundamentalist? Aren't those candidates just practicing freedom of religion? Yeah, people don't have to want that agenda in office. They also don't have to vote for that person. But why call the person names?

Again, I am not making judgments. I just don't get it. Maybe I'm more of a black-and-white type of person. Like, either commit to going to church or commit to NOT going to church. Do it whole hog and don't vacillate. Make a choice one way or the other and stick to it.

It's funny... some people are SO passionate about political candidates (and the president too) and their positions on anything having to do with values. Some folks are so determined to get others to see how one candidate or another is too religious. But do they look at themselves? If you hate people who are religious, why did you get married in a church (if you did)? And what do you think will happen when you die? (note: heaven is a biblical concept. Other "afterworld" ideas are also religious, like Nirvana.) If you think you'll go to heaven when you die, why do you think that?

Just wondering. I am going to LOVE all the comments.


Bridgett said...

All righty then.

1. I am so disappointed by this president I can't even talk about him. But one good thing: his cabinet is a shining beacon of diversity compared to other past cabinets. Other than that...ugh.

2. Enough about that. Back to the point: church. I did get married in a Catholic church, and had my kids baptized. They attend an atrium (Catechesis of the Good Shepherd program) for catechism instead of the standard watered-down Sunday School drivel. They do not attend a Catholic school, but their charter school was started by Catholic Workers so, ya know, the values still match. I am totally on the left hand side of Church and liturgy politics (I think women should have positions in the clergy, if only deacons; I think the laity should have a democratic voice; Latin mass is a bad plan, etc.) and on the populist side of regular (non church) politics (health care, maternity leave, childcare, education). I'm a Benedictine oblate and about 1 step from joining our local Catholic Worker movement. I do the flowers and linens for my parish. I'm the secretary of parish council. I'm a little hyper-religious. Do I go to church every week? No. I probably get there 45 out of 52 Sundays. If I'm camping, I don't seek out a new parish; if I'm visiting my inlaws, I don't set foot in their church. I don't believe in a God that keeps a tally. But my parish, my church, my faith, my community: I'm there. And my kids, man, if they haven't noticed, they're not paying attention.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey Bridgett.
Actually I'm surprised you are responding... I thought you were off the radar for a few days yet.

Thanks for the comments. You are the exception, I'm sure you know. You are WAY more involved in your church than I am. And as far as being in church 52 out of 52 sundays, well, that is up to each person. But the thing I don't get are not people who don't go to church, but rather people who claim that church has an important part in ONE area of their life, then openly reject it in others. Like, the only place to get married would be a church, but then never set foot in there again until it's time to get the baby baptized.

Like I said, no judgments. It's funny - religion is such a hot button topic. You don't have to look far to find someone passionate about freedom of religion (or non-religion), but try to find someone actually passionate about attending church, well, that is quite a search.

My real HMMM??? was wondering why in the world people even consider a church for marriage/baptism/funeral, etc. when they know fully consciously that they will not return. I feel like it is.... here it comes.... hypocrisy. Not about religion, but about that individual person. If you say you don't like church enough to even attend once a month, and CERTAINLY not enough to share the religion & its values with your children, then why even step foot in the door at all?

I am sure you get what I'm saying. I'm not trying to get people to justify their religious choices. I am just trying to figure out why people who don't want religion are pretending that they do.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Or even more so, even if you don't get married in a church, why is a pastor usually involved. I have been to many an outdoor or smaller gathering lately where a pastor was involved for people who have not been to church for years prior or after. And, what pastors are marrying them? Or presiding of their funerals? I find that hypocritical, too.

I know a person who is Catholic, but her husband is a form of Muslim or something. Anyway, her husband passed away and she asked the Catholic church handle his funeral. THEY DID!! Excuse me? You can't get married in a Catholic church with a full mass unless both are Baptized, but YOU CAN HAVE A FULL CATHOLIC FUNERAL MASS WHEN THE DUDE WAS A SECT OF ISLAM? He priest, as my impressed and in my opinion confused relatives states, even tied back Mohammed as a relative of Ishmael or something??? Great, so the whole Jesus dying for your sins and having to be baptized as a requisite for heaven that you teach means nothing when someone simply needs a place for a funeral ceremony????

Also? I agree with you about Bush. I really don't see what is such a big deal. I think Iraq needed Hussein out. I think his lack of a plan for exit was his biggest problem. The issues with the economy would have happened regardless of who was in office. Economies turn. Natural Resources are cyclical in their market trends, too. I personally LIKE our presence in the Middle East knowing the hate and radical beliefs that are taught to so many who will never hear anything else.

And know what else I don't get? I don't get that Obama leads the Cathlic polls? Umm, excuse me? Do you know his stance on homosexuality and abortion? I think you do, but I think you even claiming to be Catholic and still supporting things that are SOO FIRMLY against your Church's beliefs makes you look like either 1) you don't care or 2) you shouldn't be claiming your faith.


Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Yeah, I was watching evening news tonight, CBS I think, and they were interviewing a military person (finished with tour of duty from Iraq) and said that NO he would not support us now removing troops from Iraq. He said, and I think this is a valid point, the work is not done there and it would make all the work and sacrifices of servicemen up to this point all just wasted.

I think it's interesting how many times (not all) the people who want us out of Iraq are not the people who go to Iraq. Ask the military men/women who go. They think being in Iraq is important.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Brave girl...mixing religion and politics but you forgot S-E-X ;)

I do go to church at least three times a month. I think one reason a lot of people avoid church is fear of judgement. And that is just sad. We should all be at church to build each other up. We all make mistakes, we all screw up. Yet people going through divorce/negative circumstances can be shunned and this makes them nervous. Does this make any sense?
I think people go for the important times because they do want a relationship with Christ/God and they want HIm in their lives. And hey at least they go to church at least once ;)

Iraq is a horrible mess but I think it would be worse if we just left--W is the press whipping boy. I am betting HE is counting the days to get back to his ranch.

Sidney said...

Well, I totally agree with you! I read your post on "another" blog where you were, obviously, the dissenting opinion, but as I said, I agree totally!! I was, and am, proud of you for being brave and standing up for your beliefs, just as everyone else is doing.

I'm proud to be a Bush supporter. And I'm proud to be a McCain supporter. He holds the same values that I do, and while he's not perfect (and certainly Obama's not either...), he has more credibility, in my eyes, than his opponent. We are all only human, and do the best we can in that capacity.

I am one of those sporadic church attenders. It has nothing to do with my belief has to do with real life. And yes, I'm one of those that believes that God (yes, I am a Christian) can be worshipped anytime, anywhere...not just in a building on Sunday morning so we can look upstanding and righteous next to the family we're sitting by. And yes, I believe that you shouldn't neglect the fellowship of believers, but who says that you can't have "worship" on the sidelines of your son's football game? Or while you're sitting with your friends at your daughter's band concert? I think when God spoke of fellowship, he didn't contain it to a box, a building. It's a of serving and giving, both of your time and your gifts, and financially if that's what you're "called" to do. I did get married in a church, and it held no meaning for me...but we felt that we wanted to give it a good start. We were not involved in the church we married in (in fact, it was in another state), and we ended up divorcing after 17 years. Is that God's fault? I think not. Did it grieve God? Yes, greatly. But I also adhere to the bible teaching that God gave us life, and we have free-will to make our own choices. Have you read the book The Shack? It's wonderful, and made God so much more "real" for me.

I used to say that I wanted my children raised in church. As I've gotten older, I realize that I want my children raised in a community of believers, and I want them raised knowing and loving God and his goodness and perfect plan for their lives. I also realize, that as their parent, I have some responsibility to teach them that. I LOVE church...when I go. I was raised Methodist, and we go inter-denominational, when we go. I don't think my absence of church attendance makes us a "bad" family...I am a "normal" mom with a lot on her plate, and my carnal side tells me to sleep in on Sundays, as that is truly my only day off! Not that I don't suffer guilt, but I realize where condemnation comes from, and it's not God.

And we're not "holiday" attenders...if I don't go, or am not as involved as I "should" be, then that's it. Like I said, God's everywhere...not just a building. That's just my humble opinion!

Bridgett said...

I am, pun intended, "off the radar" but I'm letting myself check blogs and email. I'm no good at setting boundaries.

As for Obama and Catholics. I'm a Catholic, and I'm voting for Obama. I am because I have done a lot of deep considering about the issues that matter to me, and although abortion is one of them, there are enough other troubling concepts wrapped around the overturning of Roe v Wade that it can no longer be my deciding issue. I don't have one particular issue, frankly. And when it comes to being Catholic but disagreeing with the Church, I believe the Holy Spirit moves through more people than just the ordained. The Church's stance on homosexuality is not my stance (for that matter, you may not know the Church's complete stance on homosexuality...). I belong to the Catholic Church because I can say the Nicene Creed and mean it, and I believe in transubstantiation. I love the mass and I love the deep long history of my faith home. I think that those who are truly searching for a faith home find it where they can. Hook-line-and-sinker Catholics, in my opinion and experience (meaning, those who toe every line and have no doubt, no worries, no disagreements), do not have the deepest faith lives. When I joined RCIA, which is a Catholic program designed to bring adults into the church, the idea was not setting a big book of tenets and rules down on the table and saying, "this is what you believe now." It was explained to me that I was helping people to build a relationship with God, to fall in love with God, however that happens. If they are drawn to the Church, they will, as adults, after all, decide what they choose to believe.

I'm not an angry Catholic, I'm actually quite happy in my Church, but I do wrestle with many things the hierarchy does and says. The lack of good shepherding in our ordained leaders is shocking to me. There are good bishops, and bad bishops. One group gets a lot of press.

The Church has a pretty definite stance on war and torture, too--it's not just a one issue church, even though the bishops' statements that have been covered in the secular press of late might make an outsider think that. But even though it got less press, the bishops did put out a recent, very strong statement on immigration. How about Benedict's comments on the same topic after the drowning of illegal immigrants from north Africa? And the idea of a pre-emptive war? No go in the Catholic Church teaching. Human rights, health care, care of the poor--this nation is far too sink-or-swim in the Church's eyes.

The Church is a big place. We may look like a big conservative bastion, but we are a complex worldwide organization, a living organization, run by people, not by angels. It is a place for people to grow and change and learn and deepen their faith. Yes, there are many Catholics "in name only" who baptize/marry/bury in the church and never grow attached to it--I blame this on the upheaval of the post-conciliar period in our Church's history. Walker Percy's great ennui and all that. It's hard to engage the church when you aren't faithful and nobody is helping you and things seem so very much in flux. This is one of the problems currently with the Church. It will settle out eventually.

So telling me that by supporting Obama, that I cannot claim to be a part of my faith is, in my opinion, a narrow view of what faith is. And what the Church's stance on American politics is. I urge you to take a look here at Archbishop Wilton Gregory's comments on the Catholic guide to voting, called "Faithful Citizenship." I do not vote for Obama because I think babies should die. I vote for Obama, for many reasons, but because I truly see humanity in more difficult places than in unborn babies--like in "irregular migrant" men looking for a better life for their children, in AIDS victims, in folks in New Orleans who persist in their poverty, in prisoners here and in Gitmo, and even in radical Muslim clerics in Iran.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey Bridgett-
As for the politics, you make a lot of good points. But my post was really about people's opinions of church, so here's my 2 cents about Catholicism:
Until I was 26, I was Catholic. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it, but rather tolerated it out of obligation. Obligation to my family, to God, to my Church, whatever. However, I would never describe the church as "warm".

When I was 26 and met my husband, I joined the Lutheran Church. He told me about church membership - what's that I asked? He told me, people at a church know you and welcome you. The pastor has personal contact with you. In 26 years, never once had any priest ever visited me at my house nor any member of my family when they were sick or in the hospital. I didn't know pastors did that. Until I experienced another religion. As a 25-year-old, I moved back to St. Louis and immediately began attending my neighborhood Catholic church. Never once did anyone ask my name. Never once did anyone welcome me, ask if I was a visitor, invite me to come back next week. I took communion without speaking to anyone about it first. For all they knew I could have not even been Christian. I felt like I could have come and left and no one would have cared.

All these things are what I felt was lacking in the Catholic church, but I never knew it until I attended a church that was warm, welcoming, friendly, and attentive. People wanted me there and I wanted to be there. While I feel that church is not a place that exists to serve us, but rather we are there to serve the Church, I will say that the feeling of inclusiveness made me want to serve, want to participate, want to learn more and come back to church.

I think the Catholic church has a long way to go. For every Catholic church that has a good support system and active members, there are a dozen more that are cold and systematic and just operate the way they always have, the way the Pope has always told them to, the way they will continue to until told to do otherwise. I think it's sad. I never had a faith life until I left the Catholic Church.

I am so happy to hear that not all Catholics experience the same thing I did. I find true joy to hear about how invested you are in your faith. It gives me hope that the Catholic church is on its way to getting back into the hearts of its members.

And, just on a personal note, I don't agree with many teachings of the Catholic church that I am guessing are pretty central to the faith: Mary and her own virgin birth (I mean hers not Jesus'), praying to Mary, praying to saints, the Pope's words being on equal level with that of scripture. I can't sign on with a church that teaches those things.

But, please don't hate me. Lutherans aren't bad people... I swear!!!

Bridge said...

Gosh, I think you make so many good points and I wish I could comment on all of them.

We started out Catholic, had the best intentions, went every Sunday and so forth. For me, the guilt and shame associated with the Catholic way I was raised is troubling and lingers with me. In addition, the hatred, the "black and white", the dogma, the...just leaves me feeling terribly unfulfilled.

I am feeling a lot of questioning in my heart. What is spirituality and a relationship with God? I have been looking at churches and at the value of Buddhist philosophy but I have not found a fit.

Its hard to leave the religion of origin and hard to fit in elseware. We have attended several churches and I have found one, a Methodist, that I just adore. A relationship with god, though, is in one's heart and actions. Its lived through example and I cannot say modern churches always fill that need for me. Not all (I am sure your husband does) pastors or priests are able to move me in a sermon.Occasionally , I have had to sit through sermons that are politically hateful, shaming people to tithe more or whatever. I end up thinking how amazingly close I feel to God praying on a sunrise hike with my family here in the Rocky Mountains. I do not even have to dress up, make small talk with people I have little in common with or volunteer my time.

Bottom line, your lucky, your church is a good fit for you. I do believe most people have good intentions and believe in God. Although I am not attending Catholic Church now, I feel blessed to have had God oversee our ceremony in a way. That is probably how most people feel.

You can probably guess my feeling on Bush :) I will only say that press has been very kind to him in my eyes (especially FOX news). I will offer to you he signed one piece of legislation I deeply support, the majority of Democrats fought against. That was perhaps the one time that the sun peaked out on him in the last eight years (IMO).

Bridgett said...

Ok, I have got to go to bed. I've been playing video games downstairs in order to keep my mind off hurricanes and politics and everything else. I need sedation. SEriously.

So many ex-Catholics feel like you do. I was very lucky to be exposed to Benedictine theology very early (6th grade) and that has been my mainstay through bad parishes. I'm in a really good parish where I live now, but even there, in the 10 years I've been attending, I've considered jumping ship completely at least twice. Both times, heading for the Friends (Quakers).

As for Lutherans...on my south St. Louis city block, I have more in common with the Presbyterian family and the "emergent church" family than I ever have had with the Catholics. I love ecumenism. I find it easier, in fact, to argue or discuss religion with other Christians than I do other Catholics. Either I'm in total agreement with a given Catholic, or the gulf is so huge between us that we can't bridge it. With Protestants, I have to translate Catholic into English and for some reason, this softens the edges. For instance, I could never, never, ever feel ok about this sort of blog entry and commenting upon it if you were the wife of a permanent deacon in the Catholic church. It just wouldn't happen. I would have taken one look at your blog a few months back and been one of those bloggers who ignore your comments. ;^) But that's my own hangup. Ah well.

Good night!

binks said...

That is one brave post.

I am sick of politics too. It is political commentary 24/7 at the house and NPR all day at work. Meh! I am over it. As for your questions:

We married at the courthouse, had a ceremony officiated by a friend and read biblical passages.
I am a believer, my husband is not.
When my son was young and I was a single mother, I attended a pentecostal church with his paternal grandmother and family.
He was annointed and blessed as a small child. We went to church twice a week for 3-4 hours a day- for about 8 years. It was a fabulous time in the Lord. Then the church started to fracture and I started attending Calvary.
Long story short - that was NOT a good fit. I slowly stopped attending at all. I feel it is hypocritical to be a C & E christian so now, I rarely attend. When I need more nourishment, God finds a way to plant me where I need to be.
I do not judge others because I believe everyone's walk with God is different and serves different purposes.
Funny you should ask where we think we go when we die. As a believer, you would think I would automatically say Heaven. It is one of the things where I have been searching for answers. I believe it is so much more than Heaven. Something our human brains cannot even begin to imagine and the biblical descriptions of heaven were the closest the apostles could come to explain it.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

Bridgett, I did not mean to offend with my generalization of Catholics and not embracing their faith. Honestly, though, if you think that homosexuality is not sinful behavior and something that should be accepted, I seriuosly think you should look into a church that also embraces that. It is very core to the Catholic Church.

I grew up Catholic, too and went to Catholic school for 12 years. My reasons for no longer being Catholic were that as I learned more about the Bible, I saw that Jesus clearly told us He was the only one we needed to pray to, so I could no longer be on board to pray to Mary and Saints for intervention.

And Texan Mama - shame on your Catholic schooling. Mary's Immaculate Conception? That is not something the Catholic Church teaches. What they teach is that Mary never sinned - that is her Immaculacy. She was an EVER-VIRGIN, not born of a virgin. Also, they teach that she, too, was assumed body and soul into Heaven just like Jesus. Those are two more reasons I can't stay on board there. They are Biblically inaccurate.

Oh yeah, and purgatory?? No biblical reference to purgatory.

And I can't see embracing part of what a church teaches, but not another part of what a churh teaches. We tried it for a while, but after two years of it in 2001-2003, we decided it seemed hypocritical of us to keep going to a church but say we embraced the beliefs, except for that whole Mary thing. Or except for that whole man/woman marriage thing. or except for that whole abortion thing. or except for that whole purgatory thing.

Also, McCain DOES have an agenda to help the poor and to be charitable. To think any candidate only wants to help the wealthy is naive. You are right, there are social obligations and the Catholic church certainly embraces those. So do both candidates.

Also, Bush did not send America to war. Our entire Legislature sent us to war with an overwhelming 70% vote. I get so tired of Bush being a whipping boy.

Just food for thought.


Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Ooh Angie, you are right. I was never one to pay too close of attention at the Catechism class. I knew you were in all those AP classes in High School cuz you were so smart!!!