Born Again: A Journey from Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 7

Read Part 6 here.

I grew up in the conservative Church of Christ. We weren’t the most conservative of CofC’s, yet we had a fairly significant list of why’s and why not’s, should’s and should not’s, can’s and cannot’s, will’s and will not’s.

I was taught from an early age that the Bible is the ONLY doctrine to be used in determining how to please God in our worship. No book written by men would suffice. That same Bible was believed to be God-breathed, God-inspired, God-protected, and without error. Where contradictions exist, there is a logical and rational explanation, or they are minor and should not be cause for concern.

I was also taught that the Bible was to be taken literally…..unless it was speaking figuratively. As a result, this group has traditionally worshiped without the use of musical instruments, because we are to “sing and make melody in your heart” according to Paul’s letter to the Galations. We always take communion (The Lord’s Supper) on the first day of the week every week to emulate the final passover meal Jesus celebrated with his disciples, because he said, “Do this in memory of me.” If a person missed Sunday morning worship services and thus communion, it was always offered again Sunday evening, but never at Wednesday services.

We would dutifully snap (break) off and eat a piece of our tasteless toasted cracker wafer thing, then drink our tiny individual cup of grape juice to commemorate Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. In recent  years, the church invested in pre-cut tiny cracker squares requiring only that the recipient pick it up out of the tray–no breaking required. Apparently that caused a bit of stress among the more legalistic literalists in the church and resulted in a double offering of both the toasted breakable chunk of cracker and the little pre-cut squares of dried flour-water.

Baptism by total immersion for forgiveness of sins was the only acceptable way to be saved from the fires of hell. That ritual was expected once a child reached the “age of accountability”. Doing so would result in our being “added” to The Church. Every sermon ended with and invitation that still echoes in my head, “Won’t you come….while we stand and sing.” The rest of the God-and-Jesus-worshiping world was lost, doomed to spend eternity in hell, because sprinkling or baptism by immersion for the purpose of joining a church was simply unacceptable to God for the purpose of salvation.

We were to worship as the New Testament church worshiped. The Old Covenant passed away with the death of Jesus, and while we are not required to follow the old testament, it was available for teaching and instruction…

And to remind us that God snuffed out Nadab and Abihu for introducing the wrong kind of fire, so we’d better be sure we are doing this thing right, or else.

It never really occurred to my very left-brained, rule-following self that there might be a problem with this insistence on literal interpretation. It never crossed my mind to question why this divinely inspired book that was to be interpreted literally was not being FULLY interpreted literally. We seemed to have a buffet style method of deciding what we wanted to interpret literally and what should be assigned to the category of passed away. The miracles and instructions to pray in tongues had passed away with the deaths of the apostles. Women prophesying was conveniently dismissed and ignored. Revelations was a book with too much symbolism, so it was most often pushed aside and used only on occasion…

…to remind us that anyone who adds to or takes away from the Word of God would BURN!

Many people contributed to the shaping of this belief system in me. I cannot attribute all that much of it to my family. Preachers, Bible class teachers, youth ministers, and college professors all played a role in planting and nourishing this doctrine, this pattern, in my psyche. I became quite good at regurgitating this concoction of double standards onto others who were my targets.

A career shift in 2003 led me to begin studying how movement affects brain hemisphere integration. The more I studied the concepts and practiced the movements, the more my mind expanded allowing me to see a bigger picture. My previously details-focused, legalistic-dogma-spewing self began to have a number of a-ha moments. Questions began to enter my mind. Why was this acceptable and expected, but this other is to be dismissed? Why do we insist on doing things this way, but these other ideas are simply not for today?

How is “a book” written mostly by men over multiple decades and even centuries, that was compiled by men, voted on by men, interpreted and translated by men multiple times, influenced by kings and world leaders, then presented to the world by men completely and divinely protected from error? It required a complete and total suspension of intelligent logic to believe such, and I was beginning to doubt the appropriateness of suspending logic.

However, the most important conflicting “issue” for me was that of Jesus’ miraculous powers of healing. In a rare case of unsuspended logic, The Church believed that all “true” miracles (those performed by a human) had ceased with the death of the apostles. The power of the Holy Spirit that landed on them with tongues of fire had given them the ability to perform miracles, and once they died, all the cool stuff stopped happening.

During my “brain integration” studies, I learned a bit about eastern medicine theories such as the energy meridians and acupressure points. It was relevant anatomy information that applied to the new concepts I was investigating. The concepts suggested that we all have energy flowing in pathways through our bodies. Many different things can affect that energy flow. Then I noticed a story of healing in which a woman touched the hem of Jesus garment and he felt the energy flow out of his body.

My logic brain with its new “big picture” gift began putting the pieces together. If this story is true, then Jesus’ healing was about transferring energy from one human to another. It was about clearing energy blockages in the pathways. It was related to healing practices that date back thousands of years. Why had we dismissed this “power” that is still very much within us? Why was it okay to “blow off” such a vital part of the ministry of Jesus as inapplicable and therefore unexpected of us today?

Could this “energy” be somehow related to the Holy Spirit?

My studies began to intensify.

They say knowledge is power.

That may be true, but asking too many questions and publicly presenting the answers can be hazardous to one’s status in The Church.

Part 8

9 Responses to “Born Again: A Journey from Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 7”

  • On so many levels there is such deep pain in your story – but this post made me laugh. I love the juxtaposition of your brand with mine – I can hear the playground battles now. “Well, YOU can’t be saved because….” I had more than my fair share. I can hear the questions picking up speed in your brain as you retell it. And I had to laugh out loud at the juxtaposition of knowledge is power and how speaking that knowledge to power jeopardizes standing in the organization. I know it isn’t funny, mostly, but sometimes I look back at my self who rigidly defended my clan and all I can do is laugh.

    Interesting isn’t it that we can pinpoint the moments when things started not to make sense. Interestingly, one of those for me was in a college class at Baylor, learning about the Christian mystics from centuries past. Those moments are points in time that we can never shake loose from I think – pivotal moments.

    I think church serves a purpose. The wider world is just too scary for some people – they need the security. But when you start to outgrow it, it’s like kids outgrowing clothes – all of a sudden, something that fit yesterday just won’t work in any way today.

    I find myself still hanging on around the edges – trying to make the good things work and just leave alone the things that don’t fit – but I don’t know how well it’s working or for how long I can do it. I admire what it took to simply stop.

    • Laughing is about all a person can do once we look back and realize what we “bought” hook, line, and sinker. And OMG! That often-times bitter rivalry between CoC’ers and the Baptists down the street was nothing short of hysterically ridiculous.

      Church definitely serves a purpose, and for many, it is a very important and necessary part of their lives. I plan to write a post on the “gifts” I gained by spending a large part of my life in The Church at some point. It really did leave me with much that has shaped this new part of my life and faith.

      I clung to the edges by going to other churches for three years. I think my release was somewhat accidental. Massage school took me out of Sunday services several times during 2009. It just became easier and more relaxed to just not go. I felt guilty until I realized the only reason I had ever gone was because I SHOULD go. It was seldom if ever because I really wanted to go.

  • Matt H:

    Remember that I love you Angie. But I must say this. I too grew up in the church of Christ all my life. You make some valid points. Some of my very best friends go to the baptist church. I have NEVER thought that becasue they do not go to the church that i attend that they are going to hell. I truly belive in what we do and what we stand for, I will also say that we are no perfect by no means. There are some that would think that we are, but we are not. Those friends that I have in the baptist church, and not only very good friends but most of my family on my dads side attend the baptist church, who I love very, very much and would NEVER think that they would go to hell. I have always heard, that the church of Christ say that they are the only ones going to heaven, (the joke that the person posted the other day, was not funny to me at all), I have NEVER heard that preached or taught in a class, and I have attended MANY different cofc congergations.
    The congergation here in Tulia have some really great people in it. This congergation does a LOT for people, again we are not perfect, but we are trying to worship God the best way that we know how, just like other congergations. If you do not belive in that worship, thats ok, but dont lump all of us together because of your bad experience with someone. I truly pray that we all see each other in heaven but, God and only God will judge us all, not any elder, preacher, me or you. You were not treated right, you were bashed over the head with a book, that I do not agree with either, for that I am sorry. But there were many in this congergation that supported you. Our elders are a great group of guys and I love each one of them. Again, they are not perfect, but they are doing the best they can and they all truly care for you and others.
    All of the differnt beliefs are most likely not ever going to come together, but we can surely all come together in love. Love covers a lot of things. When we bash each other it does nothing but cause resientment. Surely we can all come together and respect each others belief and love each other any way, and pray that what we all have messed up, God will fix and make it right.
    I love you Angie and I always will, but I also love our church, even as frustrated as I get with it at times.

    • I’m glad your experience was different than mine, Matt. I’ve never indicated that the people were hateful or lacking in love or passion. Everything that has ever been done or said in our faith heritage was someone doing the best they could do in any given moment. I agree whole heartedly that the people who worship at the CoC in this community and in many other places are some of the most loving, giving people on earth.

      I do not know where it came from, but I DID grow up with the belief that unless my friends joined me at the CoC, they might not make it through the pearly gates. Maybe it was a hell, fire, and brimstone sermon. Maybe it was a teacher or a youth minister who was part of my experience. Has it changed over the years? Has this group softened? For the most part, yes. That doesn’t change the history, just like abolishing slavery doesn’t change the fact that it did exist.

      As for your statement, “All of the different beliefs are most likely not ever going to come together, but we can surely all come together in love…”, that’s part of my issue with this and most organized religions. We are so attached to our beliefs that the majority cannot or will not let them go long enough to remember that Jesus gave only two commands, both of which began with love. We suspend rational thought and compassion while we cling to our beliefs that in many cases were inherited from others rather than arrived at by our own thorough study of scripture AND history. Does that apply to every last individual? No. Does it apply to some extent in almost every group? Yep. I believe it does. We live in a town of 5000 people and have well over 20 different churches all claiming to have the same purpose. That’s a problem. What church group among us has enough love to swallow their pride, close their doors, and worship down the street with our brothers and sisters?

      I am sorry if my post has offended you, but I do not apologize for writing my experiences and my observations. I do not apologize for identifying the core beliefs of the group we have been associated with most of our lives. I do not apologize for documenting my awakening.

      Maybe instead of choosing to be offended, or feeling the need to defend what we both recognize is flawed, or trying to fix something that doesn’t really want to be fixed, maybe we need to start over, create a new paradigm in which the entire focus is on being like Jesus instead of analyzing and arguing over the writings of Paul.

  • Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. Courage required to hit “publish” on this one, woman. And you did. And it’s your truth. Breathe deep. Extend yourself grace (whether others do or not). Trust that know-that-you-know-that-you-know wisdom deep in your bones. The Sacred Feminine is rejoicing. I am, as well.

    Not for your emancipation or even all that you’ve bravely written these past days (though such would be true). Rather, for the generous way in which you’ve unveiled the layers of your story. Your story. Yours to tell. And you have. Beautifully. Tenderly. Vulnerably. And with strength.

    Glorious.

    Now rest.

  • Gennie:

    The only thing that matters at church is what goes on inside. It is a personal thing. Whether you lift your hands or not, whether you close your eyes or even bring your Bible rather than reading the scriptures on the big screen. Are you doing this for yourself or for the people looking at you? You are not going to hell for not going to church, or for not going to the right church. There are probably some good things to be learned inside most every church. I have attended a bunch of different Christian churches and a Synagogue (but I probably didn’t learn how to spell it)with many different labels on their doors. The “funny” thing is hearing some of the teachers on Sunday, and then being around them on Monday, Tuesday, etc., or maybe that’s their evil twin?I don’t think so. It’s all about relationship. Personal relaionship with God, Jesus. The relationship that I see in many CofC folks who take care of their own in an amazingly loving and selfless way. But also the way a businessman does business on a week day. Well I could ramble on, but this is your blog. It is interesting. I don’t totally agree with you, but I’m sure you expected me to say that. People are people, and we need each other, or why would God have made so many of us? If we could all just figure out how to help one another…………….Oh my goodness. Makes me tired.

    • Yep. Beautiful wonderful people. Human people. Lots to learn in every situation. Thanks so much for stopping by. And thank you for NOT agreeing with me in everything. It’s nice to have someone who forces me to stop and think things through one more time.

  • […] M.S., L.M.T. Massage Therapist, Wellness Educator, Spiritual Seeker « Born Again: A Journey from Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 7 Born Again: A Journey from Daughter of the Kingdom to Sacred Feminine Goddess, Part 9 […]

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