So what the heck DO I believe in? Since joining Imagine about a year and a half ago, I have gone from an ice cold stage, through a period of complete disorientation and now at long last, I think I am emerging into a new spring renewal of spirituality. But what of faith? My personal definition is: believing in that which cannot be proven (it really annoys me that there is no good antonym for provable). Do I have faith? Yes and no.
While there are vestigial parts of my childhood faith, the faith that I now carry would be unrecognizable to my family. But really, isn’t that the point of evolution, to use something that severed another purpose in a whole new way?
But I digress.
My childhood faith is traditional Christianity. Specifically: conservative, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God. I have written enough about what and why I no longer follow that path, I will not repeat it here. Suffice to say, I am no longer a part of that particular set persuasions.
But what am I?
What am I?
I have been struggling to say what I am for months now. I know what resonates with me, but have been tongue tied when trying to explain it. But this morning I think I may have stumbled onto of conveying what I do believe and why I have been hesitant to expound on it until now. The language I use is the language of our greatest modern myth, Star Wars.
I believe in “a” force. The article of speech I choose is specific in this instance. I do not believe in “the” force as in The Force as laid out in the Star Wars universe. My reluctance to use this word is that it carries just as much if not more baggage as the word god.
I have faith that I am not a just a singular entity named Ben. I believe I am connected to a powerful force that is in all, has always been and ever will be (at least in our universe…don’t get me started).
There is a material point of view that people are individual creatures. And while they gain energy and sustenance from other living beings, there is nothing more, ”to it” than that simple electrochemical exchange. When you die, you are consumed and that is the end of you. I don’t subscribe to that point of view.
I feel that I am connected. And while I fully understand that it may be a figment of my imagination, I choose to believe it anyway. I believe that all life is plugged in at some level to a spiritual dimension and that whether voluntarily or unconsciously, we are part of a greater whole. The purpose of that whole is to love and nurture all that lives.
Now to my real purpose of writing today’s entry: Where do I express this faith? Well in my readings and explorations of the last couple of years, two things have become clear. One, I do not want to create my own religion. At best that makes me a nut and at worst people will be killing each other in my name 1000s of years from now (but a man can dream…shut up Ben). Two, buying into another religion (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Flying Spaghetti Monster) is just taking on someone else’s baggage.
So where does that leave me? Do I “worship” (another loaded word) by myself? What a better way to recognize the unity and connection of the universe, than to “do it” all by myself. Nope. No spiritual masturbation for me.
What I have heard over and over, but could not “fit” into was the idea of finding the mystical elements of my cultural faith; utilize its spiritual practices while rejecting the dogmatic elements of its particular persuasion.
Luckily, I find myself in a pluralistic church where the word “both” is held in special reverence. I can speak with total frankness and candor with my fellow Imagine peeps and I can participate in a worship service that is not unlike many other modern non-denominational churches (although it is part of one).
End of part one