Religion and Spirituality
How was your Sunday, everyone? Here are some post-church attendance jokes:
A Texan traveled to England on vacation. While there, he attended a religious service and was amazed at how quiet and reserved it was. Not one word was spoken out of turn.
All of a sudden he heard the minister say something he really liked. “Amen!” he shouted. Everyone in the church turned and stared, and the usher came running down the aisle.
“You must not talk out loud,” admonished the usher. “But,” protested the Texan, “I’ve got religion!”
“Well,” said the usher, “you did not get it here.”
An impassioned minister was visiting a country church and began his address with a stirring reminder:
“Everybody in this parish is going to die.”
The evangelist was discomfited to notice a man in the front pew who was smiling broadly.
“Why are you so amused?” he asked.
“I’m not in this parish,” replied the man, “I’m just visiting my sister for the weekend.”
Here’s a mish mosh of amusing, sometimes funny, ponderings:
The father was very proud when his son went off to college. He came to tour the campus on Parents’ Day and observed his son hard at work in the chemistry lab. “What are you working on?” he asked.
“A universal solvent,” explained the son, “a solvent that’ll dissolve anything.”
The father whistled, clearly impressed, then wondered aloud, “What’ll you keep it in?
A man was trying to understand the nature of God and asked him: “God, how long is a million years to you?” God answered: “A million years is like a minute.”
Then the man asked: “God, how much is a million dollars to you?” And God replied: “A million dollars is like a penny.”
Finally the man asked: “God could you give me a penny?” And God said: “In a minute.”
As an informed and wise society, we prefer the old-fashioned alarm clock to the kind that awakens you with soft music or a gentle whisper.
If there’s one thing we can’t stand early in the morning, it’s hypocrisy.
I didn’t think I would write about this personal experience, but today I realized that in order to fully heal, I need to express myself.
So here I go.
Five months ago, I made a well-thought out and measured decision to leave the religion of my birth. Let me make this perfectly clear: I left a religious organization. My faith is still intact.
I was quite active in the local-area church of that religion: I was a scripture reader; I trained other scripture readers; I started a volunteer chore ministry that served the members of that local church as well as the geographic community in which that church is located; and I contributed financially to both the local-area church and the “Mother” church.
The catalyst for my leaving the religion of my birth was the “Mother” church’s decision to encourage all local churches of that religion in Washington state to hold a political petition signing at each church service on a particular Sunday in April 2012. Each local church was given the option of whether or not to hold this particular petition signing; some churches opted out, many opted in. Therein lies part of the problem.
I firmly believe in the absolute separation of church and state. When I heard that this petition signing was to take place, I approached my local church and asked if they would be participating. “Yes” was their answer, and they did. The issue at hand for me is that once you bring politics into a church’s sanctuary – regardless of the political party, cause, or issue – you taint the worship space that was created for the express purpose of praising God, celebrating the rituals in which we find comfort, and building up the Body of believers who call that local church the home base for their faith.
My “beef” isn’t even with the local church I left. (As a matter of fact I met with the local church leadership to talk about my concerns and my intention to leave and we had a very thoughtful and respectful conversation.) My beef and major concern centers around the hierarchy of leadership that holds onto teachings that I have not supported for quite some time now. The petition signing was merely the catalyst for me to finally be true to myself and the faith in which I clothe myself.
Now the healing that I’m seeking – healing from an unfulfilled expectation. I cared deeply about many of the people with whom I worshiped and I thought the feeling was mutual. You see, after more than ten years of attendance and active participation, I had the expectation that someone would a) notice that I was no longer there; and b) care enough to get in touch with me. Five months after leaving the church I received an e-mail from someone asking if I had left the parish, because this person missed seeing me on Sundays. That e-mail made my day. That e-mail both made me grieve, and rejoice. Grieve – because only one person cared enough to reach out to me. Rejoice – because one person reached out to me and confirmed that I mattered.
The lesson in all of this for me is that it’s not the local church’s fault that I’m hurt from their lack of response to my absence. I erroneously placed my personal expectation onto others – those who didn’t know what I had hoped would happen. I’ve come to believe that “expectation” is simply a fantasy of a personal hope that we try to impose on other people and/or events.
In that respect, the phrase “unfulfilled expectation” is a contradiction in terms. Again, going with my definition of fantasy, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fantasy in this manner: the free play of creative imagination. The dictionary also provides an obsolete definition of fantasy as “hallucination.”
So there you have it. I hallucinated what I had wanted to take place – but it wasn’t fact.
At a wedding reception, a priest and a rabbi met at the buffet table.
“Go ahead,” said the priest, try one of these delicious ham sandwiches.
“Overlooking your divine rule just this once won’t do you any harm,” added the priest.
“That I will do, dear sir,” replied the Rabbi,
“on the day of your wedding!”