Sunday, June 2, 2013

On losing faith...

I haven't posted on here in eons. Just not inspired, I guess.

First, a complaint. Why is it that if you follow a pastor long enough, they seem to fall off the rails eventually? It's like they start out fresh and full of godly ideas and ideals and build a community based on those things and soon enough, the community ends up reciprocating in such a way that the pastor ends up brainwashed and obsolete- like all the others before him who were the reason he felt charged to overthrow the pulpit in the first place.

I've posted several quotes and things from Matt Chandler's sermons here in the past, but I have to admit, I haven't listened to his sermons in a long time. It seems like the goal (or the method, I guess) has shifted from teaching to preaching and I don't tend to accept preaching nearly as readily. It's like he forgot that people need to know why they should want to believe these things and instead has moved towards an approach closer to the old, overused "because the Bible says so" doctrine. It's underwhelming, unmoving and frankly, inhuman.

When I hear stories of abuse in the non- Catholic church community and Matt Chandler retweets a reprehensible, appalling, morally corrupt defense of the abusers or when he pushes absolute propaganda against abortion rights, I can't help but feel like he's been blinded. Blinded and brainwashed.

I'm not saying a pastor has to be pro-choice, but if you're going to be anti-choice, at least focus on the root of the problem. At least. Don't demonize abortion. And if the reaction to that sentence is, "But it's murder," I've seen far more compassion towards convicted murderers than I have seen to the women and girls who are facing this truly cruel decision. And it is a cruel decision- it takes years to build towards the decision that abortion is the best option. Even if the decision seems hasty sometimes, it actually isn't. It's still made with the information with which the woman is equipped at the time the decision is made. If they believe they are unsupported and that a baby would be a truly crippling endeavor, even with adoption as a possibility, how did they get there? Odds are, they got there through events that were less of their own doing than that killer in prison for whom pastors show an abundance of compassion.

Of course I'm generalizing, but at the same time, the fact that there are endless possibilities and endless reasons means that pastors should show more restraint, more compassion, less judgment and they should definitely not alienate those in need by perpetuating propaganda, whether it's a fake abortion "documentary" or a sleazy victim-blaming statement in support of disgusting pastoral behavior.

Pastors are supposed to fight for the widows and children, aren't they? And it seems as they get bigger and their celebrity isolates them from the real people, the less they can empathize and connect with those who need it most. They start focusing on mass salvation rather than profound salvation.

And it makes me sad.


On an unrelated topic, the death of my dog on April 25th messed with my faith enormously. I couldn't understand why God would make her suffer the extra hours that she suffered. It still hurts my heart to think about it. But oddly enough, my non-Christian husband restored (most of) my faith. He does believe in God, which is important, as if I had married an atheist, odds are I would have lost my faith through all of this. Instead, he reminded me where God was in all this heartbreak and I am grateful that he did, even if I'm still pretty resentful and distant to God right now. He told me God gave him those few hours with her, the ones I wished He had taken away because he needed them. He needed those hours to say goodbye to her, so it wasn't that God wasn't listening but that God was doing the best He could for all of us, I guess.

But man, she got sick so suddenly. She was our healthiest dog and within a few weeks, she was gone. And at the same time, a dog who belongs a friend of mine had a massive tumor removed from her belly. At fourteen, it was unlikely that she would have escaped cancer and survived the surgery too. But she did. The massive tumor wasn't cancerous and now she's up and about again. And though my friend says she would have been able to handle it if her doggy had died, I remember reading her messages about it all and feeling scared for her. I remember feeling like there was no way this dog could die right now, that it would be too much on her plate with all that was going on with her father being ill, her own health scare and the sudden instability and anxiety in her life. And so, I prayed for her dog to be healed. I pleaded with God to give her this reprieve. And He did. And somehow, at the same time, took mine away.

I have to admit it does bother me that my prayers work for other people and not for me. I guess I take for granted the ones that do. We are provided for (somehow) and she didn't suffer long either. People I love make it to and from places safely and we're safe and loved. I do have a lot of blessings. But I can't help but feel like these major ones, the ones that break me to pieces fall on deaf ears. And then, at the same time, I would accept it if that was the case. I would accept all the heartbreak and all the grief and all the pain if it meant those I pray for wouldn't have to.

I would give anything to have my Jemma alive again, but I wouldn't ever wish that it was reversed and my friend's dog be taken instead of mine.

I just hope God has taken her swimming. When she was on the vet table and she was terrified, I told her we would go swimming tomorrow. I hope God kept my promise. Please, God, keep my promise to my baby girl.


JeanMarie said...

Oh, Prin! I have been thinking about this exact thing, the Jemma/Greyla/Prayer stuff lately. I would give almost anything for Jemma to still be here! But, my own faith in the power of prayer has begun to take a hit. I mean, I was storming the gates of heaven for BOTH Greyla and Jems. Yet, Greyla is here and Jemma is not. WTF? And what about my friend Matt? everyone from Indiana, to Ohio, to PA, to Ireland was praying for him to be heal, or for his life to be extended. Yet there he was, dead, 9 months after his colon cancer diagnosis.

If prayer works, why didn't it work for Jemma or Matt? Why did it work for Greyla? I'm beginning to wonder if it ever really works at all, or if those times when what we have prayed for comes about, are just coincidences? (And this from a woman who has always said there are NO coincidences, only God-incidences)

I haven't reread my prayer journal from that time in April, bc I fear it will be too painful. But, pray and journal I did, every morning.

I have begun to question what the whole point of prayer is. I have even thought about discussing it either with my friend Martha, the theologian, her husband, Dave, the chaplain, or even the pastor Pete at the church I have been attending here in Harmony.

I am thrilled to still have Greyla here among the living and if her blood panels of a week ago are any indication, she's incredibly healthy. Yet, in spite of that, and in spite of Gabby's sweetness, I am so sorry that Jemma is gone, even if her blue eyes creeped me out a little :) There seems a randomness, that I cannot attribute to a loving God. All prayer should be equal and it's not, so what's the point?

prin said...

For me, the purpose of prayer is to bring us closer to God, both through the prayer itself and through the results.

Prayer is equal, but our needs aren't. What will draw me closer to God won't be the same as what you need to draw you closer to God.

Having Greyla have her miracle, I think, drew you closer to God because you were able to identify that it was a miracle. If Jemma had been healed, I might have thought she just had bronchitis or something.

The way Jemma died, the way I promised her she'd go swimming "tomorrow", forced me to lean on God, even when I was (am) so mad at him for all of it. I had to keep asking him to take her swimming, I had to let him take that off me (which I'm still working on). I have to trust him to make good on my promise.

If life isn't about these things, these physical things, then the joy, suffering, sorrow, pain, delight, etc., all just serve to bring us closer to God and in theory, we should be grateful for them, in which ever form they end up in our lives.

But man, I miss my blue eyed little girl. Every day, I miss her to tears.

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