I am a fence sitter when it comes to religion. For some reason, ever since I became a Christian, I’ve been fascinated with all varieties of gods, goddesses, deities, etc. My family comes from a long line of Baptist preachers on my mother’s side, so I come by the Christian faith naturally, however it hasn’t just been Christianity that fascinates me. When I had my “Damascus Experience” on the way to work one day, I found Christ directly. No one preached to me the gospel or made me recite a “sinner’s prayer.” I tried to clean up my life and realized that I couldn’t do it and didn’t have to because God loved me through Jesus just as I was.
From there I began a 23 year long journey. I began in fundamentalist christianity and by various roads and doctrines, traveled through Lutheranism, Catholicism, Greek Orthodoxy, Paganism, Wicca, and finally back to Christianity-light. By that I mean, Christian faith without institutional loyalty. I settled in the (American) Baptist faith mainly because of fellowship. BUT…I find myself drawn to the Roman Catholic Church and its culture. Along the way I learned to appreciate other religions. I LOVE Hindu art; the rich colors, the imagination of it. But there are so many gods and goddesses, you kind of get overwhelmed. Each of them have a specific ritual too and that gets confusing.
I ventured into paganism and discovered the goddess while at college. I even incorporated goddess lore in my Master’s thesis, which compared the aspects of the female hero in 3 novels. I am particularly drawn to Gaia images. But wicca and nature religions also seem to worship the creature rather than the creator.
During my brief foray into Greek Orthodoxy I became spiritually intoxicated with icons (ikons). There is nothing like a Greek icon if you’ve never seen them before. They are incorporated within Orthodox worship resulting in a spiritual atmosphere that is unrivaled in holiness. The incense, the chanting, I love it.
Yet, the Orthodox’ feud with the Roman Catholic church is troublesome because it’s clearly a battle of cultures and nothing more (unless you count the filioque argument). The Roman bishop claimed supremacy over Christendom while the Orthodox bishop said, “I don’t think so!” (My paraphrase) and the battle was on. Roman Catholic icons hold appeal as well but are not fraught with strict creative guidelines as the orthodox icons are. Anyway, I love Italian art and architecture.
I also love the Sacrament of Confession and the Eucharist. I must say that I have the least problem with these two things. Confession is a great way to cleanse the conscience and the Eucharist is simply a gift. I have the most difficulty with Purgatory (don’t believe in it) and infant baptism (although I’m starting to see SOME basis for the practice). I feel an affinity for the saints since my journey through paganism opened my eyes to spirits all around us a lot more than my protestant brethren and “sistren ?” 🙂 allow or accept. But I digress.
I found myself back in Baptistland specifically because I find Roman Catholicism incredibly lonely. I’m a social person and love to be part of a group. The Greek Orthodox church was a whole Protestant group who converted en masse to the Orthodox church, so they were pretty social, but we moved to another state and that fellowship was short lived. So when we came to where we live now, the closest I came to good fellowship was the Baptist church. I don’t like their bibliolatry or their iconoclastic ways, but they study and discuss and that feeds my academic mind (even if it is only out of one book). Our Catholic church has no social life at all. No programs, no scripture study, no groups, etc. Online communities simply cannot offer the same kind of contact. So….I go to the Baptist church, teach Sunday school, sing in the choir, and hang out. Then I go to the Catholic church for Eucharist and Penance. If I could just incorporate both into one church……