Religious Ambivalence

So what’s new, right? I’ve been the queen of religious ambivalence as long as I can remember since coming out of my christian fundamentalist daze. Some evangelicals label my kind of religiosity “non-committed” or they call us “church shoppers,” when really it comes down to disagreeing more with personal issues than that; namely dogma. I came across this article this morning and it explains exactly how I feel about religion. Some people feel it’s not possible to be of two religions. But I don’t see what difference it makes. Especially when institutional religion, for me, is more about style of worship than personal conviction. Since no one dogma/doctrine of institutional religion defines me and I can never wholly ascribe to a particular one, then why sign on to a brand of Christianity? One should just go to the church that fulfills one’s worship needs; silence, liturgy, music, etc. What has been your experience?


14 thoughts on “Religious Ambivalence

  1. I considered the Quakers for a while. I don’t know if you ever read my post on them: The Religions Society of Friends (Quakers)

    I always felt like an outsider, and, at least the local chapter is more of a social club than a religious group.

    So, since it was a social club, I had to feel accepted, and I didn’t. Not one little bit. They were very clicky.

    • Lorena,
      I find this in a lot of churches I visit. Occasionally there will be one that’s open and friendly, but churches are scary places to walk into the first time. This is something church folk don’t want to admit, especially in small towns. I lived in a small town most of my life and found each and every church there very socially oriented. More like a club about who’s who in town than a church. Unfortunately, you have to compromise on some things and I just wasn’t ready to do that at the time. There are good churches however, but, like a good man, they are hard to find. They are pretty much worth the hunt, depending on what rewards you require of course. 😀 I did not know you wrote a post on that. I’ll check it out.

  2. I’ve been in conservative, charismatic, independent, and fundamental churches. Also there was this cult I’ve been to where only guys are allowed to speak.

    There was this one period of my spiritual journey where I was looking for the perfect church. Perfect in doctrine, that is. So I went through a whole quagmire of churches. I’ve been twice baptised. I didn’t just want to attend, I wanted to be committed.

    The best church that I found was the house church concept, or ekklesia. It’s modeled after the church that emerged after the Pentecost: no church building, just a bunch of people gathered together. That was the most comfortable church I found as you’re allowed to be an individual there. There is no one speaker, and everyone is allowed to espouse a doctrine, as long as they explain it using the bible. So there was no sermons, everyone was expected, or rather, encouraged, to share their viewpoints.

    That was very fun (to me) and it sure beat listening to just one guy going on and on. We also sometimes went shopping together. There was no church buildings, and we met mostly at one person’s house. Those were fun days. The people there helped me to get over the trauma of having been sent 2 discipline letters by 2 separate institutional churches. We even played board games together, like scrabble and chess.

  3. I’ve also been to a church where all women had to wear skirts; they were not allowed to wear pants.

  4. temaskian,
    That’s interesting. I too have been baptized twice because the churches “required” it to be “valid.” I’ve also been “confirmed” twice. So I know what you mean there. I’ve heard of house churches but haven’t been to them. I’ve often thought I’d like to go to one though. Yes, when it comes to how people dress, I have to draw the line. God sees us in our undies before and after church so I can’t imagine what difference it makes during church, except propriety that is. 🙂

    I love the idea of playing board games at church. A rousing game of Monopoly might go far in resolving contentions issues, don’t you think?

    Thanks for stopping by!!

  5. I haven’t yet read the article, but I fully understand different needs being satisfied by different kinds of church setting and/or practice.

    For me, right now, the Quakers are it, since my local meeting is very warm, open and accepting. Human institutions are bedevilled by the individuals who comprise them unfortunately or fortunately.

    The love of language and music which I inherited from my formative experience in the Anglican/Episcopalian church has to be satisfied elsewhere at the moment, because I’m one of those annoying people who can’t screen out stuff he doesn’t agree with, and feels like a fraud when attending a church for whom central articles of faith are things I don’t even understand, still less believe in.

    Of course, my vision of the faithful standing around me, lost in total conviction, is not correct, but it still bothers me.

    This need churches have to get people to sign up to them exclusively is predicated on the notion that their idea of God is correct, and the ticket to salvation can be best secured via them and their good offices.
    The Idea that God cares that much about the paltry efforts we make to interpret the Divine is another thing I don’t understand. If I could personify the kind of unconditionally loving super intelligence in which I believe, I would imagine it simply smiling indulgently at its creatures’ beloved antics.

    This focus on what God is perceived to want seems to me to be a pretext for extending the scope and power of the human institution. God’s always a great pretext for what humanity wants.



  6. Reg,

    You wrote: “God’s always a great pretext for what humanity wants.”

    This is a great truism, because it seems that God always “approves” of what the religious want even when it comes to killing non-believers. Of course, slowly we are hearing from groups that advocate peace, but their voices are lost in the din of those demanding blood. History has proven that God always seems to be on the side of one religion or another.

    Some decry the dissolving of religious boundaries and institutions, but I see it as an evolutionary step toward the better. You cannot stuff new wine into old wineskins after all.

  7. MOI wrote:
    “History has proven that God always seems to be on the side of one religion or another.”

    Exactly, and any enigmatic text can be used to prove almost anything.
    History is such a text, and totalitarian states can use their own version of it to justify their actions, and mentally ill individuals can use it to establish that the holocaust under the Third Reich never happened.

    Small wonder that the institutionally religious cleave to their version of scriptural truth to justify their claim to represent the true church, or the true Islam, on earth. If they did not do this, they would have to admit that their particular text, Bible, Koran, ETC, was, in fact, just another text from which individual readers – shock horror – might draw their own conclusions.


  8. I have ran the full gambit of religion. I have explored many faiths and churches. I find that organized religion always leaves me feeling too confined, to limited. I also have an issue with any one religion which claims to have THE answer. I am a spiritual being and in such gain much from many spiritual masters, such as Buddha, Mohammad and Jesus. I resonate with the wisdom of the masters and not with the dogma of religion.

  9. tobeme,

    I agree wholeheartedly. I find some religious rituals soothing and helps me focus when I cannot do it on my own. In that regard, I find religious rituals can teach me just as much as spiritual teachers. If they claim to have THE answers, then they are free to believe so. But I no longer feel compelled to adhere to them.

    However, I’ve found that believers themselves are varied in their dogmas. Most I’ve met with are in similar straits and take or leave the doctrine in favor of the ritual. I believe religion is a tool only. Our mistake is making the tool God itself.

    Good thoughts as always.

  10. “I am a spiritual being and in such gain much from many spiritual masters, such as Buddha, Mohammad and Jesus.”

    I have difficulty imagining that anything can be gained from Mohammad. A spirtual master?

  11. These terms church stoppers or non-committed that you reference really bother me. They come from those who beleive they know all and pity us who haven’t come to their conculsions. Maybe I should start referring to them as the “church stagnant”? Because people question and search makes them no less religious. And going to a church is not the only way to show that spirituality.

    • Hi Jodi! Happy Easter to you!

      “Church stagnants” would be a good term as well. I like that. Those who have given up searching and questioning and remain “institutionalized.” You’re right, though. Institutional church is but one expression of spirituality.

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