“Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret.”

A few posts down, I was commenting back to Jenny regarding my religious history, and though I should just make a blog entry about it.

It’s kind of odd for me, as I have a pretty different religious history than most.

From birth until age seventeen I had maybe entered a church building three times. My parents are culturally Southern Baptist, but never practicing. At around fifteen I started to read the Tao Te Ching and various Buddhist and Neopagan texts.

A friend of mine got me into C.S. Lewis, and a lot of his stuff made a great deal of sense to me at that time. I started going to that friend’s Baptist church and as I decided to leave music performance behind at high school graduation, I looked for something to fill the void, and newly found religion was just the ticket.

I went to a private SBC university (Bob Jones lite), ran into several professors and students professing Hypercalvinism (there is no free will, God chose who was going to heaven and hell before the planet was created, Jesus didn’t die for all people, etc) and that seemed like lunacy to me. I started to look at all kinds of churches in the area; Catholic, Lutheran, Wesleyan, etc., and ran into a close friend’s father who is an Eastern Orthodox priest.

I talked to him several times and visited the mission church he was assigned to, and from the moment I walked in the door I was home. Everything, from the poetry of the liturgy and the chanted psalms, to the a cappella choir performing ancient chants, to the historic icon reprints, to the candles, bells, and incense enveloped me into a multisensory communion that I finally got an idea what heaven as a state of being might be like. Six months later I had gone through the catechumenate and was chrismated as a member of the Orthodox Church on Christmas day 1998. I was nineteen. The next day, I traveled with my sponsor(kind of like a godfather) to a monastery in Pennsylvania and spent a week amongst the monks.

I had a great seven years like that until some of my own issues got in the way and I felt the need to isolate myself. Up until that point the priest was trying to get me to go to seminary and I was directing choir and teaching church school. I was dealing with some of my own head issues and I kept telling myself that I was a complete hypocrite and that all of the people there would be much better off if I wasn’t around. So I stopped going around three years ago.

At this point I’ve been away for three years and I’m not sure about some of the core beliefs anymore. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with gay men and women, I don’t think premarital sex is always a problem. It seems like when I would pray multiple times daily that my life was much worse than it has been for the last few years. For the past few months I’ve started to drift toward agnosticism.

I’m going to go to a lenten Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday, see how awkward everything is, and go from there.

I miss the people, the music, the liturgy. I need to see if there are any holes in me that this fills again. “Are you there God it’s me, Margaret?”

2 thoughts on ““Are you there God, it’s me, Margaret.”

  1. Jenny says:

    Wow, thanks for the history, its actually pretty interesting. I think you find more people leaving church at 15 than joining!I have a professor friend who is of a very conservative church bent and we have lunch from time to time, and her response to your self-doubt and wanting to remove yourself from the others and your head issues would be “It’s the devil.” I don’t think that, myself, but know it is a common answer in Churches. I wonder sometimes if religion (as it is currently mass marketed) is really intended for people who are Thinkers. When I was traveling in Scotland, I found the beauty of the Anglican church – my favorite experience was on the Isle of Iona, which had a very multicultural service while maintaining the high church elements. I’ve had equally moving moments at a Foursquare service where people danced around, laid on the floor, and waved flags. I also was moved by a Winter Solstice celebration that I went to at a UU Church with pagan and native american elements to it. So then I can’t figure out what it is that moves me. Or if that is what I really want from church to begin with, or even if I want church… bah, this could be several blog entries for myself too. 🙂

  2. David E. Galloway says:

    That’s one of the things that really appealed to me about Orthodoxy. Almost none of that “It’s the Devil” kind of talk. Plus the Church being open to evolution and being non-condemning of others in general. If you want an idea of how I thought their reasonings were pretty well laid out, check out this page but now that the rose colored glasses have been removed I am starting to see a few cracks that mar the surface of the whole. Regarding the moving moments that you mentioned, do you think these feelings of being moved came from your own spirituality or from an appreciation for the ritual and music of the service. Or perhaps both I guess, no reason they can’t both be present simultaneously.

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