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?”