Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Mesalliance - Part One

Why is it that I find religious language (Christian, in particular) to be generally unhelpful and uninspiring to me these days? I still hold the basic tenets of the faith, yet the language of the faith leaves me cold. What is this?

Let me tell you what I am thinking (and feeling) about this right now. I could apply all of this on a universal level, but will stick to the personal. I've watched this same dynamic in others, so it seems more universal than particular. And, it has been watching this dynamic at play all around me which has helped me understand it more keenly in myself.

I know, and have known all along, that I am afflicted with all sorts of deep wounds. This is the human condition; I am no different than anyone else. These wounds, be they childhood, adolescent or adulthood, have shaped my reaction to life. They are the lens through which I experience, understand and respond to everything - from my first waking moment of each day, through my last ephemeral dream every night. These wounds color my relationships, my decision making, my leadership, my hopes, my fears, my love and my anger.

From a very early age one learns to manage the reaction quotient of woundedness, so as to be able to live with some sense of equanimity and purpose. We all do. I did.

It mostly works.

We overcome; we adjust; we stumble; we harden; we over (or under) compensate; we rationalize; and we react. This is all rather obvious. It is what constitutes living.

There are cracks in the system, however. One crack in particular which has my attention.

Most people have a religion, an ideology, a social hobby (church, club, team, neighborhood, sport, group, etc.) or a political passion with which they identify. I am going to focus on the religious mindset. One might as easily focus on a vigorous anti-religion mindset, or on a politically liberal mindset.

I am pretty well convinced that most of us, and I can speak with authority about myself here, experience our religion at the level of our woundedness. My Christian faith is primarily fused with the wounded part of me. Thus, the marriage of my soul to Christianity is a twisted one; distorted by the wounds and scars of life which I bear.

Here's an example.

When I was a young boy I was taught and encouraged to say my bedtime prayers. We had grace at dinner time, and even read the Bible at the dinner table - when Dad wasn't out doing doctor business. "Now I lay me down to sleep..." seemed to be the appropriate way to end the day and begin one's night. At some point it became more than appropriate; it was necessary and required. I wasn't sure what would happen if this ritual were to be neglected, I just knew that neglect was not a good idea. So I prayed.

At a certain age I started spending the night away from home, invited out on a Friday night (this was the usual sleepover night) to Jim or Rob or Steve's house. Do you see the problem? "Now I lay me down to sleep..." was not the sort of thing one could do in front of a fellow seven or eight year old boy. Not even silently. I had to manage this somehow.

The solution was to say my prayers twice the following night, when I was back in my own bed. In this way I covered all my bases, assured that whatever punishment was prescribed for neglected prayer would be withheld by God upon receipt of the delayed, doubled prayer. The fact that I am here, fifty five years later, is proof positive that my system of preserving cosmic order was the right one. A crime had been committed, but it had been paid for by my rigorous system of prayer accountability.

I must admit that even putting this down on paper now has me cringing. My childhood religion was obviously twisted. Sincere? Certainly. Absurd? Undoubtedly.

What had happened? At some point, in some deep part of my boyhood being, my religion and my woundedness fused; they were solemnly joined in a twisted internal marriage.

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Mesalliance - Part Two

California Bound - "Nice Backyard!"