Chris Jennings Penders is the Author and Publisher of Wisdom And Life Blog. I’ve been following his blog for some time and I have also had the opportunity to connect with him on Google +, Bloggers.com and most recently on Twitter. Why you may ask? Well let me just say I have found him to be a blog friend who writes with integrity. Like so many other blog friends I follow, his writing inspires me and I’ve discerned how much he has grown in the faith and his deep desire to draw even closer to God. On September 17th 2012, he posted this article that I have been permitted by him to feature today here on Empowerment Moments. I was moved by the contents of the article. It reminded me so much of my own struggles within the context of the discussion…Okay I will present it to you and let you get your own experience by it. So here is what Chris wrote:
by Chris Jennings Penders
I’ve written here so many times about how my faith has changed in the past ten years, moving from a belief in my own God, keeping an open ongoing dialog with the divine and NEVER having ANY doubt that there was a Divinity that we could ALL tap into if we only released our doubts and listened for HIS answers. The answers are ALL around us in messages cloaked in coincidences that don’t exist.
Within the past few years, my faith has deepened further to the point where it’s become such a part of me that it’s part of the very fabric of my life. I haven’t arrived at the point where I can discuss what I believe verbally with just anyone. I am not quite comfortable doing that just yet. I DO believe that faith is EXTREMELY personal and should ONLY be discussed if someone asks what you believe.
You’re probably asking then how writing this blog is any different. Right? Well my interpretation of that query is that I’m not addressing ANY ONE particular person and if someone doesn’t appreciate what I’m writing they can simply stop reading and I’ll never be wiser. Whereas if I’m face to face with someone and am discussing my paradigm, it would be much more challenging to turn away.
So why am I returning to this theme again today? That’s easy. I am in the middle of a book called Christianity after Religion and the book is bringing up some very strong emotions. My long time readers should be aware that I often find quotes from various sources to use as grist for my own mill (Thanks, JM.). One of the passages from Christianity after Religion that stands out for me is: Unlike religion as system of belief, religio meant faith – living, subjective experience including love, veneration, devotion, awe, worship, transcendence, trust, a way of life, an attitude toward the divine or nature, or, as Smith describes, a ‘particular way of seeing and feeling the world.’ Accordingly, ‘the archaic meaning of religio [w]as that awe that men felt in the presence of an uncanny and dreadful power of the unknown….That’s religiio is something within men’s hearts.’
I SINCERELY believe this is what is challenging about today’s organized religion. Organized religion has lost its way and is clinging to its past ideals.
It is NOT welcoming.
It is NOT nurturing.
It is NOT practicing what Jesus taught, that inclusion is what succeeds, that love is what succeeds.
We should be finding our similarities.
We should be loving everyone despite their challenges, despite what SOME may view as sinful. How can humanity have ANY grasp on what God sees as sinful? EVERYTHING is up for interpretation. It’s why this book points out that so many people are leaving organized religion and finding their own way. It’s why I have NEVER been interested in religion. That doesn’t mean in ANY way WHATSOEVER that I’m not a person of faith. I think like many people I’m full of faith. Now this may come across as a crass, blasphemous of full of ego and let me put any of that to rest IMMEDIATELY.
I’m sure there are people who will agree with me but may be fearful of putting words to it but I even feel that I am more faithful than SOME who attend organized religion. ONLY because I have an ongoing dialog, an ongoing relationship with God as vengeful, exclusionary. Some in organized religion attend weekly service and feel that is the ONLY time they can devote to THEIR God.
That’s what I find disconcerting about religion. That and the fact that religion is exclusionary. I find it particularly challenging when a church that is supposed to be practicing love, that is supposed to be practicing empathy excludes a whole segment of society because that segment is different from them. What right does religion have to deny someone basic human rights? Not necessarily what right, but HOW can an organization that professes to practice love and inclusion be so unaware that they are not practising what they preach?
You can see how my indignation has reared its ugly head in the way my tone has shifted in the last few paragraphs. I become a different person in the face of exclusionary practises of an organization that SHOULD be anything BUT exclusionary.
Am I the only one who feels this way? Would love to hear your comments in the comment field below.
Be Happy! Be Well! Be Positive!
Blessings to you.
For more about Chris Jennings Penders and other inspiring articles visit Wisdom And Life