Exile as Freedom

First things first. Welcome to Losing My Religion and Keeping Faith: Musings of a Believer in Exile. This is my first blog; so I ask for your patience while I learn my way around all the particularities of design, navigating the dashboard, etc. I also hope the posts I share encourage fruitful discussion and wisdom sharing on a variety of topics related to religions, spiritualities, and life in communities of faith.

With all that said…

I owe a portion of the subtitle of this page, “Musings of a Believer in Exile” to retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong. His book, “Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers in Exile” was one of the first books I read as I began to question much of what I was taught–and was then preaching and teaching others–about God, Jesus, and Christianity. This book, as well as Spong’s “Jesus for the Non-Religious,” “Eternal Life: A New Vision – Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell,” John Dominic Crossan’s “Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography,” and Robin R. Meyers’ “Saving Jesus From The Church: How to Stop Worshiping Christ and Start Following Jesus,” made me feel less alone in my then-closeted questioning.

It would be nice if I could say I calmly read each of these books, reflected, journaled, prayed, etc., and then arrived at a comfortable decision regarding my spiritual path as it stands today.  It would be nice, and it would be dishonest. In his own way, each author encouraged me to question everything I have ever believed, professed, preached and taught about God, Jesus, the Bible, the afterlife, the Holy Spirit, and Christianity itself.

As a result of my reading, reflecting, private conversations with trusted colleagues (Christian and not Christian)–and yes, even through my spiritual and theological hand-wringing, at times–I can now say that, at this time on my spiritual path, I hold a non-theist view of God (Paul Tillich’s God as Ground of Being, for example); I affirm the unity of the nature of Jesus (human, not divine in the Trinitarian sense of the word); and I believe everything (and everyone) eventually returns to its Source through death. I also agree with Robin Meyers’ view of the bible as a conversation–not the literal word of God.

Even though I’ve reached this place on my journey through study, reflection and conversations, the statements above are my beliefs. I have no empirical proof for any of them–and I’m fine with that. I also know these beliefs may change over time–and I’m fine with that, too. Some people might say I’ve become a heretic. Some people might say I’ve deserted God and Jesus–or at least Christianity. Some people might say I’ve lost my religion (which may not be such a bad thing, after all). Spong might say I’ve entered the exile.

Exile is usually considered a bad thing–a punishment of some type. And it can be quite the painful experience, too. While this particular exile has had its painful moments, in the end, I don’t consider it a punishment at all. As a matter of fact, I am beginning to feel spiritually freer than I have in a long time.

And the best news is, I know I’m in some amazing company.

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4 thoughts on “Exile as Freedom

  1. It’s a wonderful morning that I happened to find this blog and meet you.
    I’m also the reader of Bishop Spong as you and was searching the believers in Exile this morning.
    And finally I found one who confesses happiness, “Exile as Freedom!”

  2. I’m also a pastor, 77 years old, in Korea, who has been searching the true life as a man of God.
    Now I’m serving ‘New Christianity Movement Solidarity’ in Korea as representative.
    I expect to hear so many wonderful stories from you. “Exile as Freedom!” What a wonderful expression it is! Exile is no more agony but the source of joy! Your message make me encouraging and joyous. For we arrived there after so long journey full of hardship.
    Happy New Year, Danny! See again.

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