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.