Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: belief

Nearing the End

I thought I’d have done a lot more for this year of living christianly. I wanted to read the entire Bible, join a local church, and post regular blogs and videos about religion and spirituality and scripture.

I didn’t.

I couldn’t finish the Bible. This is partly because it took a long time for morning devotions to become a habit. Also, scripture is to be lingered over, not devoured. Bible reading isn’t like studying for a test, it’s like a homeowner going through storage, seeking treasures old and new.

Church was difficult. I was always on the outside, even though I’d sing louder than most. Our local evangelical church worked homophobia into every sermon (they will know we are Christians by our sexual conservatism!). And I was on the outside in progressive churches because they never sang songs I knew. In either case, I couldn’t take communion, which I’ve always understood to be the chief meeting of the Church.

My posts about religion, spirituality, and scripture were irregular. I found myself in a middling space, seeing the profound flaws and injustices of religion, along with the beatific and life-changing powers of religious spirituality. This has been hard to write about.

So here I am, my year of living christianly nearly over, and I’m no closer to believing in the crucial aspects of the Christian religion: the existence of a personal God and the resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ. These doctrines are the crux that bar my way back.

But I am not done with this old-time religion. Morning devotions have turned into something powerful for me, and I’ll keep them. I realize that I’ll probably never be done with The Book. And in the new year, I’ll have more to say about it.

The thing about religion

The best, most exciting questions of the universe are the ones that can’t be figured out empirically.  Is there a God?  What is morality?  Who am I?  Why?  Why?  Why?

Unless I’m religious.  Then there’s a book for that.

Is there a God?  Look it up.
Who am I?  Look it up.
How shall I treat my neighbour?  Look it up.
Who can I love?  Look it up.

Even when the answers don’t make sense, with religion they are still, somehow, true.

The thing about religion is that it tries to convince me that the best questions of life, the most exciting ideas, are empirical.  That they are waiting for me in a book, if only I’d read it.

The other thing about religion, is that I’m done with it.  Finally and joyfully done.