Thursday, January 24, 2013

Matters Of Faith

It's been quite a ride for me over the last few years. In matters of faith, I faltered, struggled, questioned, and ultimately took the rather scary step of placing my feet on a different path.  This was scary because I knew that some people would not understand it at all.  I definitely had some fear of losing friends over it.  I know I've lost readers.  But then, I've gained some, too.  And I couldn't let that fear get in the way of taking that step.  Faith has always been personal and important to me.  So, I had to go where I felt led.

So a while back, I got an email from someone who was grateful for my Pearl Posts.  For those not familiar with them, I've written a number of posts about my experience with the Pearl's parenting advice, and the many things I believe are wrong with it.  This reader expressed some concerns about the graphics on my site, saying,
are you aware that there are right now two occultic graphics on your blog? One clearly states the first rule of satanism, "an it harm none, do what thou wilt"......and the other one has a pantagram with the greeting "blessed be" which is a wiccan greeting. as you call yourself a christian I would think this would be of great concern to you.
I thought about this email for a long time.  And, finally, I wrote her the following response:
Dear S., Thank you for the concern. If you read the top of my blog, it mentions that I'm a witchy mama. And in the about me section it points out that I'm a Christian turned Pagan. Just an FYI, the "harm none" rule is actually the first rule of Wicca, not Satanism. In fact, modern Satanism sets up man as his own God and believes in doing good only to those whom you think deserve it. Wicca believes in the principle of never doing harm. Not to others, and not to oneself. In fact Pagans should strive to do good in all things and all ways. It is a peaceful earth based religion with no place for Satan. We don't believe in Satan. 
I understand that you may believe differently about my faith. I respect that and wish you well on your journey. I don't see my change of faith as a rejection of God or even Jesus. For me, it is an expansion to seeing God reflected in the world around me. To seeing God as bigger than the box I believed Christianity put around Him/Her. It focuses more on experiencing God and doing good than on being right. I can usually be sure I'm doing good, or at least not doing harm. I can never be sure if I am right. 
Peace to you, and I'm glad you liked my articles, if not my faith, 
Now, I will give you that I'm not always good with my words, and perhaps I was unclear in a few areas.  Still, I was surprised at what she got out of what I wrote, and what her response ultimately was.
1 John 2:19 says: "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."
You say you were a christian but left because you wanted to not put God in the box we christians put him in. On the contrary, as a christian we believe God is omnipotent, omnipresent, hears all things, knows all things, sees all things, created all things, and is in all things.
I understand what Christians believe.  My experience was that, in practice, He was often put in a box.  One in which He was so much less understanding of human nature than even we humans are.  I was not comfortable with that.  And it's not something all Christians do.  But I'd seen it enough that I was becoming jaded and angry.  I didn't want to feel that way about a faith that I truly cared about.  It was better for me to leave and still have love and respect for it, and for Jesus.

You say you wanted to do good. Are you saying then, that being a christian forbid you that opportunity, if you were indeed a christian, which I doubt. See the verse above.
I do want to do good.  And, no, I am not saying that being a Christian denied me or forbid me that opportunity. What I found instead was that I was never Christian enough for some.  And I spent so much time trying to defend my understanding of my faith to other Christians, that I had become focused on being Right, as opposed to doing good.
I think you must not have actually read the bible, as God over and over admonishes us to do good, to everyone and everything, even THOSE WHO HATE US.
I think she should probably stop making assumptions about me with so little knowledge.  I have indeed read the bible, many times. And while I understand the Christian imperative, I had become so invested in being right about matters of faith, that I believe I was losing focus.
that is not wicca, or paganism, or whatever you say you are...instead, it is the essence of christianity, to do good.
Sorry, but she is wrong.  Pretty much every major religion has good deeds as a big part of it.  I will never understand the Christians who think their religion has a monopoly on doing good in the world.   She then spent quite a bit of time quoting scripture at me.  To what end, I couldn't tell you.
Dear Anne, I donot want to right or diss your beliefs..
I'm not feeling that, but I'll take her word for it.
but I am a bible believing christian, and as such, knowing what the bible says, I know you were never really a believer, or you would not have left...
Ok, now I'll admit, I'm a little annoyed.  I'm pretty sure I didn't spend years of my life offering my time, my obedience, and my faith to the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
as the very first verse above states...God does not lie. He says those of you who leave the fold were never really of us....that is why you it could be revealed you were really not a christian.The good news is, since you were never really a believer in Christ, well, maybe you never made him Lord of your life, that you can still be saved.
Oh, Hey!  Hear that, everyone?  I can still be saved!  I can spend many more years of my life believing, worshiping  studying,  only to never be assured of my salvation!  You see, I know my faith was genuine. And if that wasn't enough, then I could never be assured that anything was.  
IF indeed, like you claim, you were once a christian, and left..than the news is not so good. Hebrews 6:4-5 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Oh, well then, that's bad for me I guess.  I've put Jesus to open shame and I suppose will be cast into the darkness?  Into the Pit?  Let me make this really clear.  The God I believe in, The Great Creator spirit that I worship, that I see manifest in all faiths and deities, is big enough to understand that I have struggled in my faith.  He/She/It is Great enough to understand that what I seek to do is experience a connection to It.  And if your God would cast me into an eternal pit, and have so little understanding for that struggle, than why would I want to follow Him?
There are many ppl who do good, evil ppl do good, so do good people and not so good ppl. Everyone loves somebody, the question at hand is really, WHO DO YOU SERVE, Jesus or Satan? There are only those two choice....jsut because you donot believe in satan, doesnt make him any less can read his very prolific history here, and his origin, and even his end! Luke 10:18, Isaiah 14:12, Rev. 12:9, Matthew 4:10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" or even his plan for YOU 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
I'm going to skip the convoluted reasoning in using scriptures as proof for scripture. Instead I will say, I don't believe that.  I don't believe that someone like Ghandi was serving Satan simply because he wasn't serving God as you understand Him.  It seems unlikely that someone would do so much good in the world...for Satan.  I reject the idea of Satan completely.  Frankly, I think we do enough evil ourselves.  

She goes on to implore me to turn away from my evil path, and return to the One True God.  She's quite sincere in her pleas, and I don't want to make light of that.  But I would like to point out that telling a virtual stranger that she hasn't read the bible, wasn't really a believer, and then to lecture her for quite a long time, might not be the best way to evangelize.  I'm pretty sure the Bible says that without love, one is just a clanging symbol (one of my favorite scriptures, actually) and for me, that's what her email became. Just a resounding noise.

In the end, what I believe is less the point for me.  My faith structure as it's set up, is a means to an end.  And that end is communion with Deity.  I do that through many means, and that connection fills me with a desire to go into the world and do good. Care for people, care for the Earth, be connected to other living beings.  This is my truth.

If believing in God and Jesus does that for you, provides you with that connection and that impetus to do good in the world, then I support you in it!  Ask my Christian friends if I tear down their faith or discourage them from practicing it.  They will tell you I don't.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.  I wonder how, if I truly serve Satan, I could encourage my friends in their Christian faith.  One would think that would be very counterproductive for the Dark One.



  1. It sounds like you handled that very gracefully. These conversations get so hard because they inevitably get stuck in the round and round circle of the Christian person quoting scripture to validate all of their points which isn't nearly as meaningful to someone who doesn't believe that scripture is the word for word absolute truth....but they are unable to see past that. I've had several conversations recently with Christians regarding the use of the phrase "fallen away" and the idea that those of us who have left Christianity did it in a somewhat flippant way, or because we didn't want to obey the rules like an impudent child. To me there is a real lack of understanding or acknowledgement of the fact that many of us leave Christianity after struggling, praying, worrying, searching our souls on this journey to finally come to realize that Christianity just does not speak to our hearts. And with that realization does not mean a free for all and it is not "easier", in fact there are a lot more unknowns, less black and white and things are not all laid out for you like they are with a Christian church that teaches a literal interpretation of scripture.

    1. That is so well said. I was terrified to finally admit that I didn't feel that I had a home in the Christian Church anymore. Being a Christian was such a big part of my identity. It was not an easy thing by any stretch.

    2. I was that way Anne, it was a struggle, it was heartwrenching in some ways. Though I never considered myself a christian in the 'let's go to church and pray with everyone' type christian, I had faith and spirituality. I was at one point in tears when I called my sister and was like "look, I don't feel right and this is how I feel" she said "well it sounds like you're at peace, go on with it" (I kinda love my sister a lot for that and more :) )

      I simply choose to believe that most pagans are doing more of you'd call Jesus' work than some christians nowadays.

      I do what I feel is right, for myself and let everyone else decide for themselves. (Though I do admit to being a little more than peeved when my kid came home and asked questions about hell and then promptly decided I was going there. *steam coming out of ears*. . .I simply stated as calmly as I could that I wasn't worried about going to a place I didn't believe existed. and then went and ranted and railed on FB lol) My kids get the answers from both sides, someone that has faith/spirituality in something and someone that's an atheist. They get the "it's your decision and what do you believe" answer quite a bit too.

      Ang. (I don't have any of those accts, so it's Anon, sorry)

  2. My son is an atheist, which is something he had a hard time telling me. If anything, he worships at the altar of technology.

    I told him that my belief is that there is something out there greater than I am, and that I don't believe that this life is all there is. That belief makes me want to make the world a better place, and to be a better person within it. If feeling that this is all we have, and so we have to make the most of today, is what works for him, that's fine with me.

    I told him that, in the end, it matters far less to me *what* he believes, and so much more to me what he *does* with what he believes. And that includes being respectful of the beliefs of others. Which he is.

    I hope all my kids feel they have the freedom to explore the traditions they are being raised with, as well as other traditions that are out there and have something to teach.

    That said, I was more than a little annoyed when Piper came home and told me that a classmate told her that she was going to hell and believed in the devil. Like you, it was a steam-coming-out-of-my-ears moment.

  3. My daughter is only 5 and a half, so her ideas might change but as of now she says she doesn't think god is real. She has always been very grounded in reality, what you see is what you get sort of thing. She has a wonderful imagination but always maintains a very distinct line between what is real and what she is pretending.
    We struggle a lot with being true to our own journey and ideas and not causing strife in our family. My entire extended family is very conservative Lutheran. My daughter has announced to my parents recently that "Jesus stories aren't real, they are just stories we are suppose to learn things from" which as you can imagine did not go over well at all. It took me several years to come right out and say that I did not consider myself a christian and I honestly have still not come right out and said that I do consider myself pagan.....I post things on facebook related to the wheel of the year and I've posted about attending moon circles but we've not had that personal discussion yet.
    Recently I've realized that my kids really know next to nothing about christian bible stories except some very, very basics re: Christmas and Easter that we've had to explain because of talk at school. I really feel that I need to find a good bible story book that just tells the stories as one would tell other legends/myths/folktales without reading too much into things because I do believe there is both cultural and spiritual value there.
    I've had several steam-out-of-the-ear moments w/ my kids' school and am still trying to find that balance of what is worth fighting about and what to let go. The first was the "Holiday" (read overtly christian christmas) music concert last year and later in the year a field trip to a nature center that is funded and run by a coallition of christian churches and promotes creation only education. In the end I decided to let the concert one go because it was a long term sub covering a maternity leave, not the regular teacher but I called the teacher and school director with my concerns about what info would be promoted/shared on the field trip.


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