Wednesday, 20 July 2011

On Staying Or Going

I'm having a big struggle at the moment over what to do about church. Part of me feels that, particularly while no one knows about my current spiritual path, it may not be right to 'act the Christian' and, essentially, lie to my fellow church-goers about what I believe. Up until now, my path has been more-or-less compatible with Christianity. Believing Gnostic ideas is unusual, and basically heretical, but it also puts me fairly firmly in the Christian camp - albeit at the very non-literal end of the campsite. Things changed when the Celtic goddesses called me, though. In the past few months I've been flung out of the Christian framework. I can still move in and out of that framework very comfortably (despite my growing concerns with some aspects of Gnostic theology). However, I don't know if those I'm worshipping with would be particularly comfortable with my ability to step in and out of their framework, nor with the other frameworks I'm working within.

The weird thing, though, is how ongoingly comfortable I feel with church. If it weren't for my worry over deceiving other Christians, I would absolutely not feel like leaving. Whenever I've been called to move on from a church before, it has started to feel *wrong*, like I don't belong there. I very much belong at the church I'm attending at the moment. I'm reading over my Gnostic books at the moment, trying to work out if this is the 'world' deceiving me with sparkly treasures like friendship and structures, which aren't necessarily good for my spiritual development. My treasure should be in the Kingdom of God, which is the spiritual core of my being - the place where I meet the Divine. "And where your treasure is, there is your heart."

In short, I keep trying to leave church, and getting pulled back in. I don't have a clue what that's about.

I feel like my Celtic gods are faintly amused by me at the moment. (They each seem to be adopting me for a lunar month at a time, passing me on to another or others at the next full moon - which is as weird as anything for me, but also rather lovely. Given the 'keep silent' adage, I'm not sure I should say who they are just yet, but I'll decide later, with their help.) This is funny, because I always felt like Jesus found me faintly amusing. I used to picture Him with His head in His hands a lot, in response to the mad things I did. The Celtic goddesses (and it is mainly the ladies*) are less closely interested in what I do, but when I ask their opinion on things, I get it. Based on this, I should be asking them what is right to do about church - but I just feel that faint, detached amusement when I do. It's like they're telling me there are much bigger things for me to deal with and that it's barely worth worrying about. That's nice for them. I still have to make decisions for myself. Gah!

I've asked the curate, who is also a friend, if I can have a chat with her about church. I may be coming out of the broom closet soon, as least to a few people. Wish me luck...

*I hate that word when it's used for ordinary women - but there really is no other respectful term of address for a goddess than Lady. It turns out there's a reason for the word's existence after all!


  1. Sorry, I can't remember if you are attending a Catholic church? If so, remember that a lot of the symbolism and saints follow the line of the gods and goddesses. Is it maybe the fellowship that is the reason that you can't pull yourself away? There's nothing wrong with it, and I'm sure that even once you come out of the broom closet that the true Christians, and your true friends, will still accept you.

    The problem that I had was that I wasn't particularly close to anybody in the churches that I grew up in (Methodist, Baptist, and First Church of the Nazarene). The little old ladies loved me to bits because I loved to spend time with them, and the people with kids saw me as a source of babysitting and/or running the crèche. But I didn't have any real bonds with anybody. So when I decided to take a step away, there was no sense of loss.

    I may be Pagan now, but I still find myself singing Christmas carols, because the traditional hymns and carols were some of the most beautiful music ever written, and I love to sing along.

  2. This seems like a really hard decision. I'm grateful I was away from the church before I started on a new path.

    I understand how it feels though, to go from being in one place to another. I found it especially hard to celebrate certain witchy holidays, but I also wasn't comfortable with Christians ones either.

    IF I may offer my viewpoint or advice I've received. Do what feels right. You're not really causing harm to anyone when you go to church. You're not ( I'm assuming) standing outside preaching heretical beliefs. I would say do it as long as feels comfortable to you and your deities don't tell you otherwise.
    When or If the time comes for you to leave the church, I think you'll know, or have that feeling.

    With love, stop second guessing yourself and listen to your intuition. Sometimes we forget that intuitive feelings are just as valid as logical arguments. Good Luck!

    I really hope that doesn't come off as too officious. (GRE word of the day)

  3. Melissa: I'm Anglican (Episcopalian), not Catholic. I'm from quite a 'high' church tradition, which means there's a lot borrowed from Catholicism - ritual and so on. But on the whole, there's a lot more literalism than some Catholics achieve (not all, of course). I haven't been a literalist Christian for many many years - I see the Jesus story as a myth of enlightenment, much like the Gnostics do, although I also worship Jesus as a god, in the 'archetypal godman' sense. But that's still more or less within a Christian framework. This is somewhat more outside of that! I do very much see the saints as god-like figures, though - I pray to the Divine through Mary, for example. I think you're right that my real friends won't mind me following two traditions at once. I just need to work that out in practice. The instinct I'm feeling is to be honest about my beliefs, I think. I will probably be fine to return to church once I've established how I'm going to do that. I don't want to leave, really. If I'm going to be a Pagan, which is likely, then it's going to be as a Christo-Pagan.

  4. D.C. Ash: Your advice about trusting intuition is very good! You're absolutely right that sometimes intuition's not logical, but that it's still important to listen to it. I think that the problem is that I *do* feel uncomfortable about some aspects of church. I think that, because my intuition to stay is so strong, I'll find a way to integrate my various beliefs. Thanks for the excellent advice :)