Spiritual Refugees in Search of Home

Staff_McDermott, TomThe poet Maya Angelou spoke of the lifelong journey of faith. She said, “I’m always startled when people walk up to me and tell me they are Christians. My first response is an honest question, ‘Already?’”

A friend of mine tells the story of how fear of hell drove him to Christianity and the Baptist church as a teenager and how fear of Christians drove him away a number of years later. He discovered that much of what they taught and did and said made less and less sense or was outright contradictory and cruel. As he asked more questions and disagreed more with what he heard, the church community began to ignore him rather than dialogue with his doubts. “Eventually,” he said, “I just felt like I didn’t belong. It was pretty clear there was no room for being different or thinking about spirituality differently. It’s like that scared folks and they just moved into tighter, exclusive circles. It felt a lot like middle school!”

It’s easy for some folks to tell others what Christianity is, to convince others how they need to act or what to believe in order to be a Christian. In-groups have always been a determining factor in how others come to think about something, if only because we want to belong to the in-group, to experience community and friendship, to feel like we’re doing things right. But Christianity is a journey, not a destination. As my Uncle Mac would say to me, “You won’t see something for what it really is until you stop looking at it for what it isn’t.”

For the next five weeks, in nine:thirty-nine and eleven:eleven celebration, we’re looking at what it means to be a spiritual refugee and how we move from what we used to think, to how we think now, to where we go from here. Is it once a spiritual refugee always a spiritual refugee? How does faith limit us and how does it open us up?

See you then,

Tom

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