easter: wrestling with the church

cross on a good fridayyesterday i went to a christian church service for the first time in 1 ½ years. the last visit had been to a crammed, tiny african-canadian church, a memorial service for one of vancouver’s downtown eastside heroes, a little old matriarch who had taken the whole neighbourhood under her wings.

yesterday was a four-church service at a big baptist church. very different. i have to say that soon i felt uncomfortable. many of the reasons why people turn their backs on christianity came up for me. for some reason, however, i didn’t want to wallow in criticism. i wanted to hear the message. what was the underlying message of love, of sister and brotherhood, of walking with the divine? it was very hard, almost like wrestling with demons. i sat there crying with the effort and with sadness and frustration but i didn’t want to give up.

finally it occurred to me to take notes during the sermon. this focused my attention and by writing down only the ideas that resonated with me, it was easier to stay with the positive rather than with the filter of criticism that was just spoiling to take over the whole experience.

what did sound true to me was this: the figure of jesus stands for doing what is right, against all odds, without compromise. the cross can be a symbol for utter defeat, shame, and being the absolute outcast (cast out of life, even). however, it was such a symbol in the context of roman tyranny. so while there is great pain involved, in the end (yes, literally in the end), being cast out of tyranny is a positive turn of events. dying on the cross is dying out of tyranny.

there is always a seductive element to tyranny.

what tyranny is in our lives right now? what tyranny could we – die to?

of course some of you might wonder why i even bothered to go to church, and on top of it, why i bothered to work so hard at trying to sort at least some of it out.

i suspect that some of it is simply because it is my legacy. my grandfather was a lutheran minister, and that was a strong influence in my life.

but also, i truly believe there is great value in christianity. to me, the message of love, compassion and justice despite even the strongest resistance is nowhere else as clearly and passionately expressed as in christianity. the call to express and experience love of the divine both in private contemplation and in fierce action – where else is it as strong as in christianity?

another observation i made was of the sombre atmosphere in the church. it wasn’t pleasant but the thought struck me that there is something comforting in knowing there is a place where we don’t have to constantly be happy, where there is room to say, yes, life sucks big time. that is probably one of the attractions of christianity.

one more thought: numerous times when i was sitting in that service and listening to what was said, i cried out inside myself, “this is so wrong!” i was so strongly convinced that these ideas were wrongheaded, pernicious, anything but life affirming. it did occur to me later on, though, that my thoughts and practices might seem just as untenable to many of the people in that church as theirs did to me. intellectually this is a given – yes, we know there are hugely different ideas out there regarding religion, and that there is a great and acriomonious (and often deadly) distance between the various different camps – but i felt this on a deeper level yesterday. and it brought a bit of compassion and respect.

well, it’s good to get all of this off my chest.

and … quite a while ago i had suggested to my blogger friend jan to have a friendly conversation about atheism and spirituality. what do you think, jan, is this a good place to start?

(image by beezly

18 thoughts on “easter: wrestling with the church

  1. Rick

    Unfair. First you state reasons why you are unqualified to comment on a church service: you attend church services once in 1-1/2 years and apparently selecting a type of church service that conflicts with your personal history and preferences. If I went to a counselor once in 1-1/2 years, would I be justified in saying she was ineffective?

    You mention your grandfather was a Lutheran pastor. Do you imagine he would have been pleased to read this blog?

    Of course you are entitled to believe as you chose. That doesn’t make your criticism of other’s beliefs valid or worth sharing.

  2. Rick

    Unfair. First you state reasons why you are unqualified to comment on a church service: you attend church services once in 1-1/2 years and apparently selecting a type of church service that conflicts with your personal history and preferences. If I went to a counselor once in 1-1/2 years, would I be justified in saying she was ineffective?

    You mention your grandfather was a Lutheran pastor. Do you imagine he would have been pleased to read this blog?

    Of course you are entitled to believe as you chose. That doesn’t make your criticism of other’s beliefs valid or worth sharing.

  3. Marc Olmsted

    Oh my, someone has a chip on his shoulder. Isabella’s experience of what she felt during this service was absolutely worth sharing, and your reaction, Rick, is completely representative of the kind of defensive righteousness that so many of us find so off putting in the church. I would imagine that your attempt to shame her in the eyes of her grandfather is representative of your traditional view of a punishing, paternalistic God that is to be feared and worshiped, exactly the kind of God that is so at odds with an all-loving conception that do you really wonder why so many of us reject it?
    As a gay man, I found it enormously enriching to find a gay church, in which I promise, Isabella you would find an completely inclusive and loving message. (Yes, I know you are not gay, it is not remotely a requirement.) MC C is the denomination, but I daresay there must be plenty of progressive denominations you could find in Toronto with the same openminded and joyful tone, and a rainbow of attendees.
    For me, whether or not the resurrection actually happened is completely unimportant, and beside the point, the point being the message behind it, that love is never dead, we can always rechoose on a daily basis to walk in the light, to treat others with compassion, forgiveness and understanding. This happened to be Christ’s message, but completely valid no matter who said it, and whether or not you believe in God or live, as I do, in the great question mark of I don’t know. The truth is, no one knows, whether there is a God, so for me, to believe firmly there isn’t one makes no more sense than absolutely certainty there is one. This, to me, is the magic of faith, a choice to believe while completely retaining doubt.

  4. Marc Olmsted

    Oh my, someone has a chip on his shoulder. Isabella’s experience of what she felt during this service was absolutely worth sharing, and your reaction, Rick, is completely representative of the kind of defensive righteousness that so many of us find so off putting in the church. I would imagine that your attempt to shame her in the eyes of her grandfather is representative of your traditional view of a punishing, paternalistic God that is to be feared and worshiped, exactly the kind of God that is so at odds with an all-loving conception that do you really wonder why so many of us reject it?
    As a gay man, I found it enormously enriching to find a gay church, in which I promise, Isabella you would find an completely inclusive and loving message. (Yes, I know you are not gay, it is not remotely a requirement.) MC C is the denomination, but I daresay there must be plenty of progressive denominations you could find in Toronto with the same openminded and joyful tone, and a rainbow of attendees.
    For me, whether or not the resurrection actually happened is completely unimportant, and beside the point, the point being the message behind it, that love is never dead, we can always rechoose on a daily basis to walk in the light, to treat others with compassion, forgiveness and understanding. This happened to be Christ’s message, but completely valid no matter who said it, and whether or not you believe in God or live, as I do, in the great question mark of I don’t know. The truth is, no one knows, whether there is a God, so for me, to believe firmly there isn’t one makes no more sense than absolutely certainty there is one. This, to me, is the magic of faith, a choice to believe while completely retaining doubt.

  5. Rick

    Marc, you didn’t hear what I was saying. Let me rephrase it for you.

    I attended a service at a MC church once. Does that qualify me to complain on my blog about what seemed to me to be the shortcomings of the service? Of course not. How could I possibly know about the “inclusiveness and love” there, if I didn’t meet any of the people?

    Furthermore, the clergy who plan and lead worship services have to consider the variety of experiences and needs among the participants. It isn’t realistic to expect every individual’s personal needs will be addressed in one church service.

    And furthermore, I do not believe in the punishing, paternalistic god you describe. What could possibly be your motivation to make such a rash assumption from the 5 sentences I wrote? “Judge not…”

    And yet furthermore, I am a grandfather myself, so I am as entitled to speak for grandfathers as you are to speak for gay Christians. I have witnessed society move way to far toward self-centeredness and narcissism. I hope for your sake that a sense of balance and common sense are restored before you get to be my age.

  6. Rick

    Marc, you didn’t hear what I was saying. Let me rephrase it for you.

    I attended a service at a MC church once. Does that qualify me to complain on my blog about what seemed to me to be the shortcomings of the service? Of course not. How could I possibly know about the “inclusiveness and love” there, if I didn’t meet any of the people?

    Furthermore, the clergy who plan and lead worship services have to consider the variety of experiences and needs among the participants. It isn’t realistic to expect every individual’s personal needs will be addressed in one church service.

    And furthermore, I do not believe in the punishing, paternalistic god you describe. What could possibly be your motivation to make such a rash assumption from the 5 sentences I wrote? “Judge not…”

    And yet furthermore, I am a grandfather myself, so I am as entitled to speak for grandfathers as you are to speak for gay Christians. I have witnessed society move way to far toward self-centeredness and narcissism. I hope for your sake that a sense of balance and common sense are restored before you get to be my age.

  7. Marc Olmsted

    I don’t want to get into a comment war with you Rick, as Isabella asked us to refrain from such behavior.
    I will say I was reacting to the tone of your comment, in which you attempted to shame Isabella via the very grandfather who it seems has a lot to do with her alienation for the church in the first place, Who cares what her grandfather would think? His thinking is part of the problem!
    Then you completely minimized her experience by telling her it was basically not worth sharing.
    It sounded very much to me like you were taking her experience in church very personally, as if you felt attacked, and perhaps I overextrapolated as to the kind of God you believe in. If that’s true, I apologize.
    I’m unsure about your last paragraph, but who is going to defend self-centered narcissism? (I do hope that wasn’t anti-gay code.) But I don’t see what it has to do with what we’re discussing.

  8. Marc Olmsted

    I don’t want to get into a comment war with you Rick, as Isabella asked us to refrain from such behavior.
    I will say I was reacting to the tone of your comment, in which you attempted to shame Isabella via the very grandfather who it seems has a lot to do with her alienation for the church in the first place, Who cares what her grandfather would think? His thinking is part of the problem!
    Then you completely minimized her experience by telling her it was basically not worth sharing.
    It sounded very much to me like you were taking her experience in church very personally, as if you felt attacked, and perhaps I overextrapolated as to the kind of God you believe in. If that’s true, I apologize.
    I’m unsure about your last paragraph, but who is going to defend self-centered narcissism? (I do hope that wasn’t anti-gay code.) But I don’t see what it has to do with what we’re discussing.

  9. Evan

    Thanks Isabella.

    I’m still not sure exactly why you wanted to do this.

    I think wrestling with demons may be a very good way of talking about it. Jesus called his chief disciple Satan. It may well be the church where we encounter the demons.

    I think the major tyranny for me (a middle aged, middle class, white, straight, male) is ‘the job’. Being judged by occupation. Wouldn’t it be lovely to say, I’m entitled to respect because I’m a . . . I earn more than you. I’m a . . . And seeing the misery it causes (to myself and others) doesn’t take away all of its seductiveness. For this a very radical acceptance is required. Paul Tillich’s translation of Rms.5:8 While we were unacceptable Christ accepted us. Sometimes I feel this and I feel the liberation.

    I look forward to hearing the tyranny others deal with. I also hope to see the dialogue on atheism and spirituality – I think it could be extremely worthwhile.

    Evan’s last blog post..On Easter: the death and resurrection of the ego

  10. Evan

    Thanks Isabella.

    I’m still not sure exactly why you wanted to do this.

    I think wrestling with demons may be a very good way of talking about it. Jesus called his chief disciple Satan. It may well be the church where we encounter the demons.

    I think the major tyranny for me (a middle aged, middle class, white, straight, male) is ‘the job’. Being judged by occupation. Wouldn’t it be lovely to say, I’m entitled to respect because I’m a . . . I earn more than you. I’m a . . . And seeing the misery it causes (to myself and others) doesn’t take away all of its seductiveness. For this a very radical acceptance is required. Paul Tillich’s translation of Rms.5:8 While we were unacceptable Christ accepted us. Sometimes I feel this and I feel the liberation.

    I look forward to hearing the tyranny others deal with. I also hope to see the dialogue on atheism and spirituality – I think it could be extremely worthwhile.

    Evan’s last blog post..On Easter: the death and resurrection of the ego

  11. isabella mori

    wow, this is interesting. lots of different points of view. i like a lively exchange of ideas. and thanks, @marc, for remembering my post on comment courtesy.

    in this post, i tried hard to portray my experience. it was difficult, but i didn’t want it to be dominated by criticism. looks like at least one reader still thought it was ABOUT criticism.

    communication is not easy.

    for example, it seems like there is an interpretation that my grandfather was at the root of my problems with christianity. upon rereading, yes, i reckon you could guess that. just for the record – despite his shortcomings, i treasure my grandfather and his philosophy. without him, i don’t know that i would still have a connection with christianity.

    my grandfather – he’d be angry, and we’d have a heated argument. above all, he’d be happy that i still engage with christianity. this wrestling with doubt and questions was encouraged. it’s all kierkegaard’s fault 🙂

    not sure what it means to be qualified to critique a church service. if this would have been my first experience, i think i would have been VERY critical. fortunately i was able to see it in the context of hundreds of church attendances, including the lay services i led for a while in a very liberal, strongly gay-affirmative church.

    why did i go to that service in the first place? i hadn’t been to church for a while, easter is important to me, a friend of mine sang in the choir.

    thank you so much, @evan, for reminding me of “christ’s first disciple”. wonderful material to meditate on. thanks also for the reminder of paul tillich. i shall look him up again.

    and thanks, @rick, for taking the trouble to comment.

    marc, “we can always rechoose on a daily basis to walk in the light.” – beautiful! dying to darkness every day?

  12. isabella mori

    wow, this is interesting. lots of different points of view. i like a lively exchange of ideas. and thanks, @marc, for remembering my post on comment courtesy.

    in this post, i tried hard to portray my experience. it was difficult, but i didn’t want it to be dominated by criticism. looks like at least one reader still thought it was ABOUT criticism.

    communication is not easy.

    for example, it seems like there is an interpretation that my grandfather was at the root of my problems with christianity. upon rereading, yes, i reckon you could guess that. just for the record – despite his shortcomings, i treasure my grandfather and his philosophy. without him, i don’t know that i would still have a connection with christianity.

    my grandfather – he’d be angry, and we’d have a heated argument. above all, he’d be happy that i still engage with christianity. this wrestling with doubt and questions was encouraged. it’s all kierkegaard’s fault 🙂

    not sure what it means to be qualified to critique a church service. if this would have been my first experience, i think i would have been VERY critical. fortunately i was able to see it in the context of hundreds of church attendances, including the lay services i led for a while in a very liberal, strongly gay-affirmative church.

    why did i go to that service in the first place? i hadn’t been to church for a while, easter is important to me, a friend of mine sang in the choir.

    thank you so much, @evan, for reminding me of “christ’s first disciple”. wonderful material to meditate on. thanks also for the reminder of paul tillich. i shall look him up again.

    and thanks, @rick, for taking the trouble to comment.

    marc, “we can always rechoose on a daily basis to walk in the light.” – beautiful! dying to darkness every day?

  13. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Sorry that I’m late to the party. 🙂

    @Rick: Your criticism says that somebody has to be an insider before they can fairly criticize/critique a church service.

    If you mean in a strictly technical respect, then I agree: Only the scripture smart can properly criticize other people’s scripturizing. The same is true for lots of different disciplines. For example you have to be an insider in the sport of figure skating in order to become a judge at a figure skating competition.

    If you mean that you have to believe in God before you can take part in discussions of religion, then I disagree. In fact I have to say that you’d be wrong.

    @Isabella: You say Easter is important to you. Why?

    By chance I already posted something about religion the other day on my blog (about the church habits of Danes, because I saw an article about it). “The church in Denmark is still hanging in there“, but I promise I’ll write an answer (of sorts) to your church experience.

    I think most churchgoers share at least some of the emotions that hit you so hard at the church. I think most churchgoers are looking for meaning and hope they can get one prepackaged. They are there just in case…, on the odd chance that…, in the hope that…, etc. They don’t really believe a word, but they want to. Because that would make a lot of things a lot easier.

    Jan Karlsbjerg’s last blog post..Quote of the Day

  14. Jan Karlsbjerg

    Sorry that I’m late to the party. 🙂

    @Rick: Your criticism says that somebody has to be an insider before they can fairly criticize/critique a church service.

    If you mean in a strictly technical respect, then I agree: Only the scripture smart can properly criticize other people’s scripturizing. The same is true for lots of different disciplines. For example you have to be an insider in the sport of figure skating in order to become a judge at a figure skating competition.

    If you mean that you have to believe in God before you can take part in discussions of religion, then I disagree. In fact I have to say that you’d be wrong.

    @Isabella: You say Easter is important to you. Why?

    By chance I already posted something about religion the other day on my blog (about the church habits of Danes, because I saw an article about it). “The church in Denmark is still hanging in there“, but I promise I’ll write an answer (of sorts) to your church experience.

    I think most churchgoers share at least some of the emotions that hit you so hard at the church. I think most churchgoers are looking for meaning and hope they can get one prepackaged. They are there just in case…, on the odd chance that…, in the hope that…, etc. They don’t really believe a word, but they want to. Because that would make a lot of things a lot easier.

    Jan Karlsbjerg’s last blog post..Quote of the Day

  15. isabella mori

    easter is important to me on a gut level, most of it coming from my history. it’s a pretty important celebration in germany (where pentecoast is also celebrated, something that most people here don’t even know about). also, my father’s family comes from a russian background. in the the orthodox churches, easter is the important celebration, not christmas.

    i kind of understand the importance of most of the easter story (death, sacrifice, separation, resurrection) on a superficially intellectual level. i THINK i get it on a very, very deep, yet-completely-inarticulate level. on the level at which most of my understanding occurs – a nice mixture of emotion and intellect – i don’t get it. and that bugs me. so i keep looking at it from various angles, trying to see if i can glean a bit more understanding here and there.

    question: you say you “think most churchgoers are looking for meaning and hope they can get one prepackaged”. i’m interested what “prepackaged” might mean to the churchgoers with whom you have conversations. do you know?

  16. isabella mori

    easter is important to me on a gut level, most of it coming from my history. it’s a pretty important celebration in germany (where pentecoast is also celebrated, something that most people here don’t even know about). also, my father’s family comes from a russian background. in the the orthodox churches, easter is the important celebration, not christmas.

    i kind of understand the importance of most of the easter story (death, sacrifice, separation, resurrection) on a superficially intellectual level. i THINK i get it on a very, very deep, yet-completely-inarticulate level. on the level at which most of my understanding occurs – a nice mixture of emotion and intellect – i don’t get it. and that bugs me. so i keep looking at it from various angles, trying to see if i can glean a bit more understanding here and there.

    question: you say you “think most churchgoers are looking for meaning and hope they can get one prepackaged”. i’m interested what “prepackaged” might mean to the churchgoers with whom you have conversations. do you know?

  17. Wendi

    Wow. This is so interesting! Your post really resonated with me, Isabella. A cradle Episcopalian, I stopped going to church in June of last year when it suddenly struck me that I didn’t know why I was there, or what I believed after all those years. I love Easter, and I considered attending services yesterday, but in the end, I decided I could just love Easter and the idea of resurrection and renewal and let all the rest go.

    Reading that first comment hit me right between the eyes (originally typed “ideas” while thinking eyes – interesting) and I felt the full measure of guilt I’ve been denying for the last almost year about not going and not believing all that I was taught to believe. Thanks, Mark, for bringing that to light for me. It is exactly that attitude and that underside of Christianity that drove me out of the pews last summer. Conditional love. No thanks. 😉 That’s not what does this world any good, and it certainly isn’t what Jesus came to teach us, IMHO. Thanks everybody for the interesting discussion!

  18. Wendi

    Wow. This is so interesting! Your post really resonated with me, Isabella. A cradle Episcopalian, I stopped going to church in June of last year when it suddenly struck me that I didn’t know why I was there, or what I believed after all those years. I love Easter, and I considered attending services yesterday, but in the end, I decided I could just love Easter and the idea of resurrection and renewal and let all the rest go.

    Reading that first comment hit me right between the eyes (originally typed “ideas” while thinking eyes – interesting) and I felt the full measure of guilt I’ve been denying for the last almost year about not going and not believing all that I was taught to believe. Thanks, Mark, for bringing that to light for me. It is exactly that attitude and that underside of Christianity that drove me out of the pews last summer. Conditional love. No thanks. 😉 That’s not what does this world any good, and it certainly isn’t what Jesus came to teach us, IMHO. Thanks everybody for the interesting discussion!

  19. Jan Karlsbjerg

    @isabella: “Prepackaged” is obviously my word, not their word. I take it to mean that if they buy in to the meaning from a particular religion, then they don’t have to (and are strongly discouraged from!) mix up their own sense of “meaning”.

    If fact I don’t know how many churchgoers I know. I know one for sure (moneycoach), and I know others that I know go to church, but where I’ve never talked about religion with them.

    Thankfully, religion is mostly a private matter in the circles where I come.

    I wrote up the long-form of my comment above about the churchgoers who don’t believe a word, but really want to: “Spiritual atheists want to believe“.

    Jan Karlsbjerg’s last blog post..Spiritual atheists want to believe

  20. Jan Karlsbjerg

    @isabella: “Prepackaged” is obviously my word, not their word. I take it to mean that if they buy in to the meaning from a particular religion, then they don’t have to (and are strongly discouraged from!) mix up their own sense of “meaning”.

    If fact I don’t know how many churchgoers I know. I know one for sure (moneycoach), and I know others that I know go to church, but where I’ve never talked about religion with them.

    Thankfully, religion is mostly a private matter in the circles where I come.

    I wrote up the long-form of my comment above about the churchgoers who don’t believe a word, but really want to: “Spiritual atheists want to believe“.

    Jan Karlsbjerg’s last blog post..Spiritual atheists want to believe

  21. isabella mori

    here are a few thoughts by someone who preferred to stay anonymous:

    “I am an atheist, but a very christian one at that.

    I became an atheist because I was disillusioned that no christians I knew or read about really acted like christians. I like the idea of mourning coupled *with* action. If I feel bad about some injustice, I try to think about what I can do personally to help. I think too many people stop at “it’s such a big problem I may as well not even think about it at all.”

    I agree with almost everything you said in your Easter church post, except the part about fierce action – few christians really practice what they should. Here’s a religion that could be about social justice, but the majority use it to further their own selfish interests or as a simple relaxation technique. It’s rather a waste of
    a religion.

    Then there’s the part about the utter defeat embodied in the symbolism of the crucifixion – I can’t say I feel that it was the most horrific way to die and the fact that simpler-minded, North American christians think it is, it’s quite frankly an insult to the people being tortured and murdered right now. I think *all* torture and murder is wrong, not just Jesus’, but many people seem to stop their caring 2000 years ago with just this one victim. I really wish christians would extend their caring to more than just themselves.

    Anyhow, I do apologize for sounding rant-y – I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful post. I liked that you took notes in church. :)”

  22. isabella mori

    here are a few thoughts by someone who preferred to stay anonymous:

    “I am an atheist, but a very christian one at that.

    I became an atheist because I was disillusioned that no christians I knew or read about really acted like christians. I like the idea of mourning coupled *with* action. If I feel bad about some injustice, I try to think about what I can do personally to help. I think too many people stop at “it’s such a big problem I may as well not even think about it at all.”

    I agree with almost everything you said in your Easter church post, except the part about fierce action – few christians really practice what they should. Here’s a religion that could be about social justice, but the majority use it to further their own selfish interests or as a simple relaxation technique. It’s rather a waste of
    a religion.

    Then there’s the part about the utter defeat embodied in the symbolism of the crucifixion – I can’t say I feel that it was the most horrific way to die and the fact that simpler-minded, North American christians think it is, it’s quite frankly an insult to the people being tortured and murdered right now. I think *all* torture and murder is wrong, not just Jesus’, but many people seem to stop their caring 2000 years ago with just this one victim. I really wish christians would extend their caring to more than just themselves.

    Anyhow, I do apologize for sounding rant-y – I really enjoyed reading your thoughtful post. I liked that you took notes in church. :)”

  23. david sellers

    Isabella,
    Thank you for your openness and honesty in regards to your easter experience. I’m a pastor in the United Methodist denomination and for the most part find it refreshing to see the side of isn’t enmeshed in the church.
    I resonate with your experience of Easter in one way. I had the chance to not preach this Easter ( a rarity) and only prayed during the service. The church service was for the most part a total disconnect for me. It was so much that I ran from the service and grabbed from my office one of my favorite author’s writing on Easter. It put me in a more celebrative mood of what the message and celebration of Easter is to me, which is the message of hope and the celebration that Christ arose (regardless of whether you take it literally or metaphorically).
    I’m curious though what were some of the notions that you considered “wrongheaded,” and also what your idea of an ideal Easter service would be like? I ask this not as a chance to judge, but for curiosity sake and in all honesty perhaps for dialogue as well. I’ve been struggling with the disconnect. I think the majority of it has to do with the songs that were sung during the service. They were primarily Good Friday and heavy cross-laden hymns. Easter should have Easter songs about an empty tomb and life NOT blood and agony.
    I also have a brief comment for the anonymous. I really feel for your experience with christians (intentional). While it is true there are many who use their religion in a selfish manner, I’ve had the chance to be in the presence of those that truly try to live it. I’ve served some churches that I’ve wanted to give up because of their beliefs and actions but just when I think about it along comes a true saint that inspires me to keep going.

  24. david sellers

    Isabella,
    Thank you for your openness and honesty in regards to your easter experience. I’m a pastor in the United Methodist denomination and for the most part find it refreshing to see the side of isn’t enmeshed in the church.
    I resonate with your experience of Easter in one way. I had the chance to not preach this Easter ( a rarity) and only prayed during the service. The church service was for the most part a total disconnect for me. It was so much that I ran from the service and grabbed from my office one of my favorite author’s writing on Easter. It put me in a more celebrative mood of what the message and celebration of Easter is to me, which is the message of hope and the celebration that Christ arose (regardless of whether you take it literally or metaphorically).
    I’m curious though what were some of the notions that you considered “wrongheaded,” and also what your idea of an ideal Easter service would be like? I ask this not as a chance to judge, but for curiosity sake and in all honesty perhaps for dialogue as well. I’ve been struggling with the disconnect. I think the majority of it has to do with the songs that were sung during the service. They were primarily Good Friday and heavy cross-laden hymns. Easter should have Easter songs about an empty tomb and life NOT blood and agony.
    I also have a brief comment for the anonymous. I really feel for your experience with christians (intentional). While it is true there are many who use their religion in a selfish manner, I’ve had the chance to be in the presence of those that truly try to live it. I’ve served some churches that I’ve wanted to give up because of their beliefs and actions but just when I think about it along comes a true saint that inspires me to keep going.

  25. Aaron

    I enjoyed your article Isabella. Almost everything that you wrote I have experienced in my own career as a Christian, and in many ways you have helped me find the words to explain why I walk in this path. I will try and direct this article to others.

  26. Aaron

    I enjoyed your article Isabella. Almost everything that you wrote I have experienced in my own career as a Christian, and in many ways you have helped me find the words to explain why I walk in this path. I will try and direct this article to others.

  27. isabella mori

    first of all, i’m really touched by all the comments, whatever nature they are. while i try my best for all that i write to come from my heart, this one was written with a bit more “heart blood” (as we say in german) than others.

    @aaron, i’m happy that you didn’t take these words as a criticism of the jesus faith. thanks.

    @david – thanks for the invitation to dialogue! perhaps we can do that in a different space, though – i really don’t want this post to turn into a “what didn’t work” rant. how about we have a chat on skype or some such place, and then if we feel like it we can publish it?

  28. isabella mori

    first of all, i’m really touched by all the comments, whatever nature they are. while i try my best for all that i write to come from my heart, this one was written with a bit more “heart blood” (as we say in german) than others.

    @aaron, i’m happy that you didn’t take these words as a criticism of the jesus faith. thanks.

    @david – thanks for the invitation to dialogue! perhaps we can do that in a different space, though – i really don’t want this post to turn into a “what didn’t work” rant. how about we have a chat on skype or some such place, and then if we feel like it we can publish it?

  29. marian

    what a fantastic and worthwhile discussion! in my mind there certainly is no question re: appropriateness of isabella blogging her expereince. truth is truth.
    i can honor yours. can you honor mine?
    thank you!

  30. marian

    what a fantastic and worthwhile discussion! in my mind there certainly is no question re: appropriateness of isabella blogging her expereince. truth is truth.
    i can honor yours. can you honor mine?
    thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *