Tuesday, October 28, 2008

courage and confessions

I talk to God everyday.

And everyday, God talks back to me.


Sometimes, when I don't know what to do ... when I feel completely immobilized by the ability to make a decision, or I am struck with fear ... God will guide me. His is a voice that I can actually hear in my head. His is a gentle hand, guiding my heart.

For the most part, I really care what people think about me.

I care what my family thinks about me.

My friends. My neighbors. My parishioners. My co-workers.

People that I've never met before that read this blog (even you, the one that lurks but has never commented), I even care what they think about me.

It is very hard to state an honest opinion when you know that you will be judged based on your beliefs.

When I told the Montessori school that I was opposed to our children receiving any processed foods and I wanted them to stop handing out sugary treats to our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was challenging authority.


When I told my boss that I wanted to remain working part-time and ultimately relinquish my job to my husband so I could stay home and home school our children - that was difficult for me because I felt like I was disclosing that my once paramount career was no longer as important as my family.

My goal in life is to be a good person.

I try to be honest.

I try to work hard.

I try to be kind, gentle and compassionate.

I try to treat others as I would like to be treated.

I try to give and support to those less fortunate than myself.

I try to be someone that my husband, my mother and my children would be proud of.

I try to be someone that I am proud of.


I go to church and read my Bible - although not as frequently as I would like - and I do my best to absorb and follow the teachings of Christ.

I go to church and I strive to be a good person each and every day, not because I am attempting to improve my shots at getting in to Heaven, but because I am attempting to live each and every day of my life as intentionally good as possible.

Because I fear what people may think of me, it takes a lot of courage to admit that I don't embrace everything that I hear in church or that I read in the Bible. Sometimes, often times (at least once every time), I sit in on a Bible Study - there is a part of me that feels like an absolute phony for being there. Whenever I receive communion and accept the Holy Host, I beat myself up that I am unworthy and I anxiously wait for acid indigestion.

For starters, I don't believe in Creation.


Sure, I believe that God created the universe and all of the life forms in it ... but I don't believe that it happened in seven days. I don't believe in the Great Flood. I don't believe that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and while in the gut of this great fish, he prayed for three days and nights and was finally spit on to dry land and promptly rushed off to tell the people of Nineveh that they needed to stop doing bad things.

I know it says that happened in the Bible. But in my heart, I don't believe it and considering the acceptance of these ideas may dictate my eternal salvation ... that's some heady stuff.

Up until we bought our minivan when the triplets were born, our car had a Darwin evolution fish on the back bumper. Whenever we would pull in to the church parking lot, we would smile and nod at those who stared at us, as though we were lost. Because surely no member of the Christian church would have an emblem of a fish sprouting legs on the back of their car.

But I did.

Hi there, how do you do? Potluck at our house next Sunday. See you there?

Sometimes, I wonder who I am and where my place should be. I grew up in the Catholic and later, Unitarian church. My best fit is probably with a Unitarian church and I would still be attending a Unitarian church if it wasn't located 45-minutes one-way from our home. Most of the time, if not all of the time, I feel like I'm an impostor in a Christian church because I don't believe everything that I read in the Bible.

Yet whenever I am in church, I am truly moved by the Holy Spirit and it feels like I am home. But then, when I sit down with fellow parishioners and read my Bible and contemplate that the only way to get to Heaven is to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, I take pause.

Jesus kicks ass. It's true.

But what about people whose lives are never touched by Christ?

What about those that live in the jungles of South America?

What about Jewish people?

What about those that practice Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Spiritism, Scientology?

Even though the teachings of these religions may be good and pure, are they blaspheme?

It seems to me that if everyone loves each other and does their best to contribute to a good world, that is living a Godly life. Is that not enough?

I want to believe. I want to believe so badly at times that it hurts. I've asked to be saved. I've begged to be saved. But it hasn't happened - at least not in the way that I would expect. Does this mean I am not worthy? Does this mean that I am not trying hard enough?

But. But. But.

But.

Damn that I question anything and do not simply follow.

Has the devil got a strong hold on my mind, not allowing me to believe, completely?

So instead, I am guided by the gentle hand on my heart. The voice in my head that tells me to Breathe. Relax. Enjoy. Savor. Rejoice. Love. Accept. Question.

I firmly believe that life is created at conception. I believe that terminating life while in-utero is wrong and immoral. I know that if I had become pregnant with sextuplets after I transferred six embryos to my womb during my third in-vitro fertilization attempt, I would have done everything in my power to carry six babies for as long as possible.

I had no choice but to deliver our triplets almost 10 weeks prematurely. If I had waited a single day longer, I was told that my body would go in to shock and I would die.

How lucky I was that my babies were at a gestational age where they would survive outside of my body. But what if I had developed toxemia a few weeks earlier - where the viability of my children would not have been as favorable? What if it was against the law for the doctors to deliver my pre-term babies, even at risk of their mother's life?

Would I be here today?

Most definitely not. I would have died and my babies would have died.

Rape. Incest. Birth defects. Failed contraception.

In my opinion, those are not reasons to terminate a pregnancy.

Only God knows the wonderful life that is possible from a deformed child. Or, the greatness that an unplanned child resulting from an ugly conception is capable of creating.

Even though I am vehemently opposed to abortion, I support a woman's right to choice. I also support research, counseling and regulation. Although I believe that the unborn are sacred and must be protected, I know that if someone wants an abortion badly enough, they will terminate their pregnancy regardless of the legality. Several years before Roe versus Wade, my very own aunt performed an abortion on herself with a coat hanger. She risked her life because she was terrified that her parents would find out.

They never did.

If abortion was illegal, and I was faced with a desperate woman who had received counseling and presented with various options, and yet she still stood before me with a rusty coat hanger, or was verging on soliciting the "services" of a back alley specialist, with tears in my eyes, I would take her by the hand and lovingly guide her to a clinic where her pregnancy could be terminated, safely.

In my life, I know this much: Just because something is against the law, if people want it badly enough, they will get it.

Totally unrelated, but I do not understand why marijuana is illegal.

I tried to smoke pot once but I honestly do not know how to inhale, so I just sat there puffing and trying to look cool. And then, once when I was in graduate school, someone came to one of our parties and brought some "special" brownies. I eagerly placed the brownies on a plate and was ignorantly prepared to serve them to all of our guests when my friend whispered in my ear that these were brownies Charlie and I should put aside and enjoy later.

They were tucked in the seldom-used butter compartment of our refrigerator and promptly forgotten about until a year later when we moved. But by that point they were stale and I would have broken teeth trying to eat them.

But marijuana? It's a plant, right?

It's a natural growing substance that has medicinal purposes?

How is it any worse for you than tobacco?

Or alcohol?

Or 200 apple pies that you can order from McDonald's at the drive-thru?

Why are we wasting valuable resources on arresting people that grow, sell and smoke marijuana when the drug war should be focused on heroine, crack, cocaine, methamphetamine and any other synthetic street drug that could actually kill someone?

Why don't we have squads of nutritionists set up at fast food restaurants or along aisles in grocery stores educating consumers on the dangers of overeating, food additives and cholesterol?

Seriously, I do not know. If you can, please enlighten me.

Every person that lives in the United States of America is guaranteed the right to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness. This great country was founded on religious freedom and the separation of church from state. So where does it say that marriage must be between a man and a woman? The Bible?

What if you don't subscribe to the Bible?

What if you subscribe to parts of the Bible?

I really appreciated all of the intelligent discussion on my last post. I particularly appreciated Karla's comment that, "[God] didn't send us to earth to just have a good time and do whatever we want. He wants us to learn, grow, overcome our challenges whatever they may be and become more like Him. Marriage between a man an a woman is the biggest step in this process. Men and women are meant to compliment each other physically and spiritually. Becoming parents in this union is the ultimate in learning compassion, charity, and unconditional love. I don't deny that people are born gay. I don't deny that people are born with other genetic predispositions that bring challenge, heartache, and prejudice to them throughout their lives. I believe that gays are meant to find happiness, but not through challenging something that is so important to the fabric of society."

I fully understand what Karla is saying.

But much like abortions will be performed whether or not they are legal, homosexuals will build relationships and families regardless of whether or not gay marriage is legal. So why not offer rights to those people that are trying to live their lives as well as they can? Why not offer rights to protect those homosexual families that perhaps have children and are trying to raise conscientious individuals that will strengthen and enhance the fabric of society?

Ultimately, I believe that everyone deserves the right to enjoy love in their life and to not suppress the person that they were born to be. I believe that everyone is entitled to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of who their God may be.


(If you are looking for a good rental, pick up Loggerheads. It is probably one of the best movies I've ever seen and touches on several subjects presented in this post).

Ultimately, I believe that it is important to stand up for those things that you believe in. I believe that it is important to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Even if defending something you believe in, means that you may lose the respect of people you know - and perhaps those you do not know.

As much as I firmly believe that life begins at conception, I firmly believe that homosexuals are entitled to the same civil rights as heterosexuals. I believe that homosexuality is not a choice. And regardless of what any one tells me, that little voice inside my head - the gentle hand guiding my heart tells me that people are born good and they are wired by God to grow in to the people that they are meant to be.

Tonight, I asked my husband to go in to Hillcrest, an area with the largest concentration of homosexual people in all of San Diego (quite possibly, all of Southern California), to pick up signs for our front yard that declare "NO on Prop 8!" We are surrounded by houses with "Yes on Prop 8!" signs, and within the past few days, I have become really agitated. I have felt like there is discrimination all around us. I have never been much of a political activist, but currently, we are the only house in our entire neighborhood with signs supporting what I consider to be the civil rights of homosexuals.

It took a lot of courage for us to post a sign supporting homosexual rights smack dab in our front yard. But not nearly as much courage as it took my athletic husband to go in to the Gay and Lesbian Rights headquarters in Hillcrest.

By himself.

64 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this. I struggle so much with a lot of what you have written. I have said to my husband many times when we have discussed Creationism, are we chipping away at so many foundational beliefs that there is nothing LEFT. It is good to see, that you have obviously a wonderful brave Faith in God, so it is possible and I should spend less time fretting and asking myself if I'm "allowed" to feel this way.

    DH's parents would be so upset if they knew - the arguments about global warming are enough without bringing creation science into the mix!

    And - you are so brave with the sign on your lawn.

    *love from New Zealand*

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  2. I think you spoke to the heart of humanity with this post. How often I wish faith, love, spirituality, parenting, life, etc was incredibly cookie-cutterish (not a word, but works for what I am attempting to say). I believe that God gave us a complicated mind and the ability to think deeply for a reason. I think it is okay to question Him, to question the Bible, and to question one's faith....I believe He wants us after we have really struggled with such issues and have decided on our own accord that we in turn want Him. I also believe such questioning is a life-long process.

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. I always enjoy reading them and learning from them. The world would be a lot more steady and peaceful if we could just honestly say "this is what I think" and "I recognize I don't have everything figured out or under control."

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  3. Did Charlie wear his wet suit? Love the sign in the yard good for you and Charlie.

    You are such a good role model for your children, by showing them to not blindly believe everything that "society" tell them, but to think and make decisions for themselves. You will have four happy self thinking individuals.
    Kathy

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  4. I love your blog, but I have to comment on what you said about abortion.

    Maybe I was reading hastily, but it looks like you are against abortion but want it to remain legal. I just don't understand why you would take your friend to an abortion clinic rather than allow her to her own devices - however wrong either one may be. IMHO, it's the equivilent of knowing your friend wants to murder her two-year-old and the only weapon she has is a shot gun that kicks back, so even though you disagree with her decision, you hand her a more accurate pistol. Same job is done, only she doesn't have to deal with as much pain or danger to her own body. You still would have helped to kill a child.

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  5. Please tell me he wasn't wearing the wetsuit?!?!

    I completely agree with your post but I do think you are being too hard on yourself about not believing EVERYTHING in the bible or that your church teaches. I think there are probably very few people who believe every.single.thing their church/bible teaches. My dad is an "old school" Catholic and even he has issues with some of the things the Catholic church preaches...but he still considers himself a "good" Catholic.

    And, about abortion, I could not agree more. I am vehemently opposed to abortion, but am pro-choice. People have a hard time understanding that one, but you explained it perfectly.

    Great post and I love that sign!!!

    Kelly(Houston)

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  6. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so bravely.

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  7. Wow. You have put into words a lot of the stuff in my head and my heart. I often feel foolish as I don't believe everything in the Bible, or all of the teachings of my Church...but I cannot deny my faith in God. I'm so glad I'm not the only one that feels like this and struggles with these issues.
    And so proud of you with your sign.

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  8. You are not the only one who feels this way. About all these subjects, it is easy to feel alone. Especially in the United States where Christianity seems to be constantly fighting for a place in the government, despite the separation of church and state. What you have said rings true with me. If that makes me a "bad" Christian in the eyes of the church, so be it. I am ok with that.

    There is a FABULOUS documentary about homosexuality and the church that I think every Christian should see. For people who think homosexuality is wrong, you need to see that there is no way to tell a person that their love for a person of the same gender is wrong and not convey hate. Also, to see that Christian views of homosexuality are based on poor scriptural interpretation and historical, pyschological and medical misinformation. It's a very interesting video and I highly recommend it to everyone. I blogged about it here: http://www.livinginthegray.com/2008/03/24/must-see-documentary/

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  9. I think we all struggle with much of what you've stated. I know I do. As a Catholic I attend Mass every Sunday at times everyday but at times I question but I truly think that is exactly what we are suppossed to do. It's part nature to investigate and explore.

    Although I don't agree entirely with everything in this post I admire your ability to write it so well. As a family member, I love your enthusiasm and as you know I think your great!! Love, Marg.

    By the way I Read your blog to Reiner. He said "man what a great writer", and "Charlie did what? Oh poor guy! Wait till Wally and I get him out for a round of golf!!" ;-)

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  10. thank you for your post - it was very well written and heartfelt.

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  11. I am really proud of you for posting those signs. I agree with you 100% on almost everything you wrote (I am more liberal when it comes to abortion rights) and appreciate your calm, rational, humanistic outlook in the midst of this emotional, irrational campaign season. I hope Prop 8 is defeated and that your neighbors learn something from you and your family.

    Leslie in NJ

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  12. Erica Bradley10/29/08, 9:35 AM

    Although most people will commend you for your strength and bravery in posting all of this, I can't help but realize how weak you are. (How weak we ALL are, really, but you in this specific case.) Faith in Jesus is nothing if you ignore and disobey His teachings and His Word. Faith in Jesus means the whole package, not just what you want to pick and choose to believe and follow; I have a feeling those of us who are similarly weak will have a big surprise coming when we pass on.

    To believe something is wrong and yet do nothing to stop it is just as detrimental as committing the action yourself. If you truly believe abortion is wrong, stand up for life as loudly and as resolvedly as you stand up for gays.

    There are so many more things I want to say, but it's your blog and I'm sure this comment won't be posted anyways. I just wanted you to know that your positions are among the weakest and most egregious that I've seen a "Christian" hold.

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  13. I struggle with Church and religion also and sometimes it is an intensely lonely feeling. Reading the Bible, it is clear to me that it is not all *true*, it is often symbolic or used to demonstrate a point. It contradicts itself in some areas. This leaves me feeling like I don't know what areas are true and what are not...bereft.

    This actually causes me great consternation.

    Leeann
    niccofive.blogspot,com

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  14. I don't have the struggles you do because I gave up the Christian faith when I was twelve. Yes, even at the tender age of twelve, I didn't believe anything I was reading and I was going to a Pentecostal church.

    But I do feel in my heart many of the things you posted. I do care what people think of me, even when it seems I'm fearless. I'm not. So good for you for putting up that sign. In years past, Greg and I have had competing yard signs. Greg doesn't think gays should get married. I do. He's a little too macho to admit he doesn't care.

    I'm sure the Christians are now going to slaughter you, but I still love you and respect you for who you are. You are not weak!

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  15. great post. I asked my grandfather when I was a teenager about the bible, he being a minister at a christian church tole me that you don't have to believe the bible stories literally they are stories to teach lessons. Good for you on standing up for what you believe in, people look at me to when i try and limit the amount of processed foods my daughter eats, etc etc etc., I've never been one for religion at or for everyone thinking one is better then another, as long as it sin't hurting anyone whats wrong with it. Oh well I could go on and on, but I thought you had a great post, and great job for going and getting that sign.

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  16. While there are strong similarities between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, believing that gay unions are equal to heterosexual unions and that opposition to gay marriage is equal to the discrimination of race is a misconception.

    If the state legalizes gay marriage, then suddenly marriage changes from a protected belief of a small minority, to the false impression that the state (which is an extension of the people) believes that it is morally acceptable to practice homosexuality.

    As individuals, law abiding homosexuals should be entitled to every inalienable right held by any heterosexual; but as couples, gay relationships no longer hold an equal stance to the synergy of a heterosexual relationship. The answer lies in procreation—the primary responsibility of a family.

    The gay agenda wants to redefine marriage as simply commitment, honesty, affection, and warmth between two loving individuals. If so then it simply becomes an equal protection issue and the gay couple argues they are being discriminated against for a relationship they claim holds equal commitment and value to the heterosexual relationship. This argument breaks down because it ignores posterity and procreation. Children are what differentiate the marriage contract from all other consensual adult arrangements. The state has always had a keen interest in the bearing and rearing of children. Indeed that is why the state got in the business of registering and recognizing marriage in the first place.

    The point, both legally and historically, the gay family can ONLY exist as a product of government policy and modern science, and a dependence on the natural family. It is very clear that there is no natural procreative ability between gay partners. The procreative ability between heterosexual couples is, by contrast, perfectly natural, and dates back to the start of recorded history. The natural family would continue whether the government or science became involved or not. Thus, we see that a homosexual relationship is not naturally equal to a heterosexual relationship.

    The Declaration of Independence proclaims that we are endowed with unalienable rights, "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". John Locke, called this "natural law". Natural law is not a creation or product of the state, but was to be protected by the state as these are the natural rights of all men inseparably connected to being human. Gays may argue that they are in the pursuit of liberty and happiness, yet there is no logical means by which they are naturally in the pursuit of life. Indeed we may argue that the gay movement, by its very nature, is a movement in pursuit of death, its own extinction, for without the intervention of the state and modern science, homosexuality results in the termination of posterity. Thus, from the perspective of both science and state we can see that the union of man and women, with their resulting children compared to the gay union are polar opposites both in origin and fruit.

    What about couples who are infertile? Many married heterosexuals choose not to have children, and others cannot because of medical problems or physical handicaps. But gays fought furiously to convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from their books as a "disorder", or medical problem. The majority of the United States will now agree that homosexuality is not a medical problem or disorder. Even in perfect medical condition, a gay couple cannot procreate without the help of a third party. Therefore homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships are inherently, and naturally, unequal. Gays should NOT shunned because of their beliefs and tendencies. Nor does this fact infringe on their God given rights. The argument is that the two relationships are very different from one another and for that reason they should be defined differently.

    More here

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  17. Don't let the naysayers get you down, Jen!

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  18. Eric, I understand your comment and it is clear that you are a person who is fully devoted to Christ and The Word. I truly admire your strength.

    I completely agree that you cannot select and chose those aspects of Christianity that work well for your circumstances. I struggle with this often.

    On certain matters, I do feel weak. But I never feel weak when it comes to the conviction in my heart to do what I believe God is leading me to do.

    All I can really say is that I'm a work in progress. I hope to get it "right" or more appropriately "correct" by the time MY time is up.

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  19. Edit >> My response should have been directed to Erica Bradley. Not Eric.

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  20. Good for you! Did you make him wear his wet suit when he picked up the sign?

    Uh oh, now scrolling down, I see I am not the only one who wondered!

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  21. In college I sat at a funeral for my friend who had drowned. Two of our professors, outstanding Bible scholars, performed the service. Expecting to hear some great comforting words on how God could let this happen, this is what we got: I DON'T KNOW.

    And those words set me free. It is liberating to be able to say "I don't know the answers to all the legalistic questions that so many like to use as a weapon but I'm just doing my best to live like Christ."

    As for the homosexual issue:

    I don't know.

    Thank goodness it is not my job to decide who is a sinner and who is not.

    It is my job, however, to love everybody as Christ would, show everybody mercy and compassion and simple kindness. After all, the New Testament is full of examples of Christ loving those whom society had shunned, those whom even He had dubbed sinners. Oh, how easily He forgave - even those who were putting Him to death.

    If homosexuality is a sin, it is no greater sin than my propensity to gossip, or the envy I feel for my neighbor's new car, or the bitterness that has taken up residence in my heart toward a family member, or my temptation to idolize money and possessions. God does not rank sin. We as a society like to rank sin, though, and most of us have one that we love to hate more than others. The sin we hate the most should be our own.

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  22. there is no weakness in questioning and delving into topics. you are not weak for being honest and thoughtful. i think so many have turned away from the church and/or god because they are made to feel immoral for thoughtfully grappling with issues. i too believe god would rather have us think and struggle with questions, issues, topics. i also believe so many do not go to church because often those christians who are loudest are the ones who are irrational and self-righteous. so, thank you for your faithfulness and loving heart and strength of character.
    k

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  23. To me, this is the most telling part of your entry today:

    "It seems to me that if everyone loves each other and does their best to contribute to a good world, that is living a Godly life. Is that not enough?

    I want to believe. I want to believe so badly at times that it hurts. I've asked to be saved. I've begged to be saved. But it hasn't happened - at least not in the way that I would expect. Does this mean I am not worthy? Does this mean that I am not trying hard enough?"

    You've asked, you've begged...but "...it hasn't happened.....AT LEAST NOT IN THE WAY I WOULD EXPECT..."

    I believe (and have been taught)that "works" are not enough. That it is in the "asking" that you ARE saved, deemed worthy. I think it HAS happened!

    God made us all, He loves us all - and who are we to judge? Only He has that right.

    YOU GO GIRL!

    Bless you and yours,
    ~Mad(elyn) in Alabama
    www.xanga.com/madewyn

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  24. I'm delurking just for this. This post is fabulous! I firmly believe you can believe in God yet be pro choice and believe everyone should have equal rights.

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  25. Excellent post--but you know what I liked the best? The first two lines and then the picture of your kids. I often forget to remember that my child is a gift from God--even on the really crummy days.

    Congrats to you (and your family) for sticking up for what you believe in...and for opening yourself up to comments from your readers. I wish I could find that courage...I stay away from anything political on my blog mostly because I don't want to make anyone mad...a pathetic excuse!

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  26. Jen,
    I'm one of those people you were talking about... you know, the readers who hide in the corner and don't comment? Well, that's me. Your post today awakened feelings and emotions in me that I didn't know I had. Usually I would be fairly hesitant to post anything (whether because, like you, I really care about how people see me, or because I don’t feel like I can accurately get my point across with clarity) but this time I felt I would be missing out on personal growth and reflection if I didn’t, so here it goes.

    First, I have utmost respect for your feelings. I, too, feel totally unworthy of what Christ has done for us. My faith is so weak at times! I must point out initially that I don’t think anything you believe about homosexuality or abortion rights affects your salvation.

    The book of Romans is very clear that you are saved by your faith in Christ alone, in his birth, death, and resurrection. It also says that you are not saved by the good things you do “for it is not by works of righteousness that you have been saved…” which brings me to my next point. You ask what will happen to those who follow another religion. My response to this (and forgive me for being blunt) is that they will go to Hell. Why? Because the bible is very clear that the only way to heaven is through the saving knowledge of Christ. Sounds pretty exclusive, even closed minded huh? Well, Christ did say “I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). So, while I’d really like to think that I will see one of my dear sisters in heaven one day, I know that, because she has rejected belief in Christ, she won’t come to know that joy. Do I love her any less? No. But God has give humanity the freedom of choice and the information to make a decision of eternal significance.

    This is heavy stuff. I completely understand if we aren’t in agreement. Thank you for allowing a usually quiet person to speak up. The reality is that we were put here on this earth by a loving God who wanted nothing more than for us to love him back. HE is the reason we are here. Spreading his word and his message is our charge. Doing good is good, and sinning is human, but we must remember that the grace of God (his willingness to send his only son to die for a sinful world) covers our sins and makes us clean in his sight. Our performance on this earth is not what will allow us eternity with Him, our belief in His sacrifice is. Thank you for the air time.

    - Melissa

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  27. De-lurking for the second time in two days to comment on another brilliant post. Everyone has doubts about their life, their decisions, their faith and if that equates to weakness then we're all weak. But to openly admit those doubts is incredibly brave and I applaud you for it. I admire your ability to express your thoughts with an eloquence that most writers could only dream of. Way to go, Jen!
    -Rachel in CA

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  28. I'm one of those lurkers, but I just had to say, "Good for you!" I'm really proud that you have the courage to stand up for what you believe in.

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  29. Thank you for admirable honesty and strong values.

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  30. This post is exactly how I feel. I grew up Catholic and never really connected with the Christian religion or any other for that matter. I believe in God and an afterlife. I just don't believe in Dogma. Just be a good person and live your life in a Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, etc., like way.

    Ever since I decided that I am not any one religion since I find good in just about all of them, I have felt closer to God than I ever have in my life.

    If you watch those shows on the History Channel about what they left out of the Bible, it makes it seem like they are all like Greek mythology. I interpret the Bible as stories that may have a grain of truth to them, but for the most part are just good lessons.

    I agree though about your thoughts of people who have never been introduced to Jesus going to Hell. I have conversations with my Christians friends all the time about this. They think those people in the jungle will go to Hell. It's why they have missions. Any religion that says that someone like the Dali Lama is going to Hell, is a religion I can't get behind.

    A lot of Christians I know also believe that dinosaur bones were placed here by the Devil to make us question the Bible and Jesus. This is the extreme in Christianity, I know, but it's still crazy to me.

    Wonderful post. Thanks for writing it.

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  31. Erica - Christianity isn't a package and it wasn't constructed as such. The New Testament was written over a couple of hundred years by MEN who wildy disagreed with each other and wanted to get every other Christian to think what they did. In the end, St Paul won. You aren't a Christian but a Paulian. Christ wasn't even seen as having risen from the dead until 250AD. Using your God given brain is the best thing you could do for yourself, your family and tour community. Educate yourself before condemning everyone else. I chose to become Jewish btw so see you in hell!

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  32. I am with you on pretty much all of this post. I grew up in a Catholic (sort of) household, however I am often torn between several teachings of the church and "real life" experiences that point me in another direction. I don't think one is right and the other wrong-- I happen to have a very liberal family and we move in the direction that we are pulled to. On all issues. I mean I live with my boyfriend and we aren't married, or even engaged and who is to say that what happens in our life is any "better" than another sin?

    I have to say that while I am a resident of NYC and don't get to participate in this issue, passing prop 8 would be a disgrace. Who are we to deny others of basic rights to love and enjoy the same family values that traditional couples are entitled to? I might have to do my own post on this one!

    Awesome topics and I thoroughly enjoy reading when I pop over here!

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  33. I wrote something very similar to how i feel about god in my journal. I have been trying to feel that way for as long as I can remember. Its nice to know I'm not the only one out there struggling with this.

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  34. Hi, I'm one of those lurkers ^_^.

    it may not mean much coming from a college student, with no faith and no idea about having to have dealt with pregnancies, but I say that if you're true to yourself you're true to jesus, or God.

    I'm not what you consider atheist nor religious. I believe in Jesus and Budha. I don't believe that they're spiritual beings or that they want you to live life in a certain path. I have my own path, that is what I believe is right for me and for those around me. I guess I live under my own concept of morals and what not. My moralities are taken from different perspectives of my life, be it religion, culture, the society I'm in and the society I see. Hmm, I lost track of what I was going to say....

    I guess, I'm thanking you for writing this post because it cleared certain thoughts in my mind about myself. I do have a Faith, in myself ^_^. You have a Faith in God, no one is wrong or blasphemous.

    Cheers from College!

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  35. Wow. There is a lot in this post. I'm not going to even begin to get into it all, though I agree with most of what you said (I am also more liberal in my beliefs on abortion). I just wanted to mention two things about the belief in Christianity:

    1. Jesus was a radical who spoke out against his religious leaders. He did not take the "whole package" of the Torah at face value and questioned it regularly.

    2. Jesus taught in parables, so why isn't the Bible considered stories that teach morals and faith, the way Jesus' parables did?

    Good for you being so brave in putting up a sign you believe in when surrounded by opposition. And good for you putting all this in your post out there.

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  36. Terrific thought provoking post... and you are FAR from weak...

    :)

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  37. Wow. What an eloquently written post regarding your struggles with your core beliefs. Very touching.

    I travelled a similar (mental) path as it regards Christianity, and unfortunately, the feelings of emptiness that I encountered when praying and pondering on faith lead me to the conclusion that formal, rule-guided religion does not make sense to me, that at least right now, it's just not for me. I don't exactly know where this leaves me, but for now, it leaves me as a secular humanist.

    When I was a senior in high school, I spent my summer studying theology at Emory University, and the students there were from all flavors of Christianity. We discussed how to begin to solve major problems (like poverty, homelessness, racism- you know, the little things...) while using Christ as a model. And what I took from that experience, and what I was taught by my very wise and faithful professors, was that the Bible exists as a guide, and that (especially in the Old Testament), metaphor was employed as a rhetorical tool, and thus, fundamentalists have it all wrong. And that fundamentally, as a guide book, anyone who lives as though those rules are literal is doing themselves, society and God a disservice. I do not think that God wants us to take our sons out and bash their heads when they talk back to us (Psalm 137- Leviticus also has some crazy child-violence, too). I just don't believe that this is the law He wants us to live by. It's like you can fundamentally believe that God is a good and loving and just God, or you believe that he is a wicked scorekeeper who loves nothing more than to punish us for misdeeds. And if there is a God, I believe he/she/it is like the former. And I have a hard time understanding the latter.

    And here's the other thing. Firstly, the Bible specifically says to give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and I believe that this concept doesn't just apply to taxes. Caesar's law is Caesar's law- not God's law. Caesar's law is that everyone has equal rights. Caesar's law is for all citizens, not just Christians. And Caesar's law is built on the basic right for us to swing our fist as hard and as much as we want to, with that right only ending where someone else's face begins. So, if the above are true, I fail to see how gay marriage is even debatable. Gay marriage does not hurt or detract from straight marriage. God calls us to love one another, God calls us to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and civil unions belong to Caesar.

    I believe that the same concept applies to abortion, regardless of whether I agree with it or not. I have no intention of ever having an abortion (though I suppose that would imply that I could actually get pregnant in the first place- hah!), nor do I have any intention of marrying a woman. I don't like it, so I don't do it, but I don't think that this means that I have any right whatsoever to push my moral code on other people, especially people who have their own very valid moral code. I don't recall God saying anywhere in the Bible to treat people who don't agree with you like crap.


    Feh. What do I know though? I think I mostly wanted to comment just to say that you've given me so much to think about, and written it so much better than I ever could have. Thank you.

    .

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  38. I think it is a good thing that you can express your thoughts. I feel like you are very confused and wish that you were not.

    All I can say is that I believe the Bible 100%. There are many studies that have proved the Bible to be true. I believe that the only way to heaven is to believe that Jesus died on the cross to take my sins on Himself. I know that God's salvation is a free gift.

    I have total peace in my life. I know that when I die, I will be going to the most wonderful place ever (not harps and clouds) but a place of unimaginable creativity, beauty and peace. I teach my kids about God and His righteousness, so that they too can know the truth.

    I pray that Maybe God will bring someone in your path to explain some more Bible truths to you.

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  39. I have always loved your blog and read it regularly. I had to come out of lurking mode to THANK YOU! I could not agree with you more about the rights of homosexual Americans and also about abortion. In my experience it is not always easy to discuss these topics especially when you are for gay marriage and against abortion, so I have to commend you on expressing your views both on your blog and in your yard. WAY TO GO!

    Amy

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  40. Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts since 2004. Maybe it's happening ;) but I haven't seen any evidence of the moral fabric of our society eroding. Although I do only know 1 legally married lesbian couple. They have 4 kids ;)

    My DH and I have 3 IVF babies and wouldn't have been able to have kids any other way, except through adoption, which as Jeff pointed out, relies on the "natural" family.

    I don't know. I am always surprised by the views of people in other parts of the country. New Englanders have a reputation for keeping to themselves.

    I guess maybe that's why all of our "unnatural" families can live together without bothering each other too much.

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  41. Anon @ 9:36, I'm currently not able to delete your comment to Erica, but if I was, I would. There is no need to be ugly.

    Sara's Art House, I really envy the total peace that you have in your life. All of the devout Christians that I know (at least on the surface), radiate that same level of contentment.

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  42. Delurking to say, good for you. That is inspiring. I also can't resist adding that there are an awful lot of churches full of people who aren't creationists. American Baptist, ELCA Lutheran, some Un. Methodist, most Anglican/Episcopalian, you name it. In my own (anabaptist) denomination, we like to say that we see the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and the New Testament through the lens of the teachings of Christ. An interesting book for you to read might be "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism", by Bishop Harry Spong (Espiscopalian), not so much for the chapters on why the fundamentalist approach is flawed, but because of its' discussion of why the Christian story is nonetheless relevant and important. Anyway - thank you for your honest thoughts. You certainly do put yourself out there!

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  43. I felt a lot of love and thought went into this post and I'm glad that you are brave enough to post your innermost thoughts and feelings on touchy subjects. That's what makes blogs worth reading and I hope that I can be that brave in mine.

    I don't agree with everything you said for various reasons that aren't really important because I don't think that arguing ever changes someone's values. My question is, if you don't believe some parts of the Bible how do you pick which parts are true? What if it's all just a creatively lovely story to instill practical ethics and values in humanity?

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  44. Really enjoyed reading this post. Thanks for posting it. In the meantime I wanted to ask you where your got your children's hats that they are wearing in the pictures in this post. I love them. I really love reading your blog. Take care, beth

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  45. Whoo hoo Jen! Good Job! What a great topic. Living in Ventura County which is notoriously democrat and Catholic (odd mix) I have seen many "Vote YES" signs and have been tempted to get a "vote NO" sign myself. I have voted Absentee NO last week. Great Post I love your soul searching.. we are all works in progress!
    Hugs
    Rooth

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  46. Hey Anon @ 9:36 -
    Guess what... there ain't no hell in Judiasm...so you'll be there by yourself! LOL!

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  47. Thanks for another amazing post, J.

    I'm often torn about religion myself. My mother's side of the family is Catholic; but not practicing Catholics. On my father's side of the family, my grandparents attend a Baptist church and they are QUITE religious (as in, believing-everything-in-the-Bible religious). I'm currently living in their home while I go to University in their town, and I'm often found questioning my own beliefs when I'm around them.

    I didn't grow up practicing religion by attending a church, but I've always been a spiritual person. I've always prayed, talked to God, and I always try to be an amazingly good person.

    I'm never sure what that means for me in my afterlife, but having been a history major in University... I just cannot read the Bible and take it word-for-word. I've learned too often about religions being started by human people because they didn't quite like the way religion was being run at the time. This makes me really wonder... wasn't the Bible also written at some point...by living, human people?

    I just have a lot of trouble taking this stuff at face value, and believing everything people say. I think there are so many ways to interpret the Bible... so I can't bring myself to follow blindly.

    I love the way religion makes us good people (when it does). I love that religion helps many people in unfortunate situations around the world. When it's breeding love, acceptance and tolerance for other humans... I can get on board.

    But I just cannot get on board with religion that is strict, and tells you not to think for yourself. OR religion that breeds intolerance.

    So I'm making my choice, I'll believe what I can and remain spiritual in my own way, and I'll love my fellow man and be a good person... if it's the wrong choice at the end of the day, I suppose I will suffer for it.

    But I really want to believe that all my inherent goodness as a human being, all my ability to care for others and do good deeds on earth, will not be for naught.

    I really believe that God is supposed to be a loving being; and I believe he's going to give me a chance.

    Living in 2008 is not easy, and we've all been blessed with unique minds and the ability to question and think about things. If God didn't want us to think, he wouldn't have given us the ability, I'm sure about that.

    And I cannot believe people who don't believe in evolution. I'm sorry, but it's been PROVED. I'm all for believing that things may have began by God; I'm all for believing that my spirit will be called home to Him; BUT! I have to believe Science exists too. We've seen too much of it proved to NOT believe in it! So I believe in the mixed view on that one.

    Thanks for letting me ramble on here a bit... thanks for being so honest; you make me feel much better about myself and less alone. *hugs*

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  48. I almost didn't read this post when it started talking about church...

    I'm very glad I did.

    I feel slightly dumb for being as close minded as I have become about church-goers.

    And congratulations as well for being able to stand-up for what you believe in, even if it may upset your neighbors.

    I admire your compassion.

    Again, thank you for keeping this blog. I hope you are somehow saving hard copies to pass onto your children so they can appreciate later on exactly who their mother is.

    -katie

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  49. What a deep and thought provoking post!

    I spent my formative years in a very religious family. I won't bore you with details, you can read my blog if you are interested. But, lets just say that though they may have seen themselves as pious, they were not very good at the "do unto others" part.... The whole religious fanatic thing didn't work out so well for us in the end.

    I don't consider myself religious, but spiritual. I'm sorry. Like you, I just can't buy into some of the stories in the Bible.

    I am also pro-choice but believe that life does begin at conception. I had to make this difficult decision at a very young age, but the decision was made by default. Counselling and support were not available to me. Would I have availed myself of a safe abortion as a 12 year old victim of a violent rape? I hope not, but I am glad that anyone who is faced with the same situation I was faced with 24 years ago has that choice. The child I bore is proof that beauty can come from darkness and pain. Hope from desperation.

    I have many friends who are gay. I do not believe that God cares who they choose to partner with. They should enjoy the same rights as the rest of us. It does not erode the "sanctity" of marriage. I don't even understand how it could when 50% of marriages end in divorce....

    I think you have it right. Be a good person and you'll be all right regardless of what you believe or who you worship.

    You are one of the bravest women I know.

    K

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  50. what a beautiful, thought-provoking, and vulnerable post. thank you. you have voiced so much of what i feel and am so rarely able to explain.

    YAY for you and charlie putting that sign in your yard and boldly standing up for what you believe.

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  51. Your Niece, Angela10/29/08, 10:19 PM

    I tend to read your blog over my dad's shoulder a night and when I saw the Prop 8 sign, I had to comment. I only wish I were old enough to vote this year because I've been so involved in this election. I proudly wear a Barack Obama button on my book bag and a bumper sticker on my door. Prop 8 has really outraged me, especially since some of my friends are for it. I respect their opinions (and some of them are valid) but I refuse to believe that God wanted us to alienate people because of a natural born tendency. I am highly against prop 8 and I'm very proud of your for putting up a no on prop 8 sign in your front yard. There are two yes on 8 in our neighborhood and three McCain/Palin signs. Of course there are no others which upsets me and I wish we had some signs of our own but again, I'm too young to vote. It's just unfortunate when people my age say they're for prop 8 because "gays just irritate them". I've chewed some people out about that. One of them was Jewish, as if his own culture hasn't faced enough injustice in the past. He of all people should know what it's like to be discriminated against and yet he still supports it. It's sad that prop 8 even exists and the propaganda about it being taught in schools is outrageous. If anything, it should be taught in the sense that it is exactly equal as heterosexual marriage. For me, marriage=love.
    I pretty much agree with you on abortion too. I'm pro choice but I don't think it should be used to get out of not using contraceptives. At the same time, I don't believe people should not have sex because they know the risk of contraceptives failing and they can't afford a child. I'm glad I have a couple more years to solidify my opinions on this before I'm able to vote. There are some things I wish I could vote on because I'm well informed and some things are way too distant for me to form complete opinions on.

    Anyway, love your blog. The kids look adorable as usual. I really want to see Henry! It's been far too long. Take care and say hi to the kids and Guy for us.

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  52. Wow! What a post! This is the stuff talk shows are made of. Pretty heavy stuff. So, whatever happened to the ramblings of potty-training and Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Cups???

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  53. What a wonderful and emotionally revealing post.

    I agree with a lot of what you've said.

    As far as God and believing everything, you don't have to believe in everything. I believe that God wants people to be good and to be good to others. I believe that God is out there for everyone, and he can be in different forms, and is in different forms so that the majority can believe in him.

    As far as abortions, it is SOOO okay to be against abortions, but be pro-choice. My great-grandmother died from complications from an abortion back in the 1930's. Pro-choice is NOT pro-abortion, but it's pro-CHOICE, givine a woman THAT right. A choice.

    We women have only been allowed to vote in our own country for only 88 years now. Our country has been our country for over 200 years. We get the right to choose now.

    I believe the bible CAN be interpreted in different ways, it's what you take from it. And who's to say that when the bible did get translated, that some of the translations came out wrong? One day could have meant several thousands of years. The great flood could have been in just one area of the world. I believe in both creation and scientific fact. I believe it happened the way scientists believe it did, but I believe that God made it happen that way.

    Good for you for standing up for what you believe in.

    And GOOD for Charlie to go to Hillcrest to get a sign for your yard.

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  54. Jen,
    Although I don't agree (again!)with everything you wrote in this post, I admire you for stating what you believe in your heart. It takes courage to get off the sidelines. It takes courage to be honest with yourself, and I can see that you do a lot of soul searching. Although my own feelings don't reflect yours exactly, I don't discount that both our feelings are real and important.

    You are an awesome mother and wife. I'll be stickin' around your blog becuase I think we are in agreement one important point - our children and spouses are the most precious "things" we have.

    -Karla

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  55. There are clearly sections of the Bible that use metaphors, allegories, or parables to 'tell the story' but there are clearly other parts of the Bible that are true at face value. A good Bible teacher at a strong Christian church will be able to help you recognize the difference.

    Yes it is important to believe the whole Bible is the inspired Word of God and was given to us for a reason. For example 2 Timothy 3:16-17 "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the people of God may be competent, equipped for every good work."

    1 John 4:1-6 (as well as the rest of the chapter) may also be of interest to you.

    Revelation 3:15-16 is a good example of where God uses a metaphor to explain the point that he does not want wishy-washy Christians. He would rather have us be 'hot' or 'cold' - sold out or not.

    I do believe that there are questions that require a definite, do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He died on the cross for your sins. Have you accepted him as your Savior and do you bear the fruit of that.

    The rest I think will be debated by the fallen world until Christ returns.

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  56. Well I have to say I am pretty taken back by your what you are saying. I do have to say if you really read the bible and look at it scientifically it can not be disproved. It is such an accurate document as to what has happened in history. I hope you keep going to church to find God. That is the Glory of him is what he has and will do. He has fulfilled his promises to us. That is what makes him glorious. Also God has said every child knows him and he will not come until every man and woman have been told about him. That is why it is our job as Christians to spread his word so each person knows him. Each one of us will be given the opportunity to be saved by him that is why he did on the cross and shed his blood then woke from the dead. Just because you have been told about Jesus doesn't mean that you have accepted him and living according to his will. So it is your decision but he makes sure each one of us has had the opportunity. Keep going to church and talk with your pastor you are there why not challenge it and have it shown to you it is the truth.

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  57. AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, on so many levels Jen.

    I am struggling so hard right now with my faith. The unfairness in this world, in my own life. I vascillate between feeling overwhelmingly in love with my God and wondering who the hell is He and WHERE is He?

    That voice I hear in me? I don't pay attention to it enough. In fact, I think I am quite apt to silence it with busy work and my child and husband. I don't WANT to listen to it, because it makes me cry over stuff I've worked hard to bury for years and years. I.just.don't.want.to.go.there. What's the point?

    I'd like to think that God is loving and caring and gentle. But it's so hard to see that when the world's condition proves otherwise. I'm not entirely sure how to get around that. I'm not entirely sure how to get to God without religion. I want to. But yanno, some of the "strongest" Christians around me, really make me HATE Christianity. If that's what it means...then no thanks.

    Thank you for being vulnerable and courageous. I wish I had it in me.

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  58. I'm late to the party and delurking for the first time too. I love your blog and this post spoke to me in more ways than you can imagine. Raised Catholic, a Christian, proud to live in Massachusetts and heartbroken about prop 8 I only wish I was as eloquent!

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  59. Hi J
    Can I suggest a good book- "What's so Great About Christianity" by Dinesh D'Souza.
    He ponders a lot of these issues from a christian perspective- you'll find that he agrees with you on the Creation issue. A very good read, I enjoyed it even though I actually believe in Creation myself.
    Rebecca D

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  60. WOW your post touches on so many of the same questions that I have.

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  61. I am late to the party on this post, but wanted to comment anyway.

    I often find myself spinning in circles on some of these issues and, although some may call it a cop-put, I have committed myself to concentrating on loving well. Jesus said the two greatest commandments were to love God with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength and then love our neighbors as ourselves. I am not sure about you, but I could spend the rest of my days just trying to master those two...and never even get to the rest of this.

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  62. I cannot for one second comprehend the people who say that life begins at conception and yet consider themselves "pro-choice." That is the saddest thing that I have ever heard. I am an ardent Catholic myself, but regardless of my faith, I realize how much of a direct contradiction that this thought process is. I think that people need to believe more in themselves and in humanity and to put their own selfishness aside. How is having a child the most horrible thing that can happen to some women? Obviously I recognize that not all women want to be mothers at all and that there are more or less better times to become a parent, but bringing new life into the world can never be a bad thing. NEVER! I can relate to you with the struggles with infertility. Five years for me and still no baby. There are so many people out there who would love and take care of that baby. But, I would think that you especially (and myself included) would want to change our world to a culture of life that believes in women and the need to allow even the most "unexpected" babies to be born. We should help and empower women and help everyone see the beauty and absolute importance of the children in their wombs.

    I pray that you will change your mind. I do not mean to offend you, but some of your comments truly do directly contradic the teachings of Christ. Preserve the family and work to keep one of the most established and fundamental structures of our world: that of the family and the marriage between a man and a woman. You will be in my prayers.
    -Mary

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  63. I've never commented here, but I had to comment on this post. FANTASTIC post.

    I spent years wanting so badly to believe everything I was taught as a Christian and to really *feel* it. So much so that I suppressed my doubts and questions, indeed even felt guilty about them. It has only been recently that I have had the courage to acknowledge them and be honest and open about them. The fact is, until God appears in my living room and has a chat with me face to face (who knows, it could happen, right?) I have no other way of communicating with and understanding Him than with my heart. And my heart screams out at me that certain things that Christians stand for and by are just WRONG. And I do mean "screams." Not a quiet questioning or doubt but a very physical feeling. The more I learn of the Bible and Christianity, the stronger my own convictions to the contrary become. The fact is, organized religion is a man-made product. Men are scared, fallible, confused and often, down right wrong. I will continue to keep an open heart and mind and to use them both to guide me. I can do no better than that, can I?

    Really, an excellent, excellent post. Thank you for your honesty. If some here would like to label you "weak" for your questioning mind, than it's a label I'll proudly share with you.

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