Friday, February 26, 2010

Split Spirituality and Lenten Leaps

Mardi Gras has come and gone . . . we've finished our pancakes and pazckis and Lent is now upon us. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, Lent by definition is the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter [of which is] observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting ( Being regularly dropped off at the door of an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) Church throughout my childhood and attending a Lutheran university where religion happens to have been one of my concentrations, deprivation and atonement are things I have practiced many a time during this season of sacrifice. Nonetheless, it's been years since the last time I have fulfilled any promises I have made for Lent, on the rare occasion I have made promises that is.

I imagine the reason for my lack of Lenten partaking is due to the fact I have been in a spiritual sinkhole for the greater part of the last 10 years, which in some measure is the reason for the overwhelming anxiety that has been a recurring theme for the bulk of my blog posts to date. I believe the source of this divine dent has much to do with the decisive disconnect between the beliefs of my youth how I presently feel about my once held viewpoints. Four years in a liberal arts religion program, a crisis of conviction, two bouts of depression, and a lifetime of guilt, all combined with my propensity for logic and reason has tainted my faith forevermore, and I fear there is no going back. It would have been so much easier to have my previous persuasions all tied up in a tidy box with a bow on top, but every time I try to put my religious views in reverse, the box ends up looking like the opened presents of a young child on Christmas morning.

Crucify, by Tori Amos, exemplifies much of how I have been feeling about devotion to deity, generally speaking, over the last several years. Of course I cannot tell you this without providing the allusive lyrics and video clip (as cheesy as I think it is) for you. Whether you choose to read, listen, or do both is up to you, but I hope you will take a moment explore what she has to say.

Every finger in the room is pointing at me
I wanna spit in their faces
Then I get afraid what that could bring
I got a bowling ball in my stomach
I got a desert in my mouth
Figures that my courage would choose to sell out now.


I've been looking for a savior in these dirty streets
Looking for a savior beneath these dirty sheets
I've been raising up my hands
Drive another nail in
Just what God needs
One more victim

Why do we crucify ourselves
Every day I crucify myself
Nothing I do is good enough for you
Crucify myself
Every day I crucify myself
And my heart is sick of being in chains

Got a kick for a dog beggin' for love
I gotta have my suffering
So that I can have my cross
I know a cat named Easter
He says will you ever learn
You're just an empty cage girl if you kill the bird

Repeat Chorus

Please be
Save me
I cry

Repeat Chorus

While Crucify does a good job of conveying how I have been feeling about my wavering views, it does not exactly explain what I believe today. I have pondered picking apart my postulations for you piece by piece, but have decided it is best not to bore you with the book I may inevitably ink out. Nevertheless, I feel it is important for me to simply surmise in the shortest style possible some of those said suppositions . . . .

I believe the energy that most of us refer to as God does exist. In the same respect, I believe we are all energy from God and since energy is neither created nor destroyed, we all continue to live on in some form after the shell that is our bodies ceases to exist. I consider myself to be a Universalist who has a strong appreciation for Christian Philosophy and deem myself Christian above all other faiths because a Christian is one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ (, which I do. I believe we are souls having human experience and are here for an education, not to climb some ladder and prove ourselves worthy of happily ever after existence. As such, I do not think our faith has anything to do with where our energy ends up after our humanity 'hits the skids', but do believe that morality (not necessarily that defined by Christianity) probably plays a large part in our afterlife experience. It is Jesus' philosophies on grace and love that contain the elements which make this hell of an earthly visit a heavenly experience.

Despite the dichotomy of my divination, I remain an avid attendee of weekly worship at my current congregation, as it is meant to be a place that exemplifies the love and grace that is so important to living this human life. While I detest domineering dogma (which is rarely an issue at my house of worship), I do believe in the overall discipline of Lent and the spiritual reconnect it can provide for one's soul, regardless of religion, philosophy, and/or faith. Therefore, I have decided it is time to make use of the Lenten season once again, but instead of making the typical temporary sacrifice that one usually makes during this time of fasting and forfeit, I choose to add new things to my life in the hope to once again become the conductor of my cavalcade. I have contemplated sharing my Lenten leaps of permutation with you, but frankly I doubt you want to hear about me taking 20 deep breaths each morning, making sure I clean for two 30 min segments daily, and consistently sitting with my kids at the table for lunch. Thus I am going to end here, for I fear I have gone on long enough, and simply sum up by saying what I hope to gain from new religious routines is an ability to cope with my current neurotic nuances and the eventual suturing of the split in my spirituality.


  1. I hadn't gotten a chance to read this before my phone call. I wish I had. You continue to have deep and rich questions Amber. It's one of the reasons I am a consumate cheerleader. I wish more people questioned and lived as passionately (and faithfully) as you do, it's inspiring. Like you, I'm not big on giving up for lent, although I do like the idea of taking on. Thanks for the deep reflections.

  2. Sometimes I read what you write and wonder how you've managed to articulate things that are in my head. I have had a meandering journey of faith, and have experienced a similar revelation that I won't ever be able to get back to the place I was when I was younger. However, I still have a belief in the teachings of Christianity -- particulary compassion and forgiveness. I work on both daily, and sometimes feel like I'm getting it right.

    I like what you say about how, as souls, we are here for an education. This makes much more sense to me than being here to accomplish some checklist that guarantees a spot in heaven. I think we are here to live, experience, and share ourselves with others -- both as teachers and learners.

    And, as I type this, I can't help to think that it is some sort of divine intervention that Crucify just happened to pop up on my itunes.

  3. Gail, perhaps we are soul sisters. Lol! I've often been able to relate to things you have posted on facebook. We must vibrate on the same frequency.

    I have so much dialogue in my head for my 'eccentric' belief system, stuff I probably won't share here anytime soon. We should compare and contrast sometime.

    Crucify . . . that song just has divine intervention written all over it. It is no coincidence that it popped up on your itunes.