February 5, 2005

I’m in a rather unsettling time in my life right now. It’s not in a negative way necessarily, I’m just in a place where many things are beginning to become clear to me that force me to reevaluate what I am involved in and what I identify myself as in a religious sense.

For my entire life I have been a part of the United Methodist Church and have served at nearly every level of its structure from a person in the pew all the way up to being a 2-time delegate to its top legislative body. However, going back even as far as Confirmation – now that I think about it – I haven’t always felt comfortable here. One of the drives behind my desire to major in religion at BU came from an inner struggle within myself to figure out what I truly believe about God and God’s movement in my life.

As I studied the various religions of the world, I found myself drawn to the beliefs of those for whom the Divine wasn’t placed in a box. I came to see God as being more than what I grew up believing “He” is. In many ways, in fact, I began to see how my identity as a United Methodist wasn’t speaking to where I was as a faithful, spiritual human being; even to the point of considering a major change…

One part of it has to do specifically with the UMC. As a first-hand participant at General Conference – particularly with the most recent one – I saw the direction the denomination has taken to be one with which I don’t really agree. Though there are many areas in which I feel it has made a real difference, there are many where I feel it has been destructive and divisive. The most apparent is the area of homosexuality. Now, I’m straight but I have very strong feelings about inclusiveness. The inability of the general church to compromise, find common ground, or be willing to work together on this in the first place has been painful. There is a strong sense for me that the denomination (as evidenced in the decisions made at GC) is unable to admit that there is division within the church. Because of that, in conjunction with the hypocracy found in claiming to have “open hearts, open minds, open doors” while not truly being all that open, the denomination loses credibility with me and leaves me feeling like I can no longer be a part of it.

At a more fundamental and thus more important level is my faith itself. For most of my life I have been told, more or less, what I should believe when I consider myself to be a Christian. Liberal, conservative it didn’t matter so much when it got down to what you believed in. Though, in some ways I’ve always felt it, over the past few years I have grown more and more aware that I probably don’t fit in to the category of “Christian” – in a more traditional sense – anymore…

Throughout my life I have had the thought in the back of my mind that Jesus wasn’t God. Everything I was taught, everything those around me were saying told me that Jesus was God come to earth and that was that. However, deep down I felt differently. For me, Jesus was more of a prophet who was in tune with his sense of God’s will and he did what he could to promote the ideas of love, justice, and community to all who would listen. So, I feel myself to be less of a Trinitarian and more of a Unitarian in my theology. With my studies and my more liberal pluralist views of religion as a whole, I feel more and more that I should be a Unitarian Universalist rather than a United Methodist. And in many ways that’s a hard realization to make.

It’s always hard to make such realizations, especially when it has to do with something which has been such a large part of my life. I have made committments, I have responsibilities, I have a history within the UMC that is difficult to let go of. As I’ve moved around, as I’ve searched for acceptance, it was in the church where I have always been able to find a sense of belonging. And it’s hard to imagine turning away from that.

I’m not sure what I will do. I have committed myself to take time out of everyday for the next couple of months to consider everything surrounding this part of my life and to decide what’s best for myself. We’ll see what happens…

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