Catching up on a little reading before bedtime. Now that’s a nice view…
Something Bigger Than You Can Imagine
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I’m not what most people would consider a “religious” person. In fact, I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve been to church in the two years since my daughter was baptized.
So no, I probably won’t be winning any attendance awards anytime soon.
See, I’ve had issues with organized religion for awhile now, since way back in my middle and high school days when I began to notice that the very people who talked the biggest and sang the loudest and dressed the fanciest and put on the grandest Look-at-what-a-wonderful-Christian-I-am show every Sunday morning were the same people who spent the rest of the week looking down their noses and treating the people they thought were beneath them like garbage. Somehow, I just couldn’t wrap my brain around it, and it made for a lot of uncomfortable Sundays, and feeling like the sermons being preached from the pulpits were hollow and empty.
During college, I had something of a love/hate relationship with religion. Part of my loved the intimacy of the daily chapel services, and I felt a genuine connection with the faculty and staff and students that I’d formed relationships with during my time at Concordia New York. But there was another part of me that just really believed that God had abandoned me, unable to forgive me for all the horrible things I’d done. Losing all hope and faith, and being so miserable when my life was filled with so many blessings was like making a conscious decision to spit in God’s face, and I was convinced that there was only so much of it that He was going to take.
It took a lot of years for me to heal, and to reconnect with my spirituality. Maybe I’m not an every Sunday churchgoer, but my faith is strong. I feel genuinely connected to the universe and believe absolutely in a power greater than myself that connects all of us. I do my best to be a good person, to treat others with dignity and respect, and to leave this world a little better than I found it. Do I fall short? Do I sometimes miss the mark? Absolutely. I’m human, after all. And there is no such thing as perfection.
Yet, even though I’ve never been much of the regular church going type, I do wish sometimes that Steven and I could find a church that we love and feel comfortable in, a church where we can start taking Cadence. I definitely don’t believe that children should be indoctrinated and forced to believe in something, but I do believe it’s important to give them an education and a foundation for belief. I believe it’s important to expose them to different ideas and viewpoints, and give them the freedom to form their own opinions. I don’t care if Cadence decides she doesn’t want to be Lutheran or attend a Lutheran church for the rest of her life. How could I, when I don’t even subscribe to all of the Lutheran beliefs or attend Lutheran services on a regular basis myself? But what I do hope is that Cadence is able to know, without a doubt, that she is part of something much bigger than herself. I think too many people lose sight of that, and I think that many of the problems we face in this world are a direct result of too many people living egocentrically, as if they are the only ones on earth who matter, instead of realizing that they are a very crucial part of something a whole lot bigger than they can imagine.
If you ask me, that is what church should be. It should be a place, like home, that offers security and comfort, a place that you know you are always welcome, a place where you can belong in spite of your differences. It should be a place where you feel a sense of connection, a sense of peace. It should be a place where you feel uplifted, and where you uplift others in return. It should be a place where you can lay down your burdens, where you can learn from your mistakes, and where you can nourish and heal your soul. It should be a place where you can feel, without a doubt, that you are in the presence of something bigger than yourself.
If you ask me, too many churches these days are focused on who can draw the biggest crowds, and do so by pandering to the fast food, MTV, reality show generation with loud music and loud sermons and bright flashing light shows that are dazzling and dizzying and reminiscent of the old circus sideshow acts that used to draw a similar sort of thrill-seeking crowd. Sure, it’s important for churches to have members. Otherwise, they can’t survive. But what’s the point of filling the seats for the big Sunday show when there is no substance to the message? What’s the point of having a service at all when the teachings and the beliefs don’t matter the other six days of the week?
Recently, my good friend Pastor Scott “Money” Geminn and his wife Becca started blogging. (You’ll have to bear with me, “Money” is what I’ve called Scott from our college days together, and I just can’t quite get the hang of calling him anything else). And I’ve been hooked on their blogs since day one. See, Money and I have always had similar views on a lot of things, and ever since he was first called to Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, I’ve wished that somehow I could find a way and a means to become a member of his church and arrive every Sunday just in time for service.
Pretty bold words for a girl with an attendance record like mine, don’t you think? But it’s the truth. And if I could find a way to push Lincoln, Nebraska and Glenwood Springs, Colorado just a little closer together on a map, I’d be a very happy girl.
Money is one of those people who would be a spiritual leader whether he was actually standing in front of a pulpit or not. He’s got a light that shines a little brighter than most, and a heart that is happiest when he is serving others. He is kind, gentle, loving, and a bit stubborn at times. He is the sort of man who stands up for what he knows is right, and who can be humble and contrite when he is wrong. He loves to learn, and makes a point to face new experiences and challenges with an open mind and an honest heart. He has a wicked sense of humor and a loud, echoing laugh that is downright infectious. Whether you’re listening to him preach in church on Sunday or wax philosophical about his favorite movies and sports teams, you can’t help but get caught up and carried along by his enthusiasm.
And Money’s wife Becca, though I have yet to actually meet her in person, seems to be the perfect match. They’ve been blogging for just a few short weeks now, and I’m already addicted. They’re definitely worth checking out. Here are a couple recent posts that really got me, and I wanted to share with all of you…
Money’s Blog : A Foolish Way
Becca’s Blog: Eleutheria
If you or any of your family or friends live in, near, or are visiting Glenwood Springs, Holy Cross Lutheran Church is definitely worth a visit. I think you’ll like it there. And be sure to tell Money and Becca hi. 🙂
365 Project – Day 293 – Why You Need to See Kevin Smith’s “Red State”
A few years ago, my husband Steven started a little something called the People I’d Like to Have a Beer With List. Essentially it is a list of his idols, people that he thinks are deliriously funny, and people he would just like to sit around and talk to for an afternoon. You can think of it as sort of a Christmas wish list for adults. Instead of toys, Steven would like to ask Santa for a personal meeting with some of his favorite celebrities. Nothing stalkerish about it. He’d just like a couple hours to sit around and shoot the shit with some of the people he admires most. People like Matt Sorum, Seth MacFarland, Lewis Black, and his favorite director of all time, the one and only, Kevin Smith.
Now, most people know Smith from his films like Clerks and Mallrats, which he wrote, directed, and even acted in as the quietly lovable character named Silent Bob.
His most recent film, however, is a sharp detour from the comedies Smith is known for. The independently-financed horror film, Red State, is something else entirely. The reviews thus far have been a very mixed bag, but I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now, perhaps I should explain, because when I say “enjoyed” I don’t necessarily mean that I am dying to watch it again tomorrow. In fact, as I sit here writing this, I am pretty disturbed by what I’ve just seen. I felt the same way when I left the theater after watching the movie Seven, yet it would probably be in my top 50 favorites if I was making a list. The reason? Because sometimes there are movies that just seem to resonate, that hit a chord, that hold up a mirror (however warped it may seem) and allow us to see, with razor sharpness, some of the most glaring issues in our society.
Red State is one of those movies.
If you are somehow still unaware of the beliefs or activities of the Westboro Baptist Church, it is definitely time to climb out from the rock you’ve been living under and start watching the news. While few of these protests have actually turned violent, I believe it is only a matter of time before we have another David Koresh, Waco-style massacre on our hands. And essentially, that is one of Smith’s points in the film.
See, we live in a world where we often prefer to deal with unpleasantries by burying our heads in the sand and pretending that nothing is wrong. We don’t want the burden of having to deal with things or having to put forth the effort to change them, so we just look the other way and ignore the warning signs. I don’t want to spoil the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet by talking about it too much in detail here, but I think the thing that rattled me most while watching the film is that I don’t think the WBC is very far removed from the Five Points Church depicted in the film. When you’re dealing with this level of hatred and religious fanaticism, it’s only a matter of time before things get ugly. Real ugly. And I commend Smith for taking a stand against a group of people that even our federal courts can’t seem to bother with.
I’m proud to be a Nebraskan. I was born here, raised here, and even though I moved away to attend college, I found my way back here twelve years later to settle and start my own family. I was even prouder to be a Nebraskan when our state passed a law prohibiting the funeral protests that the Westboro Baptist Church has grown so famous for staging. Too bad the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals stepped in to reverse the ruling. But, we Nebraskans will fight it, all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to, because, like Kevin Smith, we believe in taking a stand against the things we know are wrong. We just wish more people would listen.
Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to Kevin Smith for writing, directing, assembling a phenomenal cast, promoting, distributing, and standing behind Red State, in spite of whatever criticism might come your way. Bravo, sir! I hope someday my husband gets a chance to check your name off his People I’d Like to Have a Beer With List, because you are definitely one guy we would be proud to say we know.
And if you’d like to do a little more reading about the recent repeal of the Nebraska protest law or what the members of the Westboro Baptist Church thought about Red State, click the links below.
8th US Circuit of Appeals opinion strikes down Nebraska’s restrictions on funeral pickets