Sunday, April 17, 2011

On Religion


I was, as they say, brought up in church.  My great uncle and his father were ministers, my father thought about being a minister, my parents married in the church they met in as kids, my dad was a regular soloist in the choir, my mom and I added our voices to the chorus, we never missed a Sunday (or Wednesday choir practice).  I was baptized, Sunday-schooled, confirmed, Luther-leagued, vacation-Bible-schooled, church retreated, and communioned for all the years of my growing up.  My sister and I had a plaque with the "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer on our bedroom wall.  About the same time as I learned "The ABC song," I learned that "Jesus loves the little children."  Not going to church, not believing, was not an option.

Now . . . I have a tangled, complicated relationship with religion.  Do I go to church?  No.  Do I believe in God?  I don't know.  But I love sitting in an empty church better than sitting just about anywhere, I love the music, from my beloved Bach to Walter Hawkins (who passed away last year -- sing with the angels, Walter).   Icons decorate the walls of my house and office, I love the King James Bible (and will never ever switch to the newer versions), and I read many books not only about "spirituality" in general, but about Christianity in particular, mostly Christian history.  I recently bought a book about the saints, one for each day of the year, gorgeously illustrated.  I have a very nice book in which Thich Nhat Hanh talks about Jesus and the Buddha.  Every month, I contribute  to a monastery in Big Sur that prays for me (and everyone else) daily.  I seek out missions, cathedrals, wherever I go, and I have a St. Michael medal in my wallet and on the sun visor of my car.

Jesus by mythlady

I don't know what I am.  I guess I'll always be a Lutheran, not a Christian (to be honest, I don't understand when people say they are "Christian" rather than Baptist or Episcopalian -- I think I'm behind the times).  At Easter time, my thoughts take up the memories I have of Tenebrae services, of my beloved pastor fasting and praying from Good Friday until Sunday, of my father singing the part of Jesus in "The Seven Last Words of Christ" (of my brother, maybe age three, standing up in the pew, pointing up at the choir loft, and saying, "That's my dad!").

I don't want to be a foxhole Christian, calling on God or Jesus only in time of need, but I can't ever get the word "atheist" to come out of my mouth, either.  I guess I'm still a seeker, and maybe I always will be. 


Bishop Walter Hawkins, "What Is This?"


I'm happy to say that I met Bishop Hawkins once, some years back, and was able to tell him how much his music meant to me.  He touched a lot of people's lives through his ministry.

20 comments:

Joan said...

Interesting to read your insight. I can relate to several things you said.
Your photos are beautiful.

Kristy said...

I can relate as well. Beautiful Texture Twist. Enjoy your Sunday!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thank you, Kristy and Joan --

Henrietta said...

I don't belong to any church or religion but I do love architecture of cathedral and churches, they are very beautiful buildings.

Ms. Becky said...

Saying hello on a shadow-shot tour. this is my first visit to your blog. I like what you've done using the texture. and your thoughts are not so unfamiliar to me. raised a Lutheran, became a Catholic for my husband, then we divorced and now I'm not defining it so much. but I have always wondered about the phrase "good Catholic". I hear it all the time, but I've never heard the expression "good Lutheran" or "good Episcopalian". I like your blog, and hope you have a fabulous week.

MarieElizabeth said...

Great post and photo. I too was raised in a church (and church school). Now I find myself focusing on the faith and not the religion. It is a day to day thing, but I'm completely with you on seeking out churches and such in my travels.

Nancy said...

I'm struck by the fact that many intelligent people nowadays are questioning their faith. I know how I feel and am perfectly content in my decision. It makes sense to me.

Great post and photo. Food for thought. :)

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, everyone. I'm sure I'll be writing more about this as time goes on, because it's something I ponder often . . . :)

chubskulit said...

Gorgeous!

Come and see my shadow shots. Wishing a you a great week ahead!

Sylvia K said...

First of all, thank you for visiting my blog and for your comment. I love your post for the day and you could have been speaking for me as I feel exactly the same way about religion. Your photos are superb! Hope you have a wonderful week, Elise!

Sylvia

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks so much, Sylvia -- I appreciate it! And thanks, too, chubskulit.

Hey Harriet said...

Such an interesting post and beautiful photos! Thanks so much for joining in Shadow Shot Sunday :)

Gallery Juana said...

Interesting insights which I enjoyed reading. Beautiful photos.

Gale Wall said...

When we are children we are tethered to our parents in many ways. We have to decide and act upon our own beliefs as we mature. It is a journey over a lifetime. Thanks for following my blog. Lovely photos!

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, everyone -- Harriet, Juana, Gale -- I appreciate your stopping by.

mdawnt1 said...

Thanks, Elise, for the link to one of my all time favorite gospel songs. I come from a long line of spiritual workers, from shamans and wise women to rabbis and an Episcopalian priest. My mother was the daughter of the priest, and she wanted no part of organized religion, but she loved the hymn, "Balm in Gilead." I played it for her as she passed from this life, not sure of what came next. As for me, I have a deep and abiding faith "that I feel deep inside, and it keeps setting my soul on fire..."

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Dawn for stopping by! My absolute favorite is Tramaine singing "The Potter's House" -- I absolutely love that song, and it lifts me up every time I hear it.

Katy Noelle said...

Elise, it's great to hear your thoughts on the subject. There's too much that comes to mind to comment about it, though. I'm sure that you understand. Places that I can relate - my take on things - encouragement - respect. =]

Courtney said...

Beautiful photos, Elise! Someone calling themselves a Christian is simply stating they are a Christ follower. The rest - Baptist, Episcopalian, etc. - is just denominations, which to me are not important. I am a Christ follower. I believe Jesus died for my sins. Therefore, I am a Christian.

Elise Ann Wormuth said...

Thanks, Courtney -- I appreciate your comment.