Dear Believer –
Do you like tough questions? What do I do when presented with tough questions? How do I respond when presented with tough questions? Where is worship in tough questions?
A “Secret Santa Worship Blog Day” Appetiser
If you were presented with this post of tough questions … what would you say … what would you think … how would you respond:
Nan’s Notebook: “Dear Believer”
In this safe-place for all, this place to be nurtured (not neutered) – how would you respond?
and Nan is warmly invited to any conversation in the comments.
Thank you –
As promised my own thoughts are this …
Hi Nan, the comments (I hope) are directed only to the video.
Because this video is so beautifully shot it is almost a work of art. I love the creativity, the energy, the beauty, the research, and the presentation. And I love the questions and statements – they are the sort not readily welcomed (in my experience) – the questions that start a fight – the ones which bring out the knee-jerk responses – the emotional responses.
Maybe because “Dear Believer” is an emotional statement. An emotional statement of “the questioned” and an emotional statement of “the questioner.”
I watched a beautiful emotional video with some loving questions. And I saw peace, I saw kindness, I saw gentleness – and you selected in such wondrous images. Thank you.
Now let’s talk “belief”.
There are billions of people in this world. I have fallen in love with one of them. I had no choice in the sex of the one I fell in love with, nor she me. Outside of that, I fell in love with someone who lived within my locality and life circles. That means I excluded zillions of others I never met. Does it mean I fell in love with the wrong person, that I should have fallen in love with someone in a different continent? One I will never meet, one I will never know, one I will only hear about through others?
Because I fell in love with someone I wanted to live with. To create life with. To have a family with. Just like (and unlike) every other family in my culture and locality. Just like (and unlike) every other love affair the world over. I don’t understand love. But I do know that it is much more than procreation and species survival.
Because I almost lost this unique and precious relationship.
That’s how I know it is much more than simply procreation and species survival. I know the pain of loss. And I also know this one single person is the one person who allows me to feel whole. Who allows me to feel safe. Who nurtures me by simply being the person they are – a person as incomplete and free and safe as I am – because I nurture them as they nurture me.
Is that science? Is that God? I just call all of it “Love”.
And I have found that Love connects – whereas religion sticks us together or tears us apart. I have found Love empowers – whereas religion so often diminishes and constricts. I have found that Love is stronger than death – and that religion so often kills love in the very name of love. I have found religion to be belief and not to be love.
So let’s stick with “belief” –
I believe this seat is solid, but science says it is nothing more than space and a few bits too small to see (but may change its mind about that again). I believe my computer will switch on when I press a button, but I do not know all the “why”s. I believe words will happen when I click a keyboard, but … (ditto). I believe the sun will come up tomorrow even if I cannot see if for cloud cover. And you know what? I believe you believe that as well.
And all of those are beliefs.
So if my “belief” is a belief called Christianity, and your “belief” is a belief called Atheism – then we already have much in common – so let’s not fall out.
But why stop there? Why stop at simply a belief structure? That isn’t living to its fullest. That will simply constrict and change and change and constrict. Why don’t we move on to Love and a question of my own:
Is Love a belief – and is Love something we can all share equally?
My answer? Whether “Love is Love” or “Love is a belief” – why would I want to waste time sniping “verbal bullets” of God-religious or Atheist-religious or anything quasi-religious when it is all just one belief factory?
Because beliefs change. Science-beliefs change, religious-beliefs change, opinion-beliefs change. So if we spend our lives sniping at each others changing beliefs from behind our changing own beliefs – isn’t that a bit weird?
Because what good does that do – to you or me or any of us? Just how does that allow Love to flourish – how does that allow any of us to flourish?
So would you allow me this one request:
Whatever your country, culture, era … whatever your name for “God” or “no God” or “maybe I am not sure god, God” or any other combo you can name … whatever your belief is called – try replacing it with:
“Love – unconditional love”, and now …
Let’s try and snipe at each other. Because one thing I do know for real – arguing about unconditional love is as demanding as unconditionally loving.
And Nan, if you hadn’t allowed me to connect with you and this video – I would never have known I even thought these words.
So Thank You – you have allowed me to flourish! I hope the flourishing is mutual 🙂
9 thoughts on “Secret Santa Worship Blog Day – appetiser UPDATE”
As always, Paul, you get to the heart of the matter.
Thanks Susan –
Paul, I do understand. And believe me when I say I appreciate your outlook on Christianity. Would that more took such a loving approach.
I commented on Bette’s last response to me, but rather than post it on that page, I decided to put it here because I think the message is for all your readers.
I guess I “care,” Bette, because so many get defensive about their belief in Jesus. I was once a believer so I know the depth and width of what I’m saying. Why did I leave? Because there came a time when I began to look beyond the tenets I was taught and discovered that what I had been told was not the whole story. (To be fair, I don’t think many of the “teachers” know the full story.) This knowledge opened up a whole new world for me.
As for the video? My primary reason for putting it on my blog was to remind viewers that Christianity is NOT the one and only religion. Where you were born plays a tremendous role on what you believe. This is not to say that exposure to a different religion might change your beliefs, but as a general rule, we join the faith of our family and/or friends, or sometimes (as in your case) even by what we read.
I am not trying to change anyone’s religious beliefs. It is simply my hope that Believers will become more understanding (and tolerant) about religious beliefs that are different than their own.
Paulfg talks about Love in this posting. IMO, one of the best ways to demonstrate that is to follow what is written in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. This goes for Christian and non-Christian alike. Imagine how different our world would be!
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Nan, these comments are to you (not the video 🙂 ) and also to Betty –
(and to all those who seem to have avoided joining in this conversation)
Thank you. I often wonder if these labels of belief (and the oddest one of all for me: “unbelief”) are too often used not as rungs on a ladder of exploration together – but instead as bricks in a wall we construct around ourselves. For that reason I used to be “a believer” – and now I am a lover.
As I have become a lover I have shed beliefs like a tree sheds leaves in autumn. They got in the way of love, and they (too often) get in the way of connection. Yet no matter how many beliefs I shed, I am still a believer.
I cannot function as a human being if I do not believe a lot of things about a lot of stuff (which may or may not have to do with faith and religion as yet more labels). For me simply “living” is believing, just as “loving” is believing something.
So as we are all just believers in something (always something), I have an invitation I would love you to accept. An invitation to be an author for the Secret Santa Worship Day on 9th December (i.e. just three days away). If your writing process allows a post that YOU would be happy with in the next 72 hours, if you have the time available, and if your heart tells you this is safe – please do let me know.
(and if not for this deadline, but you are interested in writing – please say so)
I have seen nothing in your words to suggest we are very different. We each bring affection and respect and the opportunity to expand the conversation with others who see the label of “unbelief” where (perhaps) the phrase “beliefs to be shared with love” describes it better.
As a contributing author, you would have the space of your own post in your own way (a freedom I have enjoyed in this dialogue – and for which I thank you for accepting so graciously).
Finally, I am guided by my own God Soft Hands Jesus in this. He was chattering affectionately as soon as I landed on your blog and page. And neither of us have any doubt that you will also “get” that with mutual respect as well. That mutuality makes this conversation safe for both of us I hope.
Thank you so much for the invitation, Paul. However, I must decline … at least for the time being as this is something I would need to really think about. I would not want to offend your blog followers/participants, yet I could not write something without being true to myself and where I am today.
Actually, my “story,” if you will, is pretty much spelled out in my book (Things I Never Learned in Sunday School). I’m not trying to “make a sale” by saying this. Rather, whatever I write would most likely have already been addressed in some fashion in my book.
Nevertheless, I will give it some thought. Perhaps down the road a bit. 😉 Is your email address accessible on this blog so I can notify you?
That sounded like a warm invitation to read a bit more about you, so off I went to Amazon UK and a kindle download. Simply because I am curious – safe and curious.
I am glad you will give it some thought. Because I do wonder sometimes if all of us are just one (or two) belief(s) apart.
And I am popping over to your place: your About page to add a comment (which means you can pick up my email address whenever you wish). And maybe there is a conversation of two to be had by email along the way! 🙂
For now – thank you. This has been fun, and respectful, and everything we all wish for when sharing together. I hope it is not the last time! 🙂
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Nan, I think you make great points here, particularly in your first paragraph. I identify with you completely. In fact, Jesus taught us to let go of religious law and dogma and embrace love and acceptance. I believe it’s more than simple tolerance; I think believers must embrace others that are different; how else can we pass forward the love and grace we’ve received?
BTW, I ‘m so glad you accepted Paul’s invitation to write here. I think you will add tremendously to our conversation here.
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What a conversation – I love that it brings out my “thinker” – ——-
The video – that I finally had time to watch – was beautifully done. It rally causes one to look into their own “beliefs”. Something I think we all need to do.
I was not brought up in a religious home or a Godly atmosphere. I was taught that those things are to be kept to yourself. Yet, I had a longing for love……
When I did become a Christian it was during a “movement” of the Holy Spirit in the early 1970s – it was just that. I wasn’t consciously looking for something to believe bur I found it. Over the years I stayed with Jesus, God and Holy Spirit and yes, Nan, I agree – most “teachers” and I think all humans do not know the whole story. It just caused me to search deeper and I through away religion and fell in love with the Man, God, and let Him love me.
Having been in different leadership-type positions over the years I really believe that Christians need to evaluate their “why do I believe” or “what do I believe?” or who do I really “follow”.
Isn’t this fun? LOL It stirs up my very soul ……
Thank you Nan and Paul.
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