Spirituality that speaks to the rest of us

I have bad days. Bad weeks, even.

Last week was one such example. I was feeling like “church” was an old, dead concept (I still think this, at least in the way most of us think about church), and that progressives/liberals like myself would have no space whatsoever in the spiritual culture of the future– I even uttered the phrase “Maybe Rick Santorum is right; there are no liberal Christians.” I contemplated entering my backup profession, tending bar, since I would still lend a listening ear, be around people, and have an excuse to mix a mean martini.

But yesterday, more than 3,700 people read a blog post of mine, more than tripling the previous record for most-active day on this blog. And this was not a post about some of the things I normally yammer on about that drum up controversy: homosexuality and abortion and racism and church metrics (hey it drums up *some* controversy).

This was a post about faith. It was a spiritual response to tragedy in my community, and I discussed evil and violence, hope and love, and the need to cling to something stronger and truer than the worst of ourselves: Love, which I name as a synonym for God. I didn’t tone down or hide what I believe and how I understand faith. These are my actual spiritual beliefs.

And apparently, I’m not alone. Like, in a big way not alone. People from my church and other churches, people from my community and other communities, self-professed atheists and agnostics and practitioners of all sorts of different spiritual beliefs read the post, shared the post, emailed and commented and said my words touched them, spoke to them.

And that touched *me.*

Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the only ones who thinks faith can be something other than adhering to a set of laws, and screaming those laws at other people until they adhere to them too, that faith is not so much about what we think, but who we are and how we live, and that the things we name as sacred: God, love, the human heart, the gift of the natural world around us, the power and vastness of the cosmos– that these are all really the same thing, and we call them by different names. But in drawing together around the tragedy of Melissa Jenkins’ death, you all have shown me that none of us are alone. In my extended circle of connection, there are more than 4,000 5,000 people (between yesterday and today) who believe in the power and sacredness of love to conquer over fear and pain, like little ripples of hope spreading out. We’re a megachurch without the churchy part, a living body of heart and soul, bound by compassion and tenderness and fragile hope in the face of terror. We represent a new spirituality, one that lifts up the ways we are connected, not the ways we are apart.

You may not dig on Jesus like I do. That’s okay. It’s never been my goal to convert others to what I believe. It is my goal to build connection between hearts and other hearts, and between those hearts and what is holy and sacred and life-giving and true. It is my belief that faith in anything should inspire us to be better versions of ourselves and to live together with more tenderness and compassion and justice. In this tragedy, and in all the tragedies and triumphs to come, you all have reminded me that we are stronger because we are together, and no one who holds on to the hope in Love does so alone.

11 Responses

  1. “Sometimes I feel like I’m one of the only ones who thinks faith can be something other than adhering to a set of laws, and screaming those laws at other people until they adhere to them too…”

    I am with you as was, every writer of the New Testament. Perhaps when we stop throwing our book at people and start reading it, others will see that this is not what following Christ is about. Thanks for your words and your heart.

    • Amen to that, and a very good scriptural point! Throwing books around never does much good. Embodying compassion is a little more effective. Thanks for the comment.
      Blessings,
      Becca

  2. Good stuff, Becca. I think about 30 times a day if going back to bartending myself and always reassuring to know that others like you wrestle with the same better angels.

  3. It sounds like we have very similar takes on this journey called faith. My backup profession was having a really great bookstore but now it’s looking like writing children’s books. But I like the idea of tending bar being yours! I have to say I’ve been feeling like there really isn’t a place for people like us in the church. I’ve tried different ways to bridge the gaps and move the communities I’ve served toward a more wholistic practice of faith and it has resulted in a lot of heartache both for myself and the people I have served. I really don’t know what the next step will be. But I’m glad you’re out there, sister, writing and preaching and thinking, especially going to GC. I will be praying for you all the way.

    • Melissa, I hear you. It’s hard to feel like church or faith communities are meant for folks like us. We just have to work to make them into what they can be! Thanks for the prayers and the solidarity.

      Bless,
      Becca

  4. So proud to be a member of this “megachurch without the churchy part!” You freakin’ rock, Becca. Oh! And I always said bartending was my best training for public relations. Who says a pastor can’t moonlight?

    • You never know, we may have to start moonlighting anyway!

      I love being in connection with you, Holly.

      Blessings,
      Becca

  5. Congratulations on such a powerfully encouraging response to that post! And we ARE so much stronger connecting and bonding together in love, no matter our faith systems. I am SO with you, dear Becca!

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