Thursday, February 16, 2006

Something in the air?

It strikes me as odd that in the last couple of weeks I got news that a play about my baptism was produced in Washington State AND notice that the book I wrote an essay for is available for pre-order.

The play is called 'Unheard Voices in Unitarian Universalism: Christians' and was written by the Rev. Amanda Aikman. 2 years ago Amanda emailed a UU Christian online list I belong to and asked if anyone wanted to share their conversion stories. Mine was still very fresh in my mind, so I emailed her back and we set up a phone call. Later she asked if she could interview my minister, Steve, who had performed my baptism. I agreed and she called Steve to get his side of the story. She interviewed several other UU Christians and created a play that weaves several of the stories together, with my baptism as the backdrop.

At the time the play was being written, I was still a UU. I had hoped that my story would help other UUs understand a little bit about what being a UU Christian is all about. I also wanted to witness to the power of God that he could come and find me, even in the UU church! When Amanda called me last week to tell me that the play had been performed at a UU Church, she shared with me that several members of the audience were actually moved to tears. I was stunned and grateful.

The book came from the same UU Christian online list. I had done a lay-led service at my church about my conversion. When the editor of the book, Kathleen Rolenz, solicited essays on my list, I sent her a modified version of my sermon. I was surprised and pleased when she wrote me back and said that it had been accepted.

Strangely, after a couple of years in the works, both projects are coming to fruition at the same time. And I admit I feel a little unsettled that I am no longer in the church that produced them. I wish that they could put an epilogue stating that I left the UU faith. I have conflicted feelings about all of it. Part of it is totally personal: I want people to understand that there came a point in my spiritual journey when I could no longer hyphenate my Christianity. I am not a UU-Christian. I am a Christian. Period.

But part of it has to do with the denomination itself. It is HARD to be a Christian in the UU church. Even at my former church, where I felt loved and welcomed, every now and then a subtle hostility towards christianity would creep to the surface. In the denomination as a whole, there is nothing subtle about it.

So, I am glad these pieces have come out. I think they are relevant. I think they might help people understand what it means to be a Christian in a faith that has abandoned it's Christian roots.

But I feel a little melancholy about it too. Like I have recently ended a long but difficult relationship. It's like finally printing the wedding album after the couple has gotten a divorce.

3 comments:

SingingOwl said...

(((((((Rachel)))))))

This made me cry. I am not surprised that the day came when you had to leave. This line in your post is wonderful though, "I also wanted to witness to the power of God that he could come and find me, even in the UU church!" Praise God for this. It makes me think of the story of a woman who is presently a deacon in my church. I won't say what church she came from, but it was not helping her find the Lord in a time she was deeply longing to do so. One day she was sitting in the church listening to the pastor's sermon. He said something about seeking Jesus, and that the Lord was with them. She is not particularly a mystical sort, but suddenly she saw Jesus. She saw him clearly, standing in the front of the church with his hands outstretched. He looked directly at her and spoke to her! She did not, at first, realize that no one else was seeing what she was seeing...there was more...but that was the beginning of a whole new life. She is a very down-to-earth sort, which made her story all the more believable and remarkable. :-)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Hugs back at you, Singing Owl!

(and ps: who says owl's don't sing?!)

When I left my church the number one feeling I had was grief. Now it is a much more complex stew of emotions.

I love, by the way, hearing about your Deacon's 'come to Jesus' story. He pulls no punches sometimes! LOL.

LutheranChik said...

Rachel: It's hard to leave a denomination...it's like a divorce, even if you find yourself in a new church home that feels right, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you're not going back.

By the time I was a teenager I knew on some level that I would not wind up in the denomination of my childhood. And I didn't; as soon as I got to school and out of the parental orbit I switched churches. But even now, 20-some years later, I find myself sometimes still feeling some of those feelings of frustration and unhappiness. And I think, "How can I still feel this way when I am so OVER ________?"