Rebuilding Faith

“As I deconstruct, I rebuild.”

A simple post on Instagram that crossed my feed weeks ago, but it’s become my personal mantra during this past month. I have been happily deconstructing what I believe, but I haven’t been rebuilding anything.

The question that has been predominate in my mind for the past year is do I still want to be a Christian?

But how to define Christian?

Depending on who you ask among Christians, the answer will look completely different. Every denomination has it’s own opinion on what exemplifying Christ looks like; and a good many have that tied up in church attendance, small groups, and a schedule packed with good works and evangelism. This works-based lifestyle can lead to burn out, anxiety, and people falling away. Even further beyond denominational quibbles, the label has become tied up with Trumpism, Proud Boys, and the like and has little to nothing to do with a person exemplifying anything, much less Christ.

So is there a Christian path without the anxiety and guilt and radical hate? I want to believe there is, but I’m not sure such a path exists in practice. Inevitably, it seems that someone always wants to add to trusting in Christ. There is always just one more thing that you should be doing to really be living the Christian life. I realized I can’t live a life of constant guilt dressed up as repentance. I want to believe in a God who forgives sins, but the impression I get on Sunday mornings is a God who needs to constantly be appeased.

So I want to strip away the impression of a sinner in the hands of an angry god, and re-discover faith in a much simpler form. A faith not engaging in endless culture wars against people I actually agree with. A faith that brings peace rather than anxiety. But I’m not sure that faith can be found within the four walls of church.

“[P]ost-evangelicals do not know whether they are leaving church, or leaving evangelicalism, or leaving their denominations, or leaving faith, or leaving the Bible, or leaving Jesus, or just leaving.”

David P. Cushee, After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity

Book Review Thursday: Meditation with Intention

Meditation with Intention: Quick and Easy Ways to Create Lasting Peace

Anusha Wijeyakumar MA

Meditation with Intention covers the topic of using meditation, particularly meditation on particular intentions, to influence your life for the better. The book is divided into nine chapters covering nine intentions:

I change my mindset to change my life

I let go of excuses

I am not my thoughts

I embody courage and strength

I live my life for me

I trust my inner truth

I live in the here and now

I embrace my pain

I love and accept myself

It’s a pretty quick little read; it’s 183 pages long and the book is actually a bit smaller in size making the length of the book somewhat shorter than even the page number. Wijeyakumar’s writing style is very engaging and easy to read. If you are into meditation, mindfulness, yoga or all three, this will be a good read for your practice.

Will a traditional Christian be able to engage with this book? In my opinion, there is plenty to glean from this book regardless of your faith background. The book is written from a traditional Hindu perspective, which I enjoyed for the honesty of how meditation is viewed in a religious context, as most books try to strip yoga and meditation from their original religious roots. But for the same reason, most traditional Christians would be uncomfortable with the book as it is overtly Hindu. Also, the book is written with a manifestation mentality – the idea that through visualization and meditation, one can manifest certain things into reality. I’m a bit skeptical of manifestation, but am willing to read about the topic. However, the traditional Christian will most likely find this offensive.

If you’re not a traditional Christian (or a Christian at all), but are open to spirituality in general, I highly recommend this book. The exercises included in every chapter are simple and easy to follow. If you are looking to get into meditation or are new to the practice, this is a great starter book. If you’ve been meditating or practice yoga for awhile, this book is a good refresher course and basic concepts. Overall, I would recommend this book for beginners of meditation or those who are interested in learning more about the topic.

My story with the church isn’t a story of abuse and scandal, but simple, slow burnout. Of a Christian who struggled during the week to live the call, and on Sundays dragged her weary body to a church building only to be reminded of her failures. A place which had once been a sanctuary became a place of dread. Sunday mornings were times of anxiety attacks and mentally checking out after the singing was over.

Then it got worse.

“Church” became a political party with it’s own news network pandering lies about a black president while worshiping a white one. It was hearing good people refer to a Democratic president as an “evil man” with nothing to back up the claim. It was stepping into a new job where it was presumed that I was a Christian, and being Christian meant I also shared co-workers’ racist, homophobic, and political views.

I want out.

I want out of a faith that has caused years of anxiety over the state of my soul. One that tells me that the people who have stood by me in some of my darkest hours do not have any “good” in them because they don’t believe. One that screams slurs at Pride rallies and convinces young girls it’s “gossip” to tell the police what the youth pastor did to her.

And I don’t even know where to start with the theology.

So what I deconstruct, I rebuild.