where you coming from?

Last Saturday a man approached a table I sat behind at the Whiteaker Neighborhood Block Party here in Eugene. He browsed the books and pamphlets we volunteers from Pilgrim's Way Bookstore had set out. Gesturing to one of several icons of Orthodox Christian saints, he asked, "Are these guys prophets?"

It was a good question. I stammered, not knowing how to answer. I've been involved with Orthodox Christianity the past eighteen months; for a year now I have considered myself fully on board with Orthodoxy. Still, I barely know anything. Especially when someone asks me a question, I feel as though the oxygen surrounding my patch of earth has suddenly been sucked away.

What I often do -- what I did with the Block Party man's query -- is first leap to imagining why the particular question was asked and what might be the result of any response I attempt. This usually leads to a blurted reply of some sort, as I long to stall the moment, as I wish I could pause and consider each ramification of every possible answer (something I couldn't know, in any case, without the aid of some sci-fi mental/time travel device).

I wonder if other people, from various beliefs, nationalities, and backgrounds, experience the same slight panic when unexpected questions arise regarding the stuff of their inner paradigms/cultures. Are there very many people as awkward and self-conscious as myself?

What I found out, in the course of further discussion with the Block Party man, was that he grew up in Jamaica, in the Rastafari faith culture. His question made sense from that perspective. Aside from giving me an urge to watch Cool Runnings, the exchange with this man educated me further regarding Orthodoxy, as there can be a connection for some Rasta individuals with the Coptic Orthodox Church.

The point is, I couldn't imagine his views before he told me. Instead of rushing to say what I thought he wanted to hear (or what I thought I would sound best saying), I could have posed a good question, asking him to help me know where he came from in terms of his faith background.

Thinking this led me to want to say something here on this blog about where, these days, I'm coming from in terms of faith. Then I'd like to ask any of you to relate your...what shall we call it...statement of perspective. This might involve some amount of consideration about the journey you've been on to get here. At least for me, trying this has led to such consideration.

Here's my (working; ever in process) statement of perspective, short version (sort of):

I grew up believing the Christianity of my parents (my dad is a retired Protestant minister), but, differently from them, I knew the viewpoint of a preacher's kid, and I reacted with some horror to what appeared in many individual Christian expressions as wishes for magical enchantments that never came true. This played out in my adulthood as an aversion to ritual. At one point, I found a Christian group that had shed virtually all ritual, and I happily studied the Bible with them for many years. These dear folks, sometimes called Radical Biblicists (RB), helped me construct an amazingly rational paradigm regarding God, with a very high view of God's sovereignty in reality. I still consider myself a RB, and I consider that the RB perspective was what God used to introduce me to Orthodox Christianity (OC) and help me sort out what was going on in the rituals I encountered. I also consider that in OC I have found, quite surprisingly to myself, fullness of meaning in every ritual and in the complete, sacramental tradition it expresses.

Because I tend to assume people think (or have journeyed) like me, it would be a big help to know where any of you are truly coming from.

Comments

Dee Ready said…
Dear Deanna, I'm not going to say much here because I plan on posting a blog on all this--one or several postings--when I get to my adult-life postings. I'll just say that I was raised a Roman Catholic by a devout and loving mother, that I attended Catholic grade and high schools and colleges, and that I became a nun and was in the convent for 8 1/2 years. Subsequent to that, I began a faith journey that has led me to let go of my belief in a personal god and in the Trinity. Nor do I any longer believe that Jesus--I call him by his Jewish name, Yeshua--is the son of god. That is to say, he is as much the son of god as you and I are. We are all sons of god. We are sparks of divinity. That is to say, we are sparks of the Oneness of all Creation. All--those who've lived before me, all those living today, and those yet to come--are part of the Holy Oneness of All Creation. The energy, chi, spirit spans the Universe and connects us all in our journey toward the wholeness of Oneness. Peace.
Deanna said…
Dee, thank you for this great articulation. This is the sort of thing I was hoping for, because I'm interested in finding ways to express my particular faith journey understandably. As I see it, we can have reached different conclusions (as you and I have) and still be involved with one another, learning from one another. Yes, it's a peaceful thing to do. :o) I find your life story fascinating; keep the chapters coming!