Not in the classic "there is no God or gods just as there is no pink unicorns" sense but in the fact that I don't believe in religion. I read a lot of Robert Capon last summer and found this quote:
"Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the proclamation of the end of religion, not of a new religion, or even of the best of all religions. ...If the cross is the sign of anything, it's the sign that God has gone out of the religion business and solved all of the world's problems without requiring a single human being to do a single religious thing" (The Mystery of Christ ... and Why We Don't Get It, p. 62)
I'm frustrated that more and more people i meet are lamenting "why did this happen to me? I'm a believer!" I don't think bullets, cars, or clogging arteries stop to ask whether one is Christian or not. It's a matter of physics, health and genetics, and spacial location, not a matter of theology. I believe in God and I believe in grace. I also believe in the incarnation of that God of Grace that is with us always... and esp. when we spread the "good news." But we'd sooner accept a God that we are fed to than a God we are fed by. The God presented by Jesus is one that feeds us. That is the God of Christianity. A God that doesn't punish, impeade our free-will, or one that doesn't shame us. I spend a lot of time talking with patients on these three subjects.
Now, sure there are religious elements to the Christian faith. There are some rituals and practices that help us in our daily decernments. They in no way change God, they are not some magic ritual to do when you want to get your way like some petulent child. You shouldn't pray for God to give you that Flatscreen TV, that Mac notebook, or ho-ho-ho, that video gaming system. God isn't your cosmic bellhop. Prayer changes the person who prays. it lets you know that you swim in grace, every second of every day. we are awash in something we can't fully see or comprehend... like fish in water. Like Jason recently stated, "Spirituality is intangible. Religion tries to make it tangible – the expression of the intangible."
So the 3,000 plus dividing Protestant denominations are false boundaries. They only demarcate a focus, an emphasis on social justice, or healing, or sacrament, or organ vs. folk vs praise music, whatever. We can't continue to let that divide us. I'm getting sick of those who do. I can't believe in a religion that divides people. so maybe I'm not an atheist, just really frustrated with people's crap. Really tired of hearing the "why me God?" because that's the wrong question to ask. God is always there, grace ever flowing. God doesn't fit our power-dynamic though. Love is more powerful than anything, it's much harder to do as you have to work at it, keep the relationships going and be honest. It's easier to lie and go to war.
I'm looking forward to 12-15. I've gotten a lot out of the CPE experience. I'm clearer now on how I operate as a pastor and how I think. I'm clear now that I need to serve a parish as I crave that long term relationship and ability to follow up. it's been a fantastic and practical experience. i'm just feeling overwhelmed here at the last few weeks. but i know i'll find the energy to carry on.
headline taken from this song by Mew: