what is your religious practice and why?

I grew up Episcopalian, and if I could find a super-super progresssive, medium-sized Episcopal congregation around town, that might be where I would be going. I find a lot to like about Bishop Spong-style, progressive Christianity. But I've yet to find that locally.

My children attend a very chi-chi, upscale Episcopal church with their father, but although there are many individuals at that church whom I love and admire, I've never found my place or sense of real comfort/community there. Too many rich Republicans and not enough rabble rousers.

I also consider myself a Buddhist. But of course, one can be a Buddhist and a Christian (or anything else for that matter). As far as formal Buddhist practice, the only sangha around Knoxville is Tibetan in orientation and that's just not my cup of tea.

Clearly, I should be attending a Unitarian Universalist church regularly. That's pretty obviously where I belong theologically and in terms of community. I actually technically belong to a local Unitarian congregation but I never seem to get there.

Jon is Presbyterian. I'd never been to a Presbyterian church before last Sunday and I went with him. It was pretty much like a low-church Episcopal service. I felt at home and the sermon was terrific. It was clear from the liturgy that this is a church that cares about social justice issues, so maybe we'll end up going there.

What is your religious practice and how did you come to it? How big a part does it play in your life and how?


Katharine said...

I grew up Southern Baptist in Texas—and ran screaming from that ultraconservatism when I became an adult. I eventually ended up Presbyterian in New York, but now I'm not attending church because I'm disenchanted with the denomination for its refusal to ordain openly GLBT folks as deacons, elders, and ministers.

karrie said...

I'm an atheist and my husband is Baha'i, but more accurately described as "spiritual, but not religious." We live in a very progressive area, and I have friends who identify with a wide variety of faiths. Religion is kind of a non-issue for us, aside from the fact that I personally feel hypocritical celebrating christian holidays, and chose not to do so for the most part. (I do love a good Jewish "christmas", aka several movies followed by chinese food.)

My mom was raised Catholic, but by the time she married and had children, she had left that church. My father identified as an atheist, but my siblings and I did attend various christian services and VBS as kids. I asked too many questions and spoke up when I saw contradictions. As you can imagine, that was not well received. ;)

Buddhism is appealing, and if I ever felt the need for some kind of spiritual practice, its probably the direction I would choose. I like the discipline and intellectual aspects of Buddhist practice, but the idea of god(s) has never rang true for me.

Leslie said...

I'm a cradle Catholic and still attend the church in which I was baptized. My faith is absolutely central to my life and to who I am. Three of my five kids attend Catholic schools. We attend Mass weekly and are very involved in parish activities--youth groups, pastoral council, committees. My husband was raised Southern Baptist (ironic, considering he's from Baltimore and I'm from Knoxville!) but he converted (on his own initiative) 5.5 years into our marriage, so now this is something that we can share together.

I hope that you can continue to feel comfortable at Jon's church. I think being able to share the religious experience is important to a marriage, so much so that even before my husband converted he made a commitment to go to church with me every Sunday. And I agree with you that social justice is crucial, which is another reason I am happy to be a Catholic.

Anonymous said...

The 2 adult people whom I love and admire most are on opposite ends of the religious spectrum. My mother is a Southern Baptist. My partner is an atheist. As for me, I don't identify religiously with either stance. I think that there are things out there that are larger than myself. Perhaps, it is the human condition to dub something "spiritual" or "metaphysical" if one cannot intellectually process it. My background is soaked in Southern Baptist doctrine, which teaches that one must acknowledge the trinity, resurrection, ect. or else hell is your after-life experience. I, myself, reckon that a god worth kneeling before is not going to toss somebody into a fiery pit just because they harbor a healthy bit of skepticism. I really enjoy learning and talking to people of all faiths. I was almost a Religious Studies major. Interestingly, I have no need to take a definative stand. I am fascinated by all of it.

Anonymous said...

I sometimes go to a Presbyterian church in NYC. Othertimes I attend a Quaker service which I also love. I also consider myself a Buddhist. Each has something different to offer, so this crazy sampling approach seems to work for me.

Laura Linger said...

I am a Buddhist who still has Jesus Christ as a part of her life in a major way.

I converted to Buddhism after my life-changing trip to Japan in May 2005. There is a better way of thinking, of being, of living, and I wasn't finding that in Christianity.

Anonymous said...

I'm an Episcopalian. Came to it after a Methodist childhood, an atheist adolescence and a pseudo-Buddhist early adulthood. Landed at St James Knoxville and couldn't be happier.
Spiritually has become more and more important to me in everything I do. And a bigger part of my marriage as time goes on. I hope you can find a church that suits you. I'm still having problems with wanting more gender-inclusive language and of course, our church is struggling with all kinds of issues, esp. sexuality, but I'm sticking there. If I'd stayed with the Buddhists, I'm sure I'd eventually have run up against something I didn't like: a patriarchal sangha leader, anti-gay sentiment somewhere. I think you are going to find some dissatisfaction with any group, simply because it's made up of humans.
I liked their ideas and still use lots of them, but I had a personal experience that convinced me that Christianity was going to be my spiritual path for at least a while.

Anonymous said...

I just like particular churches, period, rather than the whole denomination. I love the TVUUC which is very supportive of human rights and children's issues, without fail. And more importantly, the people are great and the minister is wonderful.