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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Butterfly Faith

A few years ago my wife and I started going to a cool new (to us) church. It had a dynamic pastor, trained and talented singers and musicians, and a congregation that was a few notches past enthusiastic.

Barb loved it. I almost lost my faith.

My background was pretty much solid muddle. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God (in the 'triune Godhead' sense), and that he rose from the dead, thereby permanently defeating the Last Enemy.Beyond that I didn't think about it too much, and read a mixture of Christian, Buddhist, Taoist, and Sikh books to keep my spiritual compass working. I did okay.

Suddenly, I was challenged. All these people, on fore for Jesus, singing with their hands raised. Speaking in tongues. Able to quote chapter and verse.

I tried. Raised my hands when I sang. Told to just open my heart to Jesus and be forever changed, I did.
Nothing happened.

Like a skydiver whose parachute had failed to open, I was concerned. I invited Jesus in. Apparently, He said Thanks, but No Thanks. Now what?

Maybe I didn't sing hard enough, or read enough of the Bible. I put away all my other religious readings, and concentrated on the Good Book.

And drifted further away. The words lay on the page, and when I talked to the pastoral staff they said I needed to read with the kind of open heart that I, clearly, did not possess.

My faith in God was going, and so was my faith in everything else. The world that had been a place of familiarity was now uncertain, totally unpredictable, and a Darwinian vale of danger.

I was saved by a butterfly. It flew its random aerial meander through a fresh morning, a seemingly mindless path from one hazard past the next. It even flew past my face, oblivious to the possibility that I might devour it on the wing, in a toothy gnash.

And that, I realized, is the faith that works for me. Feet up, mind in neutral, secure in the knowledge that a) God is there; b) God sorta likes me, and c) it's all way over me head.

Like a little child. I can live with that.


  1. "Happy clappy" is the worst kind of religion for folks who tend to depression. Makes them feel more out of synch. Provides nothing except (actual or implicit) criticism or even condemnation for not being as externally joyful and enthusiastic as everyone else. An upper for some, a total downer for many.
    As you say, "victory" is surviving somehow day to day with the butterfly of faith and hope still flying. Being happy about it--that's not happening, and not even relevant to true faith. Joy is on a deeper level, and remains.
    Faith hope and love are gifts of God's spirit, nurtured in an environment of true fellowship. NOT items manufactured by an upbeat church environment.

    1. Beautifully said. I have PTSD, and the whole atmosphere, along with my failure to respond to it, isolated me in a way that few things have. I'm still dealing with it.

      And your comment about the deeper existence of joy - so true. I have found joy on days where I sure wasn't happy!

      And I positively adore the expression 'happy clappy'. That'll make me smile for the rest of the night (it's 0200 here).

  2. It's a British-ism. On the whole, I think Americanisms are more expressive. but this Britishism I like!