Hello brothers and sisters across the political/religious spectrum.
This is my 2nd blog. The first one was talking about what being an evangelical Christian means to me. This blog is going to be my story and how I got here. My faith story. My life story could not fit on a single blog post.
I grew up in a cultural Catholic household. We went to church on Easter and Christmas but not anytime else. One of my first faith memories was asking my mom, who was covering a Cambridge High School Blue Jays, why we didn't go to church. I don't remember what her answer was.
I didn't go to church but I loved reading from the Children's bible my aunt Betty gave me. Something changed when I was about 12 and in Boy Scouts. My troop needed a chaplain and nobody rose their hand so I did. I started reading the actual bible and loved it and actually cajoled my parents into taking me to church. Father Turner was and always will be one my greatest spiritual influences. I got confirmed and took the confirmation name Pius. I didn't pick the name because i was lazy. My church being St. Pius Catholic X Church. I picked him because in my research I found out that he was humble, loving, and very good to children. http://en.wikipedia.org/... Although I do have to say that even then, I wondered, Why do I have to kiss the Bishop's ring. I never read about kissing the Bishop's ring in the bible. I almost refused to but all my friends were doing it so I did as well.
I was a devout Catholic, going to church every Sunday, praying every or every other day. I even went to the Catholic High School Edgewood for about three months. I suffered from OCD,depression, and General Anxiety. Sometimes I did act out. But instead of giving me a another chance, they asked me to leave.
After that, I still went to church, but my heart wasn't in it. I was just going through the motions. I went to Queen of Peace and St. Maria Goretti, Toward my senior year, my faith started growing again. Even though I do not like the Roman Catholic Church as a religious institution, I still love St. Maria Goretti. I loved The Church and it's priest,Father, now Monsignor Burke. If I could vote for Pope, I would pick him. He answered questions, he was full of Christ's love. I felt God talking to me through the sermon
Then Spring 2002 happened. That was the year when the priest molestation scandal came out. To his credit Father Burke was outraged and had a profound homily about it. But it was too late for me. That opened up questions about the Hierarchy, the cardinals, the pope, the fact that he is a head of state with diplomatic immunity, The crusades, the Inquisition. The Vatican Bank scandal of the early 1980's, it is still now cloaked in secrecy. It was like a spiritual onion. Every time I removed one stinky layer, I found another one.
I didn't become a Protestant because I saw President George W Bush say that Jesus was his greatest philosopher yet rushed this nation into an unjust war, having economic policies that benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
The pastors I saw in the media were even worse. Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were the worst at that time. Now it is 2002 on steroids. I had a joke. Show me an atheist and I will show you a self-righteous judgemental hypocrite that pushed them away from God.
In a weird irony, It was the election of 2008 and Pulpit Sunday that brought me back to God. Pulpit Sunday is a Sunday a month or two before the election where churches of the religious right speak up for or against candidates. They preach hatred and political vitriol. How could these people do this? How could there be a God who would allow His name to be used in this way. I almost got to the point of believing that Jesus was a great teacher but that there was no God.
I then wrote an e-mail to Pat Robertson, the son of Jerry Falwell,The Saddleback Church, John Haggee,the pastor who supported McCain and said that Hitler was fulfilling God's will, and others. I used Time's 25 most influential evangelicals as a mailing list. I will re post the e-mail in my next blog. Only one called or e-mailed me back.
That was pastor Jim from the Saddleback Ranch. He and I had a great conversation about faith, about atheism, about me. He asked me " do you belong to a faith community" "He didn't cajole me, he didn't threaten me with hellfire and damnation, he just listened to me and asked that question. It was like a punch in the gut. I remembered what I lost, what was stolen from me. And I thanked him and hung up.
I then prayed. I prayed hard. I prayed for the first time not on an airplane. I asked God the classic Question "Are you there" "If you are, why do you let such hypocrisy and cruelty be done in your name" "I need to know" Then I kid you not, I felt a warmness come over me. It was unlike anything I have felt before. I also heard "Let there be Peace on Earth" My favorite hymn from my days at St. Pius. I knew there was a God. I knew at that moment that Jesus was his son. That he died not just for my sins but for the sins of mankind. That I can not let "white washed tombs" push me away from God.
Then I had to make the decision. What Church to go to. I googled and found Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, non-denominational, Lutheran etc. I felt paralyzed by choices. I thought you know what I will try one and if I don't like it, I will try the next one.
I went to work that Saturday and a co-worker of mine, Grace Froemell who invited me to her church. She said that they love everyone, even gays. She told me the address. 44 East Gorham St on the corner Gorham and Brearly. I asked "the one with the big statue of Christ" She said "yes".
I got up early that Saturday. The last Saturday in September of 2008. I was nervous about meeting people. I didn't know what this church was about. I liked the music. "Open the Eyes of My Heart" was playing and I thought it was apt. I don't remember the scripture that was read but I do remember the sermon. Associate Pastor Rev. Glen Reichelderfer was there with a guitar in his hand playing a couple lines from Bob Dylan's "You gotta serve somebody".
"You may serve the Devil, you may serve the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody" Pastor Glen said " You might be an Evangelical, you might be Social Justice based but you are serving God" "You might be a Republican or You might be a Democrat but you are serving God"
I knew I found my spiritual home. People welcomed me. I felt loved and they just met me. I stayed and have been there ever since.
I do believe that I was in the darkness so long to be a bridge between Christianity and atheism. Because I know the damage that hypocritical dangerous faith can do.
I will leave you with two pieces of scripture one from Matthew 5 and one from Matthew 23. These are the Goofus and Gallant scriptures of the bible.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
13 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.  [b]
15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
Speak up against Injustice, Speak up in Truth, and Walk Humbly with God and your fellow man.