Disillusionment, Grief, and Hope


I remember the feeling vividly waking up 2 years ago to a world I no longer recognized.  I read some of my previous Facebook posts (On This Day – memories), and remember the pain in the words I had written.  I was grieving deeply.  I would listen to podcasts and cry with people who were walking away from faith completely – they could no longer take the progressive or conservative narrative and had to leave the discussion.  What happened to our faith?…that was the question many of us were asking as we saw what we once loved in ashes.

I am writing tonight for several reasons: 1) I see the Catholic Church in a place of heart breaking brokenness 2) I am hearing the pain in people’s words – whether it be through bullying online, writing about people they miss, wanting to engage, but feel their point of view is not respected, etc. 3) The fact there is an Evangelical gathering at the White House tonight Ugh!

It seems like it should be easy to just leave, but if it were easy then nothing profound was experienced.  Relationships are never easy to leave, even when they absolutely need to end.  Pain means you loved.  I love how Glennon Doyle phrased that about pain, because it is so true.  Telling people to #EmptythePews or just leave the Catholic church, dismisses the real grief that follows a crisis of faith.  It is no small thing.  Even after my journey away from church, which lead me to a new church where I feel complete joy, in the beginning-despite all of my happiness- I still felt grief.  Pete Enns wrote a blog post on a day I was not doing well titled, “The Hardest Thing for Me about What I Do”.  He describes the grief of losing a shared narrative with friends.  That story provided comfort and safety for years.  But there is no turning back once you have walked through door number 3, and like him, I don’t want to turn back.   He rarely writes personal posts, so it really moved me he wrote his grief on a day I was feeling grief most strongly – even though I LOVED (and I still do!) my new journey.  What I am trying to say is, even when you find yourself again, you will still feel loss.  Honestly, I am glad I do.  I love people deeply.  The Eucharist is where I find my hope reconciliation will happen for all of us one day.  Our physical and spiritual needs will be met at a table big enough for EVERYBODY.

People are saying really strange things right now—I know this.  Empathy for the vulnerable is lacking to a point that is just sickening.  It is anti gospel. We have evangelicals celebrating at the White House tonight after a very odd day with how we pay our respects for Senator John McCain.  It is complete absurdity, and I am angry about it all. People are avoiding their grief and demonizing those who are saying they have been hurt. We keep thinking if we say the right religious words maybe people will get it, or God will find favor on us.  I love how Chad Mustain brought up in the story of Job, Job’s unnamed wife was actually the one most honest about her pain.  When things were just falling apart, Job kept trying to say all of the right things, but his wife was ready to curse God and die.  What is interesting, Job finally does curse God– and that is when God speaks.  The Bible has several examples of God’s most faithful friends yelling at God for God’s unfaithfulness – including Jesus when he feels forsaken on the cross.

I am reading a book called “How (Not) to Speak of God” by Peter Rollins.  It is an inspiring book with deep concepts on spirituality.  I want to share a section of the book that became a revelation for me today.  I have been harassed by pastors online.  I am seeing friends write ugly things on social media.  I also saw a pastor write about certainty in a way that broke my heart for a marginalized group.  I am also learning the deep depression many people in ministry  are experiencing.  Reading this book helped me see despite some of the ugly things people are saying, they are reacting to some force in the air.  God works with passion – be it hot or cold – spits out lukewarm  Here is what Peter Rollins wrote that is a game changer for me…

“The reason for this inability to comprehend such outbursts lies partly in our inability to grasp the radical nature of faith, a faith that must be marked with passion, even if that passion often seems to be directed against the source of faith. Indeed, in the book of Revelation we read that God prefers the faithful to be hot or cold rather than lukewarm. Indeed, to be ‘cold’ can actually be a sign that one is very close to God. For often a violent reaction against God signals the presence of God. Rather than thinking that genuine religious experience is always comforting, the sense that there is one who can see into the very depths of our being can cause us to turn and run from God. Such repulsion and fear arises from the actual experience of God, for to feel naked and ashamed before God presupposes some kind of relation with God.”

So I am writing tonight to speak to pain and hope.  In the words of Kaitlin Curtice

Decolonization is not just for the oppressed.  It is a gift for everyone.  Just as growing pains hurt before the growing happens, so it hurts to decolonize—for some, it hurts like hell.  And then one day, we all end up on the other side of something—–

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