September 8th, 2011

moon house

religious but not spiritual

My best friend and I were talking on Saturday about last Wednesday's controversial UCC "devotional." [Edit for those who don't follow me on facebook (where I have commented in various threads, including one of my own) {edit2: or who missed my earlier complaint}: I have basically all of anger at this piece. /warning]

She mentioned that people have commented, "Nobody would say they were 'religious but not spiritual,'" to which she was like, "Uh..."

I said, "I am totally 'religious but not spiritual.'" I don't "experience" in worship. I have a strong commitment to Christianity, and I make a commitment to attend communal services (though I don't tend to think of this latter one as a conscious choice, such a creature of habit am I), but my commitment has always been and continues to be a primarily intellectual one.

My best friend commented that she has committed to a set of practices, including communal worship, which frequently do not result in spiritual experience, so the "spiritual but not religious" person might come across as saying, "Hey, I have spiritual experiences all the time, all by myself," which might be experienced negatively by someone for whom spiritual experiences are rare.

Whereas my reaction is more like, "Oh, that's nice for you that you so easily have these experiences which I don't have any strong desire to have" (there's an asexuality analogy here somewhere).
moon house

"Beautiful Jesus"

At morning prayer this morning, we sang "Beautiful Jesus" (TNCH #44). I told FCS-Ian I wasn't a big fan -- that it's a "Jesus is my boyfriend" sort of a hymn. Afterward, Ian said he'd never heard the term "Jesus is my boyfriend" but that it certainly fit, that this song sounds a lot like something you would say to your lover. I hadn't thought of it that way before, but it's true.

I said that (and that this is because/indicative that I'm a Unitarian at heart) the word that primarily comes to mind for me for this hymn is "idolatrous." I said that the phrase "Jesus is my boyfriend" usually gets used to refer to contemporary praise music, but that I thought of it in this hymn because there's stuff about the beauty of Creation, and I'm into that, but then it's, "But Jesus is better -- he's prettier and he smells better." Ian laughed and said, "You're paraphrasing, but not by much."

I said I am pro-Jesus, but because of the work Jesus did in the world... Ian concurred.

Ian said the hymn is often titled "Fairest Lord Jesus" [warning for auto-play in that link] and that makes him think White and he was glad that at least we weren't singing something with the undertones of, "Jesus is the best because he's pretty -- and he's pretty mostly because he's White."

In thinking about the "Jesus is my boyfriend" trope, I thought of my best friend's love for Jesus and Her Church -- something I very much don't have.

When my best friend says, "Jesus is my Girlfriend," there's a lot going on with Incarnation and queer theology and body theology there.

So/and I'm hesitant to totally dismiss "I personally adore the person [pun intended] of Jesus."

Though I'm still uncomfortable with the adoration/worship of Jesus.

I'm not all that interested in worship/adoration of God of the, "Here, I will tell You how awesome You are," variety, period, because I don't think God needs ego-boosts (though I do think reminding ourselves of the goodness of God can be a valuable spiritual practice).

And -- perhaps ironically for someone who professes to be really uninterested in most social justice work -- I think God is happier when we are working to do God's Will in the world, to help embody the truth that "The kin-dom of God is at hand," than when we are just singing God's praises. (When you are in love with someone, you want to love what they love, right? You want to be passionate about the things they're passionate about. You want to work with them. You don't want to spend ALL of your time gushing at/about them. At least not once you're past the NRE stage.)