American Church and the “Real Christian”

I’ve been going to a new church with my friends and it is unlike any church I’ve been to.

We lovingly call it “hipster church,” but jokes aside, seeing a church thriving that holds different cultural views than the ones typically associated with church is refreshing. It’s nice to see a church that is quite liberal and still just as serious about seeking and knowing the truth as the conservative ones.

When it’s come to Christianity, I’ve been disheartened by how pervasively sticky culture becomes, how it saturates what we call truth and is then spread around with it as universal, objective truth.

It has been a mission of mine, by spending times outside my culture, to see what in Christianity is purely cultural, and what is true no matter where you go. The two are very different.

There’s nothing wrong with the cultural aspects to religion, but they shouldn’t be welded irremovably to each other. When they are, churches start creating oddly specific sins, saying things like “Real Christians will boycott Disney for this or that reason.” They end up making the price to enter too steep, so eventually people stop entering.

Never mind that God has already invited everyone to know him deeply, even those who like Disney.

Loose Lips Sink Ships (Mainly Yours)

Words have the frighteningly strong power to change our reality.

I didn’t used to believe this, and so I used to speak more flippantly. But recently, I’ve been curbing what I allow myself to think and say, because I’ve seen what harm a loose mind and lips cause.

The reason for this probably has many layers. There may be a spiritual layer, of course, of us putting out whatever energy is moving through us at the time and letting whatever’s strongest ping back (usually negative, honestly).

But another reason our words and their root thought patterns are so important to control is because, most of the time, we haven’t made up our mind yet on how we feel and we wait for our words to solidify it.

We receive stimuli all day. It comes in, and then our brain must make sense of it. Some of it is obvious. “I haven’t eaten, therefore I’m hungry.” But other times, it isn’t as cut and dry. Most things in life are nuanced.

For example, maybe someone at your office never greets you in the morning when they walk past your desk.┬áThere could be many reasons for this and while a small part of your brain is a little irritated over it, the rest of it is reserving judgement for when you have time to decide whether this continual breach of etiquette makes your coworker a “bad” person or not.

Your irritation makes you want to complain about their behavior, but here’s the catch: the moment you complain, your brain makes its mind up, because words are inherently concrete. We can’t really express a half-baked thought through words. ┬áThe moment they’re spoken, that etherial thought takes form.

In this context, your brain decides to follow your words and suddenly, your whole being has decided that, yes, your coworker is a bad person for not greeting you. Which then determines your behavior and attitude towards them.

Instead, if you catch this irritation early enough, you can choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, or to even just decide it isn’t important and reserve judgment indefinitely.

Mental and emotional flabbiness are dangerous to entertain. When we give in to speaking negativity on a regular basis, it hurts us most of all.

 

Your Body Knows

Last night I had a chocolatey treat that I haven’t had for almost half a year: a single-serving brownie in a cup with melted chocolate chips.

I used to eat these almost every day, but when I went to Japan, the supplies for them were either extremely expensive or nonexistent, so I stopped.

Now, having it again, it’s too much for me. Like, WAY too much for me. Too much chocolate, too much sugar, too large a serving. I started to feel bloated and headachy and in the end, I wasn’t able to finish it.

As I washed out my brownie mug, I realized that I used to feel this way more often than I do now. I just never registered that maybe it wasn’t a natural way to feel.

Our bodies know instinctively what is good for them and what isn’t. But sometimes their sensors get warped from being flooded with toxins (too much of a good thing is bad, but too much of a bad thing is worse). More often, we hear the alarm but we just don’t listen to it.

I believe our spirits have the same alarm system. We just have to know what to listen for.

 

 

Brief but Meaningful

The elemental in the far woods (see this post) has not spoken to me since I’ve been back home.

I’ve visited their forest several times, listening for them, but I don’t even feel them anymore. And I don’t know enough about spirits to know why, or what might be going on.

Did they leave? Have they gone dormant for a bit? Has something changed in our relationship that makes them not want to reach out to me? Or has something changed in me that is preventing me from sensing them?

It’s frustrating and a little sad, but I’ve decided not to dwell on it.

For all I know, maybe our relationship wasn’t supposed to last forever. Maybe they had some knowledge to impart to me and now that I have received it, they have moved on to do something else, somewhere else.

I hope they come back, of course, but only if it is what is best. Sometimes things are only meant to last for a short time.

Religion vs. Spirituality

It seems to me that, while religion and spirituality go hand in hand, they are not the same thing.

Spirituality, in the broadest term, is the conscious recognition that things exist in this world. Whether you believe in a spiritual realm or whether you believe that the physical is all that exists, everyone has their own spirituality. Everyone understands that the world has many facets and that these facets work in a specific way.

Religion, then, is the practical application of this understanding. What do we do with this knowledge? What is the healthiest way to live, taking all of reality into consideration? What is the balance of discipline and relaxation that best allows a person to live to the fullest?

That is the real question. There are probably a few objectively right answers in there, but not nearly as many as people think.

Guardians and the Unguarded

We have guests staying in our house and at the same time, my sister is on a long weekend trip to the beach. Because of this, I get to sleep alone in her room for a few nights.

My sister is a very spiritually sensitive, spiritually active person. She has worked with guardian spirits in the past and even had one standing guard in her doorway for a while.

There were a few nights when I think it came into my room to investigate me. I had odd, disturbing dreams, and for a few nights in a row, I was woken up by the distinct feeling that something was charging at me, rushing at my face. However, eventually it decided I wasn’t a threat, calmed down, and left me alone.

But I haven’t been home for several months. I didn’t know if it was still around, if it had followed my sister to the beach, if it had stayed behind to guard her room, or if it even remembered me. I was concerned that it might see me as an intruder in her space.

Last night was my first night alone in her room, and I made a point to make peace with the guardian, on the off chance that it was still in her room.

I reintroduced myself, let it know what was going on, and told it that my sister had given me permission to stay in her room. I welcomed it to reach out to me if it needed further clarification or inspection, but asked it to be civil about it, since I didn’t have any intention of causing harm. I asked God to protect me as well.

As I was going to sleep, something thumped hard on the computer desk by my head. But nothing else happened. Not even nightmares.

I’m not sure if it’s even still in the room. Nonetheless, I feel better and I don’t anticipate any scary encounters tonight.