Spaghetti Monsters

Maybe you are familiar with this paradigm:
Unquestioning Believers (in Jesus Christ as Savior) are number one,
Doubters and Sometime Questioners of Faith are in second place,
and the Poor Souls who claim an agnostic or atheist identity and/or who choose to live their lives outside of the church are on the bottom. They are losing the race of life, they have fallen off the stairway to heaven, they are quite simply, lost.
This structure in my professional, pastoral perspective is Lame-o. Please quote me.
And hurtful too. Hurtful to those labeled as being on the outside, for sure, but also hurtful to those who get to continue to live in a space of thinking they have it all figured out. I can’t find room for mystery, for breath, for movement in a paradigm that celebrates having all the answers. 
What a gift to have members of our community who either currently claim the role or have long-time experience as dissenters. They remind us that our God-talk matters. That our truth claims should be invitations, not battering rams. That our lives, not only our words, should bear evidence to the living Spirit of God.
This week we continue with our summer series on ‘Filling the Church-Shaped Hole.’ So far we have heard stories from Baptists, Church of Christers, Quakers, and Methodists in our midst reflecting on what they love from their traditions, what they leave behind, and what kind of church they hope we grow into. This week we open space for those in our community whose stories don’t fit neatly into a denominational category.
We have struggled to find a title for this week. So far I have been calling it Agnostic/Atheist/Unchurched/and Over Church (as in “I’m so over that”) Sunday. While it may be awkwardly named, I find it a refreshing space.
Our church-building project need not be threatened by questions or anger or doubt or confusion. God doesn’t buy into tidy categories.  Indeed, I’m not even so comfortable with the idea that some people are ‘agnostic’ and other people ‘believers.’ I think we all entertain doubt and hard, unanswerable questions. Thankfully some folks are comfortable talking about their uncertainty about God. They help all of us to develop a robust vocabulary to talk about the edges of faith and those spaces of deep unknowing.
Join us tonight for spaghetti (Paul’s tribute to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all good religious satire) and stories. 108 S. Rosemont Ave. 6:30pm  Drinks, Dessert and Dinero welcome. 214 233 4605 with any questions! Please come on Sunday to hear testimonies from Paul and Dixon.
Joy and all good things,
PS Also please join us after church this Sunday at Rebel’s house (2610 Hood St. Dallas TX 75219) for a potluck hosted by the New Orleans Mission Team. We will share photos, stories and our gratitude for the church’s support of our recent trip to the Lower 9.

Comments 2

  1. I can’t be there this weekend, so I thought I’d get my thoughts in ahead of time. Listening to Dixon on Wednesday, it struck me that he and I probably don’t see things terribly differently, yet he’s categorized as an agnostic/atheist and I’m on my way to becoming a Christian minister. I’ve had this same experience listening to some of the “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins. In short, I think they are right about everything. And yet, here I am in seminary with every intention of being ordained and participating in a community of faith that is a constant source of joy.

    As to how they are right, I don’t think there is any logical proof of God’s existence and I don’t think there is any empirical evidence of God’s existence. Rather than taking this as a reason to reject faith, as Dawkins does, I take it as reason to think that inquiries about God’s existence are not very useful or interesting. Honestly, I don’t even know what it would mean to say that God exists.

    Instead, I treat God’s existence as a semantic game — isn’t everything a semantic game? — wherein God is faith, hope and love. We often personify God and say that God is faithful, loving and a source of hope. This puts God in a separate space from us that we can never reach. But if God actually is faith, love and hope, then we encounter God in being faithful, loving and hopeful or when someone else does those things for us. This semantic game makes God available to anyone, regardless of what they believe.

    I don’t know if people in our community will agree with me about this, but I do know that I constantly encounter God in our community because of the faith, love and hope that people have for one another. My fondest wish is that everyone could have that experience.

  2. Thank you scott for your comment– we will miss you tomm. I am really looking forward to our worship service and discussion. I read this email from Richard Rohr and it made me think of our conversation– I like his distinction of knowing God through suffering and release of ego verses ‘believing’ in God. It is not, as he points out, all a big SAT test. see more below and join us tomm. at 11am!

    Those who have actually walked the transformative journey through death and resurrection are the ones who have the authority to say, “I know God,” instead of, “I believe there is a God.” So what if you believe there is a God? Is this a giant SAT test? “I believe there is a God” is still all up in the head. It doesn’t change lives, touch hearts, or heal bodies. It instead creates defensive and offensive egos trying to prove that my God is better than your God.
    People who have walked the actual journey of suffering, failure, and death—and come out even better on the other side—are the real popes, bishops, priests, and ministers of the church. This absolutely levels the playing field, because we all fail somehow. These are the people who have the authority of those who have suffered—and won. This authority is much more powerful than any mere role or office.

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