This is the third interview in our series, “Finding the Faith that Fits You.” We are asking folks to share insights into their spiritual paths with us and with our readers. Since this blog is about living and sharing openly as pagans, we want our friends to live and share openly in their faiths, too.
This interview is with our friend Charles. Jax has known Charles since they were both undergraduates, which was about years ago. I met him……… 10(ish) years ago. Wow. We’ve known you for a long time, dude! Here’s our conversation with Charles:
How would you describe your faith?
Christian. I do my best to understand and follow Jesus Christ’s teachings.
Were you raised in this faith? If not, how did you find your way to where you are now?
I was raised in it, although I’m no longer a part of my childhood denomination, the Churches of Christ. In college laziness led me away from regular practice (which has been the rule for most of my adult life), but it’s always in my mind and my decisions. As to getting “here,” the more people I meet, read, and understand, the better I understand God’s message and instructions (I hope!).
What are some of your favorite teaching from Jesus?
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
The measure and practice of loving/obeying/serving God is how we love each other. This is why we don’t cast the first stone, why we hold our tongue, why we share the good news – out of love for each other. Christians have not always lived up to the practice and/or motivation of this command, but most of the ones I know are trying.
Which teaching is easiest for you to follow? Which one is the hardest?
Can the love God/each other commandment be both? It’s easy with most people to find reasons to love them or to hate them – actively focusing on the positive has made my relationships so much richer and enduring. On the other hand, I really like myself, and it’s tough to give anyone else the same level of respect. [GG says: Hahaha!]
Is your faith rooted in the Bible? If yes, do you place emphasis on the sections in the Bible that capture Jesus’ sermons?
I believe the Bible is inspired by God. Translation problems don’t bother me – I assume an omnipotent deity can keep the meanings it cares about. It’s definitely not a completely historical or scientific text, but truth can be just as prominent in stories/fables/myths as it is in empirical fact. I see the Bible as an owner’s manual for our lives – parts might not apply to me at this moment, but God put it there for someone at some time. I do focus more on Jesus’ words than Paul’s, but the Old Testament also has interesting things to say about justice and faith.
What led you away from the Church of Christ?
The Church of Christ claims to follow the Bible more exactly than other denominations, and one of those distinguishing beliefs is that women have no role in leadership/teaching of the congregation. I don’t believe God would give so many people such powerful gifts as the female leaders/teachers I know, and tell the church to make sure not to use them. Every congregation has its own hypocrisy or bias, but shutting out half the membership is just wrong.
As you probably know, paganism is pretty pro-female. So, we think it’s royally awesome your choice of congregation was drive by your desire for gender equality. Where do you worship now? What kind of leadership roles do women assume at your current church?
I attended a local church plant for about a year, but it fell apart. Right now I actually don’t regularly attend any services. I think I would end up at a more mainstream church that respects everyone as children of God, regardless of gender, orientation, or any other factor, but I don’t know when I’ll take that next step.
So, you may be asking yourself, why are my pagan friends interested in my Christian faith? That’s a good question. This interview is part of a series of interviews we are collecting to better understand how someone finds their spiritual path and why they continue to follow it. Given this context, is there anything else you would like readers to know about your faith or your spiritual path?
I’ve actually been expecting this request since you started the series. Knowing you and Jax, I appreciate how much you value everyone’s spiritual decisions as much as they do.
Thanks so much for your time and responses, Charles! We know this is a busy time for you.
Have any of you had similar experiences? Has something in your personal philosophy caused a change in how you approach your faith (like Charles changing congregations)? Would other loyal subjects like to share their faith journey with the princesses (and their readers)?
* Is it awesome or sad that I have to look up the dates Buffy the Vampire Slayer ran on imdb.com to find a temporal reference for my social circle?