[ Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglican Church http://www.stjohnsashfield.org.au, Ashfield, New South Wales. Wikipedia)[/caption]
Many traditionalists believe that church culture is the same as basic tenets of the faith. Challenging custom is then synonymous with challenging the faith.
A young woman, Leah Marie, posted a piece on Blogher based on The Book of Mormon Girl by Joanna Brooks. This post is beautifully written by an intelligent, spiritual young woman, blessed with common sense and the ability to journey through the murky waters of the inner journey with clarity and vision. Leah felt completely alone in her struggle until she read Brooks' book.
I have even better news for her. It is not just Mormons who face conflict with traditional church culture. Many traditionalists believe that church culture is the same as basic tenets of the faith. Challenging custom is synonymous with challenging the faith It is not just Christians who face this dilemma either, many Islamic women encounter similar clashes with leaders who cling to customs that are not in the Koran.
Every thinking, praying, honest spiritual person who seeks the Spirit of in their own heart, experiences exactly what Leah did as a. Close-minded traditionalists are often afraid of the inner spiritual life and so they fall back on fulfilling the letter of the law, even if that law is simply tradition. Jesus called this sort of believer a Pharisee. This religious spirit chains many believers; they focus on outer conformity to tradition. If we understand the difference between cultural tradition and a relationship with God, our focus changes. All we want to do is allow God to love us and pass it on to those around us.
Non-essentials fall way .
If we are free yet notice that our behaviour upsets "weaker brethren", we should refrain so we do not cause them to stumble (Melanie's version of St. Paul). Fear, especially fear of the Living God, often freezes people into rigid patterns of behaviour. If we understand reasons behind irrational beliefs, it is possible to empathy's with our accusers. In love we can make the right decisions. Sometimes we must gently speak the truth, sometimes we must leave a congregation, sometimes we simply stay and love.
When we die we will all see clearly and realize that we really did not understand as much as we think we did anyway. St, Paul says we see through a mirror darkly. The most holy men realized that the closer they actually got to God, the less the really knew. They were the simple souls who simply looked at God and let Him gaze with love on them in return.
We are not alone. the Body of Christ includes all lovers of God, even if they call him the Higher Power.God doesn't care who what we call Him or how we worship because He just looks at our heart.He loves all of us in spite of our foibles and sin. Basically everyone is pretty much made up of the same stuff , Christians, Jews, Muslims....
None of us knows a heck of a lot about God or what He really thinks yet He treats us with humour and kindness. The least we can do is extend that same kindness to others.
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