Brunch

The first year of my religious journey, I was only a few months in when Easter arrived. I decided to skip the church-going that Sunday. I knew in a way I was cheating myself. I had endured the gloomy crucifixion only to miss the celebratory conquering of death.

Part of the reason I decided to take the day off: I’m not quite sure what to think of the supernatural aspects of Jesus’ story. Making blind people see, walking on water, and, most astounding of all, rising from the dead. Some modern theologians suggest these events never occurred—at least not exactly as written; the stories about Jesus were told by word of mouth over many years until they developed these fantastical elements. If I preferred, I could choose to see them simply as powerful ideas that resonate on some profound level.

But, to be honest, that was more of an excuse. Here’s the truth: one of my pals was throwing a brunch.

After several weeks of reserving my Sundays for God, I was feeling homesick for my old ways. For Nones, Sundays are for getting up late, lazing around at home and, if we do go out before noon, we are most likely up for one thing: brunch.

But at my brunch date, I had to wonder if my None friends and I aren’t more influenced by religion than we realize—even those who might balk at the suggestion. In ways we might not even recognize, our day-to-day lives are shaped by religion. The concept of a weekend comes from the Jews. Our historical calendar is divided into “before” and “after” Jesus. Even something as innocuous-sounding as “holiday” comes from “holy day.”

I accept Jesus’ principal message on a fundamental level, as do the people to whom I’m close. From a very young age, I understood that others are no different from me and that every person is a significant and equally valuable being. I find it difficult to imagine a time in human history when this reasoning wasn’t the norm, when certain people were considered no better than lion bait, existing for the sole purpose of being ripped from limb to limb for entertainment. I can imagine that Jesus’ “Golden Rule” must have seemed like a novel idea back then. The Roman Collosseum was completed about 80 years into the Christian Era, so the “good news” hadn’t gotten around much.  But have we evolved past this? Could it be that the spiritual exploration and evolution of our ancestors has accumulated in our DNA so that what were once alien teachings are now fundamental to who we are as people? Is it possible that some of us have adopted Christian concepts in the building blocks of who we are? Are my cells Christian even as I declare myself a “None”?

I read about a recent spate of billboards being erected in a few key cities paid for by an atheist group. They picture smiling individuals with the quote, “I can be good without God.” I have no doubt this is true—that the people pictured are kind-hearted and well-meaning—though I might argue that technically the “without God” is a bit misleading. They are likely leaning on the spiritual work of previous generations. So that while these individuals may be taking a break from thinking about God, their great-grandmothers and great-great grandmothers probably spent quite a bit of time honoring the divine. Whatever wisdom these ancestors gathered they passed down to their children who passed it down to their children, and so on.

But this billboard raises an excellent question: isn’t religion about much more than being good? I hope so. I’m not looking for motivation to be good—like the atheists on those posters, I don’t necessarily need help in that area (though a little brushing up couldn’t hurt).

I am shooting for something more along the lines of deep inner peace.

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24 thoughts on “Brunch

  1. I love that you took Easter Sunday OFF….Good for you. As to the long shot for “inner peace”…..Why? What makes you think you don’t have it? What do you expect the reward to be if you find it? What do you perceive to be the thing or things that keep you from it? Maybe it’s time to follow Dorothy and just click your heels three times and say, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”

    • Hey Frank, Well, I suppose the “inner peace” is in me even if I don’t always recognize it in the same way that Dorothy had the ability to go home all along. But, what makes me think I haven’t quite achieved it yet is the bolts of anxiety and fear I still get shocked with on a somewhat regular basis. That little voice or feeling that makes me question if I have the right to feel joy, if I’ll ever be “good enough” or “worthy.” Oh, that bit of doubt and unease with just plain ol’ being human.

      • I hear you, Corinna. It makes me even more curious and interested in following your journey. Over time it may be that you won’t find what your looking for in any one particular religion but rather from the journey itself. I’m with you and so are many others.

  2. Corinna, perhaps you might want to take a broader view of the world. We live in such a Christian- centric nation that we forget or ignore that people have been seeking good, doing right, and finding peace for centuries before anyone ever heard of a man named Jesus. I suppose I might be channelling Christianity from my devout Grandmother or my Great-Grandfather who was a Methodist minister, or any number of others who gave me my specific DNA, but I believe that my wisdoms come from far beyond that in time and space. I am not a Christian nor a Buddhist nor a Hindu…nor any other established religious group, but I do not label myself as a None……..I am a woman who is seeking good, doing right and finding peace….nowadays, I am joined by many fellow travelers who choose this same path. Merrill

  3. I must say that one has to get up pretty early in the morning to beat Frank to be first as a commentator. So…good morning to you both! This is almost like being on facebook. 🙂

    Out of the shoot, let me compliment you, Frank, for pointing out that it was not a bad thing for you, Corinna, to take Sunday “off.” I know it didn’t rock God out of his world, though Corinna may have experienced some pang of guilt. While I am a devoted Sunday church-goer, I have to often remind myself that trying to get there every Sunday is NOT the main thing that Jesus was about–as a matter of fact, his biggest run-ins with the Pharisees were over things that one could or could not do on the Sabbath. Jesus had a bit to say about their following the traditions of men rather than what God really wants. And, I wonder if Jesus had a pair of red shoes under his robe?

    Corinna, this post, while seeming to go off in a different direction (ie, other than what is going on in “church”), actually hits on some of the more important things that Jesus was trying to get across, about living life out where it is so daily and full of the pucky* of life, and not about what you might be “doing” while sitting in a pew–maybe thinking about going to brunch?

    Religion is indeed much more than about being “good”–though being good is a part of it. In my view, because I’m a Christian (although not all Christians, probably thankfully, think the way I do), true religion is about being part of a family, only on a higher scale than our earthly father/mother/2 kids + dog. It’s about having shalom with God as our true Father. (His character is more like father/mother, so I think feminists are on to something when they like to refer to God that way, or even ‘mother’–but don’t tell anyone I said that.) Shalom is the inner peace you’re searching for. I can’t do justice in defining it (a good Jewish site on the net would surely do a better job). But it’s more than “peace” (e.g., absence of turmoil or war, like we used to campaign for in the 60s). It is more about wholeness, a thriving life as God intended it, everything in its proper place, including health and the rest of our lives.

    “Conscience” applies to what you were saying about the atheists. We are hard-wired to have a conscience, and most peoples around the world get similar input about basic right and wrong, good and bad, though some are over-developed, depending on how legalistically they were raised. But none of us (no play on words) can be good by ourselves–we need community and we need our father to help us understand what real good and what real peace is about.

    * “pucky” is my pet word to describe the crap we encounter in real life. (from “horse pucky,” a variant of “shit”), not found in most dictionaries.

    • BTW. I am not one of the billboard atheists……. but good for them for speaking their truths!…….there are MANY truths about God between atheists and Christianity, which seems to be the focus here. I don’t believe what I live by is merely “conscience.” and I believe that each person—in the singular—-is capable of seeking and finding without “our father” guiding/pushing/pulling them in the Right” direction. I need community; I appreciate the support of others who are in this journey with me. But I don’t believe that all the religions of the world are convinced of this need.

      Certainly there are a lot of “floaters” who may not think about religion or spirituality at all. They might need to step out and look around…..but I would like to remind them that Christianity is not the only “game in town”….It is just the one which has the Church down the block…..and around each corner. Hard to find alternatives, But they do exist
      MET

  4. As an elder female, some would say a crone, I have followed your blog since the NPR mention. Went back to the beginning and even started reading the comments. I am encouraged that young people are living into lives of meaning and thoughtfulness. There is an old story about many paths up the mountain, that we might think of as spiritual, and sometimes religious, quests to that inner peace, or personal alignment with the world as it is and our place in it. A related saying suggests that when you arrive at the mountain top, and realize that others have achieved the summit by a different path, it might be filling to acknowledge that your path may be “the right path” only for you. Others might find a different path fits their temperament, history, style of walking, or other variables.

    I will continue to follow your blog and see how your journey proceeds. Blessings, Shalom, Amen.

    Val B

    • Val,
      I’ve heard people refer to the old story about the many paths up the mountain. Unfortunately, when speaking of heaven, there is only one way to get there and that is through the blood of Jesus Christ. John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. I will readily admit that there are many gray areas in the Bible left up to one’s interpretations about how Christians are supposed to live, but the way of salvation is very clear. There is only one path. Sorry if that sounds narrow minded. The Bible even says in Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

      • I’m really enjoying my dance through the wide gate and the broad road. I just wouldn’t fit into small and narrow. I tried the eye of a needle and that was worse. How wonderful I can fantasize about other stories like using five loaves and a few fishes to feed the multitude. I like fish.

        • Frank,
          (I’m really enjoying my dance through the wide gate and the broad road.) Just curious why you are following Corinna’s journey since you seem to be content with your life the way it is now.

          • I could ask you the same since you, too, seem content with your life the way it is now. I am very much interested in Corinna’s journey to see where it takes her. There are also many others who read this blog and while I’m happy to hear about the straight and narrow Jesus and the straight and narrow Jehovah I like folks to know that there are other ways to look at life and God that are more inclusive and nonjudgmental.
            Kind of like Jesus answer to Nicodemus at John 3:8 “The wind blows where it will, and thou hearest its sound but doest not know where it comes from or where it goes. So is every one who is born of the Spirit.” In likening the Spirit to the wind we get a broader application.

            • Frank,
              (I could ask you the same since you, too, seem content with your life the way it is now) I am not content with my life and hope that I never will be. When one becomes content, I believe they become stagnant. I want to keep being challenged to grow spiritually and as a person. Corinna’s article about her journey was in my local paper. After reading it, I felt compelled to pray for her and observe the process. I had no idea that I would be meeting such interesting people along the way!

              BTW, I don’t know what could be more inclusive than John 3:16. “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Also 2 Peter 3:9b not willing that ANY should perish, but that ALL should come to repentance.

              • You made me smile. I don’t equate contentment with stagnation. For me I think the source of my contentment is walking in Grace and in contemplation of Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the assured expectation of things hoped for. The evident demonstration of reality though not beheld.” I become an observer of faith unfolding. In the words of a song I like: “God is my Source. God is my power. God gives me everything I need.” I don’t worry about “perishing”. We’re probably not so far apart in how we live our lives, we probably just think differently.

  5. Corinna,

    What you said about the death of Jesus—well, it is solemn and sad. It was certainly prophecy being fulfilled. (At least, Jesus mentioned that MANY times.) Skipping church on Easter Sunday isn’t a huge loss, because you can concentrate on the death and resurrection without concerning yourself with the varied pagan trappings of Easter. (Even the name OESTER means egg, and the chicks, eggs and bunnies have no place with the sacrficed blood and body of Christ.

    If you want to do the Scriptural reading about the events leading up to Jesus’ death, here they are. You could easily spread them out over the coming week, and I believe you would get a great deal out of reading them. Here they are: Luke 9:29-48, Matthew 21:12-13, also 18,19, Luke 20:1-47, Luke 22:1-6 and Mark 14:1,2 and 10,11, Luke 22:14-71, Matt. 27:62-66, and Luke 24:1-12.

    There are some really interesting aspects to reading about the resurrection. So, read John, the 11th chapter, which desribes the circumstances of Jesus’ resurrection of his friend, Lazarus. (Notice that Lazarus was resurrected to the earth. What kind of friend would Jesus be, if Lazarus had gone to heaven and Jesus brought him back to earth?) This makes you think about where we really belong–our home! (Psalm 115:16)

    Now, you can enjoy the brunch, and “read all about it” at your leisure. Of course, you are invited to the Memorial at the local Kingdom Hall on the 26th, after sundown.

    Take care, and ADIOS, Cheri

    • But you left out the most important scripture in the Revelation about the 144,000. Yes, Lazarus was resurrected but since he is no longer walking around the planet, he died anyway. What happened then? Was he one of the 144,000? How do you know? Even Jesus didn’t go to heaven right away. This memorial is THE ONLY “church” celebration for the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It’s interesting to observe the seriousness in which they hold it while many dress to the nines in their “Easter” memorial finery and then follow it up by going out to a nice restaurant to “celebrate” a little more hardily. And since almost no one takes the emblems of the unleavened bread and wine where does it go afterwards? It is the one time during the year when people crowd in to the Kingdom Hall. Just like the christian Easter and Christmas there will be the annual attenders who never show up otherwise. Why bother with this one who knows? It is also the most difficult celebration for ex Jehovah’s Witnesses to give up. Long after they have been disfellowshiipped they will go to the memorial until they realize that it doesn’t make any difference. Nobody is going to talk to you. It will seem as if you don’t exist. Some will even scowl that you showed up. I’d much rather go to a Passover remembrance or Seder meal. They seem steeped in antiquity and authenticity.

  6. Corinna- From the get go I enjoyed your writing and now I am really enjoying your thought process. Make up your own mind. Study on your own from the inspired Word lest you become tangled up in the gobbeldegook of organized religion. They all have just enough that is right to be believable but just enough wrong to confuse you. One None Got Some…keep kickin’ it!

  7. When Jesus said “I am the way” he didn’t say “I’m in your way”. As a Christian, I believe is truly the way and the life. However, I also believe it’s up to Him to define how He opens the path to those He wants to save. St. Paul wrote of those who had no knowledge of God doing His work, and being right in the eyes of God. Jesus Himself spoke of those “who offered the least of them a drink also offered me one as well.” I once asked my (Episcopal) priest a simple question: “Did Gandhi go to Heaven.”? Gandhi certainly knew of Christianity but chose to practice Hinduism. Yet he was a monumental power for good on earth. My priest’s answer was “Of course he went to Heaven”. He pictured Gandhi approaching the gates of Heaven and meeting Jesus, who commended him for doing His work on earth. Gandhi’s eyes opened wide and said “Now I see what you meant!” Jesus’ offer of salvation was met with enthusiastic acceptance, because in his heart, Gandhi was doing the Kingdom’s work and Jesus loved him for it. Jesus really is the way, and since He is the way, He gets to choose the method each of uses to find Him.

  8. Tim,
    Jesus Himself spoke of those “who offered the least of them a drink also offered me one as well.” This is from Matt. 25:35-46 Jesus is speaking to the righteous in reference to the verse quoted above. Could you please give me the Scripture reference to what you referred to as Paul writing? (Paul wrote of those who had no knowledge of God doing His work, and being right in the eyes of God) I’m not familiar with it and I would like to look at in in context.

    You are correct that Jesus didn’t say “I’m in your way.” In fact, He is offering the ONLY way as a free gift. One just needs to accept it. I don’t see multiple ways to get to heaven mentioned in the Bible. If you see multiple ways, please give me the verses so I can look them up. Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – NOT by works, so that no one can boast.

    • Hi Jo-

      First, I agree 100% that Grace is a gift we do not earn no can we repay. As to your request, please refer to Romans, Chapter 2:13:

      “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”

      Later in Romans, Paul reaffirms: “For as God said to Moses, ‘I will have mercy in whom I will have mercy and I will hcompassionsion on those whom I have compassion”.

      The first quote highlights my point; there is a natural tendency itowardwoards doing what God sees as right (a topic also covered in C.s. Lewis’ Mere Christianity) and those who live by His ways are his children even if they don’t know Him personally. And as the last sentence makes clear, all come to the Fthroughhrough Christ. Indeed, none of us can bbecauseecaaue none of us knows the munfathomablemanble ways God works His way in the world. If He can taordinaryinalry, powerlessrfless men and build the world’s greets church on shouldersoulers, he can certainly save all who follow His ways.

  9. I know about that desire for a deep inner peace. Sometimes, I have even experienced it. Most of the time, although I consider myself a believer, I must spend my days repeating what Thomas the doubter said “Lord, heal thou my unbelief.” If it is of any encouragement to you, I understand that Mother Theresa spent a lot of time looking for that same inner peace and dealing with the same doubts.

    As to your question of whether it is in our DNA, I think you may be on to something there, lol. I do know that no matter how far I tried to get away, a history of mother, grandmother, circuit riding preacher great grandfather – all of them were a part of me that wouldn’t be ignored.

    I hope that you WILL be in church this Easter, and I pray you a good, large helping of that inner peace.

    Yours in Christ.

  10. There is an inner desire for God. It is displayed in all the folks who participate in your blog. They don’t necessarily agree on what it is, but they all have a sense of the spiritual side of life.

    Yes, perhaps it has been bred into our DNA. It does go back even farther than Christ. The Bible says even Moses saw the Messiah in the distance. That doesn’t mean he literally saw him. But through eyes of faith he, and others in the Old Testament, “saw Him who is invisible” and they lived for him. (Those who want references, see Hebrews 11.) I am speaking of the Christian here, and the pre-Christ believers in the God who sent the Messiah.

    There has also been a struggle between good and evil on this earth since the beginning. That battle unsettles and upsets us all.

    Corinna, you are so right that religion is about much more than being good. If you believe Jesus was only a good teacher, then you are putting the Christian religion on the level of simply trying to be good personally and trying to make the world a better place. But when you hear what Jesus was really saying, that he came down from heaven, sent by God to testify to what he has seen and heard, then it becomes evident that He is saying, “I am divine.” The Christian religion is the only one in which its leader makes that claim. Jesus’ miracles and his resurrection substantiate his claim.

    Jesus said on the night of his arrest, “I am leaving you with a gift– peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27) How in the world could he have that kind of peace and face the horror of what followed? Yet, we all face many troubles in life, and His peace offers us a way through them that gives the greatest hope, and ends in resurrection.

    If you should go to services this Sunday to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection, may you experience the incredible, life-altering peace he offers. And, I hope you and your friends can make brunch, too!

  11. Corinna, wow! talk about putting thoughts and ideas into meaningful written words. The most eloquent rebuttal to atheism: we are the synthesis of our forebears whether we wish to admit it or not. I, too, have wonderful atheistic friends who scoff at he existence of a god, but who otherwise live very Christian-like lives. Isn’t the journey the whole idea? Living the best lives we can live while seeking the meaning of our existence? I just read a short book by a recently deceased and famous wine entrepreneur James Barrett whose “A Pilgrim’s Journey” cogently explains the scientific proof of a divine origin of the universe known as the “Anthropic Principal.” But Barrett goes further. He claims that religion and science support each other and uses this “principal” to support his belief that Jesus is indeed the incarnation of this divine origin and that the Roman Catholic Church is the truest manifestation of Jesus message.
    The fact, I believe, is this: that we will never know until we pass on. As for today, we journey on. thank you for including me in yours.

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