The current installment of the COEC began meeting in 2007.

We are currently on a "break," for no particular reason, and many little reasons - mostly pertaining to life circumstances. If anyone is interested in calling a meeting, feel free to post on the blog, join the google group (see link below) and send an email, or contact either Nancy (nancykj10@yahoo.com) or Jesse (schroeder.jesse@gmail.com) for more information.

To receive cohort emails, join our Google group.


O rest, poor race

Over the past year I fell flatly into the reality that the compartmentalized God-box I so often tried to stuff my faith into was a feeble mind’s attempt at harnessing infinity. It was convenient for me to speak religion boldly as a human trying to fit into and succeed in the subculture of my family and social circles. Recent discussions with a friend revealed in deep ways how much of current practicing Christianity has more to do with a desire to be accepted, mutual encouragement and socioeconomic status than with the reality of Christ.

In the midst of great doubt earlier this year, I was challenged by a professor at Ohio State to claim a faith. I responded something like I’ve tried to not believe. I can’t. Something resonates deeper than the stuff of mind and soul that I simply can not turn off nor ignore.

So I stare blankly at a manipulative, control hungry and brain washing system (possibly with some positive cultural side effects) and derisively admonish those who abuse its power. Yet I still reverberate from the message being proclaimed.

And so my faith box was too small: not enough room for Churchianity and Christianity. All the reasons the system has given me through years of church, a Christian School upbringing and solid familial reinforcement has given me a set of westernized proofs that validate and gird my faith. I used to cling to these abutments, now I let them flail in uncertainty. I realized I was much more concerned about being certain, about clinging to these pillars of truth, for my own status and ability to prove others wrong than for what the truths were actually about. I was stubbornly clinging to them from the top-down, choking the reality of Christ with a fearful grip. I now see God at the base of my faith as much more living and active, moving like the wind than an uninvolved deistic anchor.

…and oh, the peace and freedom this brings! The Christ I read of promises things so dramatically different from what so many corporate church structures are built on. Peace comes not from giving up the search for these proofs (for I still will) but from knowing that their discovery and validation do not predicate my faith. Freedom comes from realizing that the life abundant Christ promises has nothing to do with the abundant life of Americanized health, wealth and happiness. The weight of fitting into this cultural mold is not the freedom I experience as one of Christ’s own.

Fortunately for the functioning of humanity, not all brains are wired like mine. Perhaps Christianity needs multiple expressions to meet different personality types and evolve with culture. I used to think God wouldn’t want to work that way, but I have grown over the past year to see that as my limitation on God for my own sake rather than for His glory.

I thank each and every one of you for the utter honesty and raw struggles expressed and revealed over the past year – you are blessed people and I am blessed to know you. I realized I never got to posting anything about the singing of last week’s Christmas cantata, yet there is an equally long post I would want to write about God’s permeation out of my faith box into art, music, literature, dance and (yes) even architecture. To that end, I will add a simple poem I found in a Christmas card that captured the season for me. It’s from Calvin Miller’s The Divine Symphony…

Once in Every universe
Some world is worry-torn
And hungry for a global lullaby.

O rest, poor race, and hurtle on through space-
God has unbilicaled Himself to straw,
Laid by His thunderbolts
and learned to cry.


Scot said...

Great Idea Jane! I really look forward to reading these. Thanks Andrew, well said. Unfortunately as I post this I am waiting for a visit from my Sister and family. She and I share a kinda faith disconnect that often hinders our relationship. I confess I share a lot of blame for this with my former "...no you're wrong because the bible says..." attitude:( So I'll be in repair mode most of today as we have our once a year time together. If you think of me feel free to ask our Father to help me stumble forward in this.

love to all

Jim said...

The cry of the soul - I Believe, in spite of myself - seems a common if not universal experience of the child of God. On one hand it is a resignation to principalities and powers ( Martin Luther's, "Here I Stand...God help me) and on the other a solace to discover that I need not lift myself by my own intellectual bootstraps. Belief is not coaxed. It is or is not, and only the heart knows for sure.

Loved your thoughtfulness.

NancyJ said...

Thank you for your thoughts Andrew--I especially liked this..."Perhaps Christianity needs multiple expressions to meet different personality types and evolve with culture."

That is a new way for me to think, but makes so much more sense than for there to be only one ideal.

I just wanted to say to Scot to remain hopeful in your relationship with your sister and family. As far as I can tell, relationships, when done well, are messy.

When we tell our truths we wound the ones we love the most and become wounded. But this process causes new trust with each other and a new, better more authentic relationship.

This is beginning to happen with my brother. He is listening better (although he still worries I am in a cult.) I challenged him to go to God concerning his fears about me and to get to know me all over again--to watch and reflect on the decisions I make, my actions, character and words as I believe they will communicate my love for God.

He agreed to this and I remain hopeful.