Saturday, April 21, 2012

There is no fear in love...

There are two important men in my life right now: my boyfriend and my father. As a side note, I am blessed right now to work in a female-run workplace. Both my boss boss and my immediate boss are women. But that is a blog post for another day.

Where was I? Oh yes. The two men in my life. My father, the son of a Reformed Church of America pastor, and my boyfriend, a Catholic who often attends daily Mass. Two men for whom religion is an important part of their daily lives.

And I? A woman who is on a spiritual journey. As a work through it, with fear and trembling and love, I imagine it is one that will take me back to my confirmation into the Catholic church in 2004.

So when I said I was skipping church on Sunday because of the drive from Grand Rapids back to Pittsburgh, the boyfriend says, hey, maybe you'll be back for 7:45 mass. And I said, actually, I was thinking that might work. And he said, oh, I was joking.

Dad version of this conversation:
Me: well, I might be back in time for late Mass.
Dad: (shocked, sort of joking voice) Don't say that!

So, whereas the women in my life are fully aware of the fact that daily, sometimes hourly, I am wrestling with the fact that going to Mass makes me calmer than going to the Presbyterian church where I am a member, the men in my life are sort of clued and really not at all clued.

I'm in Grand Rapids, Michigan right now, visiting Sally (formerly North Hills Sally). While I really miss her, I like visiting her! I'm here on a Christmas present from the folks: The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, a biennial conference for writers, readers, and people of faith.

Last night, Marilynne Robinson spoke, and she started with "My text would be, if this was a sermon, 'there is no fear in love.'" She spoke on Calvinism and how it has become a pejorative term meaning everything that is wrong with religious thinking, but she said, "What is essential to you? Embrace it, learn it. Then you can't just toss it over when people say 'you're a what?'"*

And that is how I'm thinking. There are a lot of things to reconcile, but I'm willing to do the homework. Right now I have a lot of books out of the library about dissenting Catholics. 

*Note: these quotes are from my written notes and may not be exact quotes.

 Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing
Marilynne Robinson Appreciation Society


Mark Smith said...

Even pastors need a week off from church sometimes. Really. God gets it.

What's important is - what do YOU need in your spiritual life right now. I'm in the same place - going to my wife's Catholic church calms me more than going to my own Presbyterian church. For me - calming is not what I need in my spiritual life, I need discomforting and shaping. But maybe where you are in life is a place where calming is what's important.

Peace and cupcakes to you and those that you love.

Sarah Louise said...


I'm not saying that I am not getting challenged by the biblical texts or the homilies. I may have not expressed that well. But the fact that the service begins and ends with the same liturgy helps me to better process the challenging information that is available whenever 4 texts of the Bible are read.