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Jeremy Menning in Providence, Rhode Island

Are You Still There, God?

I am not getting married in a church. I guess that is fitting seeing that I have not practiced formalized religion in over a decade. I was raised attending a Lutheran Church. As a child I went through many of the rights of passage for an up-and-coming Christian. I was baptized almost immediately after I was born. I attended services weekly and special classes to "prepare" me for my First Communion. After my parents divorced, I lost touch with the Lutheran faith. Apparently I was attending for the benefit of my parents' peace of mind. I had no interest or means to attend services on my own. It is safe to say I lost touch at that time; however, I feel comfortable saying that I had not lost my Faith in God.

A few years later I reconnected with the church. This time I was the invited guest of a friend. It was a nondenominational church. The only title it claimed was "Christian." It was a relaxed environment that emphasized forgiveness and acceptance. Ironically, I severed ties with the church because one of its congregants was shunned for having a child out of wedlock. That congregant was the same friend who invited me to join this belief in a "forgiving and accepting" God. Once again, I found myself losing touch with religion and church.

Today, as my wedding approaches, my mind applies religion to the marital equation. After all, religion and marriage have a tendency to be paired together. Almost every faith ties religion into the civic union that is marriage. Weddings are commonly held in a church, mosque, or other appropriate religious facility. I guess it's only natural that I would have to consider the religious implications that my own wedding holds, if there are any.

I contemplate, "Where does God fit in my marriage? Does God have a place at this table?" And, more importantly, "Is God still there?"

But I don't find myself questioning my own beliefs. I know that I have the ability to believe. I feel it is a matter of finding something that I can put my belief into.

As I look around today and see religious chicanery run amuck, I wonder, why put my belief back into a house of God. I see religion masking political agendas. I see war sponsored and condoned in the name of religion. I see scriptures twisted for the use of justifiable intolerance and persecution. I see religion corrupted by its leaders. I see religion soullessly used as a springboard to fame and ill-gotten fortune.

I ask myself, "How can I justify bringing these things into my life? How can I invite an ideology into my heart and home knowing the misuse that it shields?"

Religion and God serve good purpose. I do not deny that. I also admit that both the good and the evil cannot be as simple as the words I put onto this page. It isn't this simple.

So when I stand before my friends and family in mid-June on the shores of the Narragansett Bay, where will God be? Is this a moral dilemma? Am I torn between my willingness to believe in God and my skepticism of religious misallocation? Will I be labeled a sinner for questioning my own convictions? More importantly, will I be labeled a sinner for suggesting that a particular church and religion currently have no place in my life? Is that blasphemy? Can I be a blasphemer if I don't partake in religious practices?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is this, "If I do believe in God, is it necessary for me to proclaim that belief to a particular pulpit?"

Some people will point to me and proclaim that because I choose not to embrace a church of prayer that I also choose to refute the existence of God. But that concept is part of the reason I choose to not attend a church.

I choose to believe in something that does not require me to give a certain amount of money in order to acknowledge my belief in a higher being. I choose to believe in a higher being that accepts all believers, unconditionally, because who can say what is and is not acceptable?

On my wedding day, I will be able to understand that God is there. And although I won't be in a church, it won't matter, because my faith is what tells me where God will be.

misusedsuperlative.blogspot.com

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Are You Still There, God?

I am not getting married in a church. I guess that is fitting seeing that I have not practiced formalized religion in over a decade. I was raised attending a Lutheran Church. As a child I went through many of the rights of passage for an up-and-coming Christian. I was baptized almost immediately after I was born. I attended services weekly and special classes to "prepare" me for my First Communion. After my parents divorced, I lost touch with the Lutheran faith. Apparently I was attending for the benefit of my parents' peace of mind. I had no interest or means to attend services on my own. It is safe to say I lost touch at that time; however, I feel comfortable saying that I had not lost my Faith in God.

A few years later I reconnected with the church. This time I was the invited guest of a friend. It was a nondenominational church. The only title it claimed was "Christian." It was a relaxed environment that emphasized forgiveness and acceptance. Ironically, I severed ties with the church because one of its congregants was shunned for having a child out of wedlock. That congregant was the same friend who invited me to join this belief in a "forgiving and accepting" God. Once again, I found myself losing touch with religion and church.

Today, as my wedding approaches, my mind applies religion to the marital equation. After all, religion and marriage have a tendency to be paired together. Almost every faith ties religion into the civic union that is marriage. Weddings are commonly held in a church, mosque, or other appropriate religious facility. I guess it's only natural that I would have to consider the religious implications that my own wedding holds, if there are any.

I contemplate, "Where does God fit in my marriage? Does God have a place at this table?" And, more importantly, "Is God still there?"

But I don't find myself questioning my own beliefs. I know that I have the ability to believe. I feel it is a matter of finding something that I can put my belief into.

As I look around today and see religious chicanery run amuck, I wonder, why put my belief back into a house of God. I see religion masking political agendas. I see war sponsored and condoned in the name of religion. I see scriptures twisted for the use of justifiable intolerance and persecution. I see religion corrupted by its leaders. I see religion soullessly used as a springboard to fame and ill-gotten fortune.

I ask myself, "How can I justify bringing these things into my life? How can I invite an ideology into my heart and home knowing the misuse that it shields?"

Religion and God serve good purpose. I do not deny that. I also admit that both the good and the evil cannot be as simple as the words I put onto this page. It isn't this simple.

So when I stand before my friends and family in mid-June on the shores of the Narragansett Bay, where will God be? Is this a moral dilemma? Am I torn between my willingness to believe in God and my skepticism of religious misallocation? Will I be labeled a sinner for questioning my own convictions? More importantly, will I be labeled a sinner for suggesting that a particular church and religion currently have no place in my life? Is that blasphemy? Can I be a blasphemer if I don't partake in religious practices?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is this, "If I do believe in God, is it necessary for me to proclaim that belief to a particular pulpit?"

Some people will point to me and proclaim that because I choose not to embrace a church of prayer that I also choose to refute the existence of God. But that concept is part of the reason I choose to not attend a church.

I choose to believe in something that does not require me to give a certain amount of money in order to acknowledge my belief in a higher being. I choose to believe in a higher being that accepts all believers, unconditionally, because who can say what is and is not acceptable?

On my wedding day, I will be able to understand that God is there. And although I won't be in a church, it won't matter, because my faith is what tells me where God will be.

misusedsuperlative.blogspot.com

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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