Not long ago, I discovered the writings of this amazing woman. Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist nun who has written books, lectured around the world, and shown many the beautiful teachings of Tibetan Buddhism.
I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown which was recommended to me a friend. While that was a terrific read which I highly recommend, its was Brené’s recommendation of Pema writings that I will be forever grateful for.
If, like me, you have never done any reading on Buddhist philosophy, I can’t overstate what you are missing out on. Even if you are a firm believer in what you would consider an opposing or simply different belief system, you will find their teachings, especially with Pema’s amazing gift for articulating them, to be challenging and life affirming. You may even find that it will enable you to appreciate your currently held beliefs in a new and fresh way as a result of the unique light they shine upon universal truths.
I’m currently reading Pema’s book The Places that Scare You. While it’s a short book, I’m taking my time reading it a few pages at a time because its so good. Each page is packed with depth and wisdom. Like a fine wine, you have to allow it time to roll over your palate to catch all the subtle flavors and beautiful notes. To read it quickly would be a disservice.
Her presentation of the principle of bodhichitta is one that deeply moved me. Bodhichitta is that soft spot that we all have. That vulnerable, open, compassionate place that we all too often build up protective walls around to save ourselves from being hurt. A bodhisattva is one who choosed to be a compassionate warrior for bodhichitta. One who choses to allow the difficult experiences in life to soften rather then harden them. They fight to tap into the bodhichitta in themselves and all those around them. The introduction of this principle into my life could not have been timed more perfectly and it has changed the way I do life on a daily basis.
Its my hope that we can all learn to see the beauty and truth in the wise teaching of all those that have dedicated their lives to the service and mentoring of others, indiscriminate of the religious label under which Barnes and Noble choses to shelve their writings.
If you are interested in reading Pema, her books are published and available for purchase at Shambhala Publications.
Born into a pastor’s family to two pastor’s kids, I went directly from home school to a Christian Liberal Arts College to get my Bible Degree. Evangelicalism is so ingrained in my life story that it became all that I was. Becoming a third-generation pastor was clearly my destiny. I was fluent in Christianese and all that I did was guided by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Over 30 years of summer camp and sword drills, courting and side-hugs, worship team and Jeremy Camp covers, and look at me now…
I’ve been getting questions lately from people wondering how, given this back-story, I’ve come to classify myself as an Agnostic. Old friends not bold enough to ask me, have sat back at a distance thinking, “He’s just angry, maybe has some issues with the church and some of the dysfunction he’s seen, and he’s going through a reactionary phase. This is just his way of rebelling and testing his faith, but he’ll be back…they always come back.” The truth is, rejecting Evangelical Christianity was something I did out of necessity, not rebellion. It saved me. It saved my faith, my joy, and really, my LIFE. How, you ask?
This blog is an attempt to answer some of those questions. I have a genuine interest in engaging in dialogue about my journey, but no desire to de-convert anyone. This isn’t about me convincing you of how wrong you are, or listening to you try to reconvert me.
I’m doing this for two reasons. First, I intensely love many people who still consider themselves to be Evangelical Christians. While I must live authentically, I have no desire for this to sever those relationship with the people I care so much about. The only way I know to do this is with honesty about what I believe, but with an understanding that I have a deep respect for those that live with authentic faith and conviction. I believe that we can agree to disagree and still enjoy a deep connection based on mutual respect and honesty.
Second, I know that I’m not the only one on this journey. I hope that by “outing” myself in this way, I can connect with some of you with similar backgrounds about where you are at in your own journey. Hopefully, we can help one another as we learn to process life outside the paradigms that we grew up in.
Finally, while I’m a huge fan of blogs and Facebook and other ways of communicating and connecting over the interwebs, I prefer to use these tools as a way to stay connected from a distance and to facilitate meaningful in-person connections. So let’s grab a cup of coffee or a beer sometime!
In the meantime, I’ll be posting here occasionally and I look forward to being able to share more of my story and hearing some of your thoughts.