The certainty is gone

So, if you’ve not already discovered a showed called The Last Kingdom on Netflix, it’s definitely one of the better shows we’ve found recently. Though I must say, Netflix is doing a pretty stellar job with their original content. 

Back to The Last Kingdom. Among the long list of things that make this show particularly good is one theme, a common thread that runs through the show, that offers a great critique of the struggle that seems to be an ever present battle in my own mind: the certainty of the church and the freedom of a more wholistic spirituality. 

For a small bit of background, the timing is the late ninth century England, during the Danish invasion and occupation. The main character is born Saxon, but is taken as a prisoner of war at the age of 10 and raised as a Dane. The ninth century English were a pious bunch, with God being the strength behind ALL endeavors of the tribal kings. Contrast that with the Danes, who practice a spirituality through which all things are in the care of “god” or the gods. God is not found in a building or accessed through a priest, but is experienced through living life, communing with the land and people. 

Of course this is a horribly violent time in history and I’m not convinced on either side whether violence is ever the answer. The English kill in god’s name and the Danes kill as an extension to living fully. 

I digress. Of particular interest to me is the ever present struggle in the main character. He is for all practical purposes Danish, but by blood, he is English. So he is being pulled by both worlds and both views of spirituality. I resonate deeply with his Danish upbringing and the freedom of spirit and spirituality, as well as the tugging of those around me who think I should be “following god,” not the hethens. 

What I find is that the certainty of my fundamental upbringing is no longer present, and I’m perfectly okay with that. I don’t however think that my conservative family and friends are in any way okay with leaning into uncertainty. They are in fact (at least it seems this way) trying to bring us back into their own false sense of security. 

I for one, prefer to engage fully with life. I haven’t made it there yet, but I am on the journey. Perhaps that’s the whole of it, a journey. As for the certainty that once existed, I wouldn’t trade it for the place we are now, no way in hell (if there even is such a place). I choose life and all it has to offer. 

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Anyone, anyone?

Another of our ongoing conversations centers around the notion of community. My wife and I both grew up in pretty conservative Christian homes, of which most of that ideology we’ve since left behind. 

Something that sticks around however is the fact that no matter how crazy, off-base and completely out of touch with the reality of most living people conservative Christian theology is, they are pretty damn good at the living life together, supporting sick families and gathering regularly. 

What’s been unfortunate for my wife and I is that when we shed the ridiculous weight of the American evangelical church, we’ve almost completely lost the support we once had. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have great friends who would do anything at the drop of a hat if something catastrophic happened to our family, but it’s the daily, mundane stuff that is missing. Like when my wife, who struggles with autoimmune deficiencies, doesn’t feel well and can barely get out of bed, there’s not a group of people who take care of us like we used to have. 

The crazy part is, we live in the same town as my family, who are still fully immersed in that archaic conservative ideology, yet since we’ve moved on to (hopefully) higher levels of spiritual existence, we’ve been cut off. I understand being cut off on a church basis, that seems legit, but family? Just seems a little skewed, especially if someone were to take seriously the teachings of that first century Arab Jew whom they claim to follow. 

Back to this moment. Is there such a thing as a spiritual, enlightened Christian, Buddhist, peace-loving, ___________ (fill in the blank) community of people who are just regular folks, young families with kids, retired folks who are somewhat interested in mentoring relationships over traveling the world 9 months out of the year? I don’t know, maybe just some people who are interested in true authenticity, engaging the divine (however you like to describe that), caring for a community of people rather than just yourself…

Sounds pretty ideological, but my sense is that there are other folks like us who are searching for that sort of deep connection with other people, we just haven’t found them…yet. We’ve been to all sorts of different churches and we either can’t stomach all the talk and songs about blood, or the democrat process is the answer to all life’s ails. We don’t really fall in either of those camps, more in the middle, or more likely someplace else entirely. 

I’ve thought about writing up a craigslist ad to see what happens. All I know is that this search is kind of exhausting and I’m not sure it should be…