Thank you Wally. Your story brings to light what I have come to understand and what McLaren addresses. A belief system is what provides a person the needed community where they hold onto what is precious to them. This goes back to my thoughts that God said, “It is not good for the human to be alone.” I realize this is where they are at and if they are okay with it, I am not to mess with it. As I look back on my journey, I see that there was a time when I was deeply entrenched in the belief system of my church body. I would defend it and push it because this is how it is. I could not believe there could be any other way. That served me well and got me through that time. As I evolved, that which brought me the needed support, became restrictive. I felt trapped, like there was something inside of me needing to get out or maybe something trying to get in. What I was thinking was not necessarily what I learned in seminary. I began to question what I was so strongly defending. When I started opening the box, I realized that God’s relationship with me was not found in a book nor governed by the teachings of the church. God’s relationship with me is through relationships with people around me, and through my experiences. I began reading the Scriptures with an open mind rather than with critical, doctrinal restraints. God’s relationship with me did not change. My relationship with God changed. God became infinite for me and my world view became more open and inclusive. I thing of Paul’s words, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult I gave up childish ways.” (1 Cor 13:11) Of course, I am still evolving and growing toward a new adulthood. This is why I resonate with people like Brian McLaren and Richard Rohr. Through them I feel affirmed in my journey.
Pondering this, I realize I have been judging the people at the center the way they (and as I once did) judge the people at the fringes. I may have become an adult, but I have my childish ways. I am still evolving and growing – working on being more patient with the people at the center and working with people on the fringes. McLaren talks about opening the space for the mystery of God. I have come to embrace the mystery and it is freeing for me. This is still a work in progress. I hope that my work on the fringes also opens the box a bit for the people at the center.