“He opened up his eyes and snapped out in a groove
he saw both sides of everything and found he could not move.”

Shawn Mullins, Where’s Johnny

I believe that the Battle Hymn of the Republic is one of the greatest song ever written.


I don’t like people that say that they are spiritual but not religious. To me, that comes across as every bit as arrogant as those that say “My church is more correct than your church”. Maybe even more arrogant because at least the churchgoer isn’t saying that they’ve found the answers on their own without help, which is the implication of those that say that they have a handle on spirituality without help. At the same time, I find the notion that any particular church has it exactly right to be… unlikely.

I was baptized and raised in the Episcopal Church (USA), which was a (forgive the pun) godsend for me. I would not have done nearly as well in the Catholic Church or Mormon Church because of the rigidity of their beliefs. The funny thing is, though, that I often wish I was the kind of person that could put faith in a church’s tenets. I wish that there was a church that I agreed with all the time. I wish that I could completely buy in to what they’re selling. Really smart people believe this stuff, so why can’t I?

I wish that I could believe, with a degree of certainty, that God Himself picked a group of people to act as the final word and arbiter of His wishes. I wish I could believe, with a degree of certainty, that there was this guy named Jesus that took the bullet for all of our sins and by virtue of his having done so cleansed us. I wish I could believe that if I read and lived by this book, it would have all of the answers.

In a similar way, I wish that I could believe that all of our problems could be solved by having the government take care of us. Or that everything would work out okay if we just let the free market do its magic. Or that the Republicans were right about everything or that the Democrats were.

I would love to be a partisan warrior, a religious crusader, and a harbinger of all that is right. I am attracted to the imagery of that in the strongest way. I’m a comic book reader. I like right and wrong, black and white, good and evil. I get immensely frustrated by the constant equivocations that people make to excuse that which is wrong and diminish that which is right. And the most frustrating thing is that they make sense to me.

This all makes me sound like a wishy-washy person, which I don’t believe myself to be. Some people around me will describe me as being a moderate guy, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone describe me as wishy-washy. But I make decisions because decisions have to be made and not because an overwhelming since of what is right tells me to. Whenever I am told anything, there is a voice in the back of my head that says “maybe this is not so”.

The spoils go to those who fight for them. Religions that stick to their doctrine and demand adherence succeed while those that foster independence fall apart at the core. Our wars are not fought by those that spend their time questioning why, they’re fought by soldiers that have it within them to just do what they are told. The leaders are not those that question their motivations but rather motivate others to come around to their own righteousness.

People like me watch and say, “Hmmm.”

Category: Church, Coffeehouse

About the Author

7 Responses to I Hope Your God Has Mercy On Mine

  1. Webmaster says:

    As far as “spiritual but not religious”, I identify that way – but I do so mostly because of the events of recent years. I still consider myself a Catholic, with the beliefs thereof, but their mind-blowingly hypocritical stances on so many issues (attitudes towards certain lawbreakers, toward those who deliberately mooch off of social services when they are not in genuine need and leave less for those who really need it, the whole celibate-priesthood bull****) have driven me away from being able to go to mass and pray there.

    Instead, I’ve taken Matthew 6:6 to heart and do my prayer in private. I’ve pretty much reached the conclusion that church is not a place most people go to pray, but rather to be seen praying.

  2. Peter says:

    Not that there’s anything wrong with being wishy-washy. The more I think about things, the more I am convinced that there are very, very few absolute truths. Which means, among other things, that belonging to a religion that demands absolute adherence is being intellectually dishonest.

  3. trumwill says:


    I haven’t much to say on what to do if you’re a discontented Catholic because there isn’t much you can do within the organization to try to change it. By and large you’re expected to either accept that the leadership are the chosen ushers of God or that they are not. The same goes for the Mormons. One of the aspects I like about the Episcopal Church is that they lay no claims to being divinely chosen. That makes it possible to agitate for change when it comes to specific policies that you disagree with. The downside is that others get to do the same.

    My main problem with spiritual-but-not-religious is probably worthy of a post all its own. It would seem to me that trying to forge your own relationship with God is likely a good idea, and I find aggressive proselytization distasteful (except insofar as you are missioning to a place where people may actually be unfamiliar with your religion such as Christians in Africa or China and Mormons outside of Mormon pockets of the US), but I do believe in churches as social institutions capable of great good and I believe that they can facilitate a greater understanding of God’s word. Educators, facilitators, and maybe mentors… but not masters or the final word. I do have trouble with the notion that any human institution can truly divine the will of God.

  4. Veronica says:

    When I hear “Spiritual but not Religious,” 9 times out of 10 it means, “I’m scared of a Godless universe, and too lazy to go to church.”

  5. Barry says:

    Actually, I believe there are an infinite set of very absolute truths out there. There is no ambiguity in the mind of God – what is true is true, and what is not is not.

    However, the human mind is incapable of understanding (or believing) but only a minute fraction of these truth, so for a religious group to claim that all but a small part of their ways are not open to discussion, interpretation, and degree is to be disingenuous.

    In other words, Christians believe Christ was the son of God, died, was resurrected and will return one day. Those are absolute truths to those who profess to be Christians. However, was he really a “son” as we understand the word? Did living blood resume circulation, the heart begin pumping again, his lungs fill with air again after he was resurrected, or was it more of a reanimation enfused with his spirit? Will he one day walk again among us as a human, or will he be up in the sky, sitting on a cloud?

    It’s perfectly ok not to know these details of the truth, and not to build your religion around things such as these – merely to understand they happened somehow, and moreover why the happened.

    Do the wafer and wine truly transform into the flesh and blood of Jesus upon ingestion, or is it symbolism represented by bread and grape juice? It doesn’t matter, really, because in the Last Supper Jesus was trying to illustrate a point. Yet it remains a huge division between Catholic and Protestant beliefs.

  6. trumwill says:

    That’s absolutely brilliant. So brilliant that I am going to steal that from you and use it at the next opportunity.

  7. trumwill says:

    That’s a very thought-provoking comment. I find the doctrine of continuing revelation to be an attractive one. It gives me insight as to why God would have the Bible give one explanation for the creation of the world and then give us science which demonstrates another.

    It’s probably a bit of a weird comparison, but I remember thinking how confused a dog must be when it comes to interpreting our actions. They do their best to try to figure us out, but at the end of the day they can only figure out a fraction of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s not hard to imagine that we look upon God the same way. We’re given the capacity to understand some of it, but not a lot of it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you are interested in subscribing to new post notifications,
please enter your email address on this page.