a coming out, of sorts*

Two weeks ago I did something I’ve sworn for months that I would not do.**  (Swearing is bad, friends; avoid.)  I applied to seminary.  To Meadville Lombard, specifically, which is one of two schools dedicated to preparing Unitarian Universalists for ministry.  And then, last night–at church, fittingly–I received an acceptance e-mail.  (Yes, an e-mail.  Before you wonder what kind of outfit this is, exactly, I will tell you that law schools and the graduate schools of large research universities now communicate acceptances in the same way.  The fact that I know this firsthand is one of the many reasons why seminary is something I hoped to avoid.)

So that’s the “what.”  As far as “why” . . . there’s no rational way to explain it.  Actually, the rational explanation is that I’ve lost my mind, so if that squares with your suspicions, feel free to stop here.  And enjoy; you just got five minutes of your life back.  For the rest of you, I have even less of an explanation; I can simply say that it’s been a long time coming, though lately things are happening with breathtaking speed.  And I can share my opinion that without the spiritual to guide it to the expansiveness of possibility, the rational tends to think itself right into a box.

As I mentioned in my original introduction, I created this blog in an attempt to hold the line on “the religion stuff”—and because I had things that, after months of trying, I couldn’t not say.  I don’t know if I was trying to cut a deal with myself or with my faith, but either way, it hasn’t worked out as planned.  This compulsion to comment about religion—itself following on the heels of, sequentially, a need to read, a call to question, a passion to learn, a yearning to connect, and finally, a decision to write—in the middle of finals week—a sermon (a sermon!?)—has not abated.  Rather than an end product of the process of becoming increasingly annoying in my church life, Raising Faith has turned out to be a sign of a fundamental, and ongoing, shift in my relationship with my faith.

It’s tempting, especially in the frustration of grasping for explanations that fail to make clear the magic and challenge and yes, the terror, of this process, to say simply, again: “This is something between me and God.”  And it is; that phrase and that relationship have meaning and feeling for me.  But it’s not an exclusive relationship.  Discernment is between me and my congregation and God.  It’s between me and my minister and my mentors.  It’s between all of the above and our denomination.  What an interesting set of questions we are undertaking to answer.  What an awesome, fearsome, joyous responsibility.   And what a privilege to be part of it, wherever—and I really, truly do not know where, or when, or how—the process may lead.

And now I’d like introduce myself—again, but personally this time.  This blog was never anonymous to anyone who knows me “in real life,” but along the way, I have had the opportunity to share, learn about, talk with—in some sense, to know—people who don’t know me.  There is real appeal in cultivating even the illusion of anonymity in the wild and wooly place that is the internet . . . and there is risk in giving it up.  There is risk, too, in relationship, yet we recognize that in our connection lies our humanity.  My call is yet to be discovered, but may supporting the fragile magic of connection be my cause, always.

Thank you for walking this path with me, friends.  And for those recently joining me, welcome.  I’m Jordinn.

All the best,

j

*thank you to the friends who shared their thoughts with me about potentially co-opting the phrase “coming out” as a title of this post.  Their consensus was that respectful use to reflect a thoughtful revealing of a true, but unknown, self felt supportive, and not damaging.  I appreciate their sharing, and hope that my decision to use the phrase is not a hurtful one, even unintentionally.

**a friend from Midwest Leadership School just reminded me that I went on record this summer with, “I hope someone smacks me if I ever decide to apply to seminary.”  I’m not sure what exactly motivated that comment (fear . . . of . . . literally spending the rest of my life in graduate school?  Of debt beyond my wildest imaginings?  Or of the larger sense of being out of control over my life path?)  At any rate, if I thought a good slap upside the head would help, I’d volunteer . . . but I don’t.  So, as I am not a masochist, I suppose I recant.  And will let this stand as a reminder to myself to beware making sweeping pronouncements at the dinner table.  😉

Raising Faith v.1.0

Hi, there!

This site exists because I made an early New Year’s resolution to stop bugging all my Facebook friends, who generally read for posts about my family, with constant reflections about my family’s faith.  I kept thinking, “after I talk about this one issue . . . after things settle down in our congregation and there’s not so much going on . . . after I finish my Chalica posts”–I am going to stop posting about religion all the time.  Unfortunately, over these same months I have found myself with an increasing number of questions, musings, and occasionally, frustrations about my religion and about religious life, generally.  Sometimes I have felt, in a way that’s bigger than the Facebook format really allows, that I might have a thing or two to say about all of this–but NOT that I’d like to literally say (I am terrified of oratory-style public speaking.  I hate it.  The mere thought gives me goosebumps.)  What I needed, it occurred to me, was something like a column.  Or . . . a blog.  Aha!

I’m interested in all things religious–history, beliefs, the ins and outs of congregational life and even denominational growth and politics–but particularly the biggest questions, which sometimes seem like the smallest.  Why do we go to church?  How should we treat those who mistreat us?  Can we raise children with a clear denominational identity and still encourage them to think critically and love openly?  I was thinking about these questions this morning and realized that overall, I wonder how, in a religion that values (among other things) individualism, freedom of conscience, and differing viewpoints, we might attempt to raise children of faith. And lo, Raising Faith was born.

I am a Unitarian Universalist (hesitantly since 2005 . . . transformatively since this past summer).  My Christian faith remains important to me as well; my husband and I are doing our best to raise our two young sons in a blend of both faiths, making spirituality an intentional matter in our home and our lives.  Sometimes this feels beautiful.  Sometimes it feels a bit scattered.  And sometimes, like this morning, I am too busy trying to keep my two year old from swallowing our nativity Jesus to think much about faith in the bigger picture.

I want this to be a space to explore issues, ask questions, share discoveries, and celebrate the joy and beauty of family-life-in-faith.  What I don’t envision is an overly reverent take on any of the above, an exclusively UU perspective (in fact, I hope not–let’s get ecumenical about this), or commentary without the occasional mistake or misstep.  Let’s be real.  It may be messy at times.  Even edgy (!)  But it will also be fun, and funny . . . and, who knows, maybe we’ll even learn something.

Looking forward to the conversation–thanks for reading!

j