Yesterday

Yesterday was a really good day. Not because it was Valentine’s Day (a non-holiday in my opinion), but because it started with a coffee date with an old friend I hadn’t seen in years and years. He was in town on business and we met up for a chat. (“Who’s John?” my husband asked. “You want a date on Valentine’s Day that badly, just ask!” Ha!)

After talking about our kids, our spouses, my recent move, the topic invariably turned to matters of religion. John’s a Christian, one who attends a mainline church on the liberal side of things. He told me he’s come to terms with the fact that there’s just a ton of stuff he doesn’t know, might never know, and that’s ok. He was honest about the fact that he doesn’t read my blog (“I suspect you have a lot of words about this topic.” He has no idea, does he?); this isn’t the topic he spends his precious non-working hours reading. I can respect that.

What the conversation highlighted to me is that I love talking about religion. I had to dial down my enthusiasm, scale back the two dollar words. I want to know what people think, and then talk about that. This particular conversation reminded me how much my thinking has shifted in the last few years. I do not view the world as a monotheist might; I definitely have a polytheistic view point. It makes discussing spiritual relativism interesting. I see little conflict; the monotheist sees quite a bit.

My baby (who is one today!) was fussing and tired and full of snot, so John and I cut our time together  short, right as we were in the thick of conversation. We’ll have other times to talk, now that I’m back in the great state of Washington for the long haul. I drove home buzzing. What do I do with this passion for religion? I could teach. I have a master’s degree. Perhaps the local community college would hire me or the nearby Evergreen State College. The thought of creating an entire class and teaching it scares me: I have many professor friends and I hear all about the struggles of teaching. And I don’t feel like I know enough! But I do.

I could get a PhD. I tried that. I may go back, but not to the same topic, not to the same type of program. I was really tired of engaging Christian theology so exclusively. I certainly won’t go back to a PhD program with wee children. I can barely keep up with this blog right now, due to sleep exhaustion.

I’ve even thought about looking at spiritual direction programs. Of course, starting another program seems silly right now. And I’m not sure I’m empathetic enough for this type of ‘counseling.’

Today, I’m enjoying the surge of enthusiasm I have for my chosen subject from the conversation with my friend. I’m fired up! This coincides with some dreams I’ve had recently and a strong pull to practice – not to practice Christianity, but to dive back into Feri, tarot, meditation, things I’ve put on the shelf for this quarter. I see them up there, shiny and inviting, familiar and full of surprises, and I want to stop reading theology, stop praying for mercy, stop rehashing my testimony (yes, I’m dragging my heels on part four).

This is good information. I’m grateful for this blog project. I feel like it is doing just what I’d hoped it would do: refine my own path, get me more comfortable with vulnerability and visibility, challenge my writing skills, and open up dialog with others. Thanks for joining me.

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About Niki Whiting
  • http://western-hindu.org/ Tāṇḍava

    You made me realise how rare it is to have a serious conversation about religion with someone of a different faith. Its probably more rare in the UK, where it is often a non-subject than in the USA, but I have probably only had a prolonged discussion a handful of times.

    As for not knowing enough to teach, it is well known that people who know most underestimate their ability. It makes sense really, I am sure that you could rattle of a list of a dozen whole areas of religion and spirituality that you don’t know much about, and know that someone could do a thesis on each one. Someone else knowing only the basics “Christians worship Jesus”, “Jews believe in one God”, etc. might be forgiven to thinking that if they learn a few more similar facts then they’ve got the whole subject covered.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      I would say that Americans are far more likely to discuss religion and politics (and anything else personal!) than are Brits, for better or worse!

      Most of my professor friends also seem to suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’ – where they feel like a fraud and some one is sure to point out what they don’t know. I think it’s easy to get mired in the details, to get lost in the trees and forget that most students only need an overview of the forest! Thank you for reminding me of this.

      • http://western-hindu.org/ Tāṇḍava

        I know about imposter syndrome! I am introduced as an “enterprise systems expert” in meetings at work, and it took me a couple of years to realise that this was not tongue-in-cheek!

        Similarly I was recently asked to write an article for an interfaith site on the Hindu attitude to dialogue, and I can’t help worrying that I am stepping into the territory of “real theologians” such as yourself and that my contribution will be below par.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

          I call myself a theologian, but I’m still just an armchair theologian. This reminds me of an Orthodox saying, by Evagrius I think: A theologian is one who prays, and one who prays is a theologian.

          You will be wonderful at the talk!

          • http://syamukamath.wordpress.com syamukamath

            Theologian, imposter syndrome!

            Thanx 4 new words!:-D

          • http://western-hindu.org/ Tāṇḍava

            A theologian is one who prays, and one who prays is a theologian

            I have heard a less kind definition, liking them to musicologists, who “can’t play music, cant compose music, but are excellent at pontificating about it”.

  • http://syamukamath.wordpress.com syamukamath

    I suggest you to do Art Of Living basic/part1 course. Just 6 days, 2-3hr per day. Pancha kosha meditation and Sudharsan kriya would give complete relief from problems,tension, pressure etc.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram myownashram

      Thank you for this suggestion. I have bookmarked it for further reading. I definitely look forward to including more yoga, pranayama, and meditation into my life.

  • Jennie

    Great post! I’m glad we’ll get more opportunity to discuss all this in person!


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