Saturday, September 1, 2012

Why "Patchwork Quilt" Spirituality

I want to share why I use the term "patchwork quilt" to describe my spirituality.

First of all, I am a 'recovering' fundamentalist.
I was enrolled in the 'Cradle Roll' of my childhood Baptist church when I was 2 months old.
I grew up in Sunday School, Bible Club after school, and Vacation Bible School.
We were taught that the Bible was God's Word, and sang:
     "The B-I-B-L-E, yes that's the book for me.
      I stand alone on the Word of God, the B-I-B-L-E."
I was told that to question anything in the Bible was the work of the devil.
In later years, I was taught the theory of 'verbal plenary inspiration,' i.e. the Bible is without error, infallible.

The positive side of that indoctrination was that I grew up with a sense of connection to the Creator who loved me, watched over me, and protected me...who comforted me like a warm, cozy quilt in winter.

However, by my second year in college, I could no longer ignore the Bible's factual errors (the earth is not flat) nor deny my questions, so I went through an atheistic period. Eventually I came to see that the Bible could be inspirational without being perfect. However, my loss of innocence created some holes in my spiritual quilt, and I still have times when I miss the assurance of those who believe the Bible "from cover to cover!" So, I am 'recovering' and putting patches on my spiritual quilt as I go.

Secondly, the 'theology' behind my spirituality has been inconsistent and continues to evolve.
By the time I graduated from seminary in 1971, I had studied 'systematic theology' enough to come to realize that "I did not understand all that I knew" (a phrase I later picked up from my mother-in law.)
Four decades later, I do not want to even try to sort out how many twists and turns my 'theology' has taken.
I like the statement that one should always do theology with a loose-leaf notebook, as my experience with life has taken many pages out.

In the third place, I accept that my spirituality has weak spots and broken places.
I have had dreams broken and beliefs shattered. Sometimes my spirituality has been so weak that I was fortunate to be able to grab onto anything that helped me make it through the day...and night. So my spirituality is like a patchwork quilt, with pieces that are loose or missing...and that is good enough!

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