When the moral mafia stole the Southern Baptist Convention and started economically raping it in 1978 at first many of us fought tooth and nail to keep it from happening, but their cutthroat and nasty tactics won and those of us who were on the losing side either left creating the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Mainstream Baptist organization like my brother, or stayed in the churches being forced to bite our tongues as the leadership in our local churches became rabid Republicans, pro-life, mercantile, zombies.
I endured eight years of those in my Sunday School classes calling Bill Clinton the anti-Christ and how he ruined the presidency and another eight years of inane, sycophantic praising of everything W. Is it any wonder that I started playing golf on Sundays?
I wish I could fellowship with other believers of like mind, but there's not many Mainstream Baptists in New Mexico. I'm not ready to go interdenominational. The concept of "Let's focus on what we agree on and not talk about what we don't" is a little too watered down for me.
In that vein, I once had a good friend. He gave me some of the best advice I ever received as a teacher. The principle was giving me loads of grief that year and I was as stressed out almost to the breaking point. He saw how depressed I was in the teacher's lounge, in fact the principle was riding him even harder than me that year so we had exchanged our gripes. He looked at me and said, "Remember you're permanent, she's temporary."
Those words put the rest of the year in perspective. I relaxed, the year ended and then next year said principle and I got along much better.
The man in question was a Mormon Bishop. Theologically you don't get much further apart. We had many conversations about our faith, but not our theology. He would talk about all the hospital visits he was making, the squabbles he had to settle in the congregation and how much stress it was to be a bi-vocational church leader.
At the time I was music minister at a small church and I had plenty of similar comments.
He died of a heart attack the next year, slumped over in his garden doing the one thing that helped him relax. His funeral is the only time I've been in a Mormon church. Listening to the eulogies of his friends and fellow congregants was eye opening. They told a story of a man who fiercely questioned all the beliefs of his church and became grounded in his faith.
I experienced the same journey from the Baptist perspective and found my faith. I recognized that in him and he the same in me, which made us such good friends.
Theologically I have no idea which one of is right and won't until it no longer matters on this spiritual plane.
What I've concluded is that those who have questioned their beliefs and become comfortable in their faith have a certain serenity about them, and get bugged by others who try to coerce them into conformity with dogma. Those who have been brainwashed into their belief have this incessant need to argue, convince, cajole and ultimately force others to believe as they do as validation for a faith they have little confidence in.