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salemOur new commenter Ginnyfree asked if I would document my journey in faith. While I can’t imagine anything more boring than my journey, she did ask nicely. And so I’ll try. And as she noted, my verbose switch is stuck in on so this will be a multi-part post.

I think we are all, in large part, the sum of our yesterdays, and especially our youngest years. That doesn’t mean you can’t overcome them but, you will work fairly hard to, especially in your subconscious. In that way, I was extremely lucky. I was born in a town of 800 people, six churches, and only four bars. In other words a typical small town of the German type in northern Indiana, in fact I’m what we referred to when I was young as a Region Rat, from the northwest corner where the steel industry was a part of our lives, as well as agriculture. I was born in the early 50s, in what looking back looks like a perfect time to be an American, and a Christian.

My heritage is Norwegian and most of my family belonged to the American Lutheran Church, the American offshoot of the Church of Norway (and others). But that didn’t exist where I grew up and so my folks ended up in the Evangelical and Reformed Church, the American offshoot of the the Church of Prussia, now the Evangelical Kirche.  Kind of Lutheran with a fairly large dose of Calvin mixed in.

Well, sort of anyway. Like many small towns in middle America, there were about three families and they were interrelated. My church was E&R because of a family feud in the Missouri Synod church, and a group split off. I’m not sure that anybody (including our preachers) really knew much about the theology. They had studied it in seminary and could look up answers but it rarely came up. It was the old days when we were all Christians of one variety or another and we didn’t pay too much attention to how many sacraments other guys did or didn’t have, or even if they believed in the Real Presence. That was business for the elders, not for us to question! I suspect it has always been thus for most people.

But the thing is, I always believed that Christ died and rose again for me personally, as did most everyone. Then as now, a lot of men would find any excuse not to go to church, didn’t mean they didn’t believe, they just didn’t want to put on a coat and tie and sit still an hour. My dad was one of them, his claim was that the church would fall down if he entered. That was women’s work, and we kids did Sunday school, Bible school, and church regularly. And in truth both of my sisters and I have been officer’s of our churches.

By the time I was confirmed the E&R had merged into the United Church of Christ which was (and is) a mess. It runs from the old Puritan Congregationalists to Rev. Wright in Chicago. In other words it’s an example of what false ecumenism can do. While I was confirmed out of the old Evangelical Catechism, as my much older sisters had been, it had become so easy that it was nearly a joke. The form was intact but not the substance.

And in truth in high school I lost interest. Until Mom died I just had better things to do, sometimes including getting over Saturday night. Young and invincible would describe me, and church was for little old ladies of both sexes. Like Dad, I believed completely in God just not the church. And after Dad passed (I spoke of him here), I ended up doing what in my business we call ‘booming’ which means I was working for a contractor and rarely any place longer than about six weeks. That’s not very conducive to going to church and I was lucky to make it on Christmas and Easter.

Until I got down here, in Husker land, on a long term job, and fell in love with a local girl (well woman would be more accurate). She was a practicing Lutheran, and I was ready (past ready by about ten years, actually) to finally get married and perhaps even have a family. And so I joined the ELCA, the successor to all the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches in America. In a generational way, it completed the circle.

Well the kids didn’t happen, and  various problems like money, and job schedules, and other things, that I’ve mentioned, led to the breakup of the marriage, and with the way it went I got out of the habit of regular attendance, and the form of liturgy used these days here, is not something I care for (like so many of us) and so I make some mostly for the Eucharist, which I find essential. And that I thought was the end of the story. Just another complacent American Christian of the Lutheran variety.

I think the main lesson here is the old American (and Christian) belief in absolute personal responsibility for your thoughts and actions combined with an absolute belief in the Trinitarian God, as stated in the Nicene Creed.

We will continue soon.