The winding road from paganism to Catholicism

As the season of Advent begins and the Christmas season is in full swing I wanted to recall the long and complicated journey it took for me to go from pagan to Catholic.

My earliest exposure to religion came in the form of an awkward costume party my non-Christian parents sent me and my sisters to. I was in second grade. We were invited to a church Halloween party.

Or, at least we thought it was a Halloween party. Turns out it was one of those anti-pagan substitute “harvest” celebrations some churches put on to distance themselves from the pagan origins of certain aspects of the Halloween festivities. I said it was awkward for a reason.

My friends and I went in our costumes we intended to wear while trick-or-treating. There was a witch, a vampire, a princess and a Jason Vorhees among others in our group. We stood there in the church standing out like a sore thumb surrounded by shepherds, wise men and other “Christian” symbols like angels and others I didn’t recognize at the time.

My actual religious belief at the time was simple. I knew in my mind there was a God out there and there were likely angels, demons and other spirits. I had read plenty of books on various mythologies from Greek and Roman to Celtic and Norse and even some Anglican Arthurian legends through in the mix. My beliefs were not well defined.

I started exploring paganism through dark magic. I wanted to be a warlock. I desired to learn the dark arts. Not in a cartoon or comic book way, no I was a legit pagan seeking to master the spiritual forces as best as I could. I was deeply attracted to the occult and its temptations of power and lust.

Needless to say this led me down a path where I was reading books on Satanism, witch craft, demons, ghosts and magic, all sorts of magic. I never became all to proficient in spell casting during this time but I developed a strong connection to the spiritual world that has been with me every since.

Early Beliefs

I was in the first grade when I took it upon myself to make my earliest plea to whichever deity would respond.

At an early age I knew internally I desired to be a girl more than anything else in the world. Thus my prayers were intensely focused on begging any God to please let me wake up tomorrow a girl so I can stop being a boy. I hated being a boy more than anything. I didn’t know which god to pray to so I prayed a generic pray to “god” without defining it.

I also dabbled in fairy tales like wishing upon a star and other incantations children learn through various means. I believed in ghosts, UFOs, Big Foot, Dragons, Leprechauns, fairies, monsters, demons, angels and other general supernatural phenomenon including vampires and werewolves.

I took the broad approach of accepting anything until disproved.

When I was around the age of 10 my parents began sending me and my sisters to this church every Sunday. It was a way to get us out of the house apparently.

During my time there I listened intently to the Sunday school teachers. I was supplementing their teachings I learned from Bible stories with other mythologies I read and mixing in stuff from horror movies such as The Omen and A Nightmare on Elm Street, among others. I quickly developed a broad sense of all religions had some nuggets of truth I just didn’t know how to define my own beliefs.

My Conversion experience

I was 11 years old. It was a stormy night. My dad had been listening to the rock station jamming to a popular Led Zeppelin tune. The weather caused the station to go out and Charles Stanley came on in its place. He was in the middle of a sermon preaching how so many people think being a good person will get them to Heaven. He gave the fire and brimstone message many Evangelical preachers are fond of.

During the course of the sermon, my dad being too drunk to change the channel, broke down into tears and prayed the sinners prayer giving his life to the Lord right there. Having been deeply interested in the supernatural his words shook me too.

Seeing that incident, witnessing the instant change in my dad who got cleaned up the next day and took us all to the first church he drove to. I, too, prayed the prayer that night choosing to devote my life to the God that made it through to my dad.

It was a life changing experience for my entire family. I learned, from talking to my mom after dad’s conversion, she had always been faithful and kept praying God would intervene and save my dad. That was enough for me. I was in. God was real and I now had all the proof I needed.

I didn’t make my profession of faith and become baptized until a year later after I turned 12. My devotion to the Lord and the Christian faith was immediate, but my journey to understanding what all that entailed was going to take much longer.

Adolescences intervenes 

I started cross dressing before puberty kicked in. It was a way for me to promote my own mental health. I knew in my mind I had to present as a girl every chance I could. This put me on a path of resisting social outings in order to seek every chance I could to sit at home, alone in the dark in my bedroom in a dress so I could feel like myself.

I also began dabbling in playing the game Dungeons and Dragons as well as listening to hard core gangsta rap, heavy metal rock music and eventually discovering Marilyn Manson and Garbage both quickly becoming favorites of mine. All this was taking place during my dads deepening quest to find us the right Church to teach us whatever it was he thought would be best for our spiritual well being.

Of course it was a weird time where things that were okay were suddenly a sin then okay again. That constant back and forth began to drive me nuts. I was perfectly fine devoting my life to Jesus. I was baptized by this time so my devotion to Scripture began to shape my views on life.

I was mostly attending Evangelical and protestant churches at this time. I wasn’t long before we began running into anti-catholic preachers warning us of the dangers of Catholicism. Now I was more of the belief that we were all Christians and some had different practices so I never bought into that belief.

As someone who was deeply invested in paganism before my Christian conversion I dismissed any notion that Catholics were just pagans pretending to be Christians, I knew better. But I never did fully explore the Catholic faith.

Suicide strikes my world

I was 16 when I made my first attempt to take my life. It’s kind of a long story how I got there but it happened at a Church camp. I left the Bible Study and walked towards the side of the mountain proclaiming I was going to throw myself off the cliff and die. I was under the belief that I was ensure an eternal resting place in Heaven as the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved was being taught at the church I was attending at the time.

Not long after another fried of mine succeeded in ending his life where I had failed. This, of course shook my faith for the first time and I had to begin questioning everything I knew.

I hadn’t learned much in the way of doctrine beyond a few basics. I knew about the Gospel message of repentance and faith. I knew the Be attitudes. I knew about the sinners prayer and the Romans Road to Salvation. I had a basic understanding of the pretribulation rapture. I spent most of my time obsessing on interpreting biblical prophecy and less on Christian living.

I knew about the Armor of God and the Works of the Flesh so I had a rudimentary understanding of the Christian faith. But I never explored any deeper out of frustration with all the different interpretations. I stuck closely to the least controversial topics that the majority of Christians agreed on and shied away from the deeper topics, intentionally.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round One

I moved into an apartment with a friend of mine that I grew close to who had a spare room at a time I was fighting with my parents. It ended up being one of those situations where I ended up making things worse for everyone involved but I can’t gloss over this part.

I had already gone through my brief foray into producing “Christian Rap” music to the point I put on a concert for my friends that resulted in me preaching damnation to a bunch of Catholics.

They were not impressed. One came up to me and said dude we appreciate your enthusiasm but we’re already saved, we’re Christian. I rebuked him saying no you are Catholic, that’s the same as worshiping the devil. I was wrong to but I didn’t know any better yet.

Needless to say I was working hard on converting my Catholic roommate and any of his friends as I could. What I succeeded in doing was turning one former Catholic into a Mormon and then giving into temptation for a night of drinking the resulted in the death of another good friend.

What really ended up happening was I discovered I was deflecting my repressed transgender bisexual feelings into a scathing condemnation of others in order to bury my own flaws and try to build myself up spiritually speaking by winning over other converts. It was how I stocked up on the Holy Spirit if you will.

2008 changes everything

I was  a devout Christian raised in the Midwest with very conservative values. It was no stretch for me to pledge my loyalty to the political ideology that closely aligned with that upbringing. Everything changed in 2008. I was white, sure, but my friends were not. I was the only white kid in a ton full of Hispanics, African Americans and other non whites.

For me, the election of Barack Obama, while certainly a blow to my political leanings at the time, was a major victory culturally speaking for those I cared about. This began the wavering period where I started to question everything I had previously held as firm.

It was one year later, in 2009, that I began applying to colleges. I had dropped out of high school, with no education floated from job to job amassing a pretty lousy credit score and thus it was not an easy road getting into a decent university.

By the middle of 2010 I finally found a university that would accept me and offer me student loans to begin my education.

Catholicism clashes with my beliefs: Round Two

I was in only my first semester of college. I was taking an art appreciation class and an American History course. Both of these began to challenge my long held beliefs on the origins of my then Christian denominational allegiance.

I was challenged with the reality that before the Reformation, for the most part, all Christians were basically Catholic. There were some underlying complications to this but it was an unavoidable fact I had to grapple with.

During this time I began exploring the Catholic faith. I also began learning more about the Eastern Orthodox Church which I had always assumed was just a branch of Roman Catholicism.

By this time my years of video games, specifically role playing games, and Dungeons and Dragons reminded me that there was a very strong interest in my mind to explore the medieval period in Church history.

It was also the time I started to really question everything I thought I knew about the Bible and Christianity. No matter how much I looked for an excuse to label Catholics as a false branch of Christianity I couldn’t escape the calling.

How an Anglican changed my mind

Last year I started a new chapter in my life. Aside from starting the journey to accept my transgender identity I had been struggling with I also began realizing that I had never found a church family or single denomination that worked for me.

I spent all my life moving from town to town, state to state bouncing around from one branch of Christianity to another. I had resisted any that even resembled Catholic at all. I knew I couldn’t find the right church for me just it couldn’t be Catholic.

I started working at a new job where I met an Episcopalian who invited me to his Anglo-Catholic style church. I was instantly scared away by the very mystical liturgy the church practiced. It reinforced my fear these were pagans pretending to be Christian.

I went home and prayed about it. This whole time I had never wavered on one central truth, my belief that Jesus was in fact the Son of God and the Savior of Mankind. Nothing was going to shake that. Even if I struggled with defining sin and living with how to grow spiritually, nothing would ever shake my belief in Jesus as my Lord.

After meeting with the Anglican priest over the course of several months and talking to some Catholic co-workers I did some intense research using Catholic Answers as a starting point. I slowly settled all my fears and doubts. I prayed intensely about it and decided to take the plunge.

I signed up for the Right of Christian Initiation of Adults at my local Catholic Parish and by the time the Easter Vigil was nearing I went to the priest and request an exception to the year long wait. I was anxious to join the Church and complete my conversion to a devoted follower of Christ that I started all those years ago.

In my mind I struggled to settle issues I didn’t quite fully understand. But that wasn’t what mattered. The first time I participated in the Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation I felt an instant healing of my broken soul. The Lord assured me, through his Holy Spirit, I found my way back into the comfort of his flock and the safety of his Church.

The first moment I received the Holy Host in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist I felt the real presence of Jesus’s Body in my soul. I have never felt the power of the Holy Spirit, the blessings of God nearly as much as I have since coming home to the Holy Roman Catholic Church that Jesus founded over 2,019 years ago.

What does the future hold?

I didn’t think I would get here where I am today. Finally, at peace with my Faith and a growing desire to get closer to God renewed my spirit.

It took me watching a Netflix series that focused on actual devil worshipers to really wake me up to the reality that despite my early affirmation of Faith int he Lord , I needed to get my life right so I could begin to not only get closer to God through prayer and Bible Study but also to better serve him.

Today I proudly introduce myself as Catholic after spending over three decades wandering this earth trying to define my religious beliefs.  I have recently signed up for a number of opportunities within my Parish family and I look forward to growing in Christ daily. Stay Cool.

The value of exploring religion in movies

The first thing I noticed when I was being raised in my Evangelical upbringing was how Hollywood always portrayed Christians as superstitious Catholics. This was used by some in my circle to prove the error of Catholicism by pointing out the “World” represented by Hollywood, only viewed Catholics as Christian thus proving Catholicism was born of the world, so to speak.

Recently I began watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. As a faithful Christian I have always struggled with TV shows and movies that glorify the occult. I have a strong ability to separate those things that are entertainment and those that are offensive with the intent to offend. I don’t enjoy politically biased documentaries for this reason. I prefer politically neutral documentaries that present the facts and allow the viewer to make up their own mind. For this reason when I see something like Sabrina I am torn. I enjoyed the original show tremendously and watched it regularly despite warnings from my ecclesiastically focused friends it was allegedly satanic. I dismissed many of their claims and went about watching the show.

This presents a problem for me. The new show is a whole lot more obvious in their devotion to “The Dark Lord” and makes claims that the Christian God is the “False God.” Even though it is a TV show, this does not sit well with me. Yet, I find myself going back and watching the show. Why?

This is where it gets complicated. I am not going to present this from a doctrinal or theological perspective, I will reserve that for the individual to make up their mind. Rather I am going to present what my view is on the role of religion within movies. I have come to accept the Hollywood portrayal of Catholics is as far from reality as their portrayal of Evangelicals. Thus I can conclude there is probably some similar exaggerations taking place in a show which features a clearly pagan religious perspective. For example, there are Wizards in Lord of the Rings. They are not pagan in the classical sense, meaning they don’t believe their power is sourced  by the pantheon of the gods. Rather, they believe their power comes directly from the energies of the universe. From the perspective of entertainment, that is the precepts contained in something like D&D or even Final Fantasy, there are distinctions between science, arcane magic and religious magic. There is tremendous overlap but from the context of the fantasy game set they are clearly distinct from one another.

This is where I stand on movies. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe I accept that the Asgardians are mortal beings in the material plane with access to and knowledge of manipulating the powers of the universe using what humans on Earth refer to as magic and thus they are worshiped as gods. They, the gods of Asgard, do not forbid or forsake the worship as gods they in fact welcome it despite knowing full well the reality is to the contrary. Still, I accept that within the context of the MCU the Asgardians are not gods, merely super heroes no different than the X-Men or Spider-Man. This is easy to accept.

From certain eschatological perspectives this is going to become a problem. I am not going to discuss those at this time. Rather I am going to preface this by saying I can accept that in the context of the MCU Thor is NOT a god, while in real-world Christianity he is akin to a false god, or even a demon depending on the Christian perspective.

This anything that is not Christian is pagan and anything that is pagan is satanic is often used to condemn basically anything a person could choose to do so.

Then why do I not give the same benefit of the doubt to Sabrina? For starters within the context of the show the Christian God is the villain. He is represented as a monster, a liar, and a false prophet. The Dark Lord, as they refer to him mostly, is glorified and in the context of the show, is the true god. This doesn’t sit well with me. But I can dig further.

In the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise the Christian mythology is evoked equally with heathen religion. There are multiple instances of the Christian God being supreme while the heathen gods having power, an example would be the cursed gold from the first film. The movies remain ambiguous on which power is at play. There is a balance but since the films are set in a parallel film universe based on but not set in our physical universe I can accept that.  Basically it comes down to reverence for the Christian God.

There are scores of horror movies that have evil represented by the devil, or some spiritual force that could be a stand in for the Devil. This is acceptable to me because we, as Christians, accept the Devil as evil. The forces of Good are combating the forces of evil thus any allegory to that structure is permissible. I liken it to referencing the Slasher films as morality tales. I don’t have an issue with that.

Why, then, do I draw the line with Sabrina? Or rather, should I?

It comes down to personal preference alone. I use this example. I can enjoy the Omen, the Exorcist and even The Shining as works of literature. No problem. I go a step further and often proclaim my favorite film of all time as the horror movie A Nightmare on Elm Street. This is clearly something I cannot shy away from. But even in those instances there is no reference to the origin or source of the powers, be them evil or good. This ambiguity allows me to place the art or literature into it’s own category, in my view a movie universe parallel to our own with similar, but slightly modified laws of physics. This is how I can accept a film with an extra-terrestrial Superman flying around powered by the solar rays that give cancer to ordinary inhabitants of our planet.

At first I was able to compartmentalize Sabrina and place it in the same box. In this universe thus is so. However something didn’t sit well with me. In this universe MY God was not being given the respect and devotion he deserves but rather being proclaimed a false god. I have seen horror movies that take this same approach but they present it as such, the divide between Protestantism and Catholicism, in other words they usually have a form of religion, a symbol of a church, but because it is the “false church” their proponents don’t have the power of God thus they are often portrayed as false. For example Dracula and other Vampire movies. They borrow heavily from European myths mingled with superstition and Christianity. There are often Christian symbols, holy water and the Cross or crucifix depending on the portrayal, being used to defeat the vampires, or forces of evil.

As I examine this I pull it back and let this be the deciding factor for me, not based on an intellectual argument or even a theological argument. I base it on what I am comfortable with personally.

As I watch Sabrina I hear them exhaling Satan and demonizing My Lord, I feel a twinge of disgust. It doesn’t sit well with me. I am not going to make the claim it *IS* Satanic and thus forbid or implore anyone to not watch it. Rather I am going to state why *I* have decided it is too much for me and invite others to either defend it, with in reason and not using personal attacks or logical fallacy, or I would ask that in this case my views be respected and I not be expected to defend my point other than it makes me uncomfortable to watch so I am recusing myself from it, for the time being.

This is not to say I will apply this analysis to other works of literature or artistic expression. After all, you have to draw the line somewhere of what is acceptable and what is not. For me, I can accept a movie about a pedophile being condemned to hell and sentenced to invade the dreams of the relatives of those who judged him using illegitimate means. The basis is on the fact that neither Mans law (Justice) nor God (Church law) judged him accordingly, thus despite him being evil in life, his death was unjust opening the door for the spiritual forces in the context of that franchise to provide a middle ground. He remains in hell tormented for all eternity, but he is permitted to get revenge upon those who were also unjust in slaying him. It’s acceptable to my perspective because it fits the real of what is to be expected. God demands, in the real of Christianity, to adhere to mans laws as placed in jurisdiction over us. The exception is when those laws prevent a person from expressing their obedience to God’s commands. Thus, it is my perspective, based on purely my own understanding, that disobeying God’s law does not justify disobeying mans law. In other words, the parents who murder Fred Krueger are as guilty of the sin of murder as the man they killed. Rather, if the courts, appointed by man respected by God, permitted him to trial and he was sentenced to death, he would not be justified in returning to this world, either in physical or metaphysical form, he would be firmly condemned to Hell.

This is how I can accept A Nightmare on Elm Street without a twinge of strong guilt but, currently, cannot do the same for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Maybe upon further examination I will change my mind. At this point, and in the future, I will not ever condemn another for their choices. Watch the show if you find it acceptable, while I am going to currently refrain from such until further notice.

I didn’t want this to be entirely focused exclusively on Sabrina. After all there was a certain amount of nostalgia at play tugging me into the desire to see it. I also rather enjoyed the few episodes I did watch of it.

Personal post-Matters of Faith

Sometimes finding the right church family takes a leap of faith. I recently began working towards the goal of getting closer to God. My intent is to strengthen my faith and become a better person. I am largely motivated by shedding my old self and starting anew. Part of it stems from the new year, as it is often the case. For me, however, this year it runs deeper.

I have begun facing a cataclysmic shift in my fundamental views on Christianity. I am beginning to ask questions I previously took for granted.

There has always been one underlying rift in all of Christianity, the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and those churches that exist outside of Roman Catholicism.

At the core of this rift is the authority of the church. The question is where does Church authority lie, in the laymen, the piety or the hierarchy? Depending on how one answers that question is the core of whether or not that person can even begin to consider the process of entering the Catholic faith, if they started their journey outside it’s doors.

Beginning in the 1500’s there was a Protestant Reformation. Originally the intent of the priest who began the reformation was to address issues that was perceived as errors within the church. Specifically Martin Luther had concerns he wished to resolve. Originally his intention, as I understand it, was not to leave the church but to reform it, or cleanse it from the errors he perceived. At the crux of his argument lied within the central authority of Rome. The papacy, or the Supremacy of the Bishop of Rome was called into question. Those who rejected the Papacy split into their own denominations. The common narrative is there had been one, central Christian church united world wide before the Reformation. Except this is also not entirely accurate.

Five hundred years before the Reformation was another Schism, this one known as the Great Schism by those who study church history. The rift then was also over Papal authority. The Catholics claim papal authority is traced back to Saint Peter, an Apostle the Church claims was given profound powers directly by Jesus himself, the Son of God according to Christian beliefs.

This was further complicated as there is a 400 year period between the life of the apostles and the official canonization of the Holy Scriptures collected into the modern interpretation of what Christians of many faiths refer to simply as The Bible. As such there is a question of authority all churches today do have to wrestle with. The catholic claim of apostolic succession is well documented but it has some areas that is often used against the church. The early Church Fathers did believe in Apostolic Succession, this is the laying on of hands and ordination. Churches today express ordaining of ministers in different ways but the concept of passing the faith on from the Apostles to their followers is not in dispute. The dispute comes from the extent of the authority of the Church that was established in Rome and the central figure who sits as the Bishop of Rome.

At the heart of it the split comes over does a believer accept the Church on earth as established by Jesus as the central authority whose role is to keep the Word preserved and to protect the flock, or is the Bible alone the sole authority one must live by and church authority is merely relegated to communal worship matters?

This question has beleaguered the Christian faithful since the last Apostle passed on to the next world.

All other matters of Doctrine, be it Predestination, Calvinism, Dispensationalism, Pre-Tribulational Rapturism, Fundamentalism, Catholicism, Marianism, Iconography, and the list goes on and on, they can be debated until the Second Coming of Christ.

What all churches within the Christian faith do have in common is a few key points. They are mostly contained in what the Church historians call the Nicene Creed. This creed is an explanation of the faith. It lists the key points all the churches that existed at the time agreed upon and is the doctrinal basis for the faith. It is not the source of the faith as some might try to say, it is merely a confirmation of what Christians ought to agree as universally true.

There are no single points in the Nicene Creed I, raised a Baptist and Baptized as such, disagree with. There are matters of worldly doctrine, things that in my view have no bearing on ones salvation, that are contested by the thousands of denominations.

While the Catholic Church can claim their roots to in fact go all the way back to the Apostles as Paul frequently visited the Church in Rome, they are not the only Christian denomination which can claim apostolic succession. While I have come to accept that as essential to the faith, the apostles did anoint their successors, I do not yet feel convinced there is sufficient evidence to claim only those anointed by the and into the Roman Catholic Church can make that claim.

This is not a treatise on anti-Catholicism nor is it a declaration of intent to convert, rather what I am wrestling with is discovering the truth. Can a Christian come to salvation without the aid of the Roman church, and likewise can a Christian lose their salvation by participating in the practices of said church?

At the end of the day my calling to the Catholic Church remains overwhelming, I have always been plagued by the schism and the Reformation as signs of disunity in the Church, I am merely an individual person who doesn’t have the authority to speak definitively on such matters. Yet I am hesitant as there are a number of issues I have to reconcile. Either I accept the churches authority and let them settle the matters or I let that be a sticking point keeping me from entering the Catholic Church.

What I can say is, I have attended a Catholic service and it wasn’t what I expected. Being raised Baptist I was expecting to walk into a pagan ritual that looked nothing like Christianity. Instead I saw something entirely different.

I have since read books on the history. I have researched the topic from the perspective of the Catholic church, those outside it and from a purely neutral humanist or educational perspective, meaning I have explored it from all three possible angles.

I have come to the following conclusion.

1, if the church is not necessary for salvation and 2, if it cannot hinder one’s salvation then 3, there must be no objection to the services of the church other than orthodoxy and doctrinal issues. Doctrine and Orthodoxy are not issues that would, or should, keep any Christian from fellowship with any body of believers. I in fact now believe we shouldn’t lump together with only like-minded individuals but rather should congregate with others with different views so we can all share ideas. Personally, my intention has been to explore a separate entity entirely, namely the branch of the Anglican church in the United States known as the Episcopal Church. My reason for the struggle has been settling the issue of the liturgy and the doctrine. Once I came to the conclusion that man’s salvation is based solely on their faith and intent alone, I removed my doubts about attending a church I felt comfortable in.

At this moment in time I am leaving the door open to Catholicism. I have reached out to the local church to welcome me in. They have yet to respond to my request. I have since met with a pastor of the Episcopal Church and have, at the time being, found a peace knowing I am comfortable leaving behind the Baptist tradition as I seek something new. I am not denouncing my faith, I never identified as Baptist I merely attended their churches, almost exclusively for one reason or another.

I am at a point where I do wish to be in one of the three branches closer in nature to the original church, as I understand it to be. Since the Apostles were all Jews it stands to reason the churches that express their faiths similar to the Jewish faith, modified as it were to show the fullness of the Christ, it means to me reasonable to consider those, at least on matters of liturgy and Orthodoxy, closer to the original church.

Thus my new study is to reconcile my questions regarding the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church or the Anglican (Episcopal) church. If at such a time as I can settle this issue maybe I will find the peace I sat out to find. I was initially turned off by the liturgy as quite different to the church services I was used to. Recently I have found myself not attending any church at all and that is a lonely place for any Christian to be.

My entire life has been spent worshiping the Lord in one of the mostly uniquely American denominations there is. As I have realized much of my objection to the “un-American” churches stems from that core belief in American Exceptionalism, American Freedom and American Values, I have to set that aside and declare I am a Christian first, an American second. That is a point of view contrary to some “Patriots” who conflate patriotism with unquestionable devotion. I do not. I believe one can love their country and question it’s actions at the same time. Likewise I believe the Church, the Universal Church of Believers that makes up the Body of Christ on this Earth, is made up of imperfect beings in a world tainted with Sins of the first man and woman, Adam and Eve.

That being the case my current view is I have to accept the good with the bad. There are points of contention with any church. I have found none, including the Baptist and even the Catholics, are not perfect. Yet if you really pay attention, none of them claim to be. Neither do I.