Sunday Thoughts: I am not that Kind of Christian

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 What’s love got to do with doing Church?

I was asked a fair question recently by a unaware person, nice person, who knew me once upon a time, in another life. She simply asked, “Why do you no longer go to ****** Church?” (Name of church omitted by me to protect the innocent.)

I gave her question some thought. I love my old church family. I still communicate with many of the some people I went to church with, so it wasn’t that I didn’t want to associate with them any more. I still consider myself an Episcopalian in a lot of ways, so it wasn’t the Church big “C” that I was avoiding. My reasons for not settling down with one church was simple really.

One church, one Christianity method of serving God does not have all the answers. Each in their own way put God in a box that they construct with interpretations of the Bible, traditions and human invented rules. They then expect me (and You), dear reader, to fit as a perfect conformed shape to hold that particular box. I am not very pliable for conformity to certain shaped boxes. Therefore I drop said box all too often. I find that I can’t live up to the expectations of what many of the box builders expect. It is better to save them and me the agony of trying to get me to reshape to fit their version of God. I simply walk away. No mention of love there.

I am not one of those Christians that think that only main stream Christianity is the way to serve God. I believe that all religions hold some truth of God and that saying one is better or more true than another is foolish. To say that an all powerful omnipresent God will only use one religion to commune with His human creation is ridiculous. To say that God will only answer to one name is equally arrogant. No mention of love in that. However, I digress….

I am not one of those Christians that say, “ I just don’t like organized religion.” I actually love it. The more structured and Scripture filled the better. I love the singing, praying, and bible dissection. I love the communion with God and fellow humans. I don’t even mind tithing. No, I like church.

I am not one of those Christians who blindly follow a teaching because I learn it in Church, so it must be true. I always take the time to study and research a truth for myself. I don’t like being told how to love God and humans. I don’t like being told that I must serve in certain ways through the church. I hate feeling like less of a Christian if I don’t go to every function or serve on committees. I hate the back biting and politics that come with church membership. Where’s the love in that? However again, I digress…..

I am not one of those Christians who follow a teaching because a preacher said I should. I also don’t like to be told that the message I got from God through my own prayer life was incorrect. Excuse me? It is not our place to judge other humans. God told me to love everyone and you are saying yes but not certain people? No thanks. I will follow what the Bible says and what God says on that one. Let me remind you what the Bible says about that, good Christian….

I believe that love is the number one point of being a Christian. Sharing God’s love by following Christ’s example, however that looks like for you is what makes you a Christian. Not what church you walk in to or not.

~Lori O’Gara

(Lori is a novelist and self proclaimed expert on how to be a non traditional, people loving, happy life living Christian. Read more about her here.)

Article also published on Medium. 

Hello Monday: Why I Avoid Trends

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I am famous for not jumping on the latest and greatest band wagons because I have learned that my values are often not inline with trends. It doesn’t matter if it is a book trend, a product trend or a fashion trend. All trends have a few things in common. They are often short lived and often disrupt my simple peaceful life. I either find out that yes they do test on animals, they do not respect the dignity of people, they are uncomfortable to be worn or used, they waste money time and/or space. Some are simply ridiculous.

Stick to tried and true. However, if tried and true begin to cause you any stress, get rid of it too. Simplify your life in all areas. Focus on positive and simple ways to live. If the storage, cooking or fashion solution makes you spend more money, more time preparing under the disguise of saving money or time later, don’t do it.

No Thank you I don’t need one of those amazing cook everything pots, I have cookware thank you. I do not need any of the free ebooks that are basically word porn with no legitimate real story written in one night with flat characters, no real content and marketed with thirty or more other ones all with half naked people on the covers. Give me a real story I can sink my teeth into and with characters I can love or hate. Also, I do not need those leggings and clothes that all the girls are wearing from a company who’s owners are disrespectful to my fellow disabled humans.  Then there is that new amazing eyebrow and make up product that was tested on animals, most probably beagles. Do not get me started on the beagles!

In reality humans need very little to survive and be happy.  We need water, food, shelter, clothing, mental simulation, physical touch and love to feel secure and thrive.

Everything else, yes EVERYTHING else, is optional.

~Lori O’Gara

 

 

 

Is this Weird? : Facebook

I was looking at Facebook (the greatest time suck ever invented) I was scrolling through the ribbon of people in the “People you may know” section when I realized I do not know about 95% of the smiling faces. I was saying, “I don’t know you, I don’t know you, I don’t know you, cute hair, oh I like that outfit, nice, still don’t know you….” on and on. Then it was “Oh, you look fun.” I click the picture and read the person’s profile. I see we read the same sorts of books and like the same sorts of movies. It struck me that, no I don’t know the person, but maybe they would like to know me. I mean we have a mutual friend and she likes me. I am amazing and all.

Is it weird to send a message to a stranger and say “You don’t know me but I think you would like me since so-&-so likes me”….?

Then I ask myself, what would you do if you got a message like that?

It would go something like, oh a message…..no..nope… I do not know you, stalker! Delete.

I think I will keep scrolling down the timeline on the off chance that the 5% of people I actually know may still want to talk to me.

Like I said, biggest time suck EVER invented.

I think it is time for a vacation from Facebook again.

~Lori O’Gara

Believe Love

I believe in love, pure unconditional love.

Unconditional love that is always giving. It is a total commitment to seek your highest best no matter how anyone may respond. This form of love is totally selfless and does not change whether the love given is returned or not. This is the true form of love.

This is not romantic love. It is life saving love. This love feeds the hungry, shelters the cold, loves the unlovable, and concurs hate.  Love every soul on earth with this love.

~Lori O’Gara

Believe Unapologetically

First statement of belief: As for me, I am unapologetically a Christian.

There is a trend these days of watering down your belief system to be politically correct, to appease society or as not to offend another person. I have never been one to diminish my beliefs to make someone else feel comfortable. I’m a Christian and I will not compromise on the core facts of Christianity.  Those were set by the example of Christ and they are: Love everyone. Serve those who need it most and deserve it least. Forgive. Seek peace. Do not judge. It is really that simple.

As a Christian, I do not write traditional Christian Fiction. I do not sugar coat or skirt around the ugly parts of reality.  I write fiction grounded in real life that quietly reflects the example of Christ. Read my novels, you’ll see what I mean.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Believe

For those of you who are new here, I am so glad you have found me. I have been asked by a couple of you why is the word Believe on my cover photo. I realize that I have not clarified the reason. Believe is my platform because I believe if you do not take hold of a belief someone will attempt to force one on you. If you take that power from them and stand for what you believe as truth, you are in control of your heart.

For the next few days I will take each one of my statements of belief and expand on them. I will explain my life philosophy. I do not expect you, dear reader, to agree with all of them. I would be honored if you did, however, I realize my way of thinking is not typical Christianity. It is radically different.

As always, thank you for joining me on this revolutionary journey.

~Lori O’Gara

 

Connections

The invention of Facebook and other networking sites are a marvelous thing. I think about why people are drawn to such places to begin with. Is it the ambiguous nature about them? We can, if we choose,  hide behind fake names and locations. At first I thought that must be it, the ability to hide from the real world who we are and change to what we want the world to believe we are. Fantasy and smoke screens. The more I observed what was going on with social media and looked at who was using it, it seems that staying anonymous is not why we flock to them.

More and more people are being true to their identities on these sites. Posting real pictures and real parts of their life for all to see. There is a shift from hiding to openness, but controlling who sees the inside of our lives. If someone hurts our feelings we simply delete them from our friend list. If someone is nice to us we add them. We share what we want them to know and keep our secrets to ourselves. I have 300 plus friends on Facebook and know about that many more. I feel emotionally connected to about 1/4 of them and the other 3/4 of them I feel happy to know. I use a real picture of me, but screen what I share very carefully. If  we can still make up things and control what we share, but the big question is why? Why do we find it easy to post who we are, what we really think and feel on a screen?

For me as a Christian and a writer, I love the concept of captive audience. I can share my words and maybe reach someone who I couldn’t actually speak to in real life. That is one reasons I keep a Facebook account. The other reason is the connection to family out-of-town. It’s good for that too.

Let’s not forget that Facebook is public. What we post on there is just as if we said it in a crowded room. If you won’t say it out loud in a room full of 300 people don’t post it…..really, think about it.  It is easy to think that somehow the screen shields us when in reality your friends are more apt to read what you post than to listen to what you say. So remember, if you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face don’t write it on a wall in cyber space where the world can read it.

Believe in connection.

~Lori O’Gara

Look Out For That Hole

I found this quote on social media. When I read it I shouted, “yes that is it.” That is why I can’t fit my novels and words in a nice neat genre box. It is a struggle that myself and other writers have to contend with every time we sit at the keys to write. We all have stories and words spinning in our souls that we must release in to the world. Often those stories do not line up perfectly with convention. Add to the mix the Christian or other moral values of the writer and the societal narrative can get thread bare and distorted. We, as writers and readers should not allow society to mandate how we reflect the world in writing or in how we choose what we read.

My hope is that with my writing I create a framework to flip reality on it’s head and force ideas that question conventional thought. Yes I am a Christian. My thinking is simple. Jesus was a radical and I believe I can be one too.

Lori O’Gara