I think it is always interesting to read about your faith from someone else’s eyes, especially if that someone is an anthropologist! I have been aware of the similarities in ancient creation myths of other religions and the similarity to the stories found in the Bible. None of that really bothered me; some of those Old Testament stories DO seem a little farfetched. But then we get to the New Testament and a lifestyle that I live each and every day… I find myself getting a little annoyed.
I’m one of those people Tanya Luhrmann describes in her article. Believing in a God I can’t see never bothered me because I feel Him; I feel His presence in my life multiple times each day. I’ve never thought about learning to “…identify bodily and emotional states as signs of God’s presence” in my life as something I learned…it just was. It is true that through prayer and reading the Bible I’ve learned a lot about my walk of faith, but I don’t think that is any different than getting to know someone from afar…we email back and forth and we each learn more about each other, our expectations, disappointments, our history.
When I am in worship I feel His presence when we sing – it’s a feeling that is hard to describe but I certainly don’t think of it as supernatural, but reading the definition of trance, I would say that the song shift my focus internally. Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions.at University of Missouri says “Spirituality is a much more dynamic concept that uses many parts of the brain. Certain parts of the brain play more predominant roles, but they all work together to facilitate individuals’ spiritual experiences” (No God Spot 2012). Johnstone goes on to describes “…it might be better to focus on the neuropsychological questions of self focus vs selfless focus. As Prof. Johnstone explains: “when the brain focuses less on the self (by decreased activity in the right lobe) it is by definition a moment of self-transcendence and can be understood as being connected to God or Nirvana. It is the sensation of feeling like you are part of a bigger thing”.
This article focuses on falling in love with Jesus and peace as constants in a Christian’s life; what she leaves out though is grace. Grace is what God bestows on us that no matter how much we screw up, He’s there. He doesn’t abandon us, He loves us and regardless of who we are or what we do, He is always there. THAT is what makes my day!
So am I one that touts I am in love with Jesus – no. Do I feel peace in my life because of Him? Yes, I don’t worry about things because I know that ultimately He’s in charge. But grace, that’s what I think sets Christianity apart from other religions. I believe in a God that hangs in there with me, died for me and rose again – I don’t read about other God’s coming back from the dead; not reincarnation; Jesus didn’t come back as a frog, fish, cat or even another person, he came back as himself.
I’m not hallucinating, nor having out of body experiences. I DO feel His presence in music and feel He directs me through the Bible and through our conversations. It’s a great way to live!
Luhrmann, Tayna. “Metakinesis: How God become Intimate in Contemporary US Christianity”.
American Anthropologist. 106 (3) : 2004. pg518-28. Print. 24 May 2013.
“No ‘God Spot’ In Brain, Spirituality Linked To Right Parietal Lobe”. Religion – Huffington Post. 20 Apr
2012. Web. 23 May 2013.