The Dreaded Question

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

I was recently asked the question that all people on a nontraditional spiritual path dread: “What religion are you?”

As I stammered and sputtered to answer, I remembered all those old answers I had given to that question…

I have said before, “I am not any one religion; I embrace all religions.” Now that is a true statement, but most people look at you with question marks on their faces. To them, you have not really answered the question. And they are right.

To the question, “Are you born again?” I have said, “Yes!” — knowing that A Course in Miracles defines being born again as “letting the past go and looking without condemnation upon the present.” (T-13.VI.3:5) That, however, hasn’t satisfied me because I know what they mean, and it’s not what I mean, so I feel I have tricked them. So much for letting go of the past and not looking with condemnation upon the present!

“Are you a Christian?” has been another query. I have always thought I was clever when I said, “Yes, one of the oldest!” In my mind, I mean I practice the type of Christianity that was Jesus’ early message before all the distortions of different translations and interpretations. My beliefs are much more similar to that of the early Gnostics, whose practices and precepts seem closer to the basic teaching of Jesus that we find in the Course. That’s what I mean, but most people look at me like, “Are you trying to say you’re old?”

None of my previous answers, no matter how clever, were very satisfying to me or to other people. I definitely needed some new repertoire.

So, as I opened my mouth to speak, it just popped out. I said, “I don’t have a religion, I have a faith.”

“Where did that come from,” I questioned. It wasn’t me. I was the one stammering and sputtering! It must have come from that small willingness to let God lead the way that I have been working on for over forty years.

It came out, it felt so right, and the person asking the question smiled with a look of understanding that seemed to resonate within her heart.

I think I’ll keep that answer for a while…unless He helps me find another.

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