The Last Supper

On my way to Koinonia for the first time, I was scared. I was an agnostic who disliked the idea of organized religion yet, I knew Christianity had a way of spiritually inspiring and uplifting me.  As I mentioned in my first blog, Christianity has a shameful history of lies, inequalities amongst people, and ill-motivated leaders; all of which has shunned me away from the religion and made me despise its followers. So when I walked through the doors of Rosa parks center to my first Koinonia meeting, I masked my frightened mind state with confidence (even arrogance) that I was above them.

As weeks went by, I experienced extraordinary episodes of coincidence that I could only articulate as supernatural (I’ll spare you the details).  These incidents frightened me at first, almost to the point of depression. “I am a smart, atheist-like college student who now wants to believe in Jesus ?!” These type of ideas were at the forefront of my thoughts for weeks. But instead of trying to fight it, I went along with it. I moved past doing an ethnographic study on Koinonia by fully embracing Christianity all in effort to save two birds with one stone: study elements of masculinity (my topic in the group) and answer this aching question regarding my own spirituality.

After weeks of studying the church (I went to multiple) and Koinonia. I could spot the similarities between them. Although Koinonia was more open to serving people from different religions and spiritual ideologies, both the church and Koinonia shared an overall atmosphere of love and communion and the desire to help people. However, I also spotted the similarities in masculine dominance and covert distaste from the group for different people (non-Christians).

Overall, this was very uplifting for me. I had fortunately revitalized my religion and my relationship with God. I was extremely thankful and happy I chose to deepen my ethnographic study as it had changed me.

Yet.

During the next couple weeks, my connection with the religion dwindled ironically as I stopped attending these services. No matter how much it humiliated me, I continued to pray and ask that Jesus be in my life but felt nothing. I began to wonder if I was overlooking the aforementioned coincidences or involving myself too deeply in the study. Yet as I am writing this very word, I am realizing that there could be no such thing as over-involving myself in the study. I became a part of the group despite their acceptance of me. I allowed the group to change me. Thus allowing myself to change. As professor Johnson mentioned in class, Culture is constantly changing form and position. Maybe I temporarily experienced being a part of the culture again. A solar eclipse between my personal life and my spirituality had occurred through the intervention of an ethnographic study of Koinonia. Hmm

 

Thank you Koinonia.

 

A solar eclipse…

 

Losing Access…DAMN.

I can’t seem to break through to the women in Koinonia. When I do, I feel that I am invading the culture. They are always hesitant to talk to me. Every time I start a conversation with a female member, I feel the eyes of male members watching my every move.

I’m having a hard time getting access into the club (i.e. meetings, Course 101, scheduling interviews, getting to know the women members). One of my group members informed me that a Koinonia member was not happy that I was scheduling interviews with other members. Ironically, a lot of people I am supposed to interview have recently bailed out. As I mentioned last week, I was actually kicked out of a Koinonia class. And the week before, I was asked to leave a bible study group.

Is this because they don’t want external exposure? If Koinonia stands for fellowship and communion, how come I sometimes feel excluded and not wanted? Although this club is open and welcoming, an exclusive inner club definitely seems to exists.

Maybe this is a consequence for not truthfully revealing my reason for coming there.

Maybe I am a strong Black Male who challenges their power structure.

Maybe I simply am not felt “in the hood” because I’m not there enough.

But I am losing access. I can feel it … DAMN.

I feel excluded, as if I am not all the way included in the Koinonia circle. Pic available here
I can’t seem to break through to female Koinonia members. Pic available here
This album has been on repeat today. I feel like it relates to my experience with Koinonia because, like kendrick, I feel alone. Like an outcast. Pic available here

Third Meeting

The third meeting started off terrible. Despite making a new friend and establishing an interview with him, I did not feel welcomed in the meeting. Koinonia was not present.

Outside my handful of friends in the group, I felt a cloud of bitterness from the others as if I did not belong or was invading their space. This was not a new feeling however. I felt this from first encounters with most Koinonia members. This feeling of alienation was most present when I was asked to leave Course 101 because it was “not a good week.”

Koinonia is a predominately Asian club. So, at times I want to associate being alienated as a racial matter. Yet, as a college educated African American, I know to throw my race cards with confidence and surety.

Despite that, the rest of the meeting was amazing! We read about Jesus’s Prayer (John 17:1-19). After having a bible discussion, I was as spiritually moved as I had been in years. For a small moment, I felt as I once had as a Christian in a church. I felt unifying peace and content amongst every one present in the room.

As a struggling atheist, this both scared and thrilled me. Yet, it also showed me a glimpse of how powerful, nerve wrecking and life changing ethnographic work can become.

The constant struggle between science and religion. Some food for my conflicted brain… Pic available here

This is a trailer for a movie that Koinonia will see tonight. It is about an atheist columnist from Chicago who eventually, after trying to write stories to disprove Christianity, becomes a Christian . Link for tailor available here

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