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Posted by rivanna on 02 August 2011 - 07:07 AM
Posted by skyseeker on 25 February 2014 - 11:09 AM
Okay, this is probably a difficult matter for me to tackle, but I want to try it, if only to see how progressive christians respond to it.
The issue is this, I am diagnosed with schizophrenia for about 14 years now. And for quite a length of time in it I was told by conservative christians that my medical problem has to do with demons. I cannot remember to ever have had to do with the occult, beyond listening to some gothic music when I was young, and having had some juvenile, short and, for me, rather meaningless engagement with satan when I was a youth.
If I would describe it, then I have to say it's like this, sometimes in my mind I hear voices. They tell something about this or that, but usually they seem to try to change my thoughts, or maybe I can say they are like second thoughts that involuntarily contradict my own thoughts. For example, if I wanted to think, God is good, I might hear a thought in my head that says, God is shitty, or something like that. When this occurred for the first time, while i was trying to become a christian, in a conservative christian setting, I was immediately very terrified that I might become damned for such thoughts because they would constitute blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. I was very unsure about what to do with this, and the following years were very hard. I had a very troubled mind, experienced hallucinations of people coming into my room and playing Jesus and chiding me. When I read the bible I heard the words repeated in an angry and raging tone which only ended when I began reading different translations like the one from german chassidic jew Martin Buber.
Nowadays I have more mental sanity after a new bottom-up medicine change that my new doctor searched out for me. I am only taking as minimal dosage of neuroleptics and ironically this works much better than my previous heavy medication under which I had lot's of hallucinations and was very delusional about people frequently.
But while I am emotionally better off now without the old feelings of fear, I am now anxious not to fall into the strange old conservative traps again, and following the bottom-up change of medicines I also want to renovate my beliefs from bottom-up. For example, I don't quite believe anymore that I ever had demons or that such beings actually exist, I think it is more sensible to assume that I was simply sick. Also, there are many many people on this world, the majority of us in fact, who never have issues with demons or devils while conservative christians insist that the devil is a persistent and world-encompassing problem. One solution that I found was that the devil, in a reading of the bible, is just a synonym for true evil in general. He doesn't really exist, much like evil and sin don't have a genuine existence like matter and life. But in other ways, evil does exist, and very much so, because many people suffer from evil things in the world.
But, and this is another explanation that I found, much of the problem of good and evil has to do with our skewed perception about these things. Remember the story of paradise and the tree? We were allowed to eat from every tree, the tree of beauty, of humour, of wisdom, of fun, of love, of longing, of art, of science, of stories, of politics, of war even, they were all okay for us. But we were not supposed to "base our knowledge" on the good and evil dualism. Because, whenever we find something good, our minds are now bent to fear an evil that might destroy the good, or whenever we find something evil, our minds are bent to seek to destroy it or fear its destructive powers. The knowledge of good and evil does not lead us to fight the evil with the good, it leads us to be perceptively caught up in morality systems instead of being safe and sound in ethical and philosophical systems. For example, I think it is wiser to combat what we call evil by using the powers of truth and wisdom and love, instead of simply sacrificing another good thing to it. A good iteration of this is how Jesus saw love of the enemy. Normally the enemy is the evil person for us, and it is good to fight him with all your power until you have won out over him. But the wise person turns the enemy into a friend so that there would not be a lifelong struggle with all the hate, envy and revenge such struggles have inherent to them.
This is the kind of thing I'm thinking of now. Demons and devils really have no place in them, except in an explanation of how we can be misled much by living in a fantasy world of good and evil where there also agents of the devil. In fact, living in a struggle of good against evil under religious terms actually invites images of demons and devils for the mentally sensitive and fragile.
Posted by Pete on 22 August 2013 - 07:10 PM
I too welcome diversity and seek truth (as in what resonates within me) from where ever it comes from. I believe that there is that of God in all and all can teach one something. I guess I am here because I have spent a lifetime trying be a part of Christianity but never quite fitting in with the creeds and teaching of many established denominations as I always had questions. Questions that were not welcomed in some bodies. Here I can seek my own path and and learn from the personal paths of others. Here I can feel I fit in without an the expectation of conformity and restraint against my own questioning and seeking nature. Here I can grasp for the mystery of God and acknowledge that there is so much I may never know in this life and not be forced into adopting the authorization of opinion of others in power. Here I can just be one with God and say hello to other travelers on their journeys. Here I can witness the work of God in the hearts of others and although God full nature is still my mystery to me it is a view of God I can relate to. What I think I know to day may be seen as foolishness when viewed from the future or it may not but I thank organisations like this forum for allowing me to make that journey regardless of my seeking and learning. Progressive/Liberal Christianity appears to be something I can feel I belong and still seek further understandings that I personally can own and allow others to do the same.
I think that this forum is important as I feel that there may be many like me who just cannot get along with unquestionable dogma and dictates of so called Orthodox views which are really the expected view and opinion of a denomination rather than an actual openness to seeking the truth. Progressive/Liberal Christianity is a place I can feel at home and grow with.
I can look at other groups who struggle with issues of equality, sexual discrimination, hierarchies, creeds and the like and feel I do not have to be a part of it. That I am very grateful for.
Posted by AnnieG on 28 August 2012 - 11:52 PM
C. Randolph Ross, Commonsense Christianity (available online at www.religion-online.org)
Posted by Linda on 17 April 2012 - 01:04 PM
Posted by NORM on 04 April 2012 - 10:23 PM
Where do you stand on this?
Well, like Jenell, I voted reluctantly for Obama, as I was a Hillary supporter in the primaries.
However, over time, Obama has won me over. I thought he would be an unmitigated disaster because of his inexperience.
Instead, he has been open to change his views, and adapt to the realities that unfold before him. Many of my clients are Fortune 500 manufacturing corporations, and things are beginning to move in a forward direction - particularly the auto makers. I have a large General Motors plant in my territory, and they recently added 1,000 employees and added a third shift.
I have personally witnessed several institutions and small companies directly benefit from the President's stimulus package. In fact, our company won bids associated with two stimulus projects. I have more money to spend than I did a couple years ago.
I've always been skeptical about Keynesian economic policy, but it appears to work - at least at the local level. It probably isn't a good thing for the mega-corporations because most of the recipients of the stimulus package are smaller contractors and educational / healthcare institutions.
At first, I thought his embracing Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals philosophy was a gimmick, but apparently, he has successfully implemented Lincoln's strategy of taking in his rivals to help sharpen his worldview. Selecting Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was perhaps his best move, as we have regained the respect we lost overseas during the Bush years. His team of economic advisers could not be more diverse, and certainly not representative of the so-called "community activist" model.
As far as religion goes, he seems to go out of his way to be inclusive of religious (and non-religious) persuasions historically ignored, such as Paganism, Atheism, Islam, etc.
I am still suspicious of our two-party system, and am somewhat disappointed that our younger generation has not become more involved.
I would still rather see the rise of a vibrant third party challenge to the status quo, but in the meantime, Barak Obama is a welcome change from the previous experience.
Posted by Yvonne on 06 February 2012 - 05:24 PM
There is a Presence, right here, right now,
a Presence I name God.
God – present and active
from the beginning of time
through the evolution of life, thought, and awareness
to the future, full of hope and promise
and to me, in this place, at this time
in a universe abounding in extravagant generosity
in life swelling with potential
in a heart teeming with love and conviction
God – fully engaged in my life
in the darkness and sorrow
in the light and joy
in the “every day-ness” of life
I bring my awareness to this Presence
in Whom all that exists has being...
and through Whom I am connected to all that is...
Posted by BillM on 05 February 2012 - 06:57 PM
I recently had the opportunity to visit the neighborhood where I grew up. I hadn’t seen it in a little over 30 years and the changes I found there were interesting to say the least. Some of my old haunts were still standing, stubbornly surviving the hands of time and of what is often called progress. Other places were gone, replaced by parking lots, new businesses, or erased to leave nothing more than open fields. Some of our neighbors’ houses looked as if all they had done to them was to slap a happy new coat of paint on every few years. Others had obviously been abandoned and had caved in, falling into their own basements in despair. In a strange twist of fate, on my old homestead the trailers had long been removed and the garage that my father and I had built had been turned into a house. As some old memories came unbidden to me, my face must have taken on a strange expression because my father wisely said, “Willy, you can never go home again.” And he’s right. I can never go home again. That axiom is, for me, both a bane and a blessing.
And yet I long for home. Not a place that I can dominate. And not just a place to kick off my shoes and relax. But a place where I can be myself and know that I am accepted just as I am. But yet a place that encourages me to be more than I am. As a father, that’s the kind of home that I try to provide for my own children. Houses may or may not stand the test of time. But homes live in our memory forever, as do those who made our houses into homes.
I’ve longed for home in my religious life also. A place where I can be myself and know that I am accepted, as the old song says, just as I am. And yet a place that encourages me to be more than I am, where it is safe to change and grow. But I’ve got to be honest, religion doesn’t often feel much like home to me. If there is a home in my life, beyond the obvious one that I try to provide for my family, it is found only in God. God is home for me. And in another strange twist that I never expected, despite years of holding to the truth of theological notion, I’ve discovered that God is in my heart and that my heart is in God. Home is not just where the heart is, but the heart is home.
Now, I’m not the sharpest bulb in the drawer, I learn very slowly. And I’ve heard from reliable sources that I’m stubborn, though I refuse to believe it. So I’m just now starting to experience my home in God. But I’m wondering how discovering this home will affect my life. What does it mean to say that we have found our home in the Divine? Or that the Divine is at home in us? Or that God is Home? The Bible tells us that Abraham was looking for a city whose builder and maker is God. What if the home he was looking for is right inside us all along? What if our home is in God? What if home is not a place we go to someday, but a Presence with and within us today? What if God is Home? Is it possible that we’ve been Home all along, but just never knew it?
Posted by JimYoungman on 17 January 2012 - 07:16 AM
- In Catholic and Anglican practice, morning worship takes place facing east where the sun (Son) is rising: an adaptation from Roman worship of Apollo.
- We celebrate the birth of Jesus at mid-winter (Northern Hemisphere), celebrating the birth of the sun (Son) - again Apollo. We even have continued the mid-winter feast with turkey and mistletoe and candle-lighting in mid-summer down under.
- As missionaries transported Christianity to other parts of the world, so the religion was regionally adapted to fit existing relgions (cf Mexico and the Dia de los muertos, or the cargo cults of the South Pacific)
The bottom line for me is that I can learn much from others and I find new insights everywhere.
Posted by GeorgeW on 16 January 2012 - 09:31 AM
Ancient religious texts like the Bible or Qur'an are not, IMO, good arbiters as well. Texts, like these, written thousands of years ago in very different cultures cannot be literally applied to a modern, urban, industrial society.
The morality or acceptability of a behavior should, IMO, be based on other criteria. I propose the no-harm, no-foul rule. A behavior that harms no one should be morally acceptable. If we apply this test to pedophilia, it fails. If we apply the test to homosexuality it passes. Even if someone were to 'decide' to be gay, why should I care: No harm, no foul.
Posted by NORM on 29 November 2011 - 11:15 PM
How would you (or would you) differentiate between pluralism and relativism?
I see no need to differentiate between the two. In fact, in my observation, the two are inextricably linked.
Pluralism is simply the realization that the world doesn't end at my driveway, and relativism is the reason.
One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others. - Moliere
Personally, I find comfort in variety. It makes it more difficult to choose sides.
Posted by Yvonne on 06 September 2011 - 08:20 AM
I love reading fantasy fiction. In many stories, when hunting for food, the “good guys” (and gals) gave thanks to the animal for giving their lives so that the people could be nourished and live. I won't say I suddenly was very thankful, but somehow the concept of gratitude started changing from thanking God as the direct provider, to one of not taking anything for granted. It was also during this time that I had a stroke.
The stroke was disabling, and consequently, my economic situation took a drastic downtown. However, as time went on, I realized that it could have been so much worse. And I was grateful not for the stroke, but for every morning I got out of bed under my own power. Suddenly, the cynicism began to be replaced by not only gratitude, but a sense of wonder and awe at the bounty in my life.
I think I'm nearing the end of this particular period of growing pains (though I don't doubt another will be forthcoming!) For now, I am so grateful for gratitude. I no longer take anything for granted, or at least I try not to. Occasionally I have to remind myself to, in the words of our New Age friends “adopt an attitude of gratitude.” And, yes, sometimes this intense feeling wells up in my heart and I just have to burst out with a great big “Thank You!”
Oh - and I almost forgot to mention that the more I am grateful, the more it seems I have to be grateful for!
Posted by Nick the Nevermet on 29 August 2011 - 07:52 AM
- Kim Fabricus
Posted by Jagged Zen Monkey on 06 August 2011 - 09:58 PM
I'll start with my own view:
There is a common thought that something cannot be created from nothing. Nothing means void of anything, so if this is true, then something has always existed as itself. Call that something existence, reality, life, or “God” something has always existed.
Existence is defined as the totality of existing things. Existence was not created; it has always been and will always be. The universe as we know it (On the other hand) was formed through the many changes taking place within existence itself. Our universe is simply a finite part of an infinite reality, constantly going through changes.
Everything finite exists as a part of the infinite and are eternal in nature, only the finite parts of existence go through many transformations, changing from one form to another. Our bodies decay and we return to the dust of the earth, yet that transformation does not end there. We also become nourishment for other finite life forms, which in turn become nourishment for other finite life forms, thus the cycle of transformation continues without end.
In short, I view existence to be God. I am what many call a Panentheist. I believe that God is all in all and all things existing.
There are rules and regulations existing as a part of our reality that govern everything in life. I think life is a bit mechanical, actually. For instance: As individuals, our brain is the control center that keeps our organs and such in sync with one another, even if we are unaware of the processes taking place.
If existence is God and if God is conscious as many believe, then God must be looking inward as God would have nothing to look to outside of God’s own being. All the focus must be placed on what's going on within the body of existence.
This isn't to suggest that every tiny detail is known (Such as each individual’s future actions) but the overall inner workings are governed and managed if only by what we deem to be natural forces existing as a part of the whole.
God to me is life and we have our life in God. God isn't somewhere up there dishing out reward and punishment for our deeds. I believe that all things were formed from Gods own being. God set the wheels of life in motion and we as humans experience the realities of Gods existence as well as the life we create for ourselves. We experience both the attributes of nature and the nature of man.
I believe that God is our sustainer, who with his substance gives us all we need to survive, and live, and live abundantly, but it is ultimately up to mankind to embrace life and then do our very best to make life good for all living things. God (Reality) is our supreme authority, whose creative and live giving essence is love.
Had anyone else ever read the 1st chapter of John in this manner?
In the beginning was love, and love was with God, and love was God. Love was in the beginning with God. All things were made through love, and without love was not any thing made that was made. In love was life, and the life was the light of men.
This is how I read it every time I view the book of John .......
Posted by Guest on 02 August 2011 - 09:02 AM
I take this to be allegorical. We endure an "age" of purification on earth, tried by fire (Life under the sun) whereby we are purified by both life experience and by the Spirit (Love), the way of the tree of life said to be kept by a flaming sword which turns every which way. Perhaps this is in reference to the sun. Perhaps we are living in the furnace. But that's just my take.
That’s true, James, hell could be a metaphor. Therefore, so could heaven.
As has been mentioned in this thread, I believe that Yahweh is a human construct of God, a false face so-to-speak. And I think that even Jesus has been and continues to be twisted into a Yahweh-type. We see this most clearly in the book of Revelation and in the popular “Left Behind” novels.
For me, I believe I have already encountered and experienced God, and that I continue to do so. And in these experiences, I’ve found that perfect love casts out my fears – fears that I am a slave to my past, fears that I don’t measure up to God’s expectations of me now, fears of what will happen to me after I die. To me, the focus of Jesus’ teachings was on how to live in the present, in the here and now, not on how to go to heaven after we die. So though I don’t at all mean to deride your OP, the question is not one that haunts me. I’m more concerned with living my life today in such a way that people might see enough of the Spirit in me that they will listen to and follow the Spirit within them more closely.
Posted by Guest on 16 July 2011 - 08:25 AM
As I understand it, hypocrites wear false faces. They present themselves as one thing outwardly but are inwardly something quite different. This is probably true of most of us, atheists or not. It is especially rampant in institutional religion where one is expected to hold to certain tenets of faith or certain behavioral norms in order to be considered to be a "true believer." The claim often leveled at Christianity that the church is full of hyprocrites has, IMO, quite a bit of justification. After all, our churches are filled with people who claim to be redeemed and indwelt by God but who also claim that they are sinners and no better in behavior than anyone else. Hmmmm.
If this is the case, then perhaps atheism (the good kind) is a step towards honesty. Often, atheists examine the claims of the Bible and of Christianity and say that there is little to no evidence in our world for a God as described by the Bible and by the Christian religion. In honesty, I agree with much of this critique. I don't believe in "the God of the Bible" as I believe God is bigger than the Bible. In fact, I believe that God is bigger than most Christians claim him to be. So I think that quite a bit of atheism can be a stepping stone of realizing what God is NOT so that we can know what God is. This kind of atheism, rather than putting on a false face, acknowledges the fact that none of us knows for sure about God and that perhaps it is better to not believe in an "evil God" than to pretend that God's record as recorded in the Bible is a clean one. I respect this point of view although I think it shouldn't be a destination. Many of our "finest" progressive Christian thinkers (John AT Robinson, Jack Spong, etc.) could be considered to be atheists if their God-concepts were put up against the concepts of God in the Christian scriptures. Is this being hypocritical? I don't think so. But I do think it is being "next-level-critical". To me, God-concepts need to grow with us.
Posted by ceecee on 31 December 2010 - 10:14 PM
Posted by soma on 26 November 2010 - 05:54 PM
Yes, revelation from God, or some might say a "higher source", a higher level of consciousness. That "spark" of something that inspires us (to see things differently, to live better, etc)...
I agree with this statement and think the root of all scripture is to bring a direct experimental knowledge or spiritual experience. I feel this experimental knowledge is older than all religions and can be referred to as the science of consciousness in order to include all religions. To understand consciousness one must go beyond the intellect, body and emotions and take these three and the spirit to develop the consciousness to its fullest potential. This knowledge of consciousness in my experience allows us to perceive. As a Christian, I view Christ as one of the wise ones, the light or Christos and the transmitter of this light that is beyond form, matter and energy. I feel these profound mysteries of spirit are hidden in all scripture and can benefit everyone if read with an open heart and mind. The science to awaken consciousness is the science of perception to be true to our dharma or gnosis so I feel we need to diagnosis the Bible, which is similar to how the doctor observes and analyzes the perception of a patient in order to draw a conclusion. Therefore, the road to understanding the scriptures can be found in getting to know ourselves better.
Posted by Guest on 07 October 2010 - 05:11 PM
One simple thing you could do that might be helpful, and supportive of this group, is not use the phrase leaving Christianity to mean leaving fundamentalism--or saying (on another thread) that not going to church makes you not Christian. Your values, however you define them seem solidly Christian to me and I imagine to everyone here. Cant we identify Christianity with progressive Christianity (open, liberal, emerging)?
To Rivanna and the rest of the forum:
When the events of 9/11 happened and the Twin Towers came crumbling to the ground, rescue workers searched the ruins of the towers for survivors. Unfortunately, they only found four people still alive. As we all know, thousands died that day, many of them rescue workers themselves.
Although certainly not on the same scale as that horrible tragedy, my faith came tumbling down and I am trying to search through the rubble for "survivors," things left over from Christianity that would be substantive enough to still allow me to say that I am a Christian (albeit of a different kind than before). I don't do this in order to try to reclaim some guaranteed reward of an afterlife that Christianity often offers. And I don't do it because there are no other paths open to me, for indeed there are many. I do it because, as I have said in another thread, I believe there are "survivors" in the ruins that are still meaningful, still valuable to me, still alive in me in some spiritual sense. These things are still worth consideration and practice to me, especially when I have the freedom to reinterpret them or understand them from another point-of-view. Will these things be enough to allow me to still say that I am a Christian or that I am part of Christianity? I honestly don't know. It's not easy separating the chaff from the wheat. As I do that, I ask two things:
1. Please forgive me if I have offended anyone by speaking negatively of Christianity. I could make excuses for my tendency to do so, but that would not be, as you have said, helpful or supportive of this group.
2. Please be patient with me as I continue to try to separate the wheat from the chaff. Both my head and my heart are involved in this sifting, so it is not an easy undertaking and it takes time. There are things that, I suppose, I should just bury as the dead. For some of these, I am grateful. For others, I am still in mourning. And there are other things that have indeed survived and that is where I want to focus. So I will endeavor to try to focus on the wheat. But I ask your patience with me as this isn't just about my beliefs, but about pragmatic changes in my life, hopefully for the better.
Posted by Adi Gibb on 14 March 2010 - 06:38 PM
To quote from what Shane Claiborne called the greatest sermon ever told, 'blessed are the peacemakers'. So at the risk of annoying some, I thought I would give it a try.
Pantheism, theism, panentheism, even deism, are fascinating topics and obviously I have had a crack at expressing my opinion about almost all of them. But I think the time has come to grab hold of the similarities in all of these approaches. I think what we can agree on is that God or the limitless divine, as I like to call it, is ultimately mysterious and, whether totally or partially, unknowable. However we can 'experience' God, whether objectively or subjectively, and this can be a transformative state. Furthermore, as Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ served as a template of what it is to be human and, in a sense, whether pantheistically or incarnationally (is that a word?), he also showed us the divine. To emulate Jesus then is the key to our faith, everything else, though wonderful to discuss, is something each of us must think about and make a decision about. Indeed, if these posts have proven anything definitively, it's that the members of this board can show the rest of christianity what it is to have a strong, yet questioning, faith.
I read the original question to this post this morning. I feel I should address it rather than send it off in another direction. For me, I read the bible through the lens of Jesus of the Golden Rule and the Great Commandment. Love trumps hate, if a passage would result in something that is not a loving action, according to the cultural norms of NOW, I feel okay in disregarding it. Furthermore, as Borg once said, "Jesus trumps the bible". My faith is not bound between dust covers. The Jesus I believe in can be experienced NOW, and was not only experienced two thousand years ago which we can gratefully read about. It sounds trite, but asking the question 'What would Jesus do?', is, for me, more important than 'What does the bible say?'.
Pax et fides everyone.