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  1. 2 points
    Greetings! My name is Miriam, and I have only recently come to reclaim the Christian label in my spiritual life. Coming from a more fundamentalist background, I have had to take time to reflect on my experiences of Christianity from a safe distance before re-engaging with organized religion. The writings of such authors as Rob Bell and John Shelby Spong have been a valuable support in that process. I am grateful to have recently found a local church group that accepts and supports me as an eclectic, progressive Christian, and I now hope to build on that experience by connecting to wider discussions of faith online. I am also in the process of developing a blog that focuses on engaging with faith through questions, so I hope that learning from fellow members will help to better inform my writing in the future. I look forward to taking part!
  2. 2 points
    Good evening, I am a Borg- and Spong-inspired justice-focused Christian. I was raised as a United Methodist and felt my faith gain traction and teeth upon discovering Marcus Borg, and also my aunt who is a leftist-Christian clergy! My hope for joining this space is to connect with other like minded people- especially if they are young-ish professionals who are now at home raising kids in a small community which is quite moderate-to-right leaning (although not fundamentalist!) now that's a tall order!
  3. 2 points
    Non-Progressive Christian are not allowed post in the Progressive Christianity thread. Which is fair enough. Anyway this led me to clarify for myself, if no one else, Why I am not a Progressive Christian. Progressive Christians: Point 1: Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life; Not sure I believe in the Sacred. The uppercase Oneness and Unity fill me with a little trepidation, I suspect it could be pointing to something that is not really there. I can see a unity and a oneness in existence but ... Point 2: Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey; Sacredness and Oneness of life, again the upper case. Sure the teachings attributed to Jesus might lead to the understanding the S and O of life. But I would argue it is not that we can draw from diverse sources ... we have to. Point 3: Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, ... I have no problem with this, but the wording is strange (I thought). While the word all is in upper case atheists are not mentioned but agnostics are. Also the incentive to write this post to some degree is caused by a lack of "complete" inclusiveness. OK I understand the wish to protect parts of the community; but ... Point 4: Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe; In a way I agree with this statement. It is a bit more complex than that. My behaviour alone is not the "fullest" expression of what I believe. Point 5: Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes; Again not sure what is meant by grace ... but using my definition (an ease) I would agree. But I have admit I find value in reconciling the results of our searches with the scientific method. Point 6: Strive for peace and justice among all people; I have no problem with this, but it is a bit of a motherhood statement,. Point 7: Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth; This brought me head to head with the free will debate. Can the Earth be any other way than it is? Now I might want it be different/cleaner/whatever but then, the universe unfolding will determine whether or not I will do anything about it Point 8: Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love. Well I have had a life-long path of learning. All of us do that to some degree or another. When the universe unfolds I may or may not find compassion Selfless love? "Love your neighbour as you love yourself"? Overall this 2011 version (for me) is harder to argue against than the original eight points highlighted in the front page of the forum. Perhaps it is time to update the points to the new Eight Points? Overall I cannot call myself a Progressive Christian, though (I think) I see fairly closely eye to eye with Paul when it comes to the profane and Joseph when it comes to oneness and unity (note the lower case ) Would others like to comment on where they agree or see differences in their take on the 2011 Eight Points.
  4. 2 points
    In the NT, it seems like the standard communication method is "feeling something in ones spirit", visions and dreams, though. Like f.e. Peter on the roof having the animal vision, or Paul seeing a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to come over etc. The quotes make my posts look much longer than they actually are I am dealing with a similar conflict myself. The God I know through experience and intuitions etc. seems to be much more of a peaceful, understanding and a nice guy than the God of the Bible, especially the OT one. On the other hand, especially teachings of Paul and some teachings of Jesus heavily resonate with me. So, I am caught in-between of Christianity and something else that I can't quite define. I have tried other religions, it doesn't work, too much of the Bible is indeed my religion and I lose that if I try any other approach. Right now I feel like I'm too Christian to be anything else, but not Christian enough to be a proper Christian either.
  5. 2 points
    I know the feeling Lani and I felt very much the same when I was going through my period of anxiety and depression (which coincided with my kids being about 2 & 4). My wife was also experiencing post natal depression and we didn't recognize it for that until she sought help. I know there can be a stigma associated with depression/anxiety but I would encourage you to consider talking to a professional if that might be a possibility. There's nothing wrong with that and both my wife and I found such a process exceptionally beneficial. I am not saying that is your predicament, but it could possibly be feeding into your anxiety about your children. I don't know where I read it and I have since had trouble locating it, but I remember reading a a story around that time that I found particularly comforting. It went along the lines of this: A distraught mother had her three young toddlers in a bath, preparing to drown them. She was distraught with the thought that if she didn't raise them properly that they might not 'choose Jesus' and would go to Hell. She thought it better to kill them now as innocents so that they would see heaven, than take the chance of raising them and they possibly end up in Hell. In distress at the thought of killing her kids the woman cried out to Jesus saying "please don't let me do this - take my life instead and spare my children - grant them life with you". To this Jesus replied "Woman, if I loved you so much that I was prepared to die for you, do you really think I could allow you or your children to be separated from me". Now I could have the story wrong (wherever it was written) but that's how I remember it. For me personally, it just made me think that if there is anything 'existential' or 'spiritual' to our existence, whatever it is can only be a good thing in the end rather than a harmful thing. If my kids (or I) get it wrong in our tiny blip of an existence on an eternal timeline, then I'm certain that whatever 'higher power' might possibly exist, it would understand. This in turn has allowed me to better accept the day to day. I ponder spirituality and religion, as I do life in general, however i feel no compulsion to 'get it right' or for my kids to. In the end, they will simply work out for themselves what works for them. Sure, guidance is important in life, and opening up our children's minds to the possibilities of all things (not just the spiritual) is a burden that all parents practice to different degrees, but I rest easy knowing that what works for them, will be what works for them. I hope I make some sort of sense. Cheers Paul
  6. 1 point
    This thread will present the many pivotal moments of my lifelong spiritual journey with special focus on my spiritual and paranormal experiences. (1) I was born and raised in the first Pentecostal church in Canada. I was born with congenital glaucoma in my right eye. My distraught parents were impressed by a famous faith healer named William Branham, who held healing crusades around North America. What set him apart was his clairvoyance. Before he laid hands on people, he accurately described one of their recent past experiences in awesome detail and he did the same for my parents. Mom and Dad were poor, but they spent their savings on a trip to Elgin, Illinois to bring me to a Branham crusade there. When I (age 3) finally made it onto the stage, Branham looked at my introductory note that said, "blind in the right eye," and shouted, "This boy is blind!" He then laid hands on my eyes and waved them in front of me. When I blinked, he yelled, "This little boy has been cured of blindness!" The huge crowd went wild but my parents were sick. Of course I blinked because I could see out of my good eye. This fraud devastated and disillusioned my parents. All this attention to getting me healed made me feel like they regretted my birth and ultimately created a deep desire in me to justify being born! It also sowed the seeds of a lifelong determination to discover whether miracles and divine healing were ever real and whether the Bible was trustworthy. God used those events to shape my calling in life.
  7. 1 point
    Let me begin with this disclaimer: I am an evangelical Christian for whom Christ's atoning death and resurrection are the anchor of my faith. But at their best, the verifications inherent in ADCs (=After-Death Contacts) and NDEs (near-death experiences) seem more evidentially probative even than the evidence for Jesus' resurrection and, in my experience of evangelistic witnessing, are far more effective than any Bible-based apologetics. To demonstrate why I will share some of the most mind-blowing evidential NDEs and ADCs I have encountered, including some of the most convincing which have not been published. But first, I will provide some biblical background for ADCs: (1) Apart from Jesus' resurrection appearances, the most obvious NT example of an ADC is the return of Moses and Elijah to be present with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-9 and parallels). (2) "After His resurrection, they [deceased saints] came out of the tombs and came into the holy city and appeared to many (Matthew 27:53)." Whether their bodies were actually resurrected or their spirits simply appeared to the living in Jerusalem, these paranormal appearances qualify as ADCs. (3) Hebrews 12:1: "Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely and run with perseverance the race that is set before us." In part this image of "the cloud of witnesses" refers back to the list of OT saints discussed in chap. 11. But in Hebrews, the word "witnesses" (Greek: martyres) always refers to eyewitnesses and the witnesses in 12:1 do not precede the living spiritual athletes, but rather surround them. So "the cloud of witnesses" are alive and are currently monitoring the progress of the spiritual athletes competing in the arena below. Hebrews 12:1 is thus an important prooftext for the affirmation in the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in the communion of saints." We don't need to embrace the Catholic practice of praying to deceased saints to recognize this point. (4) In the Catholic OT Judas Maccabaeus has a vision of 2 deceased saints, the high priest Onias III and the prophet Jeremiah, whose encouragement and prayer support spur them on to military victory in Israel's decisive battle with the Greeks (2 Maccabees 15:6-19). True, this book is absent from the Protestant canon. But this visionary appearance of Jeremiah inspires speculation that Jesus in fact represents Jeremiah's return from the grave (Matthew 16:14). (5) NDEs are experienced as a form of OBE. Paul considers his visit to Paradise a possible OBE (2 Corinthians 12:1-5) and Ezekiel describes his visions like ADCs: e. g.: "Then the Spirit lifted me up (Ezekiel 3:12)." My next planned posts will document some of the most evidentially impressive ADCs and NDEs. Please share any ADCs or NDEs that you or your acquaintances have experienced and what you think of them. Reply
  8. 1 point
    Hello, I have recently began my search and i am wondering what peoples experiences are with mediums and psychics. I have talked to a lot of people (including Christians and progressive Christians) who have seen or felt spirits. Furthermore, many of these people have had good experiences with mediums and psychics who also have a connection with Jesus. I personally have never see or felt anything. My worry is that there is nothing......i was raised in a Baptist church but never felt the presence of god. I have faith but this is based on my fears that their is nothing as opposed to actually having felt or experienced anything. Does anyone have any experiences that they would feel comfortable sharing?
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    Welcome! I am a big fan of the Apostolic Fathers.
  11. 1 point
    I don't think stories in the Bible must necessarily be understood literally or as scientifically verifiable facts to be sacred and meaningful. That is a common approach to the Scriptures in my church denomination; neo-orthodoxy rather than liberalism or fundamentalism. I see too much needless suffering in the world, based on nothing more than empty fear and hatred, to be unconvinced that salvation no longer matters. As a Lutheran, I believe salvation entails more than going to heaven when one dies, it also implies being open to living a life as a disciple of Jesus Christ because the evil of the world is contained by the hope in God's promises. Through trust in God's promises as a gathered community around the Word, life is transfigured into a sacred calling or vocation where we become God's hands in the world doing God's work.
  12. 1 point
    I don't think there's one answer to this. All I do know is that sin explains alot in what I observe in the world. My pastor sometimes uses stories of little kids fighting over toys to talk about original sin. But I think I've found a better example. Research an Yale's psychology department has shown that a baby's innate sense of morality is easily overriden by things like loyalty to people that are similar to them, and also they can be easily bribed contrary to those same moral intuitions. Things like racism and nationalism are easily understood in terms of human nature that's hard wired into us. So we're born with some dark tendencies from the get go that aren't merely the result of culture. So really I see sin as part of a useful story that explains some aspects of our experience in the world, especially how people are fundamentally perverse. As Paul says in Romans, he knows to do good, but there's another law at work within his flesh. The spiritual battleground is within the human heart, and none of us are pure in that regard.
  13. 1 point
    Again, you misconstrue me. I never said that potentiality = success. I said that potentiality was the ability to develop, achieve or succeed. That is not the same thing as success, although there can be no success without it. This term 'human', verb or noun, is a moving goalpost: there is no universally recognisable line between what 'human' is and is not. It's fuzzy at best. It might seem clearly delineated in your mind, but that is entirely subjective - and the assumption that such a distinction exists has long been the source of undue suffering. The potentiality still before us (or within us) is the potentiality not to be or do 'human' but to be or do anything - it is limitless, because it is actualised not alone in ourselves but through our interaction and interconnection with the entire potentiality of the universe, absolute potentiality, God. What puts any perception of our 'humanity' in danger is to believe ourselves or others unchangeable, actualised, devoid of potentiality or limited by names and labels (I'm only human, she's just a girl, etc). We can make ourselves new with every moment, every interaction and every experience - we only have to see the potentiality around us. They were all human. I think you might need to read the bible again, and check that you're not reading judgment into the text. Jesus did not judged the priest or the Levite, nor did he judge the Samaritan. He simply provided an opportunity to learn the answer to the question: "who is my neighbour?" We are the ones who have added the title 'The Good Samaritan', enabling judgement of the other passers by as 'not good'. The point of the story is to draw attention to our desire to label others, to judge them and perceive or assume limitations on their potentiality - not the potential to be 'good' or 'bad' (these terms were not applied by Jesus), but the unlimited potentiality to be other than or more than 'Samaritan', for instance - to be 'neighbour' - and to see potentiality in others - not just a Jew or a stranger, but a fellow human being in need of compassion and care - and interact accordingly. Jesus effectively turned the common judgements or prejudices of the time on their heads - the two men whose labels may imply goodness and righteousness did not act righteously, while the man whose label at the time implied enemy interacted as 'neighbour'. Nor did Jesus judge the woman labelled and thereby condemned by the crowd as 'adulterer'. He already saw her potentiality beyond her 'sin'. He invited the crowd to see her as they see themselves (as more than their sin), and then told the 'woman' to recognise that potentiality and not define herself by past sins. And again, he did not judge the crowd either, but reiterated what was said in Luke: "Judge not, lest ye be judged." It is the crowd and the reader who judge here, not Jesus. I would hope that anyone who interacts with such individuals, or even talks about them, would withhold any judgement, as is their responsibility as a compassionate human being. You probably think I'm being unrealistic to suggest this, given the way society (and indeed Christianity) operates to protect itself from danger or 'evil', and yet this is what Jesus did and what he taught. Sure, it takes courage - more than we have at times - but I would think that this is what we should strive for. I acknowledge that it sounds rational, if that's what you mean by 'holds water'. I guess I also understand why you so strongly believe it - after all, it appears to govern our laws and our sense of safety - but I can't say I agree with your statement of this view. You make a distinction between what these actions do: they don't 'define us' (hopefully not?) yet they 'tell us who and what we are'? I don't see much of a distinction here. I accept that our actions, particularly consistent ones, may reflect a perception of who or what we were, but they have no bearing on who or what we are at this moment, unless we choose to interact with the 'self' in this way. Likewise in our interaction with others. As I said before, we can make ourselves new with every moment, every interaction and every experience, and in focusing on this instant and ever-present ability to change (not just the actual, perceived change over time), we can glimpse absolute potentiality, not just in ourselves, but in others and in all things. It is a civilised society's right and responsibility to condemn Hitler's actions and stop them. But you cannot confidently say that anyone would not be Hitler if they had the exact same (not just similar) circumstances of birth, upbringing, education and life experiences. To dismiss Hitler's humanity is to dismiss the possibility of another human being coming to power, with the support of the people, whose view of the world is so limited or distorted that his subsequent words and actions could bring about so much pain, humiliation and loss - not to mention the possibility of millions of human beings agreeing with him, admiring him and facilitating his mission to 'make his nation great again'...oh, wait... It seems that, for the most part, we continue to believe that we (and all the people we love, respect and associate ourselves with) are fundamentally different in our essential makeup to Hitler. We prefer to separate him out as some horrible anomaly - and yet it seems here we go again... I think perhaps we're closer here. On the one hand we can be called 'human', but on the other hand we are so much more. We are given the entire universe and we can make it more. Too often, we only see the faults, the limitations. If the rock is not seen for what it can be (ie. potentiality recognised) then work cannot start: there is no further actualisation and therefore no movement, no change - only a rock and unseen potentiality (not nothing). Whether potentiality is seen or unseen, ignored or rationalised away, it is still there, and all things are still possible. The rock may just have to wait for someone more aware of potentiality to come along - they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. If what is shaped is not possible (rather than what is possible not shaped), to me this is nothing - or rather, nothing but illusion. Here we delve into mathematics a little, because shape, movement and change can be reduced to mathematical equation. So if an equation cannot be solved, then it cannot be true, and therefore the hypothetical shape, movement or identifiable point seems impossible to graph, and you have nothing but a bunch of symbols that look like they mean something, but actually point to nothing - just an undefined space on a graph. This is what I think 'pure actuality' might look like without potentiality. But then again, mathematics recognises potentiality even here: the ability of an equation to be solved, even if we never actually solve it. With things like imaginary numbers, it also recognises the significance of 'looking' beyond what is actual, to a potentiality that doesn't require interaction (observation) in order to be. And I believe that our unlimited potential remains before us to facilitate the 'creation' of universal beauty and harmony out of the diversity of the unfolding universe, by recognising the oneness and potentiality, not of 'humanity', but of all matter. Our interaction with the life, words and actions of Hitler as a human being, for instance, just as we interact with Jesus' story, enables us to recognise the falseness of perceived limitations and develop a greater awareness of this underlying ability to succeed: to achieve beauty and harmony from diversity. In this way Hitler's unlimited potential remains before him even 'after death'. Most of people just don't see it that way. So be it.
  14. 1 point
    I don't think meditation is about self-love, either. And having slept on it, I understand that the practice of meditation is engaging in attention to self as a search for self, and in the process of that search, looking beyond the fear of its non-existence and coming to terms with 'not self'. I have read Susan Blackmore before, and I highly recommend her writings on Zen Buddhism - she describes this process very well. Most commercialised western yoga and meditation practices (in my experience) stop short of this, however - they seem content with 'glancing' at the self illusion in a way that only reinforces its existence, like a comforting, absent-minded pat to reassure ourselves it is still there, functioning as expected. This chance to focus on 'me' is all people are chasing for the most part, so it sells really well in this form. Most people who have a go at meditation or yoga will pull back as it gets confronting, uncomfortable or challenging beyond the physical. After all, it's all inner experience from this point, and unless you're working one-on-one with a guru, no one else is going to care that it's as far as you're willing to go. As long as you keep paying for classes and telling everyone how 'centred' and 'peaceful' you feel after it...
  15. 1 point
    I'm going to try and describe my perspective on the 'I' versus 'i' - not as two sides of the same coin, as Rom suggested, but more like the way we 'experience' the world - as a function of consciousness (I know, Rom - bear with me). With the human brain bombarded by so much data through our senses every second, our consciousness can process only a small part of it by comparison - even in those rare moments when our awareness is fully in the present, as opposed to pulling up data from memory, imagining possibilities or manipulating abstract concepts. So the mind manages a seamless awareness of the universe by focusing only on a small section at a time, and then generically renders the periphery with memory, knowledge, guesswork, systematic grouping and gross simplification. If we think of our awareness or consciousness as a camera lens on a satellite, then we can focus in as the 'i' (the experiencing self) or focus out towards an experience of the 'I' (the experiencing universe) - but not consciously experience both simultaneously, because in order to fully understand or experience the unfolding 'I' as it is, the mind must let go of a number of concepts as illusion, including language, thought, time, objective reality and the 'i'. When the mind or consciousness returns from this experience to regain its 'control' of language, meaning and a concept of 'self' (illusory though they may be), any communication of this subjective experience is going to be insufficient. This is because thinking and writing/talking about what is a holistic experience of the unfolding 'I' must rely on simultaneous recognition of subsets of the 'I' that have been compartmentalised by the mind or defined by language, but appear to overlap, coalesce, contradict and disappear in the holistic experience of the 'I'. As an example, the notion of 'decay' is irrelevant when you consider that there is no loss experienced in the unfolding 'I' - 'decay' is a term defined by the illusion that each subset exists independent of each other: that a decaying apple or a body in a casket, including the 'life' that was once evident and the , is not simply an illusory subset of the 'I' but 'something' or 'someone' 'existing' in its own right, leading to the thought-defined experience that the 'person' who has 'died' is lost and their body decaying, instead of 'living' eternally as a subset of the unfolding 'I' that exists as a 'person' only in the communication of our shared subjective experience.... The 'I' that is conceived as I write this - that each 'i' conceives mentally - is also incomplete in that the subjective experiences we each have of the universe (including our first hand and second hand knowledge or understanding), are limited by the 'i'. We can imagine or speculate on the experiences of others based on the information we currently have, but even the most observant, imaginative and empathic human being cannot fully experience the pinpoint focus of every 'i' that has ever experienced the universe. And so it helps me, at least, to recognise that a complete awareness of the 'I' remains beyond the 'i', but its potentiality exists in every interaction with the universe - that I can approach a more complete and accurate awareness of the 'I' through my connection with others, my attempts to understand their subjective experiences and my recognition that, within that diversity from my own experiences, lies the experience of the 'I' that is missing from my own.
  16. 1 point
    Joseph, thormas and Rom, I'm reminded of the blind men surrounding the elephant. Rather than comparing and discarding different positions in search of the one truth, you at least recognise that we're attempting to integrate limited, sometimes contradictory and/or overlapping subjective experiences - communicated from different positions - into one holistic understanding. If what at first thought couldn't possibly be flat, broad and solid as well as long, cylindrical and hollow can eventually be conceived of as two limited experiences of one large elephant, then there is certainly hope for these discussions yet... In the meantime, you have all provided plenty of food for thought, and the fact that I more or less agree with so much of what each of you have said at any one time is not only rather confusing for me, but also suggests to me that, yes - you are perhaps not far apart at all. Certainly much closer than those blind men... Cheers
  17. 1 point
    Caption Contest
  18. 1 point
    A few days ago I was wondering how would Trump fit here? To be fair I do not know the inner workings of Trump's mind, but I can only think his actions are some sort of reflection of his thoughts. Point 1: Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life; Far from convinced. Point 2: Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey; I don't see 'wisdom' in his actions, regardless from what well he has drawn from. Point 3: Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, ... Oh dear. Point 4: Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe; I sincerely hope not. Point 5: Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes; This is my problem, but I see little grace in Trump. Point 6: Strive for peace and justice among all people; ???? Point 7: Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth; Pruitt. Point 8: Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love. Selfless love?
  19. 1 point
    Joseph, as previously mentioned this is not a burning issue for me and I place it along side of the belief that all (we included) is illusion. Further, I don't think either position or belief is in sync with the experience of most human beings.There is a common acknowledgement (conscious or unconscious because a great many human being simply go about there lives and don't bother with such discussion as many of us here) and agreement (affirmation) with Descartes: " I think therefore I am." For most, as it is for me, the experience is simply that, 'I' am: I am me and I am not illusion. And, the further common experience is, 'I am the captain of my ship.' Most of us recognize influences (see below) but also recognize, accept and defend the idea that I am the maker of decisions, I am the one who decides. I think there is a wisdom in the lived experience of men and women and I think some of us (myself included at times) are too much in our heads. So, as I said earlier in this thread: "I accept that I am not a absolute first cause but I also, acknowledging the paradox, accept that I have freedom." In this statement, I am not denying prior experience, genetics, physical limitations, strings, or the coffee that makes one jittery if they have too much or cranky if they don't have any - I am saying they do not so determine one to remove all true (free) choice. All behavior is not determined; there is personal agency (i.e.. free will). Free choice (and, with it, culpability, responsibility, accountability) is real and most of us accept and live this even while acknowledging that which influences us. I am neither reifying or deifying consciousness or experience: I just do not accept that environmental and behavioral determinism are absolute or that free choice is illusory. Determinists reduce all to a physicalism or a naturalism and reduce personal agency to nothingness. I disagree: "this is a position I find impossible to believe" and not worthy (for me) of serious consideration. I accept and respect it is for others but it is not my position or belief. Perhaps it might be helpful, if this is an established position you hold that is important to you, to present your case and let others react/comment. tom
  20. 1 point
    This unnuanced, procrustean thinking is 40 years out of date, Rom. It is an intellectual dead end proven useful in training animals and the mentally retarded but not much else. Mankind is not independent of chemistry and physics, but not completely dependent upon them either. Cognition is a major mediator of how people contextualize, interpret and react. This is the basis of psychotherapy, which is a rather huge body of evidence.
  21. 1 point
    Hello, everyone. I am joining this community in the hope of enjoying the virtual company of other people with whom I may share something in common even in the midst of our differences. A little about myself: I was not raised with religion, but was introduced to a branch of Oneness Pentecostalism through my grandparents at ten years old. There I had a transformative ecstatic experience as a boy, but by the time I was 14 I knew through the reading of the scriptures that they could not be the infallible Word of God in the sense in which I was taught. I moved on to other things. After transitioning to agnostic atheism I read Spong's Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible Through Jewish Eyes, and biblical imagery came alive for me. At the same time I had been introduced to the eucharist in the Methodist Church and one day integrated the experience in my own way. Later I received a trinitarian baptism in the Episcopal Church, was confirmed, and received Holy Communion. I have been there for about ten years or so. In practice I am an Anglo-Catholic. I am liturgically quite traditional. I am a non-realist in religious matters, using doctrines as a guide to how to live and as symbol sets to engage my imagination with rather than objective or supernatural truths -- I am still an agnostic. I have neo-pagan influences and work with saints and angels traditional and non-traditional in an Anglo-Catholic context as well as formats inspired by neo-pagan and folk practices. I create my own rituals and write my own prayers. I also keep the traditional Anglican discipline of the Daily Office. I have Buddhist influences as well. I guess I could say I am a religious non-realist, Anglo-Catholic, liturgically traditional, eclectic, and socially sensitive Christian. I hope this will be the place to share my ideas and path with others. I have had a hard time finding that place.
  22. 1 point
    I have found what gives life meaning and thanks. And, even though I borrowed from Sisyphus and Greek myths, it's more accurate to say, "all power to you and panentheistic (or even progressive) Christian theology." Twas fun!
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  24. 1 point
    Hello my name is Lani, i was raised a Baptist church that spent a lot of time talking about hell. This caused a lot of anxiety in me as a child and teenager. I left the church at 14 years old. I am now 30 and going thru quite profound change and existential crisis. I am a social worker/psychologist and mother of 2 little boys. I am searching and looking for a community this fits. I stumbled across this webpage and the 8 points of progressive Christianity really resonate with me. I look forward to touching base with everyone and learning about this emerging faith.
  25. 1 point
    Somehow the act of attempting to educate yourself on quantum physics makes it not understandable.
  26. 1 point
    I have shared my testimony on other forums of the internet. But wish to share it here as an introduction to some of my experiences and beliefs. When I was a 9 year old boy and loving the Lord, I saw Jesus in all white, dressed as a shepherd on the wing of an airplane while it was still boarding. I erroneously thought someone was playing a trick on me to make me become highly religious. Then I became agnostic and got lost for 35 years. I began hearing, seeing, wrestling with the unseen and witnessing powers of the invisible spirit world. Evil spirits had come into my life as a consequence of my sin. I nearly died at the hands of these spirits - both human and demon alike. I've noticed the humans lose their family and friends. They are scattered throughout the netherworld. They have anger and hatred in their hearts. They are masters at the art of deception. Their evil shall not stop without divine intervention and restoration of the soul. They thirst for all that only a most loving Creator can give them. I've discovered that it is the human condition that we are evil and wicked without God in the afterlife. The soul is in ruins and in need of salvation - divine restoration of the soul. Father God reached out to me and I heard Him say, "the battle against good and evil has been here since the beginning of time." God battles evil by salvaging souls through His Son, Jesus Christ. The Father's voice sounds of greatness not of this world. The room was filled with an ancient scent from a world long ago. God had done this to let me know that He was there in the beginning of man's time. I suffered at the hands of these evil spirits for 7 years until I learned that they were real and hence Jesus as well. This is how Jesus had found me to begin my undeserving vocation to be an adopted child of God. He left the flock to find that one lost sheep when I saw Him on the wing of that airplane 35 years earlier. I prayed to Jesus that He would not leave me here to be evil like these spirits. He put my deceased mother behind me. And the most loving scent of her holding me in her bosom as a small child came over me. Jesus had done this to let me know it was her. He was letting me know that I would be with my mom and that He would deliver me from this evil condition known as hell. I asked Jesus who these spirits were persecuting me. He told me through the Spirit of truth that they were the dead. I could see that they were lost and inquired about them going to heaven. Jesus had sent down the Holy Spirit stopping in front of me and pointing at me. He was telling me that I would make atonement for them. And that He would forgive them of their sins and deliver them into heaven. Jesus is mighty to save. Later, I had a dream were Jesus had removed the anger and hatred from these poor souls hearts. He was informing me that the work for atonement had been done. Then, with His powers going through me, He changed them back because the work could not be accepted until the door to my hearing and seeing them was closed. I am currently working on this. Also, an angel made himself known to me. I've had many dreams and visions, some arranged by God and by the powers of the higher angels, guiding me away from sin, in truth, toward salvation. I thank God for my sufferings and wisdom gained. I am looking forward to being with God in heaven, seeing these spirits restored, and seeing my mom again.
  27. 1 point
    One of the Lindau gospels.
  28. 1 point
    First in a series of public lectures on this topic by a Jungian psychologist. Not theology, but how the Bible expresses universal human themes and archetypes. If you like Joseph Campbell's wonderful work on mythology this should be right up your alley.
  29. 1 point
    Praying for the sick and going to doctor is not what I meant by supernatural-free theistic practice. That would be a perfect mix of both, natural life and pursuit for supernatural, the ideal way imho. I've met lots of Christians who don't believe that God heals, and don't pray for it. Just for an example. But again, I live in a rather secular place, so I might be biased to think that Christians generally are more rationalists than they globally speaking might be. Now that I think of it, maybe there is not a fundamental distinction, but rather the difference is in intensity. Or in the level of expectation in how much God is supposed to be interested in interventions. Let's take another example from our conversations earlier and use the trinity - doctrine as an example. Supernatural-including version of practice would be there to assume that God will somehow give a mystic understanding of it through faith. Therefore the fact that the doctrine on the surface-level is somewhat irrational, wouldn't be a problem, if there were a path to find a spiritual, mystical knowledge of this seemingly irrational doctrine. A supernatural free version would either 1) confess it as a blind faith - kind of a thing, it just is so without any explanation or 2) would seek to correct the seeming irrationality of it by ditching the doctrine. In my opinion, if all supernatural interventionism is rejected, faith becomes a rather authoritarian concept where things are just believed because someone says so and that's it. I find mysticism to be much more satisfying version of religion, the one I find most worthy of practicing. In mysticism, things that make little rational sense can be often understood in spirit, through personal revelation, kind of as a series of mini-enlightenments. It's neither blind faith on authority, nor figuring religion out rationally. It's just playing on an alternative playfield. I can accept that I don't understand some things I believe in with my brain, but mysticism provides me with an an alternative way, to seek to understand them through personal spiritual revelation.
  30. 1 point
    Branching off from our thread on Agnosticism, I've wondered what it would take for me to be a theist again. Back when I was a theist, I was an external theist. In other words, I believed in God because of what the bible said, or what the Church said, or what Christianity said. A good, common definition of a theist is someone who believes in God as a supernatural being who is personally involved in our lives. I believed that way for many years, yet, in hindsight, I found little evidence that God personally loved me or that he listened to and answered my prayers or that he had some kind of great and wonderful plan for my life. In fact, I left theism because the evidence for such a God was so paltry. So what would it take for me to be a theist again? I guess it would have to take mystical theism. I mean, consider the mystics in the bible. God personally appears to Abraham and Moses and speaks to them (according to the biblical record). God personally appears to Jesus, talks to him, answers his prayers. Jesus, who is God in Christendom, personally appears to Saul and speaks to him. Nothing in these theistic accounts is "hearsay." These people claimed to experience the personal, living God. And these experiences changed them. That's what I would need in order to be a theist again. I'm not going to trust in hearsay. If God is truly personal (as theists claim he is), then he should personally appear and speak to me. There should be some evidence that convinces me that he exists and is real, at least as a "person" (or three persons as Christians say he is). I'm 58 now. To date, God is a no-show for me. As a theist, I had to trust the testimonies and experiences of others. No longer. I won't hold to second-hand faith. I tend to believe the adage, "The invisible and the unreal often look pretty much the same."
  31. 1 point
    I too believe Christianity 'overstepped' when trying to come to terms with the divinity/humanity of Jesus. I think it was a human effort gone wrong; I think believers, Church leaders and thinkers were trying to 'capture' or say something about this man in whom they 'experienced' God and lost their way. They were limited by their worldview, by Greek philosophy and by the desire to head off what they seriously thought was wrong opinion. However, harm was done, yet one wonders if Christianity would have made any impact if not for them. I agree that the theophany is and continues to be a stumbling block yet many theologians and thinkers have moved to the ideas that we 'are born to be' the manifestations or embodiments of Divinity. And realizing and living out this reality would/could be incredibly transformative. As to the idea of God doing something about suffering and death in the world, I accept that the latter is inevitable since we are mortal. It is the former, especially the undeserved tragic suffering (cf. Wendy Farley) that is the issue for many. Following others but especially influenced by Farley, I believe she has hit on something important and I believe you have hit on it too: Love which created and by its very nature must 'step back' is immanent, impacting creation. However, that Love must be incarnated or embodied in and through humanity to heal (very broadly understood) and effect a change in the 'undeserved tragic suffering' that robs us of our 'humanity' before death takes us. Source will follow soon.
  32. 1 point
    I wonder if people of an eastern culture would pick up a book by a 'Bob' or indeed a "Joseph' or 'Derek' and think that the author's name sounds more 'sage-like' than what they're familiar with such as Wei Wu Wei?
  33. 1 point
    Over the last three or so years, I've noticed an alarming trend with religious social conservatives in the internet; these people have begun to adapt increasingly anti-democratic ideals and narratives, and seem to have found their new global hero in Russian president Vladimir Putin. At first this seemed to me like a random fringe phenomenon, but especially with Americans (where there are particularly lots of religious social conservatives) this seems to be on it's way to become the new mainstream of social conservatism. Lately also media has begun to pay more attention to this, which has convinced me that this is happening for real, and it's not just my bad luck of running into this Putin-conservatism. My thoughts on what is happening with religious conservatives: 1) The repeated losses at culture wars are taking their toll. Whenever the religious social conservatives have tried to push the culture backwards in the democratic world, they have usually failed in the end. I believe that this repeated losing has alienated religious conservatives, not just from the mainstream culture, but from the ideals of democracy as it seems to favor their perceived enemies. Why would they continue loving democracy, since it seems to place secular and liberal ideals at power? By contrast, when the conservatives look at Russia, where the cultural clock has been seemingly successfully turned backwards (feminist protesters at church are jailed, gay activism has been banned, even beating ones wife has become less of a serious crime and so on), they realize that conservatism can win, just not in a democratic context. This is actually a centuries old European idea made new; The church wanting a Christian king to rule a nation, in order to keep the nation Christian. 2) The massive information - and critical thinking - vacuum created by anti-intellectualism and anti-journalism by social conservatives has effectively made the whole group intellectually helpless sitting ducks for ruthless propaganda efforts, like the ones taken in recent years by Russian government. Conservative anti-intellectualist efforts have left the group as a whole with no way of sorting the credible news from mere propaganda and thus, they will end up believing the propaganda of Putin's Russia being the promised land of religious conservatism. Not unlike the western workers of the old world believed Soviet Union being the mythical paradise of the working class. Thoughts? Observations?
  34. 1 point
    When conscious contact is continual, repetitive and unchanging perception turns off. An orienting/analytical response is only useful in changing circumstances. Live near train tracks or an airport and after a short time they will not wake you at night. People to habituate to the presence of God in the same way. It takes an active effort to avoid that habituation. Some people have God running through their thoughts like a Montana coal train and deny God even exists.
  35. 1 point
    Well done. We are not aware of things which we definitively know or have mastered. Our nose is in our visual range, but we are not cognitively aware of it because cognition is unnecessary so the brain habituates to it and deletes itbfrom perception. We can drive for miles without thinking about it, and muscle memory works without cognition. Autonomic functions, reactions, dreams, and archetypal structures are also subconscious. The very presence of consciousness indicates someting unknown or unfamiliar.
  36. 1 point
    I will only do this once because I consider this space somewhat sacred and don't want it to become political. Student driver? The excuse of a teenager not a grown man: if you run for our highest office, if you have a transition team, if you can bring in all manner of experts to educate you and/or help run things - that is the responsibility. You now 'own' it and the country depends on you, no students allowed. No excuse. We are getting out of Syria? We will see as we have a new red line: we bombed once, we now have to bomb every time that line is crossed. However, the trade agreements seem to have helped - our allies are negotiating agreements among themselves. Merit badges are for scouts, not Presidents and check the legislation. There is no substantial voter fraud but I do like the states stating their rights and telling the commission to go jump in the lake, the ocean or the gulf. Of course he is ahead of others in 'researching' pardons: he spoke about it in the Oval, we know he didn't research anything and had to go to the legal minds but those minds insist they didn't talk pardons. Oh, communications are a hit though. And he is a fine example, how many times has he commented on a woman's body while in office? Oh, he was asked about God and he pointed to a man made landscape, might have been his golf course, as evidence. I guess all his buildings must also be evidence of God. No mention of his high regard for our intelligence services, the climate, his love affair with Russia/Putin, how he is getting China to help with N. Korea (I know student driver) or his fixation with size (like crowd size and popular vote size) and his Twitter fixation (but he has to do something with his hands and use that mind on something other that watching TV). Ok, back to high minded pursuits.
  37. 1 point
    1st time post. Appreciate feedback on this. I've long struggled with the idea that all people who don't know or believe in Jesus are damned. Someone who knew Jesus well, Thomas, said he didn't believe Jesus was alive. So He was saying he didn't believe Jesus was the messiah or God. Even after all he had heard from Jesus. He didn't believe but Jesus appeared to Thomas and then Thomas believed. If Jesus did this for him wouldn't it seem He would for all His children who doubt or don't know? I believe it's significant that Jesus said Blessed are those who don't see yet still believe. But are those that don't, really going to hell? Or did Jesus make a way for All? Thoughts?
  38. 1 point
    In another thread that when down the track of some discussion on Buddhism, it was raised that: "this idea of avoiding others and leaving everything up to divine revelation has no self-correcting mechanism. That's a fault. It works for picking out a spiritual mattress to nap on but not much else". This comment to me would seem to suggest that the Divine can't be trusted, that it is incapable of revealing itself directly to a person and that the only way a person can trust any such revelation is be confirming it with somebody's else's idea of divine revelation. Whilst I don't consider revelation to necessarily be divine in a theistic sense, I do think that people can/do/should experience revelation on their own and do not necessarily need to compare it against other's view of revelation. Do we run the risk of bias if we need to compare our revelation to somebody else's? Should one's personal revelation be considered lazy if it doesn't meet expectations of other people's revelation? Is divine revelation even possible for somebody who may avoid others?
  39. 1 point
    Guys, if this is already a thread, please link. I've reached a point in my path where I'm just not sure what to do with intercessory prayer. When someone asks me to pray for them, I don't want to say no, but I also just don't know what to do about it. I believe in the power of prayer, but I don't believe in giving God a shopping list of things I or other people want. I've tried and tried and it never works. What has worked for me are prayers of surrender. I also believe in praying with someone who I'm physically present with. My daughter is trying to get a job. She's already interviewed. She asked me to pray. So what do I pray? Do I pray that she gets it? Do I pray that God's will be done? Do I pray for God to be present with her? I'm just not sure that that's the way that God works. I can encourage her to put it in God's hands. I can counsel her to let go of her worries and accept that it is out of her control. But who am I to know God's "Will" for her? I cannot, and I'm not sure God really cares if she gets the job or not. The God of my understanding is a God of relationship, not choreography. Then again, my understand is so finite. Sometimes, I just do it anyway because I love people. Thoughts?
  40. 1 point
    Hello. I was around here years ago. I'm poking my nose back in now. Hope you're all well. As for a little about me, I think the labels of progressive and Presbyterian both apply to me. And yes, I believe that progressive Christianity is compatible with the tradition of the Reformed, Presbyterian, or "Calvinist". Which makes me fun at parties
  41. 1 point
    Two Friars and a Fool did thing a few years back, 95 theses against Hell. In short, they couldn't bring themselves, on Christian principles, to accept the idea of eternal conscious torment as a punishment a just god would inflict on anyone, let alone someone who is merely a nonbeliever. Here's a link There are lots of different ideas about the afterlife that have come from mainstream sources within Christianity. Universalism is one. Karl Barth, one of the greatest Reformed theologians of the 20th Century, promoted it, and the Orthodox had apocatastasis, which is effectively the same thing for most intents and purposes. There's also annihilationism, or the idea that there is no afterlife (possibly for anyone, or just for unsaved). My point in bringing all this up is that the tradition of Christianity is so much more than a single doctrine. Don't get fooled otherwise.
  42. 1 point
    Hi Im bonnie..Ive been searching for quite some time for a place I could "be" and actually be me and I feel pretty lucky to have found this forum.Havent felt at home in other christian forums and churches in town..though there is a Universalist church I found recently that I might try.Im pretty introverted...on the freespirited side..as odd as it is to say Im a freespirited introvert.I really love walking and writing..I really love feeding and watching birds ..in my situation /area I dont get to do it as much but when I do I really enjoy the surprise .Anyway its nice to meet you.
  43. 1 point
  44. 1 point
    Indeed Fatherman. We all have our own understanding of what 'God' and "Sacred' means to us. In fact the tagline in my signature under the old software (this new software version seems to have dropped that) was a quote from an Italian Poet named Antonio Porchia which read: “Because they know the name of what I am looking for, they think they know what I am looking for!” I'm thinking for me it might be time to drop that as I am not so much actively 'looking for' as I am more so 'floating down the river and observing what i come across' (that and also the new software seems to have made the decision for me anyhow ). Nonetheless, what I meant was using the term God (big G or little g) is loaded with assumptions, personal biases, experiences, etc which can make it hard to share that word. When we can openly discuss this and sometimes even challenge it (if appropriate such as in the Debate & Dialogue threads) then I think the experience is useful for all (and for many to come or who may sit silently in the wings observing).
  45. 1 point
    I feel Jen's frustration here. This site isn't really what it should be. But when I started posting in the early 2000s (a little before Jen did), I don't recall it being any different. I was a Christian humanist (or whatever you want to call it). I believed in a non-personal God if at all. I spent most of my energy trying to debunk essential components of Christianity. And so I fit right in. This, and people who felt beaten up by traditional Christianity, were the target audience and that hasn't changed. I changed though. I had a spiritual awakening that put me at odds with the spirit of this site. There was a small group of us who raised up issues of spirituality (Jen, myself, Alethia Rivers, and Soma.) There were many good discussions, but we were always the minority. Also, there has also almost always been a more traditional Christian who gets treated like a troll here. Nothing new here. I've attended an all progressive church which at one time posted the eight points on the wall by the sanctuary. And many of the members share the same atheistic tendencies. But many were also very spiritual and participated in prayer and meditation groups. Everybody gets along there for the most part. No one runs the show really. I think the frustration for people like me and Jen is that atheists are running the show at a Christian site. From an outside perspective, it looks like trolls have long since taken over this site. I know from the inside that that's not a fair characterization, but you have to admit that that's a reasonable conclusion. I've seen members bully on the basis of science and intellect (me included) those who's faith it spiritually, faith-based. I've been called immature for taking a spiritual approach to faith, and it has been suggested that when I "grow up", I'll see that science is the only answer. I've been accused of being mentally ill for having spiritual experiences. This is not in any way in accord with the 8 Points, and it is most certainly keeping spiritual-minded progressive Christians away from what could be a valuable experience within an accepting community. But like I said, it's not like this is new, and there's really no point in fighting it at this point. I accept that that's who were are here, and I do my best to find meaning here among you. I hope to be a participant here for many years to come.
  46. 1 point
    I moved to Vegas last year from Reno the mountains to the desert and still l am in a Zen Garden, just rocks and cactus not trees.
  47. 1 point
    You'll probably be shock to hear *me* say this, Burl, but one of the reasons I became so disillusioned with the church (as an institution) is that because the more I read the gospels and what Jesus had to say about the kingdom of God, the more I became convinced that the koG and the church are not the same thing. I mean, there are definitely hints of the kingdom (as Jesus interpreted it) in the OT. I think he fleshed it out more with his teachings, parables, and interactions with people. Granted, the church has sometimes done some very good things. But I don't see it as a fulfillment of the koG on earth. It seems that, even at the beginning, the disciples believed the church was going to be about who had the most power, who had the best seats. That is far from what Jesus taught, IMO. I've been Baptist, Southern Baptist, Assembly of God, Bible Church, Disciples of Christ, Pentecostal, Pentecostal Holiness, Wesleyan, and UMC. I've learned a lot in each of these churches. I've had good friends there. And there have been some good times, times that I would even call holy. But I've never felt that any of them were the kingdom. As the U2 song says, "I still haven't found what I'm looking for."
  48. 1 point
    Not to derail this thread further (for many people are blessed by Lectionary readings and study), but I think you make a great point, Paul, about the state of the world and Christianity's role in helping our world. For far too long, IMO, Christianity has embedded itself in the sin/savior myth that posits that the world is broken, in sin, and that the only remedy is for God and/or Jesus to save it through either forgiveness or destruction (in order to create another world). This myth teaches that we can do little to nothing to help our current state except to plead to God to come rescue us. The result of this, in much of Christianity, is escapism and waiting for Jesus to return at any moment with God's divine clean-up plan. Granted, it is an appealing myth. But I don't find it to line up very well with most of Jesus' teachings. I don't see anywhere in Jesus' teachings where he says that we are born in sin. And while some of his statements seem to imply that he would return shortly, he also stressed that his followers should be about the business of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, helping the poor, working for justice, visiting prisoners, etc. I haven't been able to thoroughly plumb all of his teachings about it, but Jesus seems to say that the kingdom is already here, already in the human heart. I don't see this so much as a remedy to some "sin problem" but as a seed to the growth and maturation of humanity that could heal the places in ourselves and in our world that need healing. Yes, the world is a wonderful and amazing place and we are an incredible species. But we are still immature and have a ways to go before we are fully human. And I think, in my own Christology, that Jesus, in some sense, shows us what it is like to be fully human. He was ahead of his time. The Gentile church didn't know what to do with that, so they declared him to be divine. In doing so, he lost his humanity. And I think that changed his role from example to savior, and I think a great deal was lost in this demotion. This is why, for me, Jesus is not a way to get to heaven. Rather, he shows me how genuine relationships grounded in compassion can change the world, not from sinners to saint, but from strangers to friends.
  49. 1 point
    I'm new to this site and am jumping in here without having read everything that's gone before. But someone in another topic suggested that something I wrote there might be of interest here, so I'm sharing it here. This is an argument from personal experience, not theological belief or scientific research. I realize that that approach upsets some, but I think that ultimately everything we believe is based on our subjective evaluation of what we experience (including what we read about technical matters). So, here goes: My view of the physical world is mechanistic, predictable. That if I press the "Y" key on on the keyboard, "Y" will appear on the computer screen. That if I heat an egg in very hot water, the liquid contents inside the shell will turn solid. That the rotation of the Earth will cause the sun to appear to rise in the East. We constantly depend of the fact that a certain cause will have a certain effect. What happens in the physical world is predetermined by what happened previously. Theoretically, every physical event today was the result of a series of fixed causes and effects since the Big Bang. Of course, some processes are so complex it is difficult to imagine that we could gather enough information for a precise, correct prediction. But I take that to be a limit of our ability to gather sufficient data instantly, rather than a failure of cause and effect. I also recognize that quantum mechanics describes a different process at the atomic and sub-atomic level, but I'm not aware that anyone has claimed that this atomic activity invalidates Newtonian laws at the scale we experience reality. But I do find that my experience of life doesn't match this mechanistic view. First, regarding predictability. After reading your post, I considered how to reply. I thought of one approach, then abandoned it for the approach I am now taking. And, as I type, I revise sentences and substitute new words for ones I have written. That's not how the laws of nature work. Nature doesn't correct errors and make revisions in a specific case. My toaster doesn't correct itself if the setting burns my toast. My radio doesn't correct itself if a short distorts the sound. Nature doesn't "correct" a mutant cell division. One could argue that evolution is self-correcting, but that's not because nature "fixes" a specific mistake; it's just that some causes lead to more enduring results than others. Getting "heads" five coin flips in a row is not due to nature changing anything; it is just a matter repeatedly flipping the coin enough times. When I decide this morning to have a waffle rather than an egg for breakfast, I don't think it is reasonable to believe that that choice was determined at the moment of the Big Bang. I think it is more reasonable to think my human consciousness was able to make an unpredictable choice. Second, regarding experience itself. I experience my life being full of sensations — color, sound, taste, scent, etc. And yet, none of these exist in nature. Grass may reflect electromagnetic radiation of a certain frequency, but there is no color there. Slamming a door may send shock waves through the air, but there is no sound there. We have evolved to have receptors of data about our bodies and our surroundings. But evolution has also created brains and central nervous systems that make consciousness possible, but the raw data bombarding us is useless as raw data; it must be interpreted. So where does data turn into the experience of color? Not in the rods and cones of our eyes. Not in the neurons of our brains. There is no physical locus where we can objectively show that data has been turned into the experience of color. So I conclude that experience is non-physical, and that our consciousness is affected by external stimulus, but is not totally controlled by it. Hence, our consciousness enables us to choose among real options, and that's free will. Our choices are limited by physical realities, and our ability to carry out our decisions is limited by our physical location and capabilities. Free will does not, to me, mean anything supernatural, anything in violation of natural law. It is the product of natural processes that created, first, life out of non-life, then consciousness out of programmed responses, then human consciousness that permits our decisions to take into account abstract concepts. So, that's what made me side with free will. But that's not a decision against cause-and-effect. It's an addition to cause-and-effect.
  50. 1 point
    To me, Progressive Christianity means applying the “new story” of science and anthropology to the myths and beliefs of traditional Christianity and thus opening the door to probe for a deeper meaning. It means looking beyond bible inerrancy and dualistic thinking to a more meaningful relationship with God who is always present and active in, with, and through all. Progressive Christianity, to me, means letting go of ideas of exclusivity, accepting that my faith is not the one and only truth. And, by learning of other faiths, enriching my own faith. Finally, it means being allowed to explore ideas that mainstream churches would find uncomfortable, if not blasphemous, and find both tolerance and agreement.
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