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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
    Hi Thormas, Sorry, it's been a busy week, and I wanted to give some due consideration to your questions. It's not easy to put into words, but I'll try to give you a sense of where I'm coming from at this point in my understanding, even as it changes and evolves and departs from logic... if the self searches for self but it actually doesn't exist ("beyond the fear of its non-existence and coming to terms with 'not self'") what or who is doing the search?  if self is illusion, what is the reality (at least in your present understanding)? why is there the illusion of self in the first place? why (in your understanding at present) is there anything? If whatever is beyond the illusion, manifests (or creates) in or through illusion, why? In discussing the search for self, it seems logical within the structure of language to name what or who is doing the search - there must be a subject to go with the verb, otherwise the structure of language fails and we are unable to communicate in clear, logical sentences. Because I work in communications, words are an essential tool of my trade (not that I'm particularly skilled, mind you). My day job requires me to communicate to specific audiences, reducing the possibility of confusion, misunderstanding, ambiguity or raising more questions than answers. So I understand the reluctance to discuss a 'search', without a searcher, for an object - the self - that doesn't even exist. But I think it's also challenges like this that draw me to these types of discussions in the first place... Because what if there really isn't a subject? What if there really is just the search? Lately I've been intrigued by what appears to be a convergence of thought around quantum theory, consciousness and this idea of not-self. What we are left with in each of these areas of thinking is an action without a named subject: being, suffering, consciousness, wave, potentiality...in these spaces we have looked closer and found no-one, no-thing, that acts. We like to think there are no limitations to language as a tool to communicate awareness and experience - yet there's a reason why myths, stories, literature and poetry are enhanced with music, art, theatre and film. And lately I've been getting the feeling that we're using an ineffective tool here - that it's not just my own limitations, but something in the structure of language that gives the impression of trying to enclose smoke in a cage... In my present understanding, God, the universe, consciousness, energy, oneness, etc all seem to be alternative, limited descriptions of the same universal action or process, for want of a better term. From the limited experiences of this element of the process that is 'me', I can develop awareness and get a sense of the enormity and pervasiveness of the action, but I struggle to grasp it fully as a concept and be confident that I have all of it contained, because the more I develop awareness, the more I become aware of the gaps and limitations of that awareness. When I get conceptually beyond all boundaries as illusion and the idea of God as a being, I imagine this action or process as a 'dance', where consciousness may simply be the overwhelmingly complex interaction of potentiality waves. I think the more we become aware of and understand this process of interaction that underlies our 'reality', the more we can contribute to the dance. And in those incredible moments when we are most aware of the complexity and beauty of this process in which the All is eternally intertwining, interacting...then the 'self' and all of the apparently separate elements, including their supposed reality or illusion, fade to insignificance - because only the dance is. why is there the illusion of self in the first place? I'm not entirely clear on this, but I have a strong sense that it has a lot to do with fear and lack of awareness, but that's a much longer discussion. I'll just mention the studies with split brain patients, which show that when consciousness divides it loses awareness of the 'other', and must discover it anew, including any recognition that the two parts were initially one. How this can be applied to the idea that 'all is consciousness' I think is an interesting area to explore in terms of the illusion of self. And, how do you see yourself, which 'philosophy' speaks most powerfully to you: Christian, Buddhist, a combination or other? I try not to attribute a value or hierarchy to terms such as Christian, Buddhist, etc. - it collapses too many potentiality waves. That sounds really kooky, but it makes sense to me at this point in my understanding. So my answer would be a combination, because I find most philosophies 'speak' to me in different ways, although I am most familiar with Christian, and most recently drawn to Buddhist. I may be wrong, but it seems you have a strong belief in the existence and importance of the self, which is tied very much to your understanding of Christian philosophy. I don't disagree as such - I can see how that makes sense. But from my understanding, I no longer see the existence of the self to be as essential to Christian philosophy as it has made out, and I sense that this difference might have something to do with the word 'self', and how we each understand it from different perspectives. But I'm not suggesting that settling on a succinct definition of the term will help, either - all that does is confine our awareness even further. I'm guessing you don't see the possibility of someone prescribing to both Christian and Buddhist philosophy on this topic, and you apply the structure of language to 'the search for self' in order to challenge the Buddhist perspective. It's a logical approach. But in my view it's the structure of language that collapses this potentiality into either/or, preventing awareness of the both/and possibilities. In this sense I think language is far from the perfect tool for the job, but it's the one we're using, so I'm acknowledging its limitations here in communicating the experience of not-self. The ultimate aim of communication, in my current understanding, is to share and interconnect subjective experiences - to interact and recognise in the 'other' a single, divided consciousness, an element of the dance... So when the words fail and communication appears to break down, we can try to connect to the subjective experiences that give rise to the words, to recognise the possibilities of both/and when freed from the constraints of language, and to strive for that sense of oneness that brings beauty to the complexity and diversity of life... ...and then try to work our way back from this experience to find some way of communicating it without losing too much in the process - recognising that this will be far from perfectly achieved. I hope I'm making some sense here.
  7. 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?
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  10. 1 point
    Hi everyone, you may call my Davy, Dave, David, or whatever you like I'm a newly baptised Australian Christian, and am seeking like-minded family in the Lord. My current family seemed to judge me very critically, as I divulged my past during a prayer meeting last night. I felt really put off by this because I was pouring out my heart and being open and trusting of which I've struggled in the past, and which made me feel like shutting down again. I'm suffering from a number of conditions due to emotional pain from past abusers, and of my past in general which has been very trying. But with the help of the Lord Almighty, I hope to overcome all my issues and settle into a good year of study at university this year where I'm enrolled in English with a major in Writing. I have some physical issues which are debilitating to some extent, and am on a disability pension for my past mental health issues (which re-occur occasionally) but also am on the autism spectrum and for this reason will seek to have my pension reinstated on this basis. I'm boarderline level 2 aspie which means that I do need support to live properly. I need others and have suffered from suicidal depression in the past. From which I've attempted several times, and have since put some effort into bettering myself. I'm hoping for much help from the Lord, in being self sufficient, and capable of completing my studies this year, and hopefully into the future, for I really need to complete this course in order to honour my Mother who wishes I could complete a course instead of dropping out through hardships.
  11. 1 point
    At twenty paces!
  12. 1 point
    Not sure how we would measure the present "poor spiritual state" with the same poor state in past eras. Even in Biblical times, you have the people of Israel who again an again and again and again lose faith and create 'false' gods to worship - yet good people still existed and the 'miracles' occurred. And consider Jesus: he was rejected by all - except a small group of disciples and followers (and many ran in his hour of need); talk about a poor spiritual state, yet for Christianity, it resulted in the greatest miracle. So too in any age, there is a mixture of those lost, those who deliberately go another way and good people. On this reckoning, if there was 'supernatural activity' in some of those ages, that activity should be present in any age. One wonders, then, if there was ever such supernatural activity as recorded in the bible. The paradox (and the wisdom) of Christianity is that the spiritual (or God) is not found in another dimension and not found above and beyond the natural: the spiritual is not found in the super-natural. Jesus proclaims the treasure found in the beginning of his public mission: "Behold, the Kingdom of God. " The Jews and Jesus believed that God would establish his Kingdom here, 'this world' would be (become) The Kingdom of God. The paradox of Christianity is that the supernatural is in the natural; it is in the natural that one finds the 'supernatural.' For Christianity, God's is incarnate; he is only found with us (Emmanuel).
  13. 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?
  14. 1 point
    Many Christians will say they 'hope' for eternal life. Of course, that usually means they are convinced they will enter eternal life after they die from this physical one (and/or some believe it will be a 2nd physical life due to resurrection of the body and a new earth), but my discussion here is asking just 'why' hope for eternal life is so important to those people. Myself, I don't think there will be any life after this one. When my eyes close for the last time I think it will be like going to sleep and I won't awake. Personally, that doesn't bother me as I know it can't bother me once I am dead - because I won't know I am dead. Yes, I will no longer experience the company of loved ones and friends, but I won't know it. Yes some will mourn and miss me (maybe a couple I hope ) but eventually they too will die and no longer suffer any such feelings. The fact is I'm sure they will get over it long before they pass! I guess this is heading toward Buddhism territory which I understand talks about letting go of the ego, which is possibly the thing that drives one toward such 'hope', that our ego, our 'self' will never die. Anyone here hold onto that 'hope' and prepared to discuss why eternal life is so important to them? Are you afraid of no longer existing or do really desire 'eternity'? Anybody here a previously heaven-believing Christian who now thinks more like me? Why is eternal life NOT important to you? Maybe it's because I'm nearing 49, maybe it's simply because I read the latest PC newsletter which had an article on hell not being Jewish/Christian, but for whatever reason I am presently reflecting on just why some people think living forever is such a big deal, whilst others like me, don't really care for it.
  15. 1 point
    Hi Bonnie, It's nice to meet you also and welcome to the forum. I would strongly encourage you to be as 'me' as you want. In general, we have a understanding and accepting group here. There are sometimes diverse views on many things, but as long as we remain civil to one another and respect that many of us have different beliefs and views on things, then we can all get along just fine. I hope you enjoy participating here. Cheers Paul
  16. 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."
  17. 1 point
    God only grudgingly allowed the selection of a king of Israel. Prophets, priests and judges yes but it was the arrogance of Israel which demanded a king. See 1 Samuel 12.
  18. 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.
  19. 1 point
    Energy is united at different stages or vibrations and is never destroyed, but it does interact and change from one energy frequency to a different vibration. One of most fundamental laws of science is the Law of the Conservation of Energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed; it can only be changed from one form to another. Therefore, we can infer that energy is not currently being created. Present-day measures of energy are considerably vast, indicating a power source so great that "infinite" is the best word we have to describe it. The whole cosmos is inter-related energy interacting at different vibrations or frequencies. This unified field of energy is information reacting in a field of intelligence that I label as consciousness. As a Christian I can say it gives me the vision that this energy that makes up everything that moves the force fields of this Earth of ours is a part of the pure energy consciousness of everything or God. We are experiencing this change and will be able to move and flow with it if we see the energy upon which we are moving. I feel we have the choice or free will to see an experience with the unified field if one chooses or not if one wants to see everyone and thing as individual packets of energy. The belief institutions teach us to rely on the systems and not our own connections to the energy around us so we restructure our skills, but I feel we can choose to open our selves to the infinite energy around and within in us to understand the different frequencies and subtle energies that permeates and connects all things. Everything is energy in one form or another and is more than what we perceive with the five senses. We have the free will to see everything as a symphony of vibrations of light and sound, a system of atoms and packets of energy that make up our cells, which are like a system of universes. Each cell being a solar system of atoms with a subtle energy at the center I call consciousness. Each cell is a key to the universe, a consciousness with the information to set us free. They contain energy with the knowledge and experience to shows us that we are not spectators, but participants with free will and co-creators in our existence. The parts of our cells are interacting and changing the electromagnetic fields around us and in us. A tapestry where the vibrations and threads are interwoven in a fabric of interactions. We are not observers of an independent, separate, external world, but participators interacting externally and internally with the whole. The charges and spin of our micro parts affect the micro parts around us. The “Quantum Entanglement Theory” states that there appears to be an eternal inter-connection between all elements. If two electrons are created together, they are forever “entangled,” much like two people in love. Regardless of the distance between the two electrons, a change in quantum spin in one electron immediately causes the other electron to change spin as well. Leon Balents, senior author published in the journal Nature Physics an article where he explains that Quantum Entanglement Theory represents the extent to which measurement of one part of a system affects the state of another. In our example, measurement of one electron influences the state of another that may be far away. Scientists have acknowledged that the entanglement of electrons is present in varying degrees in solid materials. This insinuates that information is being transmitted at speeds faster than light. Some scientists claim that Quantum Entanglement substantiates that there is no such thing as space, and that everything in the universe is in touch. Our inside and outside are only different sides of the tapestry. The inside is dealing with unity while the outside is involved in the duality of objects. We have the free will to acknowledge either the unity or the duality. Therefore; I feel we have free will with a limitation because of the interactions. When I feel pain in the world of duality I have the free will to dive into the unity inside and when I feel I am a participator, I can head out again into duality. Yes, I am a Yo Yo, but I feel I have a small amount of free will to affect the tricks I can perform. I enjoy my individual packets of energy, but like a Buddhist need to bath in the unified field of energy to wash away the attachments that cause pain.