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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 1 point
    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!
  5. 1 point
    In a recent post, my 'credentials' as a Progressive Christian (yes, I use that label for myself) were called into question based on, amongst other things possibly, my leanings as an Atheist. In fact, I was told that in regard to the 8 Points that I had "justified myself in a way that works for me". As timing would have it, an article in today's Weekly Progressive Christianity.org Recap really spoke to me and summed up where I have been personally going on this journey (still to yet arrive possibly). I would go so far as to say that the author represents word for word much of my feelings and thoughts. I think it is an article that may also speak to a variety of others in this forum - past, present and future, who find the 'old model' of God not necessarily working for them, yet still associate themselves with PC. Sometimes we are accused of not 'getting' God, of not being inclined to think 'hard enough' about spirituality, and quite often accused of shutting ourselves off to 'spiritual learnings'. This article might help those so accused at understanding they are by no means alone in their seeking, their thinking, their 'philosophising' and indeed, their spritual quest. I have included the link below for your convenience. I hope you enjoy the article. https://progressivechristianity.org/resources/resurrection-as-change-part-iii/ Peace & goodwill. Paul Footnote: I probably should have pointed out when I originally posted above a few hours ago, that of the hundreds and hundreds of posts I have contributed to this forum over the years, most often I have received nothing but encouragement and fair and reasonable discussion from other PC's participating here. Throughout that time I have openly discussed my atheism and lack of traditional belief, and recent events are the first I have seen here of anybody asserting that I am not a PC. What I am trying to say is that overall, I have found PC and those participating here to be generally encouraging on my journey. Thankyou.
  6. 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!
  7. 1 point
    Hello Romansh, I agree or sympathize with much of what you are saying. My concern is not so much the 8-points definition, which you are reconciling to. None of us have proof of the divinity aspects, or what degree divinity applies. For me, the exciting concept is convergence between the Six Jesuit Values, the UUA Seven Principles (unitarian universalists, ie humanists), and any well-done categorization of the 37 parables of Jesus and Sermon on the Mount. There is convergence which I refer to as "the real Trinity". The positive value of those principles does NOT require metaphysical connotations in Jesus, though it does not deny it either (frankly, debating/guessing is of less interest to me). Actually, I believe the UUA Principles are the finest extract of Jesus' moral teachings that can be found --- far better than my UCC creeds. And only 12% of UUA members consider themselves Christians, or believers is some degree of divinity of Jesus. So that coincides with some of your rationale as well . . . what's sacred or not. As some might know based on my earliest post, I believe "Apostle" Paul was a fraud, a canard. "Romans" is the 90-proof vodka that dominates "Christianity", the Gospels only the chaser or mixer in Paul's cocktail. And I believe the fraud evokes Matthew 7:13-23, that nearly all believers would be misled to doctrines which grew "thorns and thistles" (ie Calvinist indignation, elitism, intolerance). That passage also says Jesus ultimately returns., and on that day "Then I will declare to them, I never knew you, go away from me, you evildoers". As Gomer Pyle said, "Surprise, Surprise, Surprise". The point is, Jesus disowned what would become of the church in his name. It would be easy for me to give up on Christianity, except for my prior life as a Mormon and Southern Baptist, where I experienced the radiance of brotherly love and service in the Beehive. Qualities which also apply to the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. I believe that type of community, or agape, is the life of the era of the Didache, of the early communal church . . . and it is what maximizes what we as human beings were designed for. That does not depend upon belief or creeds or communion. While the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith turned out to be a charlatan, and there is that toxic Mormon sexuality so well dramatized in "Angels in America", I still retain much enthusiasm for the Beehive (where most of my family remains). Frankly, the UCC where I find myself now, is so atrophied and anemic that while it tries to be progressive, it is unsatisfying. It straddles both Paul and Jesus, afraid to alienate anyone. Yet back at the UUA, shucks, you hear more about Native American Totems, or Paul Bunyan, than you do Jesus. Still in terms of some creed or list, as you are reconciling to, I like how the UUA and Jesuits both parallel the teachings of Jesus, with or without the "Sacred" or "Divine". And one of the Jesuit values is about allowing for a wide diversity of faith and belief traditions. Thank you, Craig
  8. 1 point
    The eminent exponent of zen to the west, D T Suzuki, once said that eventually, after all our explorations, we would become again the old Tom, Dick or Harry we always were. Well, if that is the case, I think I just might have made it- though in my own case it is Derek, Dookie or Tariki..... Yes, I'm now back to being the mixed up, often confused and stumbling idiot I was back in my younger days before my conversion to the Lord and the start of it all ("all"?) In celebration, I have added a new blog, the text of which is to be found below:- My blog is going into print - yes folks, the "vanity project" of the year. The initial print run is of one copy and I have jumped in quick and bought mine before it is sold out. But seriously ( I think ), I did want to print it out. Whatever is held exclusively on a PC is always in danger of disappearing in an instance, even though such disappearance would often be considered a mercy by many. Well, my blog is on Google - but then, is even Google eternal? Anyway, I googled "print out blog" and up came a site "Blookup" which promised to print out any blog for a fee ( of course ) Their site was easy-peasy, even for a non-geek like myself. They imported the entire blog, gave options of fonts and type size, made it easy to design your own cover - back and front - and also offered a very good editing option. A detailed preview of the finished blook is given, "exactly as it will be printed", all indexed. Editing was a bit of a bain. Obviously videos had to go, so farewell Frank Zappa, and the Stones strutting out "Start Me Up". Also the Dalai Lama and the "make me one with everything" joke. Then all the "pictures on the left" ( or right, or up, or below ) had to be amended to "the right" ( or overpage, or above, or whatever) Surely Google could sort this out, I cried in despair.But finally the job was done. My Blook is at the printers. For those of you who just might be slower to catch on............Blog.......Book.......thus BLOOK. Well, the full blog can be viewed WITH PICTURES on mydookiepops.blogspot.co.uk. (Sorry for this, I have always said that my sense of humour would get me into trouble one of these days) .
  9. 1 point
  10. 1 point
    Hi everybody, I am a life long christian in transition from conservative theological views to whatever my final faith destination may be. I have been deconstructing and reconstructing my faith for six years in the isolation that comes from living in a very conservative area, both religiously and politically. Texas may be proof that hell actually does exist! There is no opportunity to dialogue on spiritual topics without being the "bug eyed alien" in the room. I don't even try politics and policy prescriptions. So I hope to find others here to discuss our common spiritual path away from fundamentalist, bible inerrancy christianity toward something different and better that nourishes compassion, forgiveness, respect, reconciliation, humble non-judgement, etc. If there is an area of the site that lends itself to this, please point me that way!
  11. 1 point
    At twenty paces!
  12. 1 point
    Just thought that I would post a short history of my time on Discussion Forums, now that I have in effect retired. It has been a personal journey and for me, fulfilling. I'm going back a few years to when I first got on the Internet. Maybe about twenty years ago. A whole new world, at least for me. What do you look at? Pondering, I remembered a Buddhist magazine, Tricycle and wondered if they had their own website. Sure enough, yes, and I found it and looked over a few articles and photos of various Buddhas and Buddhist wannabees sitting on cushions seeking to meditate their way to nirvana. Scrolling down the Home Page I spied the words "Bulletin Boards" and wondered what they were. Perhaps private ads along the lines of "Buddhist, GSOH, wishes to meet like minded for zafu sessions". But no. Investigating I saw that here we had a rich assortment of various people, with "screen names" such as Dharmakara, Lotus Flower and other such exotic titles, all raising questions, answering back and forth, and all sounding quite knowledgeable as far as Buddhism was concerned. For a couple of days I read a few of the threads and then the thought popped into my head..........I too could register, I too could assign myself a name, I too could join in the talk, actually express a point of view. Believe it or not this thought gave me the collywobbles. Did I have the nerve? Seriously, my hands shook and my heart thumped. Nearly fifty years old and the thought of expressing an opinion, even on the relative anonymity of the internet, filled me with apprehension. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. With trembling hands I registered. As a first swipe at the obvious conventions of the media, I gave myself the name of "Dookie", a name my daughter had often called me - I have no idea why. Then I had to decide upon my very first post. There was a deep discussion taking place between two suitably named worthies, posting back and forth on various points raised by the classic zen book "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind" by Shunryu Suzuki, a book they obviously relished and admired. Me, it was one of those books I had found it hard to get into and in fact never really got into it at all. To be frank, it had bored me rigid. Should I say this? Should I step in and have my say? I hesitated but then thought that if I feared to do so and held back, what was the point? So in I went, speaking my mind. I was totally ignored! The conversation carried on around my meagre and rather paltry post as if Dookie was non-existent. Perhaps the fate of so many in this world. But Dookie was made of sterner stuff; what does not destroy us makes us stronger says Nietzsche. Soon I was back on another thread and this time drew a response! Someone in cyberspace had actually read my words and seen fit to answer! Very soon, another thanked me for "making my day" and I have to admit, this almost reduced me to tears. The thought that words of mine had touched another's emotions. From then on there was no stopping me. An English teacher in the USA, in fact a published novelist, sent me an email and told me that I was one of her "favourite voices on the Boards", another asked me where did I get my wisdom from. I never associated myself with wisdom and told them so in one way or another. The fact is that for me it was a question of self confidence, self esteem. There is a thin dividing line between this and pride. I tried, and endeavour, not to cross it. Good to take to heart the words of Honen, one of the "fathers" of Pure Land Buddhism, who said:- "When a scholar is born they forget the Nembutsu". Everything that is truly of worth is a pure gift of Reality-as-is; given, not attained, realised, not earned or gained by merit. Anyway, eventually I learnt that Dookie was a word in the USA used by children for poo, a fact that threatened to tarnish my reputation just a little, not to mention forestall any suggestions of wisdom. But I soldiered on. The Bulletin Boards on Tricycle finally disintegrated, unmonitored they sunk under their own weight of spam, flaming, sledging and insults. So much for Buddhist ethics But I had the bit between my teeth. I registered again and again on various Boards. Christian, Secular, Atheist, Agnostic, Islamic, General, Ex-Christian, Inter-faith and various new Buddhist forums. Two hiccups when once I was censured for a "racist" post ( I had posted of my thinking that Wei Wu Wei was a "wizened little Chinaman" before finding out his true identity as the Irish Aristocrat Terence Gray) and then received a lifetimes ban on another when I crossed swords with the Administrator who took exception to my implying that a post of his was based upon gossip. But it has all been good for me. I have retired from all Boards now after perhaps 30,000 posts or so. In my time I have been called a hypocrite, a liar, the "voice of satan", even the Anti-Christ; I have been called wise and been called stupid. I have been known as Dookie, Tariki, Cobblers Apprentice and one or two other equally preposterous names, as the mood took me. Generally I have sought to be polite and truthful. We can only try. One of my fondest memories of meetings in cyberspace was various exchanges with a guy in Sri Lanka who had ambitions to become a Theravada bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) who eventually thanked me for extending his knowledge of the Buddhist Scriptures. My worst? Crossing swords with a member of a Fundamentalist Christian Sect whose bigotry, which he was totally oblivious to, was, to me, shocking. In the end, as the wag said, "There are only two types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people and those who don't". There is great mileage in the zen advice that if we wish to know the truth then "cease to cherish opinions", simply because, as per the great parable of the raft, the Dharma is for "passing over, not for grasping". For me this has its echo in the Gospel advice not to judge others. From being afraid to say boo to a goose I will now say what I like, when I like. If not now then when? Anyway, I have cut and pasted this from my blog, and the full illustrated edition can be found by those who enjoy punishment, on:- http://mydookiepops.blogspot.co.uk Thank you
  13. 1 point
    Hi Burl, I've only recently found this forum, and this set of lectionaries. I enjoyed reading them from the beginning, including your attempts to stimulate discussion. Having recently grappled (unsuccessfully) with biblical hermeneutics, I was interested in exploring interpretations from a PC standpoint, and many of the readings are precisely the ones that both resonate with me and seem to be ignored or misinterpreted, in my opinion, by many Christians. But I noticed some changes occurred as I progressed through the thread. The discussions have ceased, and the bible version seems to have changed to a modern, 'easy-to-read' one that incorporates its own interpretation, rather than inviting one. Are both of these changes intentional or incidental? Are you still attempting to stimulate discussion, or is this serving a different purpose? I wonder if there are some further details you could offer in your introduction regarding what you hope to achieve here... Previous discussions seemed to get caught up in the idea of an 'original version' of the writings, and the assumption that when one offers their opinion they are trying to persuade others to agree with them. There is a tendency for those 'discussing' to attempt to provide some kind of solid, widely accepted basis for their opinion - but the problem is that no such solid ground exists in spirituality, so this seems a pointless exercise to me. All we can do is share our own subjective experience of the text (which in itself is an attempt to share subjective experience and form a basis of 'truth'), and recognise that there is no 'truth' or 'fact' - only an interconnection of a variety of experiences. Perhaps 'debate' is not how we should approach this particular thread, although I am not so naive as to think it can be avoided completely. I like BillM's idea: perhaps this is an opportunity to offer our personal interpretation of how a particular reading resonates with our own lives and our understanding of Progressive Christianity, of 'God' and of our experiences with traditional Christianity. Maybe we can enter discussions in this thread acknowledging that: - there is no 'correct' or 'original' wording or interpretation of scripture that can be agreed upon; - any interpretation of scripture is a personal one, based on the sum of our own personal experiences including what we think we know; - all we can offer to these discussions is opinion and personal experience, not facts, evidence or truth. Or perhaps I am being too naive...
  14. 1 point
    I have been wandering around the Internet of late in search of a faith community. I was raised Catholic: church every Sunday, private schools, 'the pope is infallible', and 'ours is the one true church' type of Catholic. Then I went to university and discovered the rest of the world as well as my own mind. I soon stopped attending church, married an agnostic and put aside any thoughts of spirituality. I was never an atheist, but I lived almost entirely in the material world for the next two decades, before a series of life experiences led me to pick up the bible and read it, from the beginning, with an open mind and a quiet prayer seeking understanding. What I began to realise was that the bible communicates something very different to what I had been taught - and that it actually makes more sense. If God is eternal and unchanging, then all the many instances of change in the nature and personality of God as described in the bible must have been written in by the authors themselves. Suddenly the bible was just a series of very human writings, documenting a particular cultural group's valiant attempts to share their experience of 'God' as it developed over many centuries, and in doing so, try to make this spirituality appear more concrete than it is. These days I still consider myself to be 'Christian', in that I strive to follow the teachings and example of Jesus as a human being who connected so completely with this eternal and limitless source of life, wisdom, power and possibility. But I don't consider 'Jesus' to be the only way to this spiritual connection. I cannot say the creed, and I cannot assert what are widely proclaimed as the main tenets of Christianity: the divinity of Jesus, the concept of the trinity and the physical resurrection, among other things. I firmly believe that we've somehow got confused - we got lost somewhere between the death of Jesus and the creation of the bible, and then we called a halt to what, up to that point, was an ongoing journey of spiritual discovery and understanding. So I explored other faiths, as well as online forums and meeting points of Christians, atheists, ex-Christians, biblical hermeneutics, interfaith communities, etc. I found lots of argument and debate, lots of attempts to label my beliefs as agnostic atheist, Christian, New Thought, Jainist, etc. Then I read Spong's Twelve Points for Reform, and I have never felt more fully understood. That's why I'm here.
  15. 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.
  16. 1 point
    One of the Lindau gospels.
  17. 1 point
    I think you make a good point Burl - indeed perhaps those two commandments were unnecessary. Well, obviously the author or translator thought they were necessary when they wrote them, but of course a couple of thousand plus years on and such commandments may indeed require questioning. Along with a few of the others I would say that many Christians are stuck on insisting are commands from God and not man. It's even possible the lack of serious contemplation or deeper thought is actually the error of the one who states proudly that they know these are God's commandments. A bit like a beef stew that does seem to have flavour, it's just that the flavour is artificial - not that that bothers the consumer of course.
  18. 1 point
    A spin-off from the Theism-thread. Let's make this a thread of it's own for more input on the topic: I would be more welcoming for the idea of re-inventing Christianity, if I saw it work in practice the way it's supposed to work. The reality in practice for kicking God out of the church doesn't seem to live up to the promise. The State Church in my country has pretty much done this, embraced the liberal, moralism-focused, humanistic, downtuned-in-supernatural - version of Christianity, and has done a lot to distance itself from more "judgy" branches of Christianity and yet that has done nothing to help the decline in numbers, the decline has continued steady. Also, a necessary note, we are here talking about a phenomenon that is massive in scale, one that is a (maybe even "the") defining phenomenon of our time in the West, so trying to summarize it to be a result of any one factor risks being a grotesque oversimplification. Historically speaking, social and cultural changes of this scale are always very complex in detail, and tend to have many overlapping dimensions going on simultaneously within them. Personally, I have been interested in the phenomenon and studied it a bit and it seems to me that the standard reaction from Christians, when it's brought up, is the blame game. "It's the other team who's ruining this thing". I think such hijacking of the phenomenon for a propaganda weapon against some other versions of Christianity is not a particularly good approach. The statistical reality seems to be that to much of my dislike - may I add - it actually seems to be the more fundamentalist - leaning branches of Christianity that have survived the process better than the more liberal ones. Historically, The United States decline of Christianity, that seemingly begun in 90's, is a curious phenomenon. In Europe, the churches used to be part of the old order, they were the trusted allies of the monarchies who ruled the continent for centuries, and when Europeans finally kicked the kings down from their thrones, their allies, the churches (perhaps deservedly) got their status damaged in the process too and apparently have never really recovered from the blow. On the other hand, Christianity in the United States never had this problem, due to it's historical lack of state religion, and for a long time it seemed to make an exception in the western world. But, that too is now changing, for reasons which remain a bit of a mystery to me. I have some theories, but they're little more than guesses.
  19. 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."
  20. 1 point
    This. I don't think that this is the stance of Christianity, but I do think that it is the truth to which Jesus pointed. God's Presence doesn't descend from the sky. Rather, it is in each of us. Being spiritual doesn't mean being above the world in order to escape it. Rather, it means going deeper into the world to connect, love and transform it. God is not found in temples, books, or institutions. Rather, God is discovered, recognized, and celebrated in each other. Namaste.
  21. 1 point
    Hello, others on a journey. I'm an older, ex-clergy, in need of others with which to share and walk. For many years I tried, mainly without success, of changing churches from within and am now only on the 'edges' of local churches. I've written a bit (CHURCHES: A Time To Die - Hope For New Life) and do speaking where I'm invited. But with my book out, I rarely get the chance to speak at churches. I take 'The Kingdom of God' very seriously, knowing that what Jesus said and did CAN happen. Nothing else for me really matters. The world now needs real SHARING that only love brings, no matter how God is understood. If this isn't the basis for understandings, they need be discarded, NOW. I live near Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Are there any nearby who'd like to meet? Of course, any, anywhere are welcome to meet me here. Thanks for your time. Live well and love more by sharing.
  22. 1 point
    My son was "warned" at his place of employment that the end was nigh. I've lived long enough to see this kind of thing come around and around every few years. In fact, when I was very young, the film "A Thief in the Night" (about the rapture) scared the dickens out of me, so much so that I questioned my salvation and rightness with God for quite a while. As PaulS pointed out, even Jesus taught that he would return in his generation to establish the kingdom of God on earth. So far, he is still a "no show". Personally, I have no need or use for fear-based religion and, perhaps like you, Joseph, I would simply wait for the steam to run out. To me, there is no sense in arguing with those caught up in end-of-the-world scenarios or fear-based faith. Fear is seldom rational. To me, if/when the end does come, it will be due to our own short-sightedness as human beings or due to the natural course of nature (our sun becoming a red giant). I no longer fear or expect God's intervention.
  23. 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?
  24. 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?
  25. 1 point
    I don't know :+}
  26. 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.
  27. 1 point
    If this was proposed by some serious leader, it would be worth analyzing the pro's and con's of the decision from the military point of view. But, in this case, given the character and the track record of the current US president, the default assumptions should be that 1) The actual facts and the real world consequences on the matter have not been given any serious thought 2) The motive behind the announcement is something else than what it is claimed to be 3) The timing of the announcement is likely a product of entirely short-term political reasons and 4) At least something related to the announcement itself is either completely untrue or at the very least, presented in a hugely misleading fashion. Those factors have been true for about everything done by pres. Trump so far, so until proven otherwise, those factors should be assumed to be true in this case as well. And due to this, I don't have much of a motivation to try to analyze the issue itself in terms of actual military realities, since the actual military realities are most likely irrelevant for the decision making process behind this. I would rather analyze this in terms of political image building, as an attempt to control the media attention or very simply as a yet another petty decision to reverse something Obama has done, rather than as a fact-based military decision, since those are more likely the actual reasons behind this announcement.
  28. 1 point
    For me: Acceptance: Understanding things could not be otherwise, despite the many alternatives we can imagine for the past, present and future.
  29. 1 point
    Imagine being one of those people that sees a tweet from your Presudent that you will no longer have your job! Even worse, no follow up with policy or detail - people are just left in limbo. Does the President mean it or is it just a cruel joke? This would affect several thousand individuals. What a disgusting way to treat people and a reckless abuse of power. Seriously, what goes on inside the guy's head? Do many Americans think this is quite an alright way to act as President?
  30. 1 point
    It's a disgusting comment and typical of his small mindedness toward justice. What about all the innocent people who are arrested by police but later released when proper investigations demonstrate their innocence? What, too bad for them, they should just get hurt by the police anyway? Don't be nice to them just because they might not be innocent? Craziness.
  31. 1 point
    Obviously the Bible is considered Christianity's 'Holy Book' and many Christians believe it is either directly communicated by God to man, or they think it is 'inspired' by God. Most Christians believe the Bible to be, at the very least, a guide book towards what God wants and interpret variously the messages within this library of books as messages from God. Recent comments on another thread about the Bible expressing key elements about God's relationship with man, as though this Book is the only one that speaks for this man/God relationship, reminded me of this pic. To think that of the millions of years that mankind has existed, that one collection of books from a very limited geographical and cultural perspective somehow holds the key to the universe, is hard for me to accept. Every place and culture referred to in the bible fits within this little red circle and was written within a time frame of no more than 1000 years. I can't help but think that if it wasn't for the Romans taking Christianity on and then colonising the world, Christianity may well have died the death of so many other religions from so many of these other countries. In my country, Aboriginal people lived some 50,000 years without any knowledge of the Bible or believing of a God like that in the Hebrew bible. It seems to me that if God really did inspire the Bible, then he left some very big gaps concerning the history and 99% of the population of the world.
  32. 1 point
    Hello, i am a 30 year old mum of 2 year old and 4 year old. Although i have never really had spiritual peace i believe that since becoming a mother i have become more existentially anxious. I love my children so much that it is quite overwhelming. I feel a big burden that i brought them into this beautiful yet complex world. i am wondering if you know of any good books, pod casts etc anything for children to introduce them to spirituality in an open and relaxed manner (not dogmatic and non specific). Does anyone have any tips in regard how to overcome my guilt as a parent for not having all the answers (let alone the answers that humans have been seeking since the dawn of time). I know from a biological point of view obviously most of us are meant to have children (hence why we are all here). From a soulful point of view i feel a massive weight on my heart that i brought these two wonderful people into the world and now what..... so many unknowns ! Any tips or words of progressive wisdom appreciated
  33. 1 point
    Since Burl has decided to play and offered an answer, thought it might be helpful to present another take. I many times agree with Burl but as you can see: Divine/divinity - Being, Presence, Love Transcendence/transcend/transcendent - 'More" (as opposed to beyond or above) Immaterial - not a term I use God - Love/Abba Holy - humanity in divinity Spirit/Spiritual - not a term I use but similar to holy Grace - gift: the continual self-giving of Divinity to humanity
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  36. 1 point
    Welcome Lani, I grew up in a fundamental church in Australia (Churches of Christ) which was very much like the Baptists. Around 18/19 I was leaving that sort of Christianity but came back for a brief 6-9 months to a Baptist church (before I finally decided that I was right in leaving Christianity behind in the first place ). So I am very familiar with those teachings of Hell. When I was 40 (9 years ago) I too suffered a bit of an existential crisis when as a result of suffering anxiety (caused by financial matters and probably aggravated by career and young family pressures) my friend told me it was Jesus trying to call me back. This brought back all my childhood teachings about Hell and the requirement to 'believe in Jesus'. I had a very hard time of it for nearly a year. But I found this forum and some other progressive christian authors and scholars who helped me learn more about the history of Christianity, including what we can say for certain and what we can't. Why I like this forum is it has shown me that I didn't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There are some positive things about progressive Christianity that I find value in (which incidentally I think can also be found elsewhere too, but Christianity is the religion I am most familiar with). But for me, condemning unbelievers to an eternal punishment is certainly not one of them and this place has helped me understand what I consider a better picture of Christianity, based on better biblical scholarship and interpretation than what I had been indoctrinated with. I hope you enjoy participating here. There is also a lot of information in previous threads that you will find throughout the archives. Cheers Paul
  37. 1 point
    On the odd occasion it has been questioned why I am here and I have gotten the sense of the question why is my presence even tolerated? is being asked. Is my lack of belief so threatening? Karen Armstrong said in her book The Case for God “Religion was a matter of doing rather than thinking” ​And somewhere in the same book it she goes on to suggest Christians focus too much their beliefs rather than what they do. I volunteer at the local community chest, community living, Rotary and other organizations. Is that not Christian enough? I am surprised by that at times a Christian (especially a progressive one) might baulk at contact on this forum with those that don't have the same beliefs. I would have thought it is this contact that is the "doing" that is of value rather than the "thinking".
  38. 1 point
    Really, I'm not actually looking for a new path. The last thing I need is another set of buzz words - in this case "anima", "archetypes", "individuation", "synchronity" and a few more. All a bit of a jigsaw puzzle needing to be put together to try to sort out the mysterious "self" we appear to experience ourselves as being. But I have bumped into an old mate of mine, one of those ex schoolmates who I have also bumped into at odd moments over the years, and he - at least in the past - had a great interest in Jung. Myself, I like biographies, life stories, and actually find the actual meaning of the buzz words easier to grasp when put into the context of a life as lived and experienced. Letters to friends by the subject of the biography are often another source of insight and illumination. On the face of it, the idea of individuation (of the self) seems to fly in the face of "not-self" (anatta) but closer inspection reveals such not to be the case. Well, at least to me. "Universalism" is not a creed to be believed, more a lived openness to all things, sifted in the meeting of them and responded to, then moving on. Jung's individualised "self" seems always more a process rather than a "finished product" that justifies itself by being who it is. Anyway, thought I would just mention this as I dip into a biography of Jung's life. An early quote from Jung's letters caught my eyes so I'll copy it here..... The journey from cloud cuckoo land to reality lasted a long time. In my case Pilgrim's Progress consisted in my having to climb down a thousand ladders until I could reach out my hand to the little clod of earth that I am. If anyone has read his "Red Book" (that's Jung, not Mao) I would appreciate an opinion. Thanks Derek
  39. 1 point
    Indeed, tragedies like Grenfell seem to bring out both the best and the worst of people. Overwhelmingly I think we see more of the best than the worst, but still, why others need to be cruel and unkind in the face of so many who feel the hurt is beyond my comprehension. At the very least, if people have nothing nice to say about it then I wish they would say nothing at all. A beautiful film clip Derek. Thanks for sharing.
  40. 1 point
    May God bless you and help you through this.
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  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.
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  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
    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."
  47. 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.
  48. 1 point
    Kind of you. It seems that I am a heretic everywhere I go. :-)
  49. 1 point
    I know much is said about free will and the self being illusionary but I would go with many things holding the possibility of an illusion. Firstly the mind does not connect to reality. It draws in impulses through the senses to the brain. The brain then tries to make sense of what these impulses mean and then forms a cognitive representation or a map in the mind of what it thinks of the stimuli it is getting. So one can say that these cognitive maps are useful for us to negotiate our way through life but it is also a fact that these cognitive maps are not the actual territory. So the concept of self and free will in the mind may be illusionary but equally that does not mean the self and the belief of having free will does not come from the reality of existence. It just means we cannot be 100% sure of what we perceive as reality being reality in a sense because perception is cognitive we each build our own reality. The mind can also be tricked and these maps in the mind took time to develop. A young baby can be tricked with the presentation of three dots (representing two eyes and a nose) attached to it cot as being its mother looking on but in later life this would not suffice. However, there are ones adults struggle with :- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_illusion Being as we each make sense of the reality we each have formulated in our minds each can come to differing conclusions as to what is reality. Where one can say that free will does not exist and it is the universe unfolding another like me will say that although the universe unfolds we do have free will as to what we make of that and seek to do within the realms of the universal environment we inherit and the cognitive maps we have produced.. Now I do not believe I am going to convince someone that they are wrong because according to their model of the world a thing is such and such but equally according to my model of the world the self and limited free will exists. We each make our own reality and what is perceived as illusion or fact may also differ from person to person. Given enough research all things are provable.
  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.