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ParSal190

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ParSal190 last won the day on September 2 2010

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  1. Unfortunately I think it's even more basic than that, that parts (at least) of America are going back to a state ranging from minimal literacy to outright illiteracy. I'm just starting Karen Armstrong's "The Case For God" and in her introduction she's made a point that while we can read our scriptures for ourselves today, this was not always the case. And I think for many Christians in the West, particularly in America, this may be becoming progressively less and less the case. And yes, reading the Bible can be hard and/or painful if you're marginally literate at best. The Bible is a fairly complex book even if one functions at high literacy, which more and more Americans today do not. As such, parishioners are, at least for the forseeable future. going to grow more, not less, dependent on clergy for what they learn in their faith, with varying results depending on how skilled and ethical clergy are. And yes, most Christians do at some level, at least, want to know what God is saying. That's why they go to church and listen, in addition to/lieu of reading. I'm assuming, of course, that most Christians do the best they can to be loving people by the light they have. I also think the "feel good" instinct, wrong and even shallow is at may be on many things, actually is potentially an humanizing element. You mention the story of Jephthah and his daughter(Judges 11). Who would possibly want this tragic story as a positive spiritual example? I've never heard even of a fundamentalist who knows this story and wants it as such. Preachers whom I've heard preach on this, admittedly only a few, invariably condemn Jephthah for doing this. It's not necessarily ignorance that's causing this. It's that Christians, lay and clergy, have decided that this story works, if at all, better as an example of what not to do than as what to do.
  2. Hi Lake Gazer and welcome. I understand the feeling of wondering where you belong. Many of us do. I'm curious about what you mean by "sacrificial based theology" since you seem so worried about serving God in that paradigm. Do you mean serving in a church with conservative theology, which regards Christ only or predominantly as a sacrifice for sin? Or do you mean something else altogether? In any case, blessings on your adventure, including the challenge of your call to ministry, and we're glad you've given us the chance to share it with you.
  3. Sigh. Maybe actually *reading* an OP closely might be helpful... On one hand, at least in America, and as with traditionalist Christians, progressive Christians aren't being routinely imprisoned, tortured, and martyred for their faith. This doesn't mean this couldn't happen, nor that groups like Dominionists aren't actively working to make that happen, or that loudmouths on radio and TV who man or may not get the implications of what they're doing, aren't helping create a climate for that eventually to happen. That said, however, yes, I do think that traditionalist Christians often persecute their more liberal fellows in various ways. A lot of the persecution is for our approach to the GLBT issue, but not all; I think a lot of it is more general resentment at being reminded that God is love, and that God expects us to live in love, not just of Him but of others, regardless of who they are and where they're at. As I've said elsewhere, besides my posting here I also post at Christianforums.com, mostly at its liberal section, but I sometimes lurk (and my (braver) friends often post) in other areas where fundamentalists and other traditionalists predominate. Sometimes the fundies come to our sector to cause trouble. As such, I'm often struck... 1) That the fundamentalists quite often consider us not only to be wrong, but actually liars. They think we're actively (and often think we're consciously) working on Satan's behalf to deceive the good "real Christians" there and corrupt them into being heretics and libertines. Of course this is slander and as such a form of persecution, but who cares. "Who is a liar but he that denieth Jesus is the Christ," as we supposedly do? 2) That they often put down, sometimes viciously, new (or even "old") Christians for real or alleged sins in their lives, and put us down for trying to act in a compassionate manner to them. Not all of us would subscribe fully to all 8 TCPC points, but we all believe that people should be treated kindly and with dignity, but the fundamentalists often don't see it that way. The latter form of persecution is particularly troubling to me, as they're doing it to vulnerable, confused people, fellow believers and often even fellow conservatives, who often have a background of abuse or other trauma which is a large part of the reason why they fall into the "sin," be it real sin or alleged, in the first place. The last thing these people need is more trauma, but the super-Christians serve it up to them anyway, at best uncomprehending. .
  4. Hi Sharon, and welcome. When I was living in Tennessee I visited WNC several times. It's fearsomely beautiful country. The portion of Pennsylvania where I live now (Metropolitan Philadelphia) is near Appalachia, but much of it is built up even to the mountains, and I hope that's not the case where you live. IIRC it wasn't that way years ago when last I was there. Look forward to your continuing presence here.
  5. It's a good thing you clarified that, David--and that I caught it in time to edit an earlier post here to correct my misunderstanding--because that original comment did not sound whimsical to me. Albeit perhaps for different reasons, I abhor "prosperity theology" and the like as badly as you do. And I would not have taken kindly to your lumping Joseph in with such people like, originally, I thought you had. I don't always agree with Joseph, but he is a good soul and has often been of help to me since I came here.
  6. How exactly do you define persecution, David? I mean, seriously. Or perhaps to word the question more accurately, what all does the term "persecution" encompass for you? Because in America I really don't see Christians, at least not fundamentalist or other traditionalist ones, hiding in fear of their lives or in fear of being jailed or tortured, or routinely at risk of losing their jobs, SPECIFICALLY for being the kind of Christian they are. Now *I* sometimes wonder if some yokel isn't going to walk into any church I'm likely to attend, and shoot us up solely and specifically for having a liberal faith, like a guy did last year at a Unitarian-Universalist church in Tennessee. I wonder this because I hear loudmouths on TV and radio, many of them Christian, deriding liberals like me--like most of us here at TCPC--as traitors to America, moral corruptors, congenital liars and worse. And because said murdering yokel in Tennessee was directly influenced by said loudmouths. But for traditionalist Christians in America, not so much worry. As far as I can see, Christians who believe what you said above are very, VERY seldom persecuted in America. Particularly in the heartland "red" states, far from being persecuted, they form an integral part of American culture and even in many cases American politics. It's a funny kind of persecution that permits an "oops" like that. (Edited to remove a section because therein I misunderstood David's "prosperity theology" comment. I apologize.)
  7. Probably at least part of it is that, right or wrong, too much is invested in our Bible as it is. Why, for that matter, don't we have the Didache or the Gospel of Thomas in our canon (or for that matter why don't most Protestants accept the Apocrypha as canonical)? Because somebody decided it was not useful to most Christian faith communities of the period, and/or was politically inconvenient. This isn't just a problem for fundamentalists and other traditionalists either. Jesus ben Sirach, for example, wrote some nice things but if I were female, I'd probably seriously recoil at several passages in Sirach, particularly 25:13-26:18. Another factor is: If you reopen the canon, how do you narrow down all the possible inspired material over 2,000 years so your new Bible won't literally fill a DVD in any word processing format, and thus become entirely unwieldy to read and to study? And on what basis do you choose your new books? On the basis of the "old" books? Or what? Even older authors can pose a challenge. If you want to put Tertullian in, for example, do you put in his Montanist works, his pre-Montanist works, or both? And why? (Full disclosure: from what little I've read about and by Tertullian I like him better as a Montanist.)
  8. Hi, SaintJK: For me. it's like an old devotional story called "Footprints," which you may have run across. Honestly, the story as written is too mawkish for me to quote in full; but nonetheless the basic idea--that God carries us always, and particularly when and where we absolutely cannot walk for ourselves, has become very powerful to me over the last several years. As such, no, I don't think you have to stop altogether an habitual sin to start (or continue) a relationship with God. Yes, there are Scripture verses here and there that seem to indicate that this is the case. There are also passages (particularly in Leviticus) that effectively make it a capital offense to eat pizza with meat (particularly sausage), to wear most articles of clothing made nowadays...you get the idea. And in the I John passage you quoted in your OP...It's difficult to determine the exact sins the author is referring to, but if you read widely around that passsage, in context these sins seem mostly to be a lack of faith, a lack of love, and an active and totally unrepentant regression into the selfishness and shallowness of the wider world. I'm not (and I don't think whomever wrote I John is) talking about "I'm stressed so I'm right back on the Winstons or Lucky Strikes or whatever." Or, "I've come to care a lot for my good female friend Susie Q. and suddenly her legs seem a LOT shapelier to me than they once did." What "John" is talking about is people who just don't care--they take and take with no thought to love or giving. Their world is loveless and, at least in effect, Godless. That's how much of his world was back then, and little if anything has changed. You have to use the brain and the heart God gave you to, as it were, "rightly divide the word of truth." And the Christian archetypes, both in and out of our canonical Scriptures, overwhelmingly point to God being love, and particularly to God being unconditional and ever-present love. And they indicate the primary calling of Christians as to be mirrors of that love to the world. Sin may block communication from OUR end, simply because of our sense of alienation, guilt, fear and frustration. But it is not so from God's end, and for your friends to say so is mistaken. And I think you yourself hit the nail on the head: how can you overcome a sin if you can't count on the One on whom you ultimately rely for help, to help you? It's totally illogical, and per the above I'm not sure it's even that biblical. It's completely backwards to try or even to contemplate. While it's us who must confront (and where possible defeat) sin in our lives, it is the love and power of God whereby we gain the strength. That works whether God is real and personal, or whether (as Paul Tillich would have put it) a "ground of all being" from whence we draw inspiration, or whatever. Again, how do you draw on Source for your struggles if Source is denied you precisely because of your struggles? It makes no sense. I can't speak for your friends, but my experience is when people say God won't interact with you because of sin in your life, at least one of two things is usually going on: 1) They don't want to interact on a deep level with you and face the pain of their own struggles. In other words they're either unable to mirror, or they're not serious about mirroring, God's love to you. 2) They have their own struggles with particular sins, real or imagined (and trust me, some of these "sins" are quite imagined) and really feel alienated from God, and unfortunately they're projecting their feelings on to you. In other words they don't feel God really loves them and as such, how are they supposed to love you on His behalf? Both of which make me feel sad, because I've suffered these things with them, and I know how sad and unnecessary such things are. I don't want them for you, and I don't think any God who embraces Christianity as a path to Him would want them for you either. Hang in there.
  9. Hi Nancy, and welcome aboard. Thank you particularly for your kind comments on the "Afterlife" thread.
  10. I've not read very much Walter Wink, but I am glad you are aboard. Welcome.
  11. We all do, man, we all do. Welcome aboard.
  12. Hi again annalisa and welcome again. Before I really start with the post I'd note that there is a Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship, and post the link here: http://www.uuchristian.org/[/u]"]http://www.uuchristian.org/, in case you might find the resources helpful. I've only given their site a cursory glance, though, literally Googled it right now having remembered the organization, and while they seem like a progressive group I'm not entirely certain about their agenda, so use with care. It is worth bearing in mind that Unitarianism started out as a dissident Christian group that, as the name implies, taught that God is One and only One rather than a Trinity and, as such, that Jesus was "only" the primary human Prophet/Teacher of the Christian faith and that the Holy Spirit is "only" an emanation from God rather than a separate Person thereof. I'm not an active churchgoer currently but the church my wife and I currently attend on occasion is UU. It's been pretty good for us, particularly in that UU is more of an interfaith movement and can embrace both our spiritual paths. (She is Wiccan and I am a liberal Christian with views on faith similar to yours.) I hear you, though, about missing any sort of more than maybe occasional focus on Jesus in your UU experience. This is partially explainable in that UU in America has become more of an interfaith movement, embracing not only liberals from various faith groups, but groups one wouldn't ordinarily think of as religious such as humanists. Which mostly is fine by me; I think of the UUA's radical willingness to embrace this kind of diversity, as well as the human beings who bring the diversity as they are and wherever they're at on their individual journeys, as one of UUA's greatest strengths. However, this often puts congregations and ministers in a quandary as they plan worship and preaching, because these have to speak as well as possible to the fulness of that diversity, and that is not an easy task. Apparently your UU church at least some weeks responded by focusing on notable Unitarians and religious freethinkers (I assume these would include for example Emerson, Thoreau, Servetus, Paine, and Priestley) and that is fine in itself. All the five I mentioned are rightfully spiritual heroes. But you still miss Jesus, who is also such an hero to you, and rightfully so. I often miss him too. I don't have a full answer to your dilemma, but I do have two suggestions. First, regardless of what church you choose as your primary home, do keep as many of your friends as you can from both places. More good friends is always a good thing. Second, it's not wrong in my opinion to maintain one's primary membership in one place and participate in activities at the other insofar as time and energy permit. Maybe, for example, there's midweek Bible study at the PC you're considering. Go there in addition to Sunday worship at your UU church. I'm a bit more hesitant to suggest you alternate Sundays at either place, but perhaps it might work for you. Finally, I definitely hear you on your past struggles seeking a PC church living in the South. I'm from Tennessee originally. My home area is actually comparatively blessed as against many Southern cities, but it's hard, and friends from earlier on your journey don't always understand. God bless you. I hope this helps.
  13. Hi and welcome aboard annalisa. I think similarly to Joseph that the path chooses us, but that it has forks that allow us at least some choice. I wish you well and look forward to your participation here.
  14. I did tonight, as well as some progressive Baptist resources (including congregation lists) I remember from my Baptist days.
  15. Hi again everybody. I guess this could be construed as a prayer request also. Anyway, In addition to this forum I've also started posting on a "Liberal Christians" subforum at christianforms.com. Since this is part of a larger and mostly more conservative forum, we're not immune to drivebys from fundamentalists. A few days ago, a young Baptist woman (age 19) posted there about her struggles with a growing sense of alienation from her current church. Though the real kicker for her is having GLBT friends and trying to reconcile supporting them with her church traditions, she's also finding herself more liberal than her fellow churchgoers on a wide range of issues. Her church is apparently if not a megachurch than certainly a large program church, with a substantial youth group that forms the core of her friends. This is painful for her because she apparently grew up in this church and she's risking losing her friends, or at least having them at an utter loss to understand where she's at. She is technically an adult but apparently still lives at home, and her parents are not supportive of her new beliefs. I've been trying to help as best as I'm able, mostly through a mutual female friend (being married and markedly older than this poster, I feel limited by propriety issues regarding what I can do directly). It's not helping that a self-identified charismatic Christian interjected himself in the public part of our discussion, basically dissing her for her lack of "spiritual resolve" and also directly targeting the empathy she feels towards her GLBT friends as a "stumbling block" to her making "righteous judgments" on said GLBT friends. Anyway, please pray in whatever way you understand prayer for this poster. She hasn't been back for a few days and I'm worried. If it will help focus your prayers, I trust most of the regulars enough to PM her user name to you, but I don't feel comfortable posting it publicly.
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