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Everything posted by PaulS

  1. PaulS

    Shades of Grey

    No, I am not talking about the variety of shades made famous by author EL James, but rather how I see life as countless shades of grey when it comes to virtues, values, knowledge, integrity, principles, ethics, morals, etc. Mostly these shades appear in the most basic activities in the ebb and flow of my life (work, parenting, friendships, etc) and sometimes they cross over into less serious territory such as politics, law and order, religion, atheism, and sport. Grey makes the matter sound drab, depressing, ‘bad’ - but I see it as simply being what it is – decisions and viewpoints made on specific circumstances based on my perceptions of the matter. And these positions move and change regularly as new data comes to me (or how I perceive that data). Often only by minute degrees (a tweak here or a twerk there) but sometimes it may be a major shift in my position - but still there is wriggle room and acknowledgement that nothing is ever a one-size-fits-all. Nothing. I see this in a positive light from the point of view that it is encouraging that we as humans continue to evolve into our capability to acknowledge our own shortcomings/misunderstandings/lack of knowledge (even when we think we know) , empathy (increasing on a world-wide scale with technology advances making us so more intimately aware of others), sympathy, compassion and better understandings of how people and things work. For most things in life I would have to say that I don’t have a rock-solid, unchangeable position. What I may think is an unchangeable value applied in one circumstance often requires amending when faced with a similar yet slightly different circumstance. For my first 18-19 years of my life this was not the idea sold to me by my family and Church community (for the record, the first 17 years of my life were strictly Churches of Christ - Australia, followed by a dabble with the Baptists and the Salvation Army, before abandoning the lot in my 19th year). In these environments, doubts about Christianity were discouraged and the answers were all there within the Church doctrines and of course the ‘correct’ interpretation/understanding of scripture. I have discussed before how as a young police officer my worldview was severely challenged, both religiously and non-religiously (e.g. how laws are made out to be immutable but really they apply to all sorts of situations where ‘wriggle room’ is appropriate IMO), so I won’t go into depth again, but suffice to say it’s about then I started to see the world as shades of grey. No doubt many people see the world like this and I see many like minds here. So I don’t know why I am writing this, but just thought I would.
  2. PaulS

    Shades of Grey

    No argument from an educative point of view. Indeed my own children attend both a Catholic High School and an Anglican Primary School. I am suggesting run far away from the harmful teachings of traditional Christianity such as one not being worthy if they don't 'accept the Lord', that one is destined for eternal harm if they don't 'believe', that a human is born evil, etc etc. I don't think one has to experience that sort of indoctrination to then come out the other side with a more balanced view.
  3. PaulS

    Shades of Grey

    Please know I was only using the word 'pathological' in the sense that Burl introduced it. My later point was simply refuting Burl's interpretation of 'traditional' Christianity as being only the 'friendly' version so to speak. Without a doubt many Christians were exposed to less harmful versions of Christianity (you are an example). And even those that were exposed to a more harmful interpretation of Christianity might not suffer any harm if they remain with the flock and hold the faith. As for what is deemed 'ordinary' Christianity, i would suggest the numbers are on the side of the fundamentalists, the 'burn in hell if you don't believe' flavour, indeed many of those faiths who meet Burl's definition of 'traditional' (i.e. "affrims the Apostle's Creed (modifications allowed), has over 500k members or has existed for over a generation"). But there are clearly thousands of versions of Christianity and each of those probably truly believes they have THE correct understanding of Christianity.
  4. PaulS

    Shades of Grey

    I think the point still stands that what is regarded as 'traditional' Christianity does include the 'pathological' model I experienced, whether some Christians feel offended by that or not. Sure there is less harmful Christianity, but I don't think this has been the majority version throughout history.
  5. PaulS

    No much action

    Sometimes it’s busier, sometimes it’s quieter.
  6. PaulS

    Biblical Sexuality

    I’d be interested in how you see it from an anthropological/historical point of view, so I’ll drop you an email. Cheers Paul
  7. PaulS

    My evolving journey

    Welcome back Apexcone, Having been down that fundy path and it’s abandonment myself, I can relate to how Spong can be very enlightening on a better understanding of christianity. I think, like Rom suggests, Spong’s biggest audience are those who don’t feel comfortable with their traditional understanding of Christianity and God, but whom enjoy the familiarity Spong maintains without severing the connection to their past. I hope you enjoy your refamiliarisation here. Cheers Paul
  8. I wonder if anyone would care to share what beliefs they may have once firmly held, that have since changed and are no longer a belief for them? My point in doing so is to have us consider that no matter how strongly we have all once held beliefs - the introduction of new information, different interpretations and life experiences has often seen those firmly held beliefs change. I could be wrong but I doubt if anybody here has NEVER had a belief change, even though at one point they were CERTAIN that belief was TRUE and could not be changed. That doesn't mean beliefs are right or wrong but simply that they do change and as unswervingly certain we are that our beliefs are right, I'd bet London to a brick that at some point in time we have all had 'guaranteed' beliefs, change. So why is anyone utterly convinced that what they believe is true right at this point now, can NEVER possibly change with new information, new understanding, or new life experiences? As a fairly well known Progressive Christian (Marcus Borg) once said: "believing something to be true has nothing to do with whether it is true.” Some beliefs that I previously held unalienable certainty in (until they changed) include: Santa Claus (plus the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy). I was thoroughly convinced they existed. A loving, father-like, deity (an Abba) who would see the majority of his children tortured for all eternity if they didn't do what He said (or if they didn't properly understand what He said) People who weren't Christian 'chose' not to follow Jesus because they wanted to live apart from God That I had a duty to said God to convince others they needed to know this God the way I knew him, for their own sake That gay people were depraved sinners who wanted to wallow in their depravity That Jesus was God incarnated, who knew of his existence in Heaven prior to physically 'coming' to earth, to die as a sacrifice for our sin, which as luck would have it was an automatic curse simply for being born human That the words of the Bible are an exact copy of what was originally written That the only way to live a meaningful life was to believe all of the above (except for the fictional characters - you can decide which ones are fictional for you) I don't make these points to aggravate or debate their value, but merely to demonstrate that beliefs do change and hopefully encourage some discussion about how our unchangeable beliefs are often one day challenged, and changed. Anyone else prepared to admit/discuss such experiences?
  9. Yes, Bishop Spong’s books, talks and general profile have really helped many (including me) better understand scripture and Christianity.
  10. PaulS

    Greetings from new member

    Welcome SL, I hope you feel welcome here and find the forum a beneficial place for sharing. Cheers Paul
  11. PaulS

    Tim Keller tweets on evolution

    The majority of the world also used to believe the earth was flat, and that slavery was considered normal. As Leo Tolstoy is quoted - “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it”. Such ‘spirituality’ as you mention Burl has been bending and twisting ever since first thought in an effort to keep up with the world modernising. As for the US military - you have a President who’s chief spiritual advisor is conducting a ‘Mega Miracles’ tour with a preacher who claims to raise people from the dead. Just because somebody is fanatical about spirituality doesn’t give it credibility. Can you even name one single military initiative/development that has resulted from these programs (not including what they learnt about psychology and the real world)? We agree the Christian evolution/young earth/creationists arguments are all silly, but these are examples of the old spirituality trying to hold on in the face of development. I imagine today’s ‘spirituality’ will be viewed the same in another couple of hundred years.
  12. PaulS


    Welcome Miriam, I hope you enjoy the forum and derive some value from it. Questions (and debate) are pretty popular here and we share a broad scale of beliefs and non-beliefs. Many of us here have been associated with fundamental Christianity (not all). Some have returned to the fold so to speak with perhaps a new understanding, others may continue links with Christianity but without the typical beliefs that many say Christians must believe. Either way, (and in many of other ways for that matter) discussions and debate are excellent for learning and there is plenty of information also available in our archives. Enjoy your stay here. Cheers Paul
  13. PaulS

    Tim Keller tweets on evolution

    Consider away I say if that's what tickles your fancy, but why not consider if humanity is evolving 'away' from God or indeed, is evolving without any concept of God whatsoever? Why are a minority of the human species so hell-bent on being convinced there is something behind the scenes pulling the strings? Is it for the same evolutionary reasons that many are scared of the dark, or is is just the hangover of superstition that developed when we first started to walk upright? I doubt Tim Keller is genuinely asking a question and I doubt he would be genuinely be interested in any of those comments that don't include God in the picture. There is nothing 'mere' about evolution and if Tim really doesn't know why we should object to powerful people oppressing marginalised ones without some God being part of the equation, then I'd be concerned that his education was severely lacking in that societal dept.
  14. Welcome back Tom, even if just for a visit. Labels are an interesting thing - we seem to like to apply them to help us organise things nice and neatly, yet most of the time these labels get blurred, crossover, or update to more fitting ones. Whatever the case, you are you, whether you wear a label or not. Sometimes labels do help communicate our position/beliefs/opinions, and sometimes they confuse. To me 'God' seems to be the ultimate label of confusion and one that is always held tightly by small likeminded groups who want to be 'right'. I probably wear bits and pieces of dozens of labels, none of which probably fit precisely with somebody else's opinion of what that label should mean. Who cares. Whatever it is you are struggling with, just keep breathing and smile. You'll come out the other side eventually. Enjoy the love you have and share with your friends. That is all that matters. Take care. Paul
  15. If we were able to answer this conclusively Rom, we would probably be worth a lot of money! Far greater chemical reactions than mine are at work on this question! But I do think it is our chemistry driving us. This chemistry has evolved over millennia and is currently at a point where it drives us the way it does.
  16. I don't think consciousness is an illusion but rather simply a product of the chemical reactions of our brain. I would suggest we don't recall pre-birth consciousness because our brains haven't developed yet. As we age our brains develop and so our 'consciousness' refines its process and becomes more and more. I think there are people who genuinely believe they have lived before, but I think that is just what their brain is telling them due to the way it has connected its neurons during life's experiences. I think our brains have evolved to a point that consciousness, intuition, memory, imagination, soul etc are all simply products of this functioning brain. I think because we are yet to fully understand our brains we tend to think that soul and consciousness are somehow something outside of our physical brain. When we die and the oxygen and blood ceases travelling to the brain the brain stops working and that is the end of our so-called soul, consciousness, and mental existence.
  17. PaulS

    Deleting 'god'

    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.
  18. PaulS

    Deleting 'god'

    Member Davidsun has been blocked from posting for a one-week period (until Saturday 10 March) as an administrative measure to discourage uncompassionate posts. What is an uncompassionate post?– see below. There IS an etiquette and guidelines to abide by here so that all members may participate in discussion threads without being called names or insulted or other derogatory comments made about their beliefs. We don’t all agree all the time and vigorous discussion often does ensue, but everyone has a right to their beliefs here without being insulted. It is a fine line sometimes and this decision is not taken lightly. I have only implemented a one-week period in this instance, but I think it is necessary for maintaining our forum for all who wish to participate in accordance with the guidelines established for this forum. Paul (As Alternate Administrator)
  19. But you were right and I initially didn't think to list my previous strongly held belief of heaven and hell. Neither of those places exist for me now which does actually bother me a little - I won't be able to give the bird to those who have given me the willies in this life!
  20. I still believe in an afterlife - after we die we enter an eternal, dreamless, sleep
  21. PaulS

    Deleting 'god'

    Your narrow definition of the 8 Points and your assumptions about the teachings of Jesus are your personal opinion. People like myself regard themselves as in agreement with the 8 Points although I have different opinions to you about Jesus' teachings and what they may mean. Your 'recognition' and 'acceptance' of the 'fact' that I do not belong to Progressive Christianity is misplaced. You are entitled to an opinion David but I would suggest you keep it to yourself when you want to put others down because you feel you hold the only interpretation of the truth. A little bit of meekness as Jesus would say probably wouldn't go astray. And as for you not understanding 'for the life of you' how Thormas may hold similar interpretations or agreement about me being pleasantly surprised, again I would say that you possibly need to reconsider what Jesus was teaching. Or not, after all it is really just opinion. Your voice is not unusual and I have heard most of it before - "I know the truth, I'm right - you're wrong'. As we have seen so far in our interchanges, that approach very quickly ends any discussion. Which is fine if what you are seeking is not discussion and sharing alternate views, but wanting to be agreed with.
  22. I like to have a bit of a drink. In fact drinking alcohol is a pretty much embedded part of my social life, well life even when I'm on my own for that matter. In fact, here's a pic of my spare fridge in anticipation for Christmas 2017. Not that I drank it all alone, but a man needs to be prepared (as do women too of course). My favourite drink of all time is a quality Shiraz wine, preferably from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, although I think my home state of Western Australia offers some pretty close seconds. I have been lucky enough to partake in some, what I consider ridiculously expensive red wine (Penfolds Grange - $700-$800/bottle) but I found it no more satisfying than a good $100 bottle of Shiraz. But then again, I am probably a peasant when it comes to class wine! White-wise I probably prefer a nice crisp SBS - semillion blanc sauvignon. However lately I've taken a fancy to Pinot Gris, yet I also have a taste for a nice limey, minerally, Riesling on a hot summer's day. The above said, I am a man of a wide variety of taste and to contrast against say a nice $50+ bottle of red, I also enjoy a few glasses of my homemade Rhubarb wine (yep, you can make alcohol from just about anything!). And if I'm going to promote a Nectar of the Gods, one can't go past Joe's Ancient Orange Mead (just Google it). Astoundingly that particular drop has some fairly close origins with this forum (wink wink, nod nod). I have also made some spirits through my mate's still and my own WTF Bourbon from NYE 2015 is still talked about today (even if the participants are unable to remember what TF hit them that night!). How about you? Do you have a favourite tipple that you would like to share? Have you made your own from the world's resources or are you content to buy already made? Next on my home brew hit list is a lemon mead wine and some more rhubarb wine of course (as I grow 5 rhubarb plants). Now if I could just work out what to do with some water at a wedding!
  23. PaulS

    Name your Poison

    It is down the cheaper end in Australia Rom - about $9 or $10 a bottle - and it is probably looked at as not our finest export. Probably like Fosters beer which nobody drinks in Australia but which I think is just about the only Australian beer known in the US & Canada. It's all personal taste but I think price is roughly aligned with quality and I know for myself that there is definitely something more to shiraz's in the $40-$60 category than what Yellowtail presents. But as evidenced by my preparedness to drink homemade rhubarb wine, I hope you understand that I am no wine snob.
  24. PaulS

    Name your Poison

    I don't have suitable wine storage in my house either so I utilise my neighbours wine cellar and have about 150 bottles in there. An unintended but beneficial consequence is they seem to last longer over there than they would of they were here at my fingertips! I tend to age them and select them more for occasions than just run of the mill quaffing.
  25. PaulS

    Why I Am Not a Progressive Christian

    The error checking mechanism I was referring to is simply what works for you. You are free to apply whatever principle you want to make you feel like you have found the right answer. Ultimately, somebody else will probably disagree with that - so is your error checking mechanism faulty or accurate? Where does it stop in determining when an error is found or not? I'm not saying not to have such a mechanism, we all do by default, and they are all usually different to one another's in some way, I'm just saying there isn't a right answer. The right answer is what works for you and you alone. That's how I see it currently anyway.