Raven

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Everything posted by Raven

  1. Hi all, I used to enjoy receiving daily Bible verses via email (as a nice addition to daily meditation and prayer) but I'm having trouble finding one that doesn't have really conservative commentary. Does anyone know of a sort of "progressive" or "liberal" daily Bible verse service?
  2. I've been in touch lately with a fundy friend of mine. She's good people, but very, very conservative. In fact, her conservative nature (politically, socially, religiously) is one of the big reasons we drifted apart. Often, she'll say things like, "I don't drink, because I'm a Christian." Or, "I don't believe in premarital sex, because I'm a Christian." I understand that her fundy background directs a lot of her day-to-day life, but I'm not always sure how much of it is Biblical and how much of it is just fundy socialization. Sometimes I've felt heavily judged by her to be less of a Christian because of the way I live my life. It's frustrating, but I don't even want to ask her about it - it would just lead to more awkwardness. We are getting back in touch after a long period of quiet between us, but I'm still wary. I guess what I'm wondering about is everyone's take on the "Christian don'ts." Some things I've heard (from Fundy Friend and others) - women shouldn't wear pants or too much make-up - no dating without a chaperone - no premarital sex - no drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes - no socializing with people who aren't (your type of) Christian, except to dialogue/convert - no dating/marrying outside your (type of) religion (I think this one relates to the verse in the Bible about not being unequally yoked) Any thoughts?
  3. Lots of things occur in nature, or occur naturally, that cause harm. Just because something is "natural" doesn't mean it's automatically good. As Dutch pointed out at the start of this thread, there is a difference between a relationship between consenting adults of the same sex, and a relationship between and adult and child. Those who like to make a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia are unable or unwilling to see the difference, and it drives me crazy. Whether or not pedophilia is a sexual orientation is outside my area of expertise. However, as an opinion I would say it likely IS a sexual orientation, if we are defining sexual orientation as relating to with whom we wish to engage in sexual activity. However, if it is in fact a sexual orientation, it's still not "ok" in my book, because there is irreparable harm done to the child. Child molestation is not an orientation, IMO, but an activity.
  4. Happy New Year, friends! I've been awol for the last while with the usual holiday whirlwinds, but am now back to business as (mostly) usual. I am super overjoyed to announce my engagement to the love of my life, who surprised me with a New Year's Eve countdown/fireworks proposal. It was a beautiful moment and we are both overjoyed. Anyway, I know it's totally off-topic but I think of you all as friends, so I wanted to share my happy joy with you. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday - welcome 2013!!
  5. Thank you all. We are planning for winter 2013 so I have suddenly become very busy lol
  6. The value in relegating women lies in the value of keeping men superior. Not to push the gender button, but you have to ask, "Who is being served by this?" Keeping women submissive allows men to keep the power and control. Women don't do so well under such a system, but the men certainly clean up. Conventional, old-school religion (not just Christianity) is often patriarchal. It's not coincidence that the Bible, written and "enforced" by men, features a male God. Considering that, stereotyically, women seem to be strong in areas of kinkeeping, emotional support, and the other "soft skill" areas, faith seems like an area where a lot of women would do very well. However, TPTB do not like change, nor do they like giving up their own strength. I always feel bad for women who are brainwashed by these misogynistic cults - told from day one they are second best, second-class, second everything. No dreams or goals of their own, no place but a few steps behind their men. Totally an untapped resource.
  7. I can really only speak on this topic from two different places, at least with respect to the question asked. In the United Church of Canada, women are treated as equals to men. Bear in mind that I have attended the same church, so this is based on that church. Women sit on boards, even chair them, with no issues of any kind. Our current minister is a woman, as well! (And she rocks!) In this environment, I have no trouble identifying as a "Christian" because I feel like I'm on equal footing with my male counterparts. When this minister arrived, we did lose a few people (very few, actually) but we gained a few more. Breaking even, I guess. While at uni, I was living in the Bible belt of my province. There were not many churches to attend that weren't at least slightly fundamentalist, evangelical, reformed, or "Bible-based." I tried out a few, optimistically. What I found varied from church to church; some churches had women involved in the running of things, but mostly "women's groups" - lay ministry was virtually always male. The themes in sermons, also, did touch from time to time on men's roles and women's roles. (Women's roles being more submissive.) I also, as a teenager, attended an evangelical service while visiting family. Their Sunday School lesson that day was all about saving virginity for marriage, otherwise we would "lose our light." It was confusing. I think the more liberal churches are accepting of women as equal - beyond nursery and Sunday School, beyond hostessing refreshments. The more old-school churches seem very hesitant to do this. As a woman, I doubt very much that I would ever feel comfortable in a more conservative setting. The men seem to do quite well there, but the women not so much.
  8. I've been hesitant to post here, as this topic is one I feel strongly about, and thus I don't always trust myself to express myself rationally here. Before I go any further, let me clearly announce my bias - I absolutely HATE guns, and I don't think people should be allowed to have them. I also think it's terrifying that people can legally buy rounds and rounds and rounds of ammo without raising an eyebrow. Ok. This tragedy is absolutely heartbreaking. A few unconnected thoughts: 1. I think it's disgusting that media outlets photograph/videotape grieving family members. It's extremely poor taste. These folks have been through enough without having cameras in their faces during the worst moments of their lives. It's totally shameful. 2. Those who say that the teachers should have been armed make my blood boil. Teachers in the classrooms with guns? Are you kidding? I have a very hard time believing anything good or helpful would come from that. It's not enough to know how to aim and fire; in a situation like this, you also have to consider response time, ability to focus during panic, not accidentally shooting the children, and being able to compartmentalize the aspects of the situation. Gun training is more than physics. (And would parents really want their little ones in a classroom with a gun? Maybe some would, but I find the idea scary.) 3. Mike Huckabee's statement, once again, makes all Christians look like lunatics. The shooting happened because we've kicked God out of the public realm? Bad things happened because we don't force non-Christians to read the Bible during school anymore? Children died because we don't allow nativity scenes in the public square? 4. The messages on FB and Twitter about "God calling home" the kids and teachers made me sad as well. It makes me sad that people think God would do something like that. God "needed more angels" so He broke up a bunch of marriages and families in a horribly senseless and tragic way? Not the God I believe in, that's for sure. A human being, with some serious issues, took those people. It's sad, and defies reasonable explanation. 5. The time to talk about changes to gun control is NOW. How many more innocent people have to die before TPTB recognize that there is an actual problem with the status quo? How many more deaths will it take? People should not be allowed to just amass all the guns they want, and carry them on their person. They should not be allowed to order massive amounts of ammo without someone looking into it. Will some people cry that it infringes on their rights? Of course. But I would think that other people's right to LIVE trumps their right to their Rambo lifestyles.
  9. Thanks for sharing that! In the face of tragedy, it's always good to try to find something comforting.
  10. I'll add my own two cents - the fact that a "King" was born in a stable, rather than a castle, I think speaks to the potential for all of us to live in a Christ-like fashion, regardless of where/what we come from. The Kingdom is within all of us - not just the rich and powerful.
  11. I like to look at Biblical stories for the spirit of them, rather than the letter. Sure, it most likely didn't literally happen the way it says in the Bible, but what's the spirit behind it? What's the purpose of the story? What can I take from it that will be positive and encouraging?
  12. If we allow ourselves to be too caught up in the packaging, we miss out on the product. To give ourselves confidence or comfort, we tell ourselves what God's intentions are, the purpose behind the things that happen, or blame Him for what we don't like. This packaging is comfortable. We're used to it, as it comes from the lessons and cliches most of us heard growing up. The product, however, is different from the packaging. The product is less tangible, less predictable, and harder to nail to the wall than a bowl of jello. In my mind, however, it surpasses the packaging a billion times over, and then some. Personally, when I finally stopped relying on packaging, and started to connect with the product itself (which I personally believe resides inside all of us, as part of us, rather than as a man (?) in the sky rewarding and punishing at will), my journey truly began, and I began to feel peace.
  13. How does language “an approach to God” fit your spiritual needs? “An” approach, instead of “the” approach, fits me perfectly. It gives me the flexibility to find a path that works for me, with the understanding that someone else’s path might be different, and that my path may also change as I do. I also like the concept of me doing the approaching, rather than waiting for God to approach me. 2. What language would you have used for you own spiritual journey? I would use words like “winding,” “open,” “confusing,” “fulfilling,” “challenging,” “frustrating,” and “rewarding.” 3. Do you feel as the life and teachings of Jesus have brought you closer to an experience of God? How so? Through the life and teachings of Jesus I feel I’ve come closer now to the purpose of what (for me) life consists of. The most basic, soulful parts of Jesus’ teachings relate to helping others, showing kindness, serving, being honest, and being open. I experience God on a daily basis through these types of acts and experiences. 4. How does the absence of salvation language help or detract from your spiritual path? It helps immensely. In other faith traditions, and in other Christian denominations, there is a theme of people being broken, being unworthy, being in need of “saving” from a lot of issues, including themselves. The absence of salvation language lets me connect with God’s unconditional love. I am worthy and I am loved, as I am now. I am already good enough. 5. How does the Jesus of history or his teachings affect your understanding of God? I don’t have too much knowledge currently of “historical Jesus” but it’s an area that interests me. Maybe I’ll come back to this point at a later date. 6. How might our understanding of who and what we are, as human beings, change if we remove the need for the sacrifice of Jesus as the Pascal Lamb, our redeemer? I think those concepts relate to the guilt that we find in so many faith traditions and other denominations. The idea of, “Jesus died for our sins, so we need to be worthy to receive this sacrifice” causes a lot of guilt. Are we good enough for that? Do we deserve that kind of massive sacrifice? Is His death on our hands, or on our souls? It’s a lot for people to take in. If we remove that concept, I think people would feel more comfortable, more worthy approaching God as they are, without having to denounce themselves and their former lives, and become “born again” as a worthy individual. God’s love is unconditional, and it’s not about guilt or shame. 7. What is the difference between savior, hero, master, teacher, or prophet for you? Saviour – someone who rescues someone from something negative Hero – similar to a saviour, but the word “saviour” has a more religious vibe Master – someone who is better than I am at something; someone above me Teacher – someone who gives knowledge, wisdom to others Prophet – someone who speaks their version of “truth,” perhaps claiming to see what others cannot, or the future/visions
  14. Thank you for the compliment, Kaykuck. I tried to explain myself as best I could. Personally, I think of the resurrection less in physical terms and more in metaphorical terms. To me, the concept of resurrection is about a new life with Jesus - a new outlook, walking a new path, a chance to start over and begin with a new perspective. I don't buy the concept of Jesus dying for my sins (or anyone else's sins), as much as I consider it to be part of the guilt story co-opted by the church. As for Heaven and Hell ... those are ideas I'm still sorting out, but I don't believe in a physical place where just the "good people" go after they die...
  15. "Justice" sounds like retribution when it's as basic as "an eye for an eye," which I don't believe in. However, I do think that when people do something to cause harm to another person, they should have to suffer some consequences. If you take the life of someone else (or cause them so much damage that their life is forever altered in a way they didn't choose), I don't think you should be able to just walk away from it. It's not about "making it fair," but about having an understanding that actions have consequences. It's an easy enough concept - we teach it to children from the time they are born. If you do something that is harmful, there will be consequences you probably won't like. If a 16-year-old kid decides to shoot someone, they should face strong consequences. A slap on the wrist shouldn't cut it. If you take someone's life, should you not have to sacrifice at least part of yours? I'm not talking about the death penalty, but I am talking about adult prison time, instead of a juvenile centre with a revolving door - the victim's life should be worth more than that.
  16. 1. What does the term “community” mean for you? When does a group become a community? I think "community" is about people coming together with a sense of purpose or direction. It could be something as basic as sharing a physical space (such as a neighbourhood) where the sense of purpose would be perhaps to live together peacefully, and take care of the neighbourhood environment. It could be something more specific, such as a church community, a work community, or a hobby community, where people have common ideas and goals and support one another. In my opinion, a group becomes a community when the members make the decision to stay and be in it together. In my mind, a group is merely just people occupying the same space (including the internet) but not necessarily with the intention or desire of working together and/or moving forward. A community works together, supports one another, sets and (hopefully) reaches goals, and looks out for one another. There is a sense of solidarity and strength in a community - ideally, anyway.
  17. Excellent points by both of you! Paul - you're right, the way I phrased it did sound like a big, boring burden. What I really meant was just the idea of cohesion for some, while other communities may actually have really specific goals and ideas. Some communities may actually be born out of those goals and ideas - people coming together out of a shared desire for something specific, like in the case of advocacy, or a neighbourhood watch system. I love the internet communities. It's amazing how we can connect with people who may be physically very far away from us but emotionally/intellectually/spiritually/etc our next-door neighbours. It's a beautiful thing. Annie - you make a great point here. Self-interest is a natural instinct, and I suppose any community group is going to look after their own interests before the interests of others, if they have to make a choice. When we are all able to come together and support one another, regardless of the differences, it can/will be a beautiful thing. We've been talking a lot lately in our book club about using faith to tear down walls instead of using it to build them up. Too often people are weighed down by what's different about other people, (and different is "bad," apparently) and not recognizing the potential for strength and co-operation.
  18. The concept of polygamy is interesting to me, from an outside perspective. As far as I know, I've never met anyone in a polygamous marriage/relationship, so all I know is what I've seen on tv and read in books. Warren Jeffs and his people have been in the news on and off for the last couple of years, and I have a few books written by those who survived his dictatorship and other similar dictatorships. If people actually willingly enter into polygamous marriage, I see no problem with that. If three (four? five?) competent adults decide to do that, that's their business. From what I have read though, forced marriage seems to be a common trend. Young girls (teens, even pre-teens) being married off to men they don't love, men old enough to be their fathers or grandfathers - that turns my stomach, and in my mind, is child abuse. The polygamous structure within FLDS (for example) is quite misogynistic, with girls and women being forced to marry, and in some cases, then taken from those husbands and given to someone else, and so on and so on. It is, essentially, rape and sexual slavery. Therefore, as far as I can figure from what I know, polygamy doesn't really belong in the same category as what we're talking about, because it seems to be (quite often) harmful and based on power, rather than on love. Again, what I've read is by no means exhaustive, and there may be FLDS (and so on) polygamist women who are quite happy with their situations, and perhaps their situations are not cohersive and abusive. However, the system does not seem to have been designed for women to be equal partners, but rather sex workers (essentially) and baby factories.
  19. You make some great points! And though you can't see me, I'm making a jealous face that you got to meet Bishop Spong <- kind of like this Lately in our book group (also reading Spong) we have been discussing issues related to Biblical inerrancy, and how that concept helps people use the Bible for division and judgment, rather than encourage people to live their life in a way that best reflects Jesus' teachings. Even as a child, I found the concept of inerrancy to be a bit odd - as an adult, I can't get my head around it at all. Money and the church is another big issue for a lot of people, I think. As you say, in some cases, the more people give, the better they are treated. This is horrible and I feel it is quite opposite to how it should be. Recently at church, our minister's message was on this very topic. She said that what we give to God, the church, the community (etc) is not about the finances, but rather what is in our hearts and in our intentions. While donations of money are both needed and appreciated, donations of time, listening ears, working hards, and joyful hearts are amazing. Awesome. I've been to a few churches in my life, and that's the first time I'd ever, ever heard a minister say that - during collection, no less. I thought it was great. Anyway, I look forward to your contributions. Your background is interesting. Welcome!
  20. I know this thread is old, but I still think it's worth discussing. As you state, concepts of "justice" vary from person to person, culture to culture, and also situation to situation. For example: I am almost always fully against the death penalty; once in a while, a case will come to light that makes me question my usual stance - perhaps there are cases where the death penalty is truly the best type of "justice." "Justice" is a concept that has been in our papers recently as well, following the violent summer our city has. Canada currently has a Criminal Youth Justice Act (previously the Young Offenders Act), which applies to youths under 17, if I recall correctly. Because a good amount of the violence in our city (not just this summer) is commited by people to whom the CYJA applies, many adults are now starting to question its validity. The CYJA allows for lighter sentences for youths - chances at rehab programs, less time in custody, halfway houses instead of hard prison, that sort of thing. Their names and pictures are often not released to the public, so as not to prevent them from having a future - this is true even in cases of violent crimes. Personally, I don't find this to be "justice" for those who are harmed/killed, or for the community. While I don't believe a young person's future should be marred by something stupid like graffiti or shoplifting, I question the validity of a "justice act" that allows violent teenagers to protect their identity. I think, when considering ideas of justice, in each case it's important to ask, "Who benefits?" Is it about an individual's rights, or the community's best interests? Is there a way to cover both? I don't think justice usually means equal retribution. Our society has come a long way from the days of "an eye for an eye." However, I do think some form of restitution is important. I think it's important for people to understand that they have caused someone harm (physical, emotional, financial, etc) and to serve some sort of punishment, whether that is time in prison, financial restitution, community service, or something else.
  21. Welcome Jay! I'm currently reading the same book. I look forward to your contributions.
  22. I'm tired of this debate - not here on the site, I mean just in general. I can't believe that a woman's right to control her own reproductivity is still an issue. There are many, many reasons why a woman (and her partner) may elect to have an abortion. Maybe she was raped, or was the victim of incest. Maybe she found out about the pregnancy after the relationship/marriage ended, and she is not prepared to be a single mother. Maybe specific illnesses/disabilities run in her family or her partner's family, and she does not want to pass on those genes. Maybe the form(s) of contraception failed. Maybe the family already has children and can't afford another one. The list goes on and on. A couple of ideas come to mind here: 1) It's unfortunate that the focus by pro-lifers is often on "single mothers" and "women having abortions." These women are not getting pregnant by themselves, but they bear the brunt of the judgment and disdain. Where are the men? Perhaps if we put the same shame on the men who help get these women pregnant and then leave, men might look at the situation differently. 2) If women had better access to birth control and other aspects of family planning, the abortion rate would likely decrease. (Nevermind about reducing the risks of STIs as well...) 3) When do our bodies actually belong to us? How can they belong to us sometimes and not other times? At the end of the day, if my body belongs to me, then when I choose to do with it is my choice. I can submit to a medical exam or procedure; I can consent to sexual activity; I choose what I eat and drink, what medications I take, and how much I exercise. I can get tattoos and piercings. I can consent to all of those things because my body is my business. The hypothetical contents of my uterus, then, ought to also be my business. 4) Abortion is a political issue, or at least it should be in a democratic nation. You should not be able to use religious arguments to control a person in a democratic nation. 5) I have a sneaky feeling that a lot of the "abortion debate" is really a debate about women's sexuality. A woman's pregnancy is (supposedly) proof of sexual activity, which makes some factions of society really uncomfortable. For some, a "good woman" has sex within her marriage, for the purposes of procreating. If you've had sex outside of your marriage and/or you want to terminate a pregnancy, you mustn't be a "good woman." How on earth are these ideas still valid? Are we living in the dark ages? Yes, this is a topic that stirs me up a great deal. Not to start a gender war, but I'm very tired of men trying to control women's bodies. Yes, I know there are women politicians these days, and that some of them are pro-life too - but historically speaking, these issues have been controlled by men, and in many parts of the world, still are. If men could get pregnant, there would be abortion clinics on every corner and birth control would be available in vending machines. What do pro-lifers think happens to these babies they "save" from being aborted? What happens when the woman is forced to keep a baby she doesn't want, can't afford, can't manage, etc?
  23. I'm actually reading this book right now, with the book club at my church. I too found Spong's concept of "accidental being" difficult to reconcile, and I ultimately have rejected it. Spong is a learned man, whose theological knowledge vastly outweighs my own. However, he is still a mere human being, not some sort of supernatural prophet or something. His ideas are his own, and he is entitled to them; agreement with him is not required. I don't believe that I'm here by accident, or that the things that happen do so randomly. He seems to, and that's ok too. The more I read and the more I ponder, the more I realize that there is no one journey. Everyone's encounter with God/The Divine/etc may very well be an individual thing. How you see it may be entirely different from how I see it, but they aren't mutually exclusive. I think it's important to expose yourself to lots of different ideas and theories. You don't have to buy into all of them, or any of them, but it's good to get a glimpse of what other people think. If nothing else, that particular section of Spong's book reaffirmed for me what I *do* believe, which is not what he believes. It's ok.
  24. Watching people get their knickers in a twist and try to out-offend each other is just exhausting. I really, really don't understand why it gets complicated for people. Religion might be complicated, but faith shouldn't be - hence my love of faith more than religion. To me, it seems simple: - Be kind to others - even those who don't deserve it. If that's too hard, stay away from them. - Don't waste our natural resources. - Take care of others - your family members, your friends, your tribe/community, and so on, to the best of your ability. - Have compassion for other people's hurdles and pains; celebrate their achievements. - Don't worry so much about what other people are doing; what are YOU doing? - Let your actions speak for themselves. - Listen more. - Think twice before speaking. Words spoken can't be taken back. - Lead by example, instead of pointing fingers. Some might say, "easier said than done," but I have to wonder - is it? Is it really so hard to not talk garbage about people? Is it really so incredibly challenging to engage with others in a meaningful way, understanding that everything is not all about you? Is it so hard to just simply CARE about other people, and their lives? I don't get it. I was thinking today about "the least of these" (from Matthew 25) and the basics - what I believe some may refer to as the Acts of Mercy (is that correct?) and it seems to me that these concepts are what I would use to help define faith in action - in my case, Christianity in action. Not complicated Scripture and dogma, not worrying about this tiny detail or that odd, mistranslated sentence - just simply finding God in the moment-to-moment experience, and have faith by doing. The older I get, the sadder I get at how people will willingly expend energy on hate, prejudice, and arrogance, instead of simply living a life that is purposeful and leaves something good behind. Is it human nature? Is that what makes it hard? I have a tough time believing that selfishness and arrogance is human nature, but maybe I'm wrong.
  25. I'm currently at the beginning of Levitacus in my Bible study, and my goodness - all those finicky rules! Like Exodus wasn't enough, with this many cubits and that many colours of embroidery threads... now it's this type of sacrifice and that type of sacrifice... yikes. Anyway, it called to mind something I'd heard somewhere before (school lecture perhaps?) - the theory that some of the specifics of religous rites are the result of people with OCD, or other types of mental illnesses. I wish I could remember more of the information, but it was years ago ... I remember examples like specifics of washing, levels of cleanliness, repeated actions. I do remember that it wasn't specific to Christianity. Has anyone else heard this? I thought it was interesting.