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About Flatliner

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    sunshine, growing roses, origami, birdwatching, hiking, nature, spirituality, mythology, comparative religion, mathematics, patterns, coffee, history, architecture, art, sacred geometry, kites,<br />
  1. Hi all, this is a really interesting thread. I'll add some thoughts here and explain my assumptions first, so you get an idea of where I'm coming from. You might not be in the same place but I thought I'd add this angle to the discussion. My basis for comment is: a) I'm in a 'paring down' mode, trying to get to the kernel of what still exists for me in the christian faith. b I don't feel drawn to understanding Martha and Mary were actual people who actually lived, or were the exact people featured in this story. c) this story may be a story that has a message but might use the identities of Mary and Martha d) we might never really know what the writer intended to convey by including this story and it's embedded message Okay, I hope you see what I'm basing my thoughts on I wonder if this is just a simple story about priorities, and the struggle we all have in getting our priorities 'right'. Mary chose to sit with Jesus, Martha chose the dishes. Jesus repeatedly said he wouldn't be around long. Maybe that's the message - things can wait, enjoy the moment now. So, maybe in my life, I read about Martha and Mary and then decide to fight the natural urge to get on and do something and just sit for a bit, enjoy the moment that will soon be gone, forever. Mary might say... - Maybe I'll go for drinks with everyone after the big win today, even though I should go home and get through that basket of ironing (pah! It can wait). - Maybe I'll skip that assignment (and even risk a fail), just so I can spend time with my aunt who flies into my city tonight on a whistle stop tour (pfft! She's more important than Business Strategy) Just my thoughts (basic I know) but life is way more complicated than it needs to be, sometimes.
  2. Thanks Joseph, Wayfarer and OA ! It's good to know that others have experienced the confusion and questioning that goes with the deconstruction process. Interesting too that there is no defined path 'out' - which would just be another trap I guess, and I fully anticipate there is no end point either. Thanks for sharing your experiences here, I'm grateful to be able to express these ideas in a place where I don't sound too kooky. As well as leaving the church community, I have very little contact with any people from any church background (would it be awful to say I avoid it? ). Thanks Joseph for your kind words on seeing me at peace - I certainly feel much better than I ever have despite not having anything to cling to. Wayfarer and OA - I agree with many of the things you've expressed on this thread - I'm encouraged by your response. It's strange though isn't it? - I am 'sure' and 'certain' of much less than I used to be, but instead of being scared I feel much more solid - I am 'outside' church community and 'fellowship', yet feel more 'connected' to "god" than ever before. - I don't pray anymore and don't feel like I have to, but somehow I feel heard - I don't read the bible at all but hear constant echoes throughout the Tao and other texts - I don't have a plan for the future anymore, but don't worry about it either. Thanks all for posting your thoughts, Flat
  3. Hi all, I'm interested in your thoughts on this one (understanding of course that this is a progressive christian site). I've been coming out of conservative christianity, exploring faith (outside of a church community) and shedding many of the beliefs and 'truths' I once held. The thing is, I'm actually wondering if I'm really christian at all anymore. Although I've shed a load of old baggage and teachings, my faith feels like it's expanded rather than shrunk and I it doesn't seem 'contained' or confined exlusively to christian beliefs. I've been reading a lot = Spong, Borg, Tao te Ching, Alan Watts, Joseph Campbell. It got me thinking about what there is about my faith that would make me count myself as christian. Please understand, I'm not searching for a label or a 'new' label, I'm just interested in exploring what remnant of christianity remains (for me) and whether the christian faith is really the basis of my faith or an interesting sideline. At the moment, my faith and belief in something spiritual is pretty raw, basic and simple - I believe there is some godlike entity all around us that has been (and continues to be) expressed and explored by people and civilisations in various ways. Okay, that's about all I'm standing on right now. I'm interested to hear what you think: - Is this part of the deconstruction that happens when you start out of the conservative church - questioning everything? - Is this familiar territory to you? - Is there a particular issue/belief that is your cornerstone (so to speak) that you define yourself as christian? Thanks for your patience!
  4. Thanks for getting back to us with your thoughts Joseph. From your account it sounds very much like Tolle expands further on The Power of Now, building on the 'signpost' ideas, and observing the thinker. I had hoped the New Earth had some further insight and didn't just cash in on a good thing (ooh, sometimes I'm a big cynical about 'sequels' - sorry!!) I read the Power of Now and had to persevere. I got about a third of the way through it before it started to make sense to me. I almost need to go back now and read that first third again!! Thanks again Joseph, it sounds good - I'll add it to my wishlist
  5. Yes Wayfarer, that's where I feel I'm at, for now. I've relinquished my need to know (and my demand to know) how everything works and it has freed me to fully enjoy what is happening around me now. I'm relaxed about that though, it's not a desperate life - I don't feel I have to wring every drop out of every minute because that's all I'll get. I'm content with what the day brings and balance that with some intentions for the future - although I hold them lightly. I'm much more present that I've ever been and am more aware of the exquisite beauty that is all around, all the time - I've just been too distracted and too frantic to notice. Yes, my experience with conservative Christianity did promise a glorious and eternal future for those who went to heaven, and at that time, I believed it and felt very reassured by that. I'm not there now. Believing in the future promise did bring some enjoyment in this life, based on the premise that I had been saved and would not have to worry about death, so I could get on with life and know everything would work out in the end. This enabled me to relax and enjoy life, knowing that whatever happened, I'd be okay - it was exactly the same sense of relief I felt when signing up for life/house/car insurance. I've heard the same sales pitch from ministers and salesmen alike, and unfortunately I've given the same sales pitch in church - "this is all you need to do to guarantee your future, then you can relax and know it will all be taken care of. What is there left to worry about?" I'm not there now (thankfully). I don't have a plan or answer for the future. I don't know what will happen when my body dies. I don't know if a remnant of me will remain. I don't know if there will be total silence and nothingness (and whether I'll be aware of that or not) or whether there will be something. It may sound strange to say that I'm more content now that I've ever been. Somehow it seems more honest and more trusting to me to say that I don't know what happens and I'll have to wait and see.
  6. Hey Wayfarer, thanks for opening up this discussion - it's an interesting one. You asked what "I" think of the afterlife and whether I believe in an afterlife. So, bearing in mind that the following is my own personal work-in-progress-ramble, here goes... I 'used' to be in conservative christian ministry and very sure of a 'place' called heaven, entered after death and judgement before God. I used to think about it often, preach and comfort others with the hope of heaven and sometimes behave in order to preserve my spot. I believed it was an actual place, separate from this earthly world where I (and others) would meet and share eternal life. On one level, that belief and teaching was very comforting to me - to actually have an answer to the ultimate mystery of what happens to "me" when my body stops. It was comforting to believe that I could say goodbye to people at a funeral, and believe they had gone somewhere better and had met God. It was quite a safe belief but it always troubled me too, but like a good conservative christian, I put faith before feelings of doubt and just accepted it, however ludicrous it sounded. I've been unlearning a lot of stuff over the last couple of years. I'm out of ministry now and am not part of a church community. I've stopped trying to learn, think, master, expose, explain and discover anything about faith/god etc. In fact, I've been shedding stuff, throwing it out, dusting myself off and paring my beliefs back. I'm actually wondering now what remnant of christianity has stayed with me and whether I could actually call myself christian at all. By paring things back I don't mean I've chucked out all the questionable things and kept the solid stuff, because I don't think there really is any theory/explanation that is solid - it's all questionable. Once upon a time that would have scared and shaken me, but right now I'm okay with not knowing and not having to know. As to the afterlife, as to what happens to 'me' when my body dies (you can label it soul/spirit/whatever) it may seem frivolous and ostrich-like to say it but I don't actually care. It doesn't frighten, concern or intrigue me. I don't have an answer or process or belief about what happens to the 'me'. The closest I can get to a response is "I don't know what happens, I don't know where 'me' goes, I don't know if I go anywhere". I'm also glad to be free of the worry over what will happen when my body dies. Something will happen (even if something is nothing) but I have no idea what. This has freed me up immensely to enjoy what is happening in my life right now. I still consider the future but I don't spend my energy or time wondering about it (anymore) - in saying that, I don't live a hedonistic life in the moment and neglect plans for the future. I hope I've been able to convey my thoughts without sounding like I'm resigned to not knowing. I am very content with where I'm at right now and I'm content with not-knowing and not needing to know.
  7. I've just finished reading Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" which was interesting - and Joseph I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on the New Earth. The book was good, but actually living the 'now' is quite a challenge with the constant distractions and internal noise we all encounter. A good book though and Tolle draws on various traditions to explain his points. I'd also add to this list: "The Power of Myth" - Joseph Campbell. It's a great introduction to mythology (not fairytales!) and the common stories and meanings of various peoples throughout the world. Fascinating read.
  8. Hi all, I first posted about two years ago after a shift in my faith and a personal dark night of the soul. Thought I'd drop by again and see where everyone is at and share some thoughts. Great to see you're still here!
  9. QUESTION 3 - What does TCPC do right now that you find valuable? It exists (!!) and is accessible to me. I'm not part of a worshipping community right now. By choice I stepped out of the regularity of church attendance after a long time and realise now that I don't know what I believe or if I actually believe in God anymore. That doesn't sit well with many people who know me (funnily enough!!). I haven't posted for months but I visit regularly to read comments and consider bigger questions than I'm used to contemplating (from a reasonably conservative background). Some posters confuse me, some comfort me, some challenge me, some grieve me and some intrigue me, but ALL give me a sense that there is no question that dare not be asked of another, or dare not be asked of (or about) God. It is valuable to me to read the wrestling questions and thoughts posted here, only a few of which have fleetingly crossed my mind but I have been too scared or ashamed or intimadated or confused to dwell on and some I have not dared to entertain or utter out loud. I find it valuable to come and read and consider and have the freedom to post or not post. It opens up my thinking and has kept me searching or contemplating this 'thing' called God for longer than I expected, and that's valuable to me.
  10. and a happy new year to you too Flow...and all here, love well, FL
  11. Hey des, I say hey too which I picked up from a friend visiting from Nth Carolina. Most people here in Australia say Hi and a whole lot of people really DO say "G'day" (only it gets all mushed up). I did say Hiya for a while but everyone kept answering "I'm fine thanks" which tells you that Aussies drawl quite a bit. I think once you start questioning and searching it becomes clearer that there are parts of every faith structure, ideology, denomination (or congregation) that you like and don't like, accept and don't accept, own and disown. Personally, I really don't expect to find one particular denomination or congregation that I will feel like I can truly accept and rest in, 100%, mind you I am a glass-half-empty type of person and I've been to a lot of churches trying to find "the one". I'm changing and thinking and questioning so even if I DID find one I liked 100%, by next week I'll be personally in a 'different place' (as will everyone else there). I'm trying to do the buddhist thing and live in the moment more than I usually do. Best wishes on your quest Michael, FL PS - Speaking of St Louis, go Cardinals!!! Go Pujols!!
  12. Drats!! can't get on the site - data transfer is exceeded. Will try again later. PS - I'm a nutcase too (over one shitzu and one papillonX) who have me well trained and outsmarted. FL
  13. Thanks MT, great site. I like the 5 Aspects of Prayer/5 elements. FL
  14. What is that? I haven't heard about it.
  15. What really got me after 'praise' music was giving God a 'clap offering'.
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