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Raven

The Search For Meaning

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Q: What makes the search for meaning and purpose in today’s world an important undertaking?

 

The world has become smaller, thanks to the increased use and abilities of technology. However, by that same stroke, some of us (like myself) have lost a connected feeling to any real "community." It's as if the more we connect artificially (through technology) the less we may feel connected in real life.

 

This is part of what has brought me back to the church, truthfully. I am tired of feeling alone, and miss having a community to connect with, fellowship with, journey with. As the world makes me feel more fragmented, I feel a more earnest desire to glue my own piece back together.

 

As well, I think the more crises the world sees, the more people search for meaning and purpose, as a balm for their pain. The World Bank collapse, 9/11, the war in the Middle East, cancer, AIDS .... a lot of horrible things have happened and continue to happen. I think when people are exposed, even indirectly to these issues, they start to ask questions and look for answers.

 

Today's world is a beautiful and ugly place. I suspect it always has been, but sometimes I suspect it's moreso than it used to be. The worse things seem, the more people search for hope.

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Raven,

 

We are social animals and need interaction with other people. Facebook, IMO, is not the answer. As you note, it is more difficult to find real connections, so places like a church can offer a community that will help satisfy our social need. But, just any ole church wouldn't work for many of us. If we have to buy into incompatible doctrines, the price may be to high.

 

George

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Raven,

 

We are social animals and need interaction with other people. Facebook, IMO, is not the answer. As you note, it is more difficult to find real connections, so places like a church can offer a community that will help satisfy our social need. But, just any ole church wouldn't work for many of us. If we have to buy into incompatible doctrines, the price may be to high.

 

George

 

Agreed on all counts, George. I think Facebook really drives people apart, in a lot of cases. Facebook has shown me sides of some friends/family members I didn't know they had - some things can't be unlearned, and it's unfortunate. It's part of the massively egotistical world in which we live, I suppose.

 

You are right, as well, about incompatible doctrines. That's even why I don't visit any other Christian forums except for this one - so many others are far too fundamentalist for my tastes. (The only thing I enjoy about fundy churches is the music - very engaging and fun!) I used to belong and will be returning to the United Church of Canada, which is quite progressive both politically and in approach to doctrine.

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I used to belong and will be returning to the United Church of Canada, which is quite progressive both politically and in approach to doctrine.

 

I would advise not to seek 100% theological compatibility. My principal criterion is nothing objectionable. Then, the more positive, the better.

 

George

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I agree with your stance, George. As in all aspects of life, I doubt there is any such thing as real, true perfection. However, like you say, finding a place that has nothing "objectionable" is key.

 

I could not tolerate a church that was not welcoming of member of the LGBTQ community. I could not tolerate a church that was politically conservative. I could not tolerate a church that held misogynistic viewpoints.

 

To me, the right community is inclusive, welcoming, flexible, positive, loving, and safe.

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Finding the right church is extremely important, I believe. I tried belonging to churches with which I was not compatible simply because of location. In every case (three), it was a mistake. I cannot find what I want in a church where I am being taught things that I find abhorrent.

Today on a church blog, I replied to a woman who was confused about how you know right and wrong when the Bible tells you so many things that seem unreasonable. I have no illusions about the Bible, as a whole, being the Word of God. I suggested to her to read the hymn "The King of Love My Shepherd Is." I said that I believe that is at the heart of Christianity and that that hymn is some of the Words of God. There is no "hate your neighbor", "kill your neighbor" or any of that. It is purely and simply about love. That is what church, religion and spirituality should be, I think.

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Finding the right church is extremely important, I believe.

 

I generally agree with this, but finding 100% compatibility may not be possible without just accepting the doctrine of a particular church. And, I would not advocate that. But, to set the bar too high may preclude the benefits of community.

 

I think as long as there are positive aspects of the church and nothing objectionable (like racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism, etc.), it would be acceptable. Obviously, the more positive aspects the better.

 

George

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I generally agree with this, but finding 100% compatibility may not be possible without just accepting the doctrine of a particular church. And, I would not advocate that. But, to set the bar too high may preclude the benefits of community.

 

I think as long as there are positive aspects of the church and nothing objectionable (like racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism, etc.), it would be acceptable. Obviously, the more positive aspects the better.

 

George

 

George, I agree with the idea. Yet, my own experience tells me that's not enough for me. The only church in my small town that is traditional but is not fundamentilist, is a horrible fit for me. While the church does not obviously condone anything objectionable (racism, sexism, etc), the members of the church do. This is kinda weird for me. We talk about a "church" but it is the members of the church that make it what it is. If members are elitest, homophobic, mysoginistic or what ever, then what "the church" supposedly teaches doesn't matter. *sigh* I agree that community is important, I just can't find one where I fit in. Of course, part of that is where I live - a rural, conservative, (dare I say it?, backward) area.

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Yvonne,

 

I don't disagree with what you say. I guess when I wrote about "a church," I meant it in the broader sense to include the membership. I think there can be benefits from community, but not if that community is as you describe "elitist, homophobic, misogynistic." I certainly would not want to be associated with that kind of group.

 

George

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Q: What makes the search for meaning and purpose in today’s world an important undertaking?

 

 

The importance of the search for meaning and purpose , seems to me, is given by the degree of importance the individual places on it. To some it has no importance. To others it may be their only perceived reason for living. In my view, the world itself does not really care whether the search is important to you or not as long as you are not a threat to the society you live in or the well being of the world as it exists at that point in time.

 

Just my 2 cents on your OP question.

 

Joseph

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I went away and thought about this some more. For me, the search for meaning involves more personal, private searcheres; ie, meditation, prayer, reading, even sharing with my spiritual partner. I seldom (if ever) in the past found meaning in a church situation. I did, occasionally, find community. As social beings I think it is important to walk the balance between the personal and the social. Facebook and other social networking sites tend to be rather superficial. Although I use them as a way to keep up-to-date with long-distance family & friends, they are not what I could call "community". Having said that, I also cannot find meaningful relationships in a community where members are so completely opposite of myself. I can only find meaningful relationships (that is, relationships that edify) with others who have similar goals and priorities to my own. If that makes sense. Communities like that are hard to find in my experience, but well worth searching for - like TCPC for example.

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