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Jack of Spades

In Religious Identity Crisis

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Hello!

 

I've been spying the forum for few weeks and now I finally decided to make an account.

 

Brief introduction: I'm 30+ single male from Finland, Northern Europe. English is not my first language so excuse me if my writing is difficult to understand at times!

 

My religious background starts with Charismatic Christianity. I left that in my early twenties, and went through a period when I wanted nothing to do with religion. After that time was over, I started actively searching some kind of new religious home for myself. and I've been into many kind of stuff, like Liberal Christianity, Christian mysticism, Neo-Paganism and New Age. It's been a very rich spiritual journey, but in the end, the result seems to be just a huge identity crisis, especially in social sense. After being influenced by every other religion there is, it's rather difficult to find a place where I could honestly share what I think or feel, and not get kicked out as a "too much of X" or "too little of Y".

 

Currently, I identify myself just as a "mystic". I guess it's the most descriptive term for me atm, because I rely very much on my own personal experiential spirituality to show me the way. Everything external, like books, churches, dogmas, I consider to be a source of inspiration, rather than something authoritative.

 

I guess I could use the summary I've used before: "I'm too Christian to be anything else but Christian, but I'm not Christian enough to be a Christian". I don't know do I even expect to ever figure this mess out or not, but I'm always open for new influences and inspirations and that's why I'm here :)
Edited by Jack of Spades
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Hi Jack of Spades. Welcome to TCPC (and your English is excellent, by the way, so no worries on that score).

 

I think you'll find others on this site who have questioned as much and as often as you have (including myself). I hope you'll share your thoughts and insights with you and teach us what you've learned on your journey.

 

We all need each other!

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Greetings Jack of Spades,

 

Thanks for the introduction and A+ on your language. :) You are certainly not alone in your journey and like you I also " rely very much on my own personal experiential spirituality to show me the way"

 

Again welcome and feel free to share your thoughts and views,

 

Joseph

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Hi Jack of Spades. Welcome to TCPC (and your English is excellent, by the way, so no worries on that score).

 

I think you'll find others on this site who have questioned as much and as often as you have (including myself). I hope you'll share your thoughts and insights with you and teach us what you've learned on your journey.

 

We all need each other!

 

Thank you Realspiritik!

 

I clicked the link in your signature and ended up reading the blog for quite some time. I'm going to assume you are the author of the blog (please correct me if I got it wrong.)
In the "Okay, So I’m a Heretic. But So Is Jesus!" blog you mentioned about academic study being one side of your mystical journey, like f.e. learning exegesis. I find it interesting because I could say that studying church history plays a part in my spiritual journey aswell. I happen to be a history geek (not a professional one tho) and for me, studying lives of saints, history of revival movements etc. has been a part of my spiritual practice for a long time.
As for being a Heretic, I think it's very difficult to be a mystic and not be a heretic. Entering the wonderland of the mystical experience has tendency of making things often much more colorful than is acceptable for people who are the ones who define and guard the definitions of orthodoxy.
Edited by Jack of Spades

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Greetings Jack of Spades,

 

Thanks for the introduction and A+ on your language. :) You are certainly not alone in your journey and like you I also " rely very much on my own personal experiential spirituality to show me the way"

 

Again welcome and feel free to share your thoughts and views,

 

Joseph

 

Thank you JosephM! It's a happy day for me, I've never got an A+ in English before! ;)
I can't help noticing that your profile quote sounds like it has a dose of Buddhism in it?
Edited by Jack of Spades

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Thank you Realspiritik!

 

I clicked the link in your signature and ended up reading the blog for quite some time. I'm going to assume you are the author of the blog (please correct me if I got it wrong.)
In the "Okay, So I’m a Heretic. But So Is Jesus!" blog you mentioned about academic study being one side of your mystical journey, like f.e. learning exegesis. I find it interesting because I could say that studying church history plays a part in my spiritual journey aswell. I happen to be a history geek (not a professional one tho) and for me, studying lives of saints, history of revival movements etc. has been a part of my spiritual practice for a long time.
As for being a Heretic, I think it's very difficult to be a mystic and not be a heretic. Entering the wonderland of the mystical experience has tendency of making things often much more colorful than is acceptable for people who are the ones who define and guard the definitions of orthodoxy.

 

 

Hi Jack of Spades. Yes, I'm the author of the blog, but I had to go back and read what I wrote about my life as a heretical Christian before I could reply to you!

 

Yes, it's very difficult to be a mystic and not be a heretic -- especially because a mystic is always questioning, puzzling over the "big questions" about life and death, and returning to original sources to say what they might actually say (as opposed to what we've been told they say). So I'm a big history geek, too. I think it comes with the territory.

 

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

 

Best wishes,

Jen

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Thank you JosephM! It's a happy day for me, I've never got an A+ in English before! ;)
I can't help noticing that your profile quote sounds like it has a dose of Buddhism in it?

 

Jack,

 

Well, if one must put a label on it i guess that might fit as well as any as most religions seem to have similarities. It seems to me, a deep understanding of Christian writings that we are all one in Christ also suggests that the only separation that exists between us is in thinking mind which through the normal senses makes us appear as separate. To me, there is a true nature or substrate of all things. Perhaps i can call it Spirit. And then there is flesh that is manifested from the unseen and to me the flesh has the more limited view and case for separation.

 

Just some musings,

Joseph

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Hi Jack, as I see it there is no need to seek for an "identity". Why label ourselves?. Each of us is unique. Labels can easily become the beginnings of judgement of others, and for ourselves the constrictions that curtail the truth that sets us free.

 

All the best

 

Derek

 

 

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Hi Jack, as I see it there is no need to seek for an "identity". Why label ourselves?. Each of us is unique. Labels can easily become the beginnings of judgement of others, and for ourselves the constrictions that curtail the truth that sets us free.

 

All the best

 

Derek

 

 

 

Hello tariki

 

I like labels, if they are used to help us understand and communicate.

 

For comparison, biologically speaking, I'm a man. Should I not use the word "man" to describe myself, just because there are other people who identify themselves as woman and I don't want to judge them? If I dropped the words of "man" and "woman" out of my vocabulary, I think that's just the surface level and I would eventually just invent new words in their place. The problem of judgementalism ought to be solved on deeper level than by rejecting helpful, descriptive labels. To put it in a bit more biblical way, it's the spirit that matters whether we are judging others or not, not really the words we use.

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Hello tariki

 

I like labels, if they are used to help us understand and communicate.

 

 

Hello again,

 

I was recently reading a biography of Charles Darwin. Between arriving back from his voyage on the Beagle and writing "The Origin of Species" he spent quite a number of years studying barnacles, labelling each and every type. Who would ever have thought that there could be so many, so much variety? Darwin never quite got to calling each barnacle by name but he grew to love them and the knowledge and insight they gave from close study.

 

After the writing of "The Origin of Species", and seeking to lay low from the controversies the book raised, Darwin turned to earthworms, growing to love them and their ways in turn.

 

So perhaps there is a time and place for everything.

 

There is a story from the Buddhist tradition, where a group of monks were transporting a valuable and virtually priceless scripture from one monastery to another across a great mountain range. They were caught out once by a huge storm and needed to spend the night out in the open. They burnt the scriptures in order to keep warm.

 

In my opinion judgementalism can begin anywhere.

 

Derek

Edited by tariki
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So perhaps there is a time and place for everything.

 

 

That's how I like to see it. What that means in my case is, right now I find it purposeful to seek for a religious identity. Maybe I end up finding something else than what I think I'm looking for, but for now, it seems a meaningful goal for me.

 

I realize this "labels or no labels" question might have different meaning for you than it does for me, so let me explain a bit why I think the way I do. I draw my point of view mostly from what I've read in history. I've come to notice that many revolutions, which intend to change the world, fall often to the trap of just changing the names, and thus sometimes become a bit of a farce. I personally want to avoid doing that.

 

For example, communists wanted to create a society where everyone is equal, so everything was renamed. There was no "minister", but "people's commissar", but de facto it was the same thing as being minister. And so on. In the end, the new equal society with new names turned out to be at least as inequal and oppressive (albeit with a bit different dynamics of power) than the previous one.

 

But on the other hand, I do realize that seeing things without their labels, and trying to understand what is behind the words, is a good practice for contemplation. The reality is greater and much more colorful than our boxes and labels are.

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I'll be off in a moment but just to say that revolutions are just that, "revolutions". Everything comes back to how it started.

 

I love Four Quartets by T S Eliot, who seems to know of the Christian mystics and the way of the Buddha. In Four Quartets Eliot speaks of coming back to the place where we started and KNOWING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME. Which, combining various ways found in both Christianity and Buddhism, points to the end of all revolutions.

 

Thanks for the conversation.

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But on the other hand, I do realize that seeing things without their labels, and trying to understand what is behind the words, is a good practice for contemplation. The reality is greater and much more colorful than our boxes and labels are.

 

Like you, Jack of Spades, I find labels to be helpful as long as the meaning behind them is contemplated and understood through the lenses of both heart and mind. I find freedom in not fearing words or labels. In my experience, it's a fear of looking behind the labels at the hidden motivations that causes suffering. As human beings, we often find it easier to blame the labels instead of blaming our unresolved issues with anger and hatred and jealousy, etc.

 

In the Gospel of Thomas (77b), Jesus said, "Split wood, I am there. Lift up a rock, you will find me there."

 

Most of us are afraid to life up the rock (metaphorically speaking) because we know the first thing we'll see is bunch of wiggly critters squirming around on the ground. But the wiggly critters are part of God's Creation, too, and once we let go of our own hidden prejudices, we can love the "swarming things" and be glad and grateful for their lives and their contribution to the web of life on Planet Earth.

 

Words and labels can do great things in the world as long as the meaning behind them aligns with the needs and wishes of God and the soul.

 

God bless.

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Like you, Jack of Spades, I find labels to be helpful as long as the meaning behind them is contemplated and understood through the lenses of both heart and mind. I find freedom in not fearing words or labels. In my experience, it's a fear of looking behind the labels at the hidden motivations that causes suffering. As human beings, we often find it easier to blame the labels instead of blaming our unresolved issues with anger and hatred and jealousy, etc.

 

Yups, we are more or less on same page on this one I think. If we could change human heart by replacing names of things, that would be a bit too easy, no?

 

But to make this a bit more complicated, I'd like mention that sometimes new names for things can be useful symbols aswell, as an outward sign of inner change and new way of looking at things. New name for something can also be a signal for outsider that this is not the same as the old way. But then again, there is always the risk of ending up having the same old thing with just another name. It's a double-edged sword really I think.

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We'll be fighting in the streets
With our children at our feet
And the morals that they worship will be gone
And the men who spurred us on
Sit in judgment of all wrong
They decide and the shotgun sings the song

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again

The change, it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fold, that's all
And the world looks just the same
And history ain't changed
Cause the banners, they are flown in the next war

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
No, no!

I'll move myself and my family aside
If we happen to be left half alive
I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
Though I know that the hypnotized never lie
Do ya?

There's nothing in the streets
Looks any different to me
And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
And the parting on the left
Are now parting on the right
And the beards have all grown longer overnight

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again
Don't get fooled again
No, no!

Yeah!

Meet the new boss
Same as the old boss

THE WHO "WON'T GET FOOLED AGAIN"
:)
(Play the music at your own discretion......... :D )
Edited by tariki

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Jack of Spades, Salutations to the Divinity within you that is shining light on your journey. Are you a one eyed Jack or two? You are blessed even if you have 3 eyes and especially for living in Finland. I spent almost a year in Sweden and loved the people from Finland, Norway and Sweden, who have a very sincere, deep presence.

 

We truly know others by their behavior and actions and not so much by their belief because for some it is easier to fight for what they believe in than to live up to it, in contrast, Christian mysticism lives the truth instead of claiming and declaring it. Thomas Merton a Christian Mystic said the same thing in another way, “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, it is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

 

I enjoy your post and hope to read more.

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Jack of Spades, Salutations to the Divinity within you that is shining light on your journey. Are you a one eyed Jack or two? You are blessed even if you have 3 eyes and especially for living in Finland. I spent almost a year in Sweden and loved the people from Finland, Norway and Sweden, who have a very sincere, deep presence.

 

We truly know others by their behavior and actions and not so much by their belief because for some it is easier to fight for what they believe in than to live up to it, in contrast, Christian mysticism lives the truth instead of claiming and declaring it. Thomas Merton a Christian Mystic said the same thing in another way, “To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, it is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”

 

I enjoy your post and hope to read more.

 

Hello soma.
It's nice to hear you liked your stay in our cold corner of the world.
During last years, I've been very interested about the people and culture of the United States. It's a huge country with a lot of diversity, and I've come to see Americans as energetic and daring people.
Christian mysticism is close to my heart, perhaps it has something to do with my youth as a Charismatic Christian.

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I remember Filmjölk a milk very tasty and good for you, 2 hours only of sunlight in winter and 2 hours only of darkness in spring. In winter we had to go out of the house through the roof because of the snow, but in spring the streams and flowers changing every week was fantastic. The people were gracious and the machinery and cars were all up to date. I think the Norwegian countries are called the Japan of Europe because of their high standard of living.

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