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PaulS

Shades of Grey

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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. 

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Paul,

I personally can relate to what you have expressed so clearly. It seems to me that being programmed by our parents, church, peers and society in general for so long, it is difficult to get away from judgementalistic attitudes  and concepts of black and white such as good and bad, right and wrong, fair and unfair, etc.  In my view,  it is however freeing to rid oneself of such tendencies and be open to alternate ways of thinking or considerations which is a difficult journey at times...

Joseph

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Yes, a traditional Christian upbringing is a good foundation for more nuanced and wide-ranging views as an older adult.

 

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2 hours ago, Burl said:

Yes, a traditional Christian upbringing is a good foundation for more nuanced and wide-ranging views as an older adult.

 

Is that really what you took from what I was saying or are you being antagonistic?  Maybe you are using sarcastic humor?  I’m not sure.

I couldn’t disagree more about such an upbringing and I think it’s a shame that adults can’t see the harm they cause when indoctrinating children with their own personal beliefs around God and their own personal ‘certainties’ concerning religion and biblical interpretation.

If possibly by ‘traditional’ you mean some other sort of Christianity than what I was exposed to, I would disagree with your interpretation of traditional.

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I'm serious Paul.  You describe an upbringing which was somehow pathological, yet you seem to be well adjusted and have a active spiritual life.

Sure beats being raised by dingos in the bush.  

 

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My own upbringing would indeed seem pathological.  My Mormon mother caused a scene in a theater when I was ten years old, yelling out disgust about Jack Lemmon's "Under the Yum Yum Tree" All the other patrons applauded and laughed as we left the auditorium.  I was a Mormon missionary.  Later, l I read too many history books about Joseph Smith and became a Southern Baptist. Later I went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. and then due to the Baptist Holy War, and faculty purge, a professor's influence took me to the UUA (Unitarian Universalitsts).

Here and now in the USA, the grey zone seems to be reducing radically, the black and white polarization due to Donald Trump.  My UCC pastor and friends send out so many posts on Facebook that express outrage.  Sometimes I would like to hit the "like" button but I do not, because then all my prior Southern Baptist and Mormon friends would be offended if they get notified.

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1 hour ago, Burl said:

I'm serious Paul.  You describe an upbringing which was somehow pathological, yet you seem to be well adjusted and have a active spiritual life.

Sure beats being raised by dingos in the bush.  

 

Thanks for clarifying (I think) Burl, but I wouldn’t credit anything of being relatively well-adjusted to traditional Christianity.

By traditional Christianity I am referring to believing and indoctrinating or trying to convince others that:

-people need to plead forgiveness to a God for basically, being born.  If they don’t, their life will always be lacking.

-the Bible is conveyed from God so God wants you to follow the Book. Varying degrees of calamity in ones life may result if not followed/interpreted usually in the way one’s Christianity community interprets it.

-evil in the world is caused by a real-life, opposing power to God (Satan)

-in short, your life cannot be good unless you are Christian

-that doubt and investigation outside of what you’ve been taught  is bad for you.

These are pretty traditional teachings which do nothing to assist young adults when their eyes are opened to the world outside of that upbringing/community.

My apparent well-adjusted state is more a result of the hard work put in to better understand just how wrong all those traditional teachings are and why.  

By the way, getting to that so called well-adjusted state meant years of agony, disconnect from family and friends, consideation of suicide to escape the pain of such, and generally plenty of time not being well-adjusted.

Tradional Christianity - run far away from it!

 

 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, Craig V. said:

My own upbringing would indeed seem pathological.  My Mormon mother caused a scene in a theater when I was ten years old, yelling out disgust about Jack Lemmon's "Under the Yum Yum Tree" All the other patrons applauded and laughed as we left the auditorium.  I was a Mormon missionary.  Later, l I read too many history books about Joseph Smith and became a Southern Baptist. Later I went to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. and then due to the Baptist Holy War, and faculty purge, a professor's influence took me to the UUA (Unitarian Universalitsts).

Here and now in the USA, the grey zone seems to be reducing radically, the black and white polarization due to Donald Trump.  My UCC pastor and friends send out so many posts on Facebook that express outrage.  Sometimes I would like to hit the "like" button but I do not, because then all my prior Southern Baptist and Mormon friends would be offended if they get notified.

As for pathological, whilst I’m not convinced yet that Burl isn’t being somewhat sarcastic, I don’t see my upbringing as pathological because it was facilitated by genuine, mentally-well people.  Your mother included too probably for that matter.  They just ascribed to a doctrine and set of beliefs passionately and couldn’t see an issue indoctrinating their children with the same.  That doesn’t make it right and I believe such an approach to life creates much damage, but I’m not sure it fits the definition of pathological (hence why I think Burl is actually having a dig).

Now pathological does certainly seem to apply to your President! :)

It appears from the outside that ‘The Donald’ isn’t plagued with ‘grey’.  His messages, even when perplexing or contradictory, usually have a tone of certainty which to many seem so pathetic.  Yet others are encouraged and embrace him.  I do see the US suffering strong division due to his presidency though.  

I hope for the U.S.’s sake (and others) some grey creeps into his thought processes and approaches to matters.

 

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4 hours ago, PaulS said:

Thanks for clarifying (I think) Burl, but I wouldn’t credit anything of being relatively well-adjusted to traditional Christianity.

By traditional Christianity I am referring to believing and indoctrinating or trying to convince others that:

-people need to plead forgiveness to a God for basically, being born.  If they don’t, their life will always be lacking.

-the Bible is conveyed from God so God wants you to follow the Book. Varying degrees of calamity in ones life may result if not followed/interpreted usually in the way one’s Christianity community interprets it.

-evil in the world is caused by a real-life, opposing power to God (Satan)

-in short, your life cannot be good unless you are Christian

-that doubt and investigation outside of what you’ve been taught  is bad for you.

These are pretty traditional teachings which do nothing to assist young adults when their eyes are opened to the world outside of that upbringing/community.

My apparent well-adjusted state is more a result of the hard work put in to better understand just how wrong all those traditional teachings are and why.  

By the way, getting to that so called well-adjusted state meant years of agony, disconnect from family and friends, consideation of suicide to escape the pain of such, and generally plenty of time not being well-adjusted.

Tradional Christianity - run far away from it!

 

 

 

 

A better definition of traditional Christianity is a denomination which affirms the Apostle's Creed (modifications allowed), has over 500k members or has existed for over a generation.  There are thousands of choices.  I would not join the church you describe, but I can't endorse such a bigoted attitude towards traditional Christianity based on one personal experience either.

If you would do a little church visiting you would find traditional Christianity is much broader than you imagine.

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Burl,

Australian Churches of Christ are part of the International Churches of Christ with an excess of 2 million members (>1.3m in the US) and which was formed out of the Restoration Movement in the 1700s, but not recognized until 1906 (how many generations that is, I’m not sure).

I also mentioned the Baptists - they formed in 1609 (obviously not their Australian branches) and have about 100 million members.

Last (but not least) the Salvation Army - established in 1865 and membership over 1.5m.

They are all Churches that sit in the Protestant camp.

I think they pretty much qualify as traditional Christian Churches irrespective of your wishes.

But that is Christianity for you - everyone else thinks everyone else has got the Bible wrong! :)

I might just add to that by your criteria for 'traditional Christianity' , the leader of the pack would have to be the Roman Catholic Church.  All those points I outlined are very much supported by that church.  You might find some more progressive Catholics, but I know you will find many more who haven't moved to that end of the scale.  I know several people who would say their Catholic upbringing was similar too, if not worse than my 'pathological' one, as you say (which at first you said was a good thing, so go figure).

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