Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
trek42

12-step For Ex-fundies

Recommended Posts

I'm really struggling with my fundamentalist roots. There was alot of security in the system of biblical inerrancy and infallibility. While I wasn't really free to question some things that I have questioned, the fundamentalist mindset did offer a stability to my belief system that I now lack. I wander the wastelands between considering stuff from the Jesus Seminar (where perhaps 10 percent of the gospels are the words of Jesus) to liberal Christianity (where there seem to be no standards) back to conservative views (where every word in the bible was God's word). This is a rough place to be. The freedom is often exhilarating. But it is also quite scary because there is no one to act as a guide.

 

So I was wondering, if you could design a 12-Step Course for former fundamentalists who still find the example and teachings of Jesus meaningful, what would you include in the course? What would you recommend to those who want to leave fundamentalism but who don't want to leave Christianity completely?

 

- trek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I went thru a lot getting from Christian Science to wherever it is I am today. I have come to really value the journey I took/am taking. I know it is a clique, or just about. But it really is important. Be sure to read some Buddhism while you are at it. I think just read read read and listen and take time to go to those thin places (mountains, beaches-- with not too many bodies, coral reefs, woods, etc.). There is worthy reading here I think. So look thru the archives and pay attention to what others say is good reading.

 

I honestly would think that a 12 step type thing would take away from the "journey" somehow.

 

BTW, I do take exception to your comment "liberal Christianity where there are no standards". Perhaps being used to having someone tell you what it is you need to think might give you that idea, but there are standards in Chrisitianity (see the thread "what all Christians have in common").

 

 

--des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I created one a few years backed based on overcoming my own fundamental JW background:

 

1. We admitted we were powerless over our addiction to the JW Organization— and it's man-made rules that our lives had become unmanageable.

 

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity and that this Higher Power was Jehovah/God and NOT the imperect body of men called "The Organization."

 

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

 

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

 

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of past wrongs.

 

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

 

7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.

 

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed in our misguilded loyality to "The Organization", and became willing to make amends to them all.

 

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

 

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

 

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out.

 

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to follow XJWs, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BTW, I do take exception to your comment "liberal Christianity where there are no standards". Perhaps being used to having someone tell you what it is you need to think might give you that idea, but there are standards in Chrisitianity (see the thread "what all Christians have in common"). --des

 

Sorry, des, I guess that came out wrong. From a fundamentalist point of view, liberals do seem to be more lax on standards than the fundies are (inclusion of women in the ministry, acceptance of homosexuals, etc.). I do read enough liberal material to know that there are standards, so please allow me to rephrase: the lines are not drawn in the same places or as sharply as the fundies draw them.

 

- trek

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Trek

 

I can really empathise with your struggle to break free of fundamentalist stuff. Maybe the desire for 12 steps is a bit of a desire to re-create the stability and security that you found there? My thoughts for what they're worth:

 

1. don't be in too much of a hurry to replace one set of beliefs with another.

2. learn to see the wasteland as a good place to be.

3. its all a journey and wherever you are you're in the right place to be right now.

4. learn to use your head and heart as a guide, rather than relying on others.

5. read Borg

6. read some more Borg (he's been the most useful thing in the whole of my journey, though that's not necessarily the case for everyone)

7. like Des says - check out buddhism (and mysticism). that might help in not trying to pin anything down too tightly.

8. check out http://leavingfundamentalism.org/index.htm there's some useful stuff there ........ and some not so useful stuff, but hey thats life :)

9. think about studying theology - I found it really useful to have a more balanced, critical approach to the bible etc

10. make up steps 10-12 (and onwards) for yourself, based on what you found so far.

 

safe and happy journey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5. read Borg

6. read some more Borg (he's been the most useful thing in the whole of my journey, though that's not necessarily the case for everyone)

 

I agree. Borg does not provide a new set of beliefs to replace the old. He provides resources to discover your own relationship to God. For me, the realization that one can think and still be a Christian was very important. Probably the most important thing I learned from reading Borg is that faith is not believing a set of doctrines, faith is having a relationship with God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
faith is not believing a set of doctrines, faith is having  a relationship with God.

Who or what is God?

What kind of relationship?

When you try to answer these questions, you necessarily bring doctrine into the conversation. (In fact, Borg's statement above is his doctrine of faith.)

Edited by DCJ

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When you try to answer these questions, you necessarily bring doctrine into the conversation.  (In fact, Borg's statement above is his doctrine of faith.)

 

hmmmm ... yes, maybe ... but is it something about where you start? to me there seems a difference between being presented with a fixed set of doctrines that you have to get your head around before you can relate to god, and finding your own set of beliefs through that relaitonship.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a difference... much of God can't be known, so working it out with God, on your own - while learning from others who have walked closely with God - seems the only way. The illusion that we walk with others is nice, comforting, and fun.... in the end, it's just you and God.

 

As for 12 steps, I don't know if I have 12, but: :P

 

pray

meditate

find YOUR thin places

READ (Borg, CS Lewis, Phillip Yancey, Brian McLaren, St. Augustine, Hans Kung (Why I am a Christian - - - much less dense than his others), Emmet Fox, Brennan Manning, Thomas Keating, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mother Teresa, Dalai Lama)

Pray some more - "listen" for God - the more uncomfortable you feel with getting to know Him, the more He'll poke fun at you.

Commmunity - you'll never find one that agrees with you 100% - find one where you get fed and feel good about supporting their causes.

Come chat with us - it's good to mull stuff over... lots of smart seekers here - no agreement required!

 

Godspeed! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trek, I wasn't offended. Yes, I agree with what you said re: the position of women, acceptance of homosexuality,etc. But in a way, it's just a different "standard". The standard is that God's creation is diverse. But no one is going to force feed you that standard or at least shouldn't, imo. Perhaps standard is the wrong word. I don't have a good one though.

 

I agree about Borg. Read "the Heart of Christianity". This might be my favorite of all the progressive voices. If you are really angry I think something like "Stealing Jesus" by Bauer is very cathartic-- but doesn't have a real lot to say in terms of what "else to think". Spong is also very strong in his "NO" statements but not so much in his "yes" statements. That's what I like about Borg. OTOH, I recognize that a little "no" can be useful. And Bauer has an incisive mind and observation powers. A similar though a bit more positive book might be "Ten Things I learned wrong from a Conservative Church" by Killinger. He does offer options unlike Bauer.

 

I don't know where you live but a community is a good thing. Tell us where you live and we MIGHT be able to help (of course there is US). (Keep in mind there are a few non-progressives here. I liked several of the 12 points several people wrote. But I am essentially against a 12 step thing as it just adds a level of "security" (I don't think what these folks offered was that. I know it is hard (I came from a strict Christian Science background). But I do very strongly believe that the journey and searching is very valuable all by itself. I do empathize with what you are going thru though.

 

--des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't know where you live but a community is a good thing. Tell us where you live and we MIGHT  be able to help (of course there is US). (Keep in mind there are a few non-progressives here. I liked several of the 12 points several people wrote. But I am essentially against a 12 step thing as it just adds a level of "security"  (I don't think what these folks offered was that. I know it is hard (I came from a strict Christian Science background). But I do very strongly believe that the journey and searching is very valuable all by itself. I do empathize with what you are going thru though.

--des

 

Thanks, des. I live near Dallas, Texas. I know of no progressive churches in my area. Of course, I don't think most progressive churches say, "We are progressive." Maybe they do, I don't know. I know that every church in my area is convinced it is the right one and on their way to heaven. :)

 

Thanks for the advice on the "no's" and the "yes's". Right now so much is being deconstructed that I am not sure what will be left. Maybe just the dust that I am anyway. :)

 

Anyhow, I wasn't being literal about "12-Steps", just seeking some input as to how others have made similar journeys. I'm daring enough to think that I am not the first to let go of one trapeze without knowing that another is right there for me to grab onto. I know just enough to know that the former trapeze no longer felt safe. What the next one will look like or when it will arrive, I know not. :) But I suppose that is the way of faity, huh?

 

- bill

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As Obiwan said "Trust your feelings". For me, reading about theology and other spritual things loosened my world view up enough to begin to experience God in a personal way. Things went into a positive feedback loop once I was able to do that. That is, the more I experienced God, the more I was able to experience God. I see a relationship with God as a mystical experience that goes deeper that the intellectual or emotional, although it has elements of both.

 

I strongly feel that each of us must find our own path to God. God reveals himself to each of us in the in the most appropriate way.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comrade - yes, yes, and, yes!!! :D

 

Trek - it's always scary to "step outside your comfort zone" :P If it hurts, you're probably learning! There is joy in the journey as many have pointed out. Sometimes realizing that things you have believed strongly you no longer believe frees you up to take your current beliefs as a step rather than an outcome. I think spirituality is something you do forever - not something you answer and finish ( I know that's not what you're saying). :P Annoying sometimes... but as CS Lewis writes - when you start to say 'leave well enough alone', you stop growing spiritually and are, generally, of little use to God. :blink:

Edited by Cynthia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well you are in the hot zone of the Bible belt (in GWB's territory to boot). But it is possible that there are progressive churches around. NO they don't say "we are progressive" on the board outside (though our church has a sign right now that says "Everyone is welcome and we mean it" :-)). The hardest thing is not finding progressive churches, the hardest thing is progressive churches with contemporary services. And I really doubt you'll find that where you are, but who knows??

 

So you might look up any of the following:

Unitarian

United Methodist

United Church of Christ (not Church of Christ!!)

Episcopal churches

Evangelical Lutheran--ECLA (really sounds not so liberal)

Disciples of Christ

Presbyterian USA (very vast differences in churches here)

 

 

I didn't exactly take your comments on 12 step literally- but I was sort of making a statement on this being a struggle and while initially maybe painful and difficult the journey itself is worthwhile.

 

BTW, we get many ex-Texans here in New Mexico. :-)

 

Another thing you might check out is a discussion group for God's Politics (see www.sojourner.com). This is a book by Jim Wallis mostly dealing with war and poverty from a Christian standpoint. The reason I suggest this is that we have one here (though I had to drop out) and it was pretty interesting the no. of folks that were, well searching. Many went to evangelical or Catholic churches and didn't feel like they quite belonged.

 

 

--des

Edited by des

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trek,

 

I went through my own fundamentalist phase so I know how hard it is to come out of it. When the meaning of it all becomes incomprehensible, I tend to suggest that people try to engae their faith more experientially. I think it helps to reawaken our sense of intimacy with the God who is "as close to us as breathing, yet distant as the farthest star." It helps to rekindle our sense of trust. As we become more trusting, we are more able to "let go" and just be aware of the reality of the grace-filled relationship that we enjoy with the divine.

 

My suggestion then is to find a way to non-cognitively connect spiritually. I like to metitate with music and candles, or to go to a labyrinth, or to just lay down and let it all go and just "be". You will have to find what works best for you. Sometimes its important to let the thinking go and just swim in experience.

 

If that doesn't work, then go straight to the icecream. Personal suggestion: Klondike bars. I like the chocolate ones. They are divine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hagen Daaz dark chocolate dipped, dark chocolate ice-cream. Tis proof that God wants us to be happy. :P I think Fred would say that beer is the proof. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gotta go with Dove dark chocolate... on vanilla or chocolate ice cream - nirvana!  :P

 

Another good book to try(in addition to ice cream) is " The Zen Teachings of Jesus" by K Leong.

Listening to music is always a good idea,especially when you get tired.

World music may be good. You also might try music by Alan Hovhaness.

It's not everyone's cup of tea but some of it is quite beautiful as he tries to combine East and West.

 

 

 

MOW

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Progressive churches in Dallas? I really don't know, but here is a list of churches that are gay-friendly in Dallas. There is some correlation between a church's stance on sexual orientation issues and its stance on other progressive issues. (No guarantees)...

 

Midway Hills Christian Church Dallas Disciples of Christ

Church of the Transfiguration Dallas Episcopal

St. Michael and All Angels Dallas Episcopal

St. Thomas the Apostle Dallas Episcopal

Bethany Presbyterian Church Dallas Presbyterian

Trinity Presbyterian Dallas Presbyterian

Westminster Presbyterian Dallas Presbyterian

First Community Church, UCC Dallas UCC

Casa View UMC Dallas UMC

Northaven UMC Dallas UMC

 

I don't know whether you are gay. (I am.) I doubt most of these churches are predominantly gay/lesbian, but they have all publicly welcomed glbt folks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...