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BillM last won the day on November 13 2017

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About BillM

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    Senior Contributing Member
  • Birthday 07/15/1959

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    Fort Worth, Texas, USA
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    Piano, keyboard, accordion, guitar, bass, science fiction, Star Trek

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  1. It is both interesting and odd how, at least for some of us, these mundane experiences of life do take on a sacredness to them. As you know, Joseph, God is not a person (or persons) for me. For me, God is more of an experience of Nature or Reality. So I find it refreshing how my experiences of God have, in some ways, not moved that much from my childhood experiences. But I certainly know more of the world now than I did then, so I have a lot more places to explore. Namaste.
  2. From what I can tell, good people, we can't get to the "real Jesus." We know so little about the historical Jesus that it is probably impossible to reconstruct him. What Christianity leaves us with is the "Christ of faith" to be believed in, which is one of the primary reasons I am not a Christian. Yet, though I know that much of the gospels are fabrications, myths, and tall tales, there is, to me, something that still draws me to the man. But I'm drawn to him, not to slavishly follow him or his ways, but just as the Jewish mystic that I believe he was. I don't take the view that he was "Go
  3. Not to derail the friendly banter, my friends, (interesting though it is), but I don't think there is such a thing as one God-given or divine purpose to life. This, of course, goes against some Christian teachings that we are made to know and worship God, but it is a fact that, according to orthodox Christian, God is hidden (which implies that we cannot know such a God) and I seriously doubt that He has self-worth problems that could only be assuaged by continual praise. If there is a purpose to Nature, it just seems to be to be what it is -- an ongoing cycle of life and death. Death is th
  4. Like others on this thread, I struggle to find the right words. Who or what is God? My views on this have certainly changed over the decades of my life. I can share my experience, but it is deeply subjective and highly anecdotal. I think my first experience of what I call God was when I was about 8 years old and built my first tree house. We had a wonderful old pine tree growing on our property and I somehow managed to find enough scrap lumber and nails to build a crude tree house between the boughs of the tree. The first night it was complete, I laid on my back, covered with a quilt, and g
  5. For me, Lucian, I find theology (what we think of God) interesting but often confusing and problematic. After all, there are so many gods in the world and even monotheists can't seem to agree as to who/what God is and God's attributes. IMO, PC attempts to be a big umbrella while, of course, preserving something of a liberal Christian approach. I tend to favor cafeterianism (ha ha) and have my own theology that is influenced by Borg, Crossan, Spong, and some of the process theologians (that I can understand). But I am far more concerned about what I do and how I live rather than trying to find
  6. A nice article, Joseph. Thanks for sharing it. The only thing I'm certain of is that I'm uncertain. One of the things I find attractive about agnosticism (both within and without religious venues) is that it frees us from the pressure of "I have to know." It is freeing to make best guesses or to rely upon probabilities or to just go with what you know until/unless you know better. It seems to me that we would have to be omniscient to know anything with any certainty. That is a faculty that we simply don't have. Of course, being uncertain does not mean that we don't have to
  7. Thanks, PaulB. I, of course, certainly do not claim to have life all figured out. The more we know (or think we know), the more we discover that we don't know. My wife is probably a moderate Christian (not a Baptist, but definitely a Methodist). And that is okay with me. It's not my job to change her or to force her into my journey. Love doesn't do that. She still holds to much of Christianity orthodoxy, so there are some subjects that we don't discuss. But what we do try to focus on are the common values that we have. She very much agrees with my first post. I doubt she would agree with my "b
  8. Exactly. Community is about connectedness. Certainly it is about people being connected to one another (we are, whether we admit it or not). Despite the Protestant claim of having a "personal relationship with God", I doubt it is possible to experience God deeply without being with others. Many of the great and enduring religions, Christianity included, know that all things are connected, that there is a Unity to all things. The bible itself speaks of God as being experienced in a number of ways -- wind, fire, breath, silence, a door, a warrior, a king, a shepherd, a lover, a way, a light
  9. The Hebrews' concept of the deity was very anthropomorphic. God was, for them, a man-like being. Therefore god had eyes, ears, nostrils, arms, legs, all the rest. And this deity sat on a literal throne above the clouds, from whence he ruled and judged over the earth. As Jack Spong says, "If horses had gods, their gods would be horses." As humans, we tend to create god in our image. I doubt we can help it. But many in our day realize that this Hebrew concept of god, while functioning well for them in their day and time, no longer works for us. There will most likely always be some fundamentalis
  10. I don't find this to be the case, Burl. One of the concepts of early Christianity is that when people encountered "God" (the Divine), they did so in Jesus of Nazareth (the human). God wasn't found in a book or in a building. God (the Sacred, the Divine, the Transcendent) was found in humanity. The doctrine of the Incarnation points to this truth, but, as I've said, it puts God in a box and says that God can only be encountered in Jesus. So it limits God's presence to one person in one place and one time. Some forms of Christianity have held onto this ancient truth, that each of us has the Divi
  11. The concept of the deity? As for God, I no longer hold to a theistic concept. Spong doesn't either. I don’t believe in a Man in the Sky who controls everything, who demands worship, who determines if people go to heaven or hell. Rather, God is a symbol for me. A symbol for what? For Community. To me, being spiritual has nothing to do with “other-worldliness” i.e. some kind of ethereal higher plane. It is, rather, Connectedness. God is, for me, how we are connected to ourselves, to others, and to our world. This Connectedness, IMO, must be based in compassion if it is to be experienced and tran
  12. I was asked recently what I believe. So I thought I would share a brief summation of my beliefs here. I believe in our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that strive for the greater good of humanity. I believe we should be guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience. I believe that knowledge of our world is best derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. I believe that we are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. I believe our ethical values are deriv
  13. Thormas, I'm not a trained theologian, so I certainly can't address what Christianity, as a whole, believes about certain things. All I can do is to share my own experiences, training, and indoctrination in the kinds of Christianity that I was in for the last 40 years (mainly Baptist, Southern Baptist, Calvinist, Pentecostal, Assembly of God, and now United Methodist). So while my experiences may be narrow and, according to Burl, a "low information understanding of Christianity", I am not pulling things out of my...well, you know. I'm sharing the doctrines that I was indoctrinated with and how
  14. Burl, if you want to know what I DO believe, read my post on "Turning 58" under the "Personal Stories and Journeys" section. But I would respectfully suggest that you are NOT your beliefs. We are human beings, not human beliefs. Our beliefs can and do change if we grow. But we remain. What defines us is not what we believe, but what we are, what we do. To each his or her own, but I no longer hold tightly to my beliefs. I give myself the freedom to change them as I come into new information and experiences. I know nothing for sure. I can give reasons for what I believe and why, but I don't clai
  15. I suspect this is true, Jack. Many people say, "God is in control" and then live their lives as if they have free will. They pray for the sick, but go to doctors. I tend to think we are pragmatic people living in a natural world, but we hedge our bets by still confessing to supernaturalism. It is an interesting time.
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