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What Brought You Here?


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My own story...


I wasn't really raised in a religion, but I wasn't raised in atheism either - more just that we didn't really talk about it all that much. My mother tried taking me to both a Quaker Meeting and a Congregationalist Church when I was 4 or 5, but neither really worked out; I was too fidgety for the Meeting, and after a year or so my mother got fed up with the people at the Church, who she viewed as hypocritical. That was the end of organized religion for me for a while, although I do know that even at the age of 6 or 7 I was pondering religious questions such as the meaning of life and where we went when we died.


About two and a half years ago, I began to have a serious interest in religion after a few incidents. First, my friends and I were discussing religion and I said something like, "You can't really know which, if any, religion is right, anyway," to which my Mormon friend piped up, "Mine's right!" That experience made me more irritated with religion than I already was just from a general impression of religious people. But then, my boyfriend and I had a long conversation about God. He was taking a philosophy course at the time and one of the questions they had to address was 'does God exist?' He and I began to talk about it and, knowing he was a church-going Methodist, I was afraid to say what I really thought - that it couldn't be proven either way, even if I wanted God to exist. After an hour of discussing the topic, he made that point. I began to realize that not all religious people are brainless sheep.


A few months later I discovered UUism, and began attending a UU church. I also began researching and reading about religion in my free time. I spent several months essentially deconstructing my beliefs and assumptions, and wound up considering myself a deist after reading some of Paine's the Age of Reason. I joined a deist forum and stayed there for a few months until I joined an interfaith forum, realized deism wasn't my thing, and started calling myself a panentheist instead.


The Christmas before last, I was given a copy of Borg's Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, which sparked my interest in biblical scholarship and Christianity generally. Slowly, over the past year, I have come to think of myself as a Progressive Christian, and have continued to read books on biblical scholarship. I still attend the UU church, though I think when I move in a few months I'll try to find a liberal/progressive Christian church instead. Des, a member of the interfaith forum I was on (religiousforums.com) and a member here at one point, recommended this site to me as a great place to talk to Progressive Christians.


So here I am :)

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I don't remember what exactly brought me here. I am sure I needed some kind of "fellowship" (to use a church word) with others who were Progressive.


I never intended to leave but time and whatever else was going on in my life I stopped posting for a while. I think things were very slow so it was hard to have much of a discussion. I came back because I was doing some research on the candidate my church was looking at to replace our retired senior minister and the link was on the web site from his church site. So I suddenly remembered and back I came!



I still have mixed feelings about allowing people who are anti-progressive (vs. conservative and seeking) on this site. I don't have as difficult of a time as I used to, perhaps as I've become more comfortable with myself in "real" life and more involved in a progressive church I feel less threatened (?) by anti-progressives.

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My family rarely attended church services until I was about 14. Then we went to and Episcopal church, and I was an acolyte (assistant to the minister in the services) until I went off to college. There I only went to church once in a while. During my senior year in college I heard a prof. from Pacific School of Religion give a talk that gave me a much different slant on Christianity than I had heard before. I imagine it could have been called "progressive." I certainly was for the time (1960).


Later that year, I married, and my wife was a Presbyterian, so we went to a Presbyterian church. In 1963 we moved to a college town in the SF bay area and joined the Presbyterian church there. There we got involved in the civil rights movement, and later the anti-war, farmworkers, sanctuary and gender equity movements. Through a member of the college faculty we also learned about liberation theology.


During the 1980s I returned to school part time and studied the sociology of religion. I worked on, but did not complete, a PhD in that field at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. During that time I developed an interest in process theology, and that has had a substantial influence on my beliefs.


When we retired in 1998 we moved to Washington state. The Presbyterian churches there were far too conservative theologically for us. I briefly joined a U U fellowship, but it didn't interest my wife, and my emphasis on more biblically oriented language put many of my fellow worshippers off. In 2002, we joined a UCC congregation an hour from where we lived. It was very satisfactory, but it was too far away for us to be as involved as we would have liked.


A little over a year ago we moved to a college town in Michigan, and found a Presbyterian church that is progressive both theologically and in terms of social action. It is a small congregation (about 50 members) but we are happy with it.


I learned about TCPC several years ago, and joined this discussion group then. I think it was in 2004. I participated in the progressive boards a Beliefnet, but they have changed their format and are now owned by Fox, so I am less interested in participating there. I hope to be more active here, but so far I have not been.

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I grew up in a very conservative, fundamental small community in NW Iowa(Area where Steve King is from for those of you who heard his comments about Obama). For about 50 years I just went along with the crowd and was luke warm fundamentalist. I changed to an even more fundamental church and really started to notice the hypocrisy etc and began searching through reading. I assumed all Christian authors were evangelical with a fundamental twist but then the likes of Spong, Borg and Dianna Butler Bass came on board and met me spiritually exactly where I was at. A few years ago I accidentally ran into this site and the 8 points as well as the Message Board and the ability to find ideas from progressive churches around the country and world have really given me a sense of a new community. Problems in my family the last 10 months have lighted the amount of time I have to read the threads but I still touch base. Since there are no Progressive churches in my area I am somewhat of a closet Progressive but I keep finding more small groups and strive to keep growing in my spiritual life. Thanks for our community here on TCPC. It is great. Bob VE

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