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Greetings From Mike


michael
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Greetings everyone!

 

My name is Michael Smith, I live in Pendleton, Indiana and am a student at Bethany Theological Seminary in Richmond, Indiana - Church of the Brethren, I also work as an Urban Planner. I have had quite the spiritual journey that has led me to this point in life and Progressive Christianity seems to fit my personal theology very well. My background is varied - began in Christianity then moved to Greek Orthodox ... then to New Age ... then to Spiritualism ... then to Buddhism ... then finally back to Christianity in the form of the Church of the Brethren. I even worked as a psychic and trance medium for a time in a new age shop! My previous experiences came about a result of feeling that something was amiss in my Christian faith (very conservative early on). I had the feeling that something was missing and after a time of searching and personal discovery I found that - for the most part - fear of what I did not know (spiritually) caused me to miss out on many opportunities to serve God in my life. In the words of a friend, “I just could not completely buy what they were feeding me.” When I first became, what I believed to be a "true" Christian, I modeled what saw in others of the faith. Because of my dogmatic attitude, I was (though unintentional) often condemning and condescending of others who did not believe what I believed. I have come a long way in a period of about twelve years , now settled in a good career (that may change), happily married and father of the worlds most beautiful little two year old. I am studying to work in ministry in some fashion though not quite sure how that will all pan out - leave it up to God to guide and direct me I suppose.

 

A few days ago I had the privilege of attending a talk that was given by the Dalai Lama in Bloomington, IN. I was able to sit on the stage about 8 feet away from him as an interfaith clergy representative. The experience was tremendously profound and I was so blessed to hear him give a teaching and was inspired by the love and compassion that I experienced while being in close proximity to him. Status, religion, race or gender did not seem to matter to him. At the end of the first day an old priest who was seated near me in a wheel chair caught his attention and he made a bee-line directly for him. Without hesitation he wrapped his arms around the ailing man - boldly without regard for any of their religious boundaries or differences. Attending the event inspired my need to deepen my love, compassion and conviction for others in a manner that is born out of my own Chrstian faith and love of Christ - particularly for those who are different from myself in a multitude of ways. I could not help but think if this man, regardless of his social or religious status or physical trials and limitations, can live life with such compassion and love - how much more love and compassion would Jesus have displayed when he walked this earth.

 

But alas my excitement was quelled by a close Christian friend who I communicate with mostly on a forum similar to this one (in form only though), in response to my enthusiasm he said, “Satan purposes to masquerade as angel of light and deceives the very elect, in both cunning and form. Compassion is beautiful and can be cultivated by the effort of human achievement. The display of compassion can also be used to market one's own agenda. If the underlying current has a different direction other than Christ upon the cross, one would be wise to remain wary and afar from its seductive lures. Whereas we are instructed not to abide or even sit in counsel of one who promotes a different teaching than that delivered by Christ and the Apostles in the power of the Holy Spirit. This instruction was given, because the human experience is easily seduced and turned aside.”

 

So, I am tired of constantly defending my “liberal” position and hope to find some new friends with whom I can have lively discussions and dialogue with in a manner that encourages my calling, faith and love for God and the calling I feel in this life without feeling condemned or shunned.

 

Shalom,

 

Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of my varied spiritual encounters I have come to believe that God is not as limited and limiting as I once thought. I am a firm believer that

 

 

 

 

I have recently been involved in an online forum that is similar to this in form but vastly different in theology - I believe:)

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"Greetings From Mike"

 

Welcome from Mike. :D

Glad to have you with us. You sound like you've had some interesting experiences, and I'm looking forward to your participation here. You've found the right place if you're looking for an open, inclusive, eclectic, non-judgmental community. I myself have taken an interest in Buddhism over the last few years, and find in my own life that I'm synthesizing a lot of its ideas with my own Christian faith.

 

It is such a coincidence to read about your seeing the Dalai Lama, because I'm currently planning to attend one of his talks in New York this Sunday. I'm not usually one to go out of my way to do something like this, but a really excited friend of mine convinced me to go with her. :)

 

Peace to you,

Mike

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It always amazes me that fundamentalists seem to know so much about Satan. Actually, your naysaying religious friend actually has taken the same position as the antikingdom Pharisees. Jesus, in the gospel of Matthew ch.12, vv22-37, confronted them on their claim that the good he was doing was the work of Beelzebub, the devil, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand." (vv.25-26). Being liberal is being Christlike. You can't find a place in the gospel where Jesus placed the priority of religion over human need. "The Sabbath [a metonymy for religion] was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. In Matthew Ch. 25, vv. 31-46 Jesus makes clear that giving ourselve to meet the human needs of the marginalized of the world, is the only pracitice of faith acceptable to enter heaven.

 

When one looks at the hate speech of fundamentalist/evangelicals and many mainline conserative denominations one must seriously question if the Jesus of the gospels, the Jesus of our souls, is behind such bigotry and contempt, for many, if not most of people of the world. I can't recall any statement or action of Jesus which demanded anything of a lost soul other than to accept His healing, and go on their way in the spirit of that healing. Keep in mind that the driving force behind much of conservative religiosity is fear and anger . . . the fear of going to hell if they don't do just the right things to please God. They are suspicious and angry of those who don't agree with them because feel insecure in their own practice of their religion. Only their belief that they are superior to every other way, can they experience some sense of ego satisfaction that they go it right, and everyone else got it worng. Such arrogance! In their fear and arrogance they try to look like the true light, but in reality they are darkness. They do not bring healing to a suffering world of human beings, they instead, plant seeds of discord and contempt for our neighbors.

 

I hope you find your way to the experience of Christianity that you desire. You may discover what Jesuse meant when he said his followers would be persecuted for his names sake, if you venture close to the Jesus of our soul. But to once find the kingdom is worth all persecution and all the riches of this world.

 

Blessings, Bob

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Michael you have a lot to offer us and you will gain great insight at the same time.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it."

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