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Introduction


PaulS
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G'day - came across this website through a subscription to John Spong's newsletter, to which I subscribe. Will be interested to see what I can learn and read about here.

 

My 'journey' so to speak started with the first 18 years of my life being raised as a member of the Church of Christ in Perth, Western Australia. Didn't think there was anything unusual at all about that or the fundmental beliefs I was raised on. I joined the Police Force at 18 and had my eyes rudely widened to some of the things that go on in the world (gee ignorance was bliss when I was young!) which led me to serious doubt in the beliefs I had been raised on. My main issue was how God could condemn people to hell for 'not believing' when I saw clearly that so many people are a product of their upbringing. I know there are some exceptions but I could hardly blame kids for becoming criminals or living lives full of drugs, alchohol and violence, when they were raised in homes full of crime, drugs, alcohol and violence!

 

Anyhow, this led to a rejection of God and I remember specifically being so angry with God that He was so unfair. That transformed over time into a rejection of belief in God at all, and although I thought there was/may be some spiritual element to the world, I didn't really entertain the notion much more than that. Life went on, albeit substantially distanced from my christian parents and my missionary sister.

 

Fast forward 20 years to when the GFC hits and there's also that killer flu getting around, and I'm starting to crack a little under pressure. Geared up to the hilt with investment debt I start to worry, for the first time in my life, about possibly losing my home and ruining my family (wife and two little boys). A physical sympton of anxiety (globas - kinda like a squashball stuck in your chest) was diagnosed and I felt relieved knowing it was just a minor psychological issue (anxiety & worry) and not a physical problem like cancer or something.

 

Then a friend of mine who is a strong fundamentalist, tells me it's God's way of 'calling' me back. That's it - kick me while I'm down! I went into a tailspin from there and spent the next 12 months thinking I was going insane and being ######-scared of going to Hell, even though I felt powerless to do anything because I simply couldn't 'believe'. I don't want to overplay it too much other than to say I genuinely think I understand what it's like now for people who feel they have lost all hope or that they are going insane and that suicide is the only way out. Funnily enough, one of the things that stopped me from going that far was the thought I might be bringing on the very thing I was freaking out about - Hell!

 

Thankfully I found people like John Spong, Marcus Borg, Bart Erhmann, that showed me so much about biblical interpretation and really helped me gain a different understanding of Jesus, christianity, and the bible (special mention also to Philip Gulley who I found on the web and who corresponded with me via email - he'll never know how much he actually helped me). While I'm at it, I also came into contact by the strangest of ways with a bloke by the name of Denis Osborne who wrote a little publication years ago called "The Andromedans". Denis also rates up there as one of my 'saviours'.

 

Now I'm about two-years on since 'that' all began and I am genuinely enjoying reading about Jesus, God and Christianity. I have to admit that I still don't have any firm beliefs about God one way or the other, but I am much more comfortable reading and learning about christianity now that I understand what 'progressive' christianity is more about. At least I can investigate and learn and see where it takes me. I am no longer scared (well, most of the time).

 

I don't know for sure, but I think you people may help more fundamentalist and indoctrinated believers than you realise.

 

Thanks and all the best.

 

Paul

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Guest billmc

Welcome, Paul! It is fascinating to read about your journey. Thanks for sharing it with us! Though the details are different, many of us here have walked a similar path and are discovering a more holistic faith or worldview. So I believe you are in good company and look forward to hearing more from you!

 

Again, welcome to the PC forum. Jump into any of the conversations we have going on here or start one of your own.

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Glad you have found us, Paul.

 

While the "literalist" way is satisfying to some, for others it is a dead end. Then again, while some need to jettison the whole works, others can transmute the literalist way into a spirituality that seems more in keeping with what human beings often see as the essence of love, mercy and grace.

 

Reading your words, at least to me, you have made a great step in not demonstrating - or resorting to - any hatred for the literal minded.

 

"Perfect love casts out fear" - for me, not our love, which can often be imperfect, but the very heart of Reality, which is given as gift.

 

Anyway, hope to "see" you around on the various threads, living and learning like the rest of us.

 

All the best

Derek

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Paul,

 

So glad you found us and thank you so much for sharing yourself in that beautiful introduction. I would think most all here can relate to portions of your story / journey and for sure i can say i at least for one can. BTW, Is Perth the home of the famous Perth mint and some truly beautiful world coins?

 

Again welcome and a pleasure to have you here. I changed your title from guest member to Spong Subscriber and you are welcome to post in all areas.

 

Joseph

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Welcome and thank you for sharing your story.

 

I am also a Spong Subscriber. It might be interesting to start a thread each week in the Spong topic area to discuss his email. The recent emails on his lecture tour in Germany have been outstanding.

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Thankyou to all for the warm welcome. I look forward to further discussion with you all.

 

Derek - No hatred for the literal minded. Frustration yes, but not hatred. Like the criminals I referred to, I think many literalists are also simply a product of their upbringing (by extension we all are, at least to some degree). As it seems many of you might know or have experienced - there is a lot of fear embedded in the psyche when you're raised a literalist. It's hard to step away, simply out of pure fear.

 

Joseph - Thankyou for changing my title to Spong Subscriber and yes, Perth is the home of the Perth Mint. I am not a 'coin' person myself but I have toured the Mint to see the display and the process of melting/pouring gold as this is the main place such is carried out in Western Australia. Incidentally, I now live about 1hr south of Perth in a coastal town of about 75,000 called Mandurah. If you like water, this is the place to be.

 

Scott - That's a great idea and I might instigate that next week if you like.

 

Soma, Dutch, Billmc - Thankyou for your welcome and kind words.

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