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Talking About Religion


Yvonne
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Do you talk about religion or your faith with others? If so, how do you go about it? I find I am extremely private about my beliefs (except on this forum). I don't go publishing a lot of faith-based stuff on facebook or anything like that. I was just wondering if anybody else feels sort of isolated because of what they believe. So, do you share (or don't share and why not) your faith and how do you go about it.

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Do I talk about religion with others? Generally not except with a couple of close friends and then it is more about religion than confessions of faith/non-faith.

 

However, I don't feel "isolated." It is just a choice to stay away from potentially contentious discussions that are likely to lead nowhere productive. Maybe, if I had all the answers or thought the others did, I would be more inclined.

 

George

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I find very little need to talk about religion in my daily life.similar to what George expressed above. I also as he, do not feel isolated anymore.

 

When a need of someone arises in life or the opportunity presents itself to contribute to the edifying or uplifting or to offer a solution to another, i use the principles of my faith to offer encouragement, advice or whatever the need calls for without a discussion of religion in most all instances. I find it is most beneficial to use general principles of my faith without getting into any particulars of a single religion. In my experience, the common problems most people run into or require assistance is with anger, hate, depression, frustration, loneliness, guilt, boredom, fear, angst, hurt, jealousy, pride, unhappiness, etc. etc. and can and is often best handled without mention of any particular religion.

 

There are many teachers who draw from inspired writings from all religions to offer practical solutions to everyday problems without it turning into a religious discussion. There is generally nothing wrong with a religious discussion among friends or acquaintances , but as George said and i agree. it is best "to stay away from potentially contentious discussions that are likely to lead nowhere productive".

 

Just my 2 cents added,

Joseph

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I think I did a poor job asking my question. Do you have anyone with whom can talk about your beliefs, practices, questions or ideas? I only have this forum since my "church" is spread out. I feel isolated in that I don't have a community or faith-sharing group. Just wondering if anybody else felt this way, and what you do about it.

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Hi Yvonne,

 

Thanks for the clarification of the question. Yes, other than this forum, i have one close friend i can talk about my beliefs. However i no longer feel the need to talk about my beliefs unless someone asks a question. Why"? because my stated beliefs are of a temporal nature and i take them lightly as what seems to be at the time. They can change with the wind and my changing grasp and understanding of words but my relationship is solid and permanent and is where my trust lies.

 

Joseph

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Yvonne,

 

I feel a bit the same. I don't have any friends or work colleagues to discuss God with. My wife was raised without any religion whatsoever and has no interest in pondering religion or God either. Really, the only place for me to ask questions, debate points, and consider God, is here. At times I wish it was different, but it's not. I suppose I could join a church or faith group, but I don't feel like doing that. I feel like I've been fooled once before and I'm not falling for it again.

 

It is a bit lonely. I still feel uncertainty when it comes to questioning about 'God', but I think alot of that is simply the indoctrination of my youth not being replaced with anything I actually believe, as yet.

 

Sorry I can't really help answer it for you.

 

Cheers

Paul

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Yvonne,

 

I have this forum and a friend who is a willing listener. We might have lunch one or twice a month. I have occasional but exciting exchanges - meaning short - with a pastor who is very interested in an "evolutionary based" theology.

 

:) Others know but don't ask because they know I have a lot to say. :lol:

 

It has been at as least a three year project. That is how long I have participated here. I was insisting on an understanding that fit evolution - and I was "unconsciously" reflecting my emotional state in the theology or lack of it. I do like process thought as a way to understand and tell the story.

 

I am hungry for worship experiences that speak to me.

 

I am constantly reminded by life that I need to attend to practices rather than thinking.

 

Dutch

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I feel like I have so many questions, but they only ever come up when I'm studying or reading. I do find a great deal to think about from the posts, but many times the answers I too far beyond me - either intellectually or where I am on my spiritual journey or what I've studied. I just wondered, for those who don't have a support system, is it that you are so far on your journey that you don't need one or is this your only support? I, too, have one friend that I can talk about things with - but one person cannot (and should not, for me) fulfill all the roles of a community. *sigh*

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Yvonne,

 

While it seems to me a community is refreshing and great and very useful at times, if one wants to continue traveling in ones journey, in my experience, you have to 'in a sense', leave the pack (not necessarily physically) and move along at your own speed. The journey itself, in my view, is not a community affair but rather an individual affair. Yes, community can offer encouragement and some intellectual and emotional support but the journey imo, is neither intellectual nor community even though it involves community. What seems to, in my view, separates us from what is drawing us forward is not others but self. If there is something holding us back, it is not the other, it concerns self and ego. It is not an enemy but something we must pass through so that we can discover who or what we are and who or what we are not.

 

As Soma pointed out in another thread, people push our buttons. Those who push the most are sometimes our greatest teachers if we will allow ourselves to learn from it. Community cannot give you something spiritual directly. It can only exercise ones conditioning so that progress can be made to act from the unconditioned. Perhaps my words are not as clear as i would like them and may not seem to help at this time but then one must discover such things for themselves. All i can do is share and consider the views of others and trust that which is greater will provide understanding when conditions are ripe.

 

As far as needing a support system, while it is welcomed and helpful at times on a journey, what does one have if it is made a requirement and suddenly it is removed? Will i not be left with nothing and fall? Must not all eventually find their support only in God? What good is the temporary (support systems) except to help point to that which will no longer require support? Just some questions one can ask oneself.

 

Anyway, that's my take, hoping it is of some help,

Joseph

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Joseph,

 

I agree that 'faith' is highly subjective, personal and constantly changing. As long as the interlocutors understand this and respect a different perspective, it is fine and maybe worthwhile. However, I think too often people try to generalize their personal point-of-view as a universal and this leads to discord and impaired relationships.

 

George

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Well said Joseph. But,then, let me ask this question - Does anyone have a spiritual director, coach, or counselor? Or perhaps that starts another thread.

 

Yvonne,

 

In traditional Christianity it is taught that the holy spirit is our guide. I believe that. Of course, personally, a lot of people have been instrumental in my life and used by that spirit which joins us all together. Yet i must say that in the end the true guide, spiritual director , counselor or coach is within each of us. I think the words in 1 John 2:27 speaks well, at least to me.... as written. " But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

 

Joseph

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This is interesting to think about. If we accept that we are made up from genetic material from our ancestors with the remainder of ourselves being gifted to us by those we interact with through life, we are a collective, both as an individual and as a collective, so to speak. We absorb traits and knowledge from those around us and in a sense form some other person made up from this absorption plus our genetic coding from hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. Do we come up with new ideas or are we simply responding as who we are to new stimuli from our environment. Interesting, but probably getting a bit off topic. I think certain individuals within our community click with us and we listen to them more intently and seek out their company. These people have a strong influence on our thinking at that time, although time and further experience often moderates your thoughts and that initial enthusiasm you had for what that person talks about sometimes wains. I have huge respect for particular individuals in my community and as a consequence I listen to them and think more about what they say and do as opposed to others whom I simply know and interact with at a less thoughtful level (that sounds awful but I'm sure you know what I mean!).

 

The beauty of this natural way of dealing with people is that we are interacting with those who stimulate us at a level we aspire to and yet can understand and as a consequence we grow as a person. The danger is that there is also much to be learned from interacting and thinking about the interaction with the "others whom I simply know", which on many occasion can suprise me with the most beautiful profound thoughts.

 

I guess we have to just keep our eyes and ears open to life in general.

 

Regards

 

Paul

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Joseph,

 

I agree that 'faith' is highly subjective, personal and constantly changing. As long as the interlocutors understand this and respect a different perspective, it is fine and maybe worthwhile. However, I think too often people try to generalize their personal point-of-view as a universal and this leads to discord and impaired relationships.

 

George

 

Had to look up "interlocutors" to follow your drift. :) That certainly seems to be the case with those who cannot live with any uncertainty. Personally i find great freedom in not having many universal point-of-views. To me things only seem to be so. Perhaps one could say that point-of-view is a universal. :D

 

Joseph

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The beauty of this natural way of dealing with people is that we are interacting with those who stimulate us at a level we aspire to and yet can understand and as a consequence we grow as a person. The danger is that there is also much to be learned from interacting and thinking about the interaction with the "others whom I simply know", which on many occasion can suprise me with the most beautiful profound thoughts.

 

 

Paul,

As you, I think we can learn from all. Especially those from who we may think we have the least to learn from. In my view, whoever is before me at the time is my potential teacher although without a quickening from within, how shall one receive it? Therefor it seems to me that being open to consideration to all with a soft heart is a key and requisite for that quickening and growth.

 

Joseph

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There are some good views on this thread.

 

I don't really talk about faith/belief/religion with anyone in my life. I have one friend from university I still talk to about it now and then, but she is on the fundy end of things and sometimes I find it difficult to bear her opinions - though I respect her right to her faith and how it manifests for her. As for everyone else, not really. My partner is a self-labelled "failed Catholic" who is a person of faith as it is, but doesn't really have a lot of interest in pursuing it further at this point - though we have talked about going to church here and there. My brother claims to be an atheist (though I have my doubts on that one) and my parents are spiritual/Christian people, but quiet about it.

 

Mostly, I don't feel that religion/faith is appropriate for social conversations. Like politics, it's a great way to get people stirred up, angry, and super-emotional. There are some things I just would rather leave off the table, though about most things I'm a pretty open person. I believe that spirituality is more of a personal thing, though there is something to be said for community as well.

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Do you talk about religion or your faith with others? If so, how do you go about it? I find I am extremely private about my beliefs (except on this forum). I don't go publishing a lot of faith-based stuff on facebook or anything like that. I was just wondering if anybody else feels sort of isolated because of what they believe. So, do you share (or don't share and why not) your faith and how do you go about it.

 

 

 

What is there to say about religion? Should I focus on the intolerance many religions nurture, the righteous indignation championed, the hate filled bigotry held by many, and the murderous wars that have ensued? Or, shall I focus on the hope it

offers to many? If hope, then what shall I say about the hope offered? If I focus on the former, then what can I say apart from the obvious?

 

 

There is no doubt that religion offers hope to many, but what are the many hoping for? For some religions, their martyrs hope to

be rewarded with many virgins upon death. For other religions, those who find enlightenment are rewarded with nirvana at death. Still for other religions, those who believe a certain way are rewarded with heaven at death.

 

 

As far as I can tell, the most common theme championed in most religions when it comes to hope is self

reward “deferred”. What can I gain by believing a certain way “someday”? What can I gain if I somehow reach enlightenment “someday”? What can I gain if I offer my body to be martyred “someday”? My question is why must it always be “someday”? Why not place our hope and desires in something much more immediate?

 

 

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs: 13:12 ).

 

 

How can our desired hope ever be fulfilled when faith, hope, and love are to forever remain as written in 1st Corinthians 13:13? It is my view that many are hoping for the wrong things. I feel that many have misplaced their hope. Misplaced hope makes the heart sick because that hope is deferred, and as such is attainable only after certain criteria has been met, namely “death”.

 

 

A simple matter of shifting our paradigm and changing our perspective can change this. Instead of hoping to reach heaven “someday”, why not hope instead to forever know and grow in that which will

help us get there? Hope deferred makes the heart sick after all. The point is that there is no need to wait when it comes to well aimed hope.

 

 

If our hope is to reach heaven after we die through faith, and we do in fact reach heaven someday, then what more have we to hope for and have faith in? We would already be in the heavenly kingdom. Yet, we are told that faith, hope, and love remain. How can this be if both our faith and hope have been met already?

 

 

The paradigm shift is this: Instead of having faith in Jesus to get us to heaven, why not have faith in the power of life and love to continually change us into something better, even after reaching the kingdom? Likewise, why not have hope to know life and love more fully and more abundantly than we do today, and every day hereafter? Why not have faith and hope in the greatest among the three?

 

 

Love is the greatest among the three for a reason. It is the kind of faith and hope you can sink your teeth in, taste, and be filled by. Not just that, but love can lead us to the promised land, both within and as a people. Love my friends, can establish peace on earth and restore our lost Eden.

 

 

If our hope is to know love more fully day after day, and if we place our faith in love to continually transform us into something better, then our hopes and desires will be fulfilled daily without deference. It begins with self, however. What it comes down to is changing our desires, redirecting our faith, and amending what we hope for.

 

 

Love ultimately prepares us for the kingdom. We put on this garment of life, this garment of love, which prepares us and makes us acceptable to enter the kingdom itself. Love is what prepares us for the wedding feast (Matthew 22:2-14). In other words, love is the appropriate wedding attire for the wedding feast to which we have all been invited.

 

 

There is certainly a destination to reach for humanity, but heaven (paradise) is not the end destination for us. The kingdom is merely a point of achievement along the way. The true reward is in the continual communion with God, the coming to know life and love more fully as we move forward. It is about continual progress, continual development, and not merely about a far away destination.

 

 

Love is never ending, thus when our faith is in the power of love to transform us into something better, we gradually become better people. We become something more perfect than the day before. Likewise, when our hope is to know love more fully than we do today and everyday thereafter, we are better able to grow in that love daily.

 

 

Solomon tells us that desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Love is the heavenly wisdom of God. Likewise, love is able to transform us, slowly perfecting us as God’s children, ever so gently leading us to paradise. Love is truly the greatest of all things that endure. It is the stuff dreams are made of. Embrace her with all that’s in you. She rests in your hands and in your heart. Forever keep her ways, and not only will you be blessed, but you will become a blessing to others also. Such is the spiritual wisdom of life itself.

 

 

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand. in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.”

 

 

To answer your question directly, NO! I don't talk about religion, but I do talk about love and how it can not only make us better, but also the world we live in. The rest is baggage I'm afraid. Faith, Hope, and Love remain, thus putting these in the proper perspective, we are able to pursue that which is worthy of pursuit, all without getting into religious arguments. Tis how I witness to others .......

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I'm at a point of trying to integrate something I've come to recognize intellectually, but not yet processed and integrated well down into social interactions. I am not of intent to make this sound like demeaning or being negatively critical of others, though it is hard to express this without it seeming so, and many would take it as that...

 

This is that most people, not only 'including' openly religious people, but most especially openly religious people, don't know what they they actually believe or why they believe it to begin with, and operate under an assumption that those around them, their religious peers, are all in agreement in some consistent and uniform system of "beliefs", even if they don't really understand it all themselves. I hope that statement makes the sense I intend it to, lol.

 

The two main reasons, I think, getting into any real discussion of religious beliefs likely to become contentious are, 1, many do feel really insecure about their own actual knowledge and understanding of the beliefs they are 'supposed' to be in agreement with and embracing within their religious peer environment, are 'hiding' from others and sometimes even themselves that they really don't understand the what and why of them, it but think they are supposed to, so are in pretense that they do, so as to fit in and be accepted by their group, and 2, they are operating under a state of delusion that "we are all share in common and are in agreement here in our beleifs" that is rather immediately threatened and inevitable begins to disintegrate if they actually start talking to each other about those whats and why of what they believe.

 

A most stunning discovery and realization for me was upon actually studying Christian theology and doctrine as expressed by major and widely accepted theologicans and within many church traditions, how little most Christians I've been around, or even commonly hear 'preaching' whether in churches or tv ministries, seem to really know or understand any of that themselves...how far from 'sound doctrine' their beliefs are. Before I had that information, gained from those studies, I could see the irrational, unreasonable, even absurb nature of a lot of it, its failure to pass critical thinking and tests for fallacies of logic or even common sense, but I couldn't have seen how far it often misses even what is widely and tradtionally accepted as sound Christian doctrine and even the most basic level of Christian ethic and principle.

 

This translates in a practical reality within most religious environments and for many individuals within them, to which that sense of belonging and being accepted is of crucial importance, and ultimate importance to 'salvation' is perceived as having 'right beliefs' (defined as what the group determines are 'right), of a quick reactionary and often hostile defensiveness if put into a position of having to try to actually articulate and explain their beliefs. They simply CAN'T, but also can't let anyone else see that! Even those that do give some response, that is generally quite unreasonable and even lame at best, feel need to defend whatever that response may be and the supposed belief it is intended to 'explain.'

 

Recognizing this finally answered for me a question that had puzzled and frustrated me most my life, about being around religious/churchly people, especially in any setting or context in which doctrines were supposeldy being presented or taught...that asking questions in trying to learn and understand what was being presented seems to almost invariably trigger a very hostile and defensive response, pretty clearly getting the point across that to question=to challenge! To ask what seemed to me reasonable questions trying to understand something I didn't quite understand as presented was taken most often as arguing against whatever it was! It was because they really didn't understand it themselves, couldn't really explain it, had themselves "accepted" it on nothing more than that's what they'd been told to believe and were expected to believe, without question, even if they didn't understand it. It becomes, just becasue God said, and is to be accepted on God's say so even if you don't understand...questioning =(challenging) God!

 

The more deeply I studied into Christian theology, doctine, and ethic, the more I realized a major flaw in the whole mess is that people are expected to, and have accepted, believing or at least pretending to believe in things they really don't understand at all. This is, it seems to me, at the root of most of the hypocrisy that might seem quite obvious to those not likewise caught up in such an environment, that those within do not recognize themselves. They don't even really understand what it is they profess to believe in or not believe in!

 

It isn't even possible to recognize hypocrisy in one's self if one doesn't even really know or understand to at least some extent what hypocrisy is to begin with! Likewise, one can condemn 'idolators' all they want, and not see their own having fallen into idolatry, simply because they don't even know or understand what idolatry is and consists of,

 

The extent of active use of what are called 'ego defenses' at every level from institutional and collective community, to individual and personal, to try to avoid cognitive dissonance caused by holding simultaneously beliefs that are in direct conflict with other beliefs and even reality and common sense is, I think, a huge, perhaps the greatest, cause of anxiety within both those communties and individuals within that sub-culture.

 

And there is simply not good or 'safe' way I know of to try to deal with that in personal conversations that get into discussion in any of those affected areas of religious beliefs.

 

Jenell

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Re to the above realization, I don't know if I still have it tucked away somewhere, but I ran across a book several decades ago, that really provided the mjaor 'springboard' I guess I'd call it, in looking into this particular direction, idea... Can't presently recall the name of the author, but he was a popular and much loved and respected Evangelical preacher/writer at the time...the title was, I'm thinking, "What Christians Really Believe and Why We Believe It."

 

Reading that book, at the time long before I had gotten into any serious bible study or studies of Christian theology and doctrines at all, really did serve to help clarify in my mind that my own doubts and difficulties accepting much of this religion as I've been exposed to it up to that time were truly valid, and helped me accept my own intutions that spomething was seriously wrong about it.

 

Written in the rather simplistic language style all too common in Christian books and other literature intended for the "general congregational audience" that reads/sound like it is being addressed to a young children's Sunday School class, through by a patient parental figure, it laid out rather well most of, at least most of the basic, things Evangelicals are so often expected and assumed to accept and believe, all laid out using the common presuppositions and assumptions and forms of fallacies of logic as seems quite common when preaching to the choir, and a rather young, immature, childish choir at that. The failure and even absurdities of reasoning and common sense in the explanations and arguments as presented in that book were so simple and clear, it really wouldn't take an intellectual mind or theological education to have recognized them. Yet, as I read those as laid out, I recognized one after another what I had been hearing all my life, the same way I'd been hearing it, and with no more explanation I'd ever been able to get for any of it before that. Clearly, the book was written in that same what we tell you to beleive is what you are to believe because its what we tell you to believe.

 

Jenell

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I no longer find religion attractive and so I have no religion. Every religion I am aware of requires members to share certain dogmatic beliefs; beliefs that confound rational thought. I am attracted to science and the scientific process of discovering not only the mechanics of the universe but the natural laws governing the mechanics. When it comes to faith, hope and love, my faith is in these natural laws, my hope is that I will continue to develop my understanding and my love is for the evolution process.

 

Throughout my life my belief in religious dogma had its ebb and flow; I would begin to see the light only to have more doubts as my teachers lost credibility. I realized I had to figure things out for myself.

 

Twenty five years ago I was a devout Catholic who attended Mass daily and after Mass, carried communion to the sick and infirmed as a Eucharistic minister. I never stopped seeking the truth about God and life and my understanding has evolved over the years. I’ve had enough contact with priests, cardinals and bishops to know they are no different than anyone else, just doing another job in a different hierarchy.

 

I had plenty of people I could talk to about religion and spirituality but as I learned and grew they stayed in the same place and I became a non-believer to their ways of thinking. I have learned that this is a very personal journey we go through, its called life. I really have no one I talk to about this subject except my wife. I have removed the word believe from my vocabulary.

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Do you talk about religion or your faith with others?

 

No. It's a waste of time.

 

I find that it is easier to just live life according to basic, humanistic principles according to my own understanding (kind of the polar opposite of Proverbs 3: 5-6) based on years of experience, experimentation, education and observation.

 

Talk is cheap.

 

NORM

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I talk to people about my faith. I sometimes ask people the following questions: Do you think that God exists? Who do you think Jesus is? What is your church background? What did you learn about God or Jesus from your church experience? Why do you think that Jesus died on the cross? Are you a good person? If God were to judge you based on His moral standard, would you be found innocent or guilty? Would you like to hear how God made a way for you so that you can be saved from your sins?

 

Several years ago, I had a friend who was an atheist and he initiated conversations about God more than I did. He would frequently ask me about different church denominations, why I thought that God exists, whether God can create objects too heavy for Him to lift, how I knew that the Bible was the word of God, and so on. He wasn't interested in becoming a Christian. He enjoyed talking about religious things. He would ask religious people how they know that they are going to heaven.

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