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Hi all...


I've been poking around a bit (still have a lot of reading to do), and I figured I should join and introduce myself before chiming in and contributing to a discussion I found interesting in another folder.


My name is Stephanie, and I live in Austin, TX. I grew up evangelical fundamentalist (Southern Baptist), and was extremely enthusiastic about my faith well into my twenties. My BA is in religion with an emphasis in youth and children's ministry (about all women could do in Southern Baptist churches at that time), and I completed a year of study at a very conservative evangelical seminary. I felt called to ministry throughout my teen years and well into my twenties, so I assumed I would meet and marry a minister or missionary and be his "helpmate," since that was how women ministered in those circles. Happily, that was not to be the case.


I went through a long and traumatic process of losing my faith in my mid-twenties. My faith had been such a huge part of my life that it left a gaping hole -- and I soon began learning about other religions and spiritual practices. Learning about the various branches of Paganism helped me to be more connected to nature and to my power as a woman, learning about Buddhism helped me to understand more about the relationship between my attachments and suffering as well as compassion and social justice, and exploring Sufi poetry helped me to fall in love with God again.....allbeit a God who looked very different from the one I grew up worshipping.


In my late twenties I stumbled upon a New Thought community (part of the Centers for Spiritual Living movement). I was immediately drawn to the idea that all paths were leading to the same destination, the belief that the only separation we can have from God and each other is the illusory one that we believe exists, and the belief that it is important to examine one's personal beliefs and thoughts and release that which is no longer helpful. I am still part of a CSL community, although less actively than before. The teaching that consciousness is cause, and that our physical experiences are simply an outpicturing of our own consciousness doesn't resonate for me as much as it used to.


A few months ago, my husband and I started attending a universally-minded Episcopal community here, and we started doing some reading about progressive Christianity (i.e. Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault), and we enjoy the people in that community very much. I also really enjoy the ritual aspect of the liturgy, even though I don't resonate with all of the content. We're currently in the process of feeling out how involved we want to be where, and how we want to focus our energy on spiritual pursuits.


So, that was longer than I intended it to be....I promise not to always be so wordy. :-) I look forward to getting to know y'all and having many stimulating and thought-provoking exchanges.



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Welcome Stephanie.


I threw away fundy christianity at about 20. Experienced the hole you mentioned but didn't particularly fill it with anything spiritual. I am now nearly 44 with a wife and two young sons, and after a roller-coaster ride over the last 3 years, have been investigating more about a christianity I never knew existed (PC). It helps me make sense of what I grew up with, but to be honest, I don't know where I sit in the 'belief' stakes.


Nonetheless, I enjoy this place all the same and hope that you do too.




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Thanks so much for the wonderful introduction thread. You were not too wordy and it should put you in a comfort zone with so many here who have similar stories and can relate. Thanks for sharing so much about yourself and welcome to the community.



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Welcome to the Forum, Stephanie from Texas.


I am happy that you managed to forge a way out of your religious bondage. The treatment of women is one of the primary reasons I decided to leave the Christian faith. For a time, I embraced Judaism, and I guess you could say that in a secular kind of way, it still defines my spiritual state. Actually, it probably has more to do with the refreshing perspective of an Eastern worldview inherent to Judaism.


I think you find the same thing in Buddhism?


A book you might find interesting is called A Baptist Among the Jews by Mary Blye Howe. My Rabbi gave me a copy of it as I was going through the conversion process from Christian to Jewish. Ms. Howe has since written a book about her experiences with Sufi Dervishes.


I think you will find this forum a very welcome place - a sort of Land of Misfit Toys for spiritual conditions.



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