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Ex-Catholic, Atheist, Buddhist, And Christian!?


Wisdom_Bodhisattva
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Hello! I am a new member so here is my religious history that led me here.

 

I was baptised as an infant in a Lutheran church but my parents never had any interest in attending Sunday services, so I was raised practically free of any religious teaching until 7th grade. At that time my Catholic grandmother on my mother's side decided she would pay to have my siblings and I sent to Catholic school. My parents thought it would be a better education for us, and since she was paying for it and not them, they were completely on board with it.

 

So from 7th grade until High School graduation I attended Mass and learned about Catholic doctrine. But being a kid, I learned more from the culture and attitudes of the people around me than I did from any theological lessons. I came to an intuitive understanding that the Catholic teachings were not important. In our doctrine class we would learn about how we were not to receive Holy Communion unless you were free of "mortal sins" and you did this by going to confession. I was told that skipping Mass was considered a "mortal sin." Now there were plenty of people in the parish who only went to church occasionly (To say nothing to of the Christmas and Easter only Catholics!) who certainly were not going to confession, yet they received the communion. Also, they more money your family donated the better you were treated by the priests. Everything was about looking good and being a big shot in the community.

 

Once I graduated from high school I had little interest in going to church. Over the years I became interested in the philosophical arguements against theism. I read the books of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. I participated in many discussions on the internet. I was, and still am convinced that the conception of God as an external diety with a divine will, and who occasionally answers human prayers to alter events in history is completely inoperative given what we now know about the Universe. I was pretty convinced that religion was worthless, and existed merely to expand its own power by manipulating the masses.

 

After a decade of being completely irreligious, I began to pick up an interest in Zen Buddhism. This religion was interesting to me because it did not hinge on extremely improbable truth propositions about the nature of reality. Rather, it gives one a path. Something to "practice." It was the first time that I had any understanding of spiritual practice, or of mysticism. This was suddenly much more than just nodding your head in agreement with a preacher, or pretending to live your life according to a holy book that you've never read. To me, this was a real practice. Yet, it was also a religion. There are sacred buildings, and rituals. There are priests and practitioners. On the outside it looks similar to Catholicism in some ways, but its teachings were entirely different. I saw new possibilities into what religion could be.

 

As my Buddhist practice developed over a couple of years, I had a renewed interest in religion in general. This renewed interest caused me to stumble across the works of Bishop Spong. He singlehandely revived Christianity in my mind in a way that I never thought possible. I took notice of his denomination, and a couple of months ago I decided to talk to a local Episcopal priest about Spong's theology. The priest in my town is young and has only been ordained for a couple of years. He is quite passionate, but the parish where he has been placed is full of old retired people who are mostly just going through the motions. He has been quite excited to engage in theological discussions with me. He has encouraged me to attend church, and it doesn't matter to him that I don't view God in the theistic terms of the Christian Creeds. We talk every week for a couple of hours at a time over coffee. Last weekend he even got tickets for us to hear Bishop Spong's lecture at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland, OH. (It was awesome!)

 

Bishop Spong signed my book (Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World), and during the book signing I got to talk with him for a bit. My main question for him was how I could get involved. I am passionate about the Christianity that he envisions. I enjoy participating in Holy Communion at the local Episcopal Church, but there are no like minds there, not a single one! Bishop Spong had me come here, so here I am!

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May i add my welcome also Wisdom_Bodhisattva,

 

​You will find many with similar backgrounds and stories here.

 

If you are not looking for dogma and doctrine, i think you will find this community an encouraging and refreshing place. After all, religion is to me, more how we live and behave toward each other than what we say we believe. Your views are welcome in this community and even if not agreed with by some we endeavor to respect you as a brother/sister on your individual search/journey of discovery.which seems to me is the search for Love, Peace and Truth. May we all be a blessing on that path to each other.

 

Love in Christ,

Joseph.

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Thank you everyone for your warm greetings.

 

JosephM -

 

Yes, I'm not here to to find a community where everyone thinks alike. In fact, I don't think such a community exists, but at least it's okay to admit that here. I think this movement is really on to something. I believe that Christianity can become a much more powerful force for good in the world if it is able to move beyond being centered on truth claims about the nature of reality. I hope to find people who gravitate away from strict doctrines and more toward Bishop Spong's favorite line in the Bible.

 

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." - John 10:10

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You make some great points! And though you can't see me, I'm making a jealous face that you got to meet Bishop Spong <_< <- kind of like this

 

Lately in our book group (also reading Spong) we have been discussing issues related to Biblical inerrancy, and how that concept helps people use the Bible for division and judgment, rather than encourage people to live their life in a way that best reflects Jesus' teachings. Even as a child, I found the concept of inerrancy to be a bit odd - as an adult, I can't get my head around it at all.

 

Money and the church is another big issue for a lot of people, I think. As you say, in some cases, the more people give, the better they are treated. This is horrible and I feel it is quite opposite to how it should be. Recently at church, our minister's message was on this very topic. She said that what we give to God, the church, the community (etc) is not about the finances, but rather what is in our hearts and in our intentions. While donations of money are both needed and appreciated, donations of time, listening ears, working hards, and joyful hearts are amazing. Awesome. I've been to a few churches in my life, and that's the first time I'd ever, ever heard a minister say that - during collection, no less. I thought it was great.

 

Anyway, I look forward to your contributions. Your background is interesting. Welcome!

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