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so as requested - a little background. I'm 67 and live in Hampshire, UK - though think of myself as half-American - went to school for a while in Minneapolis, worked a number of years for a US publishing company, and have been there dozens of times, seeing more of America than most Americans. Actually, I love the USA, which is not fashionable in Europe nowadays. I studied at Oxford University, set up my own publishing business nearly forty years ago, and have recently taken a back seat - I do a little writing and a lot of gardening. It's given me time to explore the internet a bit, I've followed the Christianity section on Quora for a few months, but find the level of comment there a bit dispiriting, so am looking for something else.

Spiritually, I grew up in an evangelical family which included a number of ministers, and was heavily involved in missionary organizations like the Navigators in my teens. Nowadays, I occasionally go to Quaker or Unitarian services, but more often to the local parish church. Been happily married for almost 40 years, and have two great boys (adults now, I suppose). 

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Hi John! Welcome to the community. We're glad you're here. 

I didn't even know they had a Christianity section on Quora. I should check that out. Do the answers come mostly from an evangelical perspective there?

When you say "local parish" what denomination are you referring to? Just curious. 

Also, can you share what you are hoping to find here (or elsewhere on the web)? I'm interested in hearing where your spiritual quest is taking you. 

 

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Hi John,

Welcome to the forum.  We’re a mish mash from around the globe here - I’m in Australia myself.  We’re also a mish mash of different beliefs, ranging from the odd evangelical through to atheists, and many different degrees in between.  I hope you enjoy participating here and find our little forum useful in your journey. 

Cheers

Paul

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Hi John,

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have pretty well made the rounds in Christianity.  Gardening can be a great pastime and pleasurable experience.  Had a farm in Kentucky at one stage of my life and tried a little bit of everything.

Hope you find this forum of some benefit and would like to hear some of your thoughts on Christianity today and some of your personal inspirational stories from your journey.

Peace,

Joseph

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Hi Irreverance -I'd say the answers on Quora on the Christianity section (those I've seen, anyway, are more of the fundamentalist/flat earth variety, than evangelical (most of my aunts/nephews/nieces are charismatic/evangelical, but not missionary/proselytizing types - and I both love and am in many respects envious of them}.

"Local parish church" - Anglican (roughly Episcopalian). The community I live in (about 1500 people) is too small to support others.

Also, can you share what you are hoping to find here (or elsewhere on the web)? I'm interested in hearing where your spiritual quest is taking you. Well, tough one; I kind of feel I'm too old to learn any new tricks. But I'd like to learn ways of living more faithfully, being a more complete, centered, better person.

Hi Paul - many thanks. Australia - one of the countries I've always wanted to visit, but looking increasingly less likely.

Hi Joseph - Thanks for that.

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have pretty well made the rounds in Christianity. 

Yes, pretty much seen every side of it. And of some other religions - I own a publishing company, which started in the area of Christianity in childrens' books, about 35+ years ago. Nowadays we publish a couple of hundred titles a year, under different imprints. Religion accounts for about half of them. Half of those, are on paganism. Which makes a kind of sense to me, even though I don't follow it - it's by far the oldest; it's based on respect for Nature, which we're all going to have to adopt, I reckon, if civilization is going to survive; it's decentralized to the point where you can pretty much make up your own gods/goddesses, but that's what I reckon we've always been doing anyway...

So I'm pretty pluralist. and realize the disadvantages of that, not being able to settle in one tradition. Know a bit about everything, experience nothing.

would like to hear some of your thoughts on Christianity today and some of your personal inspirational stories 

I'll try and chip in - one immediate issue is that new posts/replies don't seem to generate notifications that there's something on the forum you might want to see. So I guess it means logging in now and again to find out who's commenting. But maybe I'm getting that wrong, I'm more of a quill pen and ink kind of guy, struggled for decades to get the hang of computers. 

But thanks for the welcome.

    

 

 

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12 minutes ago, John Hunt said:

Also, can you share what you are hoping to find here (or elsewhere on the web)? I'm interested in hearing where your spiritual quest is taking you. Well, tough one; I kind of feel I'm too old to learn any new tricks. But I'd like to learn ways of living more faithfully, being a more complete, centered, better person.

I love this. :)

 

13 minutes ago, John Hunt said:

Welcome to the forum. Sounds like you have pretty well made the rounds in Christianity. 

Yes, pretty much seen every side of it. And of some other religions - I own a publishing company, which started in the area of Christianity in childrens' books, about 35+ years ago. Nowadays we publish a couple of hundred titles a year, under different imprints. Religion accounts for about half of them. Half of those, are on paganism. Which makes a kind of sense to me, even though I don't follow it - it's by far the oldest; it's based on respect for Nature, which we're all going to have to adopt, I reckon, if civilization is going to survive; it's decentralized to the point where you can pretty much make up your own gods/goddesses, but that's what I reckon we've always been doing anyway...

So I'm pretty pluralist. and realize the disadvantages of that, not being able to settle in one tradition. Know a bit about everything, experience nothing.

Neat! It must be great to be able to have all those insights at your fingertips at work. I appreciate the pagan perspective (if there is such a singular thing) myself. I think they have a lot to teach the world, especially when it comes to respecting the other. Well, at least in theory. From what I've seen, openness to others is a developmental task for all religions, and just like with Christians, pagans can also struggle with the ability to make room for others. But I love the de-centered approach to religion. 

Here's a question that I think paganism challenges Christianity with: In a world that strives for a de-centered power structure, what might a faithful re-organization of the Christian religion look like? 

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"what might a faithful re-organization of the Christian religion look like?"

Well, that's a tough one, too.

"faithful" - depends on how far back you're going, whether to the first few years after the death of Jesus (when Christians, as they later came to be known, were practicing a form of communism (Acts 2:44), or the next few decades when women seemed to be fairly prominent and the options seemed open, or the first century or two when everything was up for grabs, or the 3rd and 4th centuries when it became a religion of Empire...

Or, in terms of organization, you could go right back to the gospels - Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.
In other words, there wasn't any. It wasn't a new religion, it had no intention of being so, and it had no organization. Nothing was even written down till a generation or two later. Jesus never wrote anything down.

I do think - we’re social animals, needing crowds as well as privacy, constructing our stories out of the collective imagination. So churches of some form are needed, though perhaps most of what we have is the packaging that can now be left behind, much like the early Christians were thrown out of the synagogues. We can't live without some form of organization - unless everyone converts to a kind of Jesus-anarchism, of the kind he talks about.

But if it makes sense to be religious and be organized it’s logical to accept the best practices from the broad range of traditions. Meditation and yoga are as natural parts of a healthy spiritual life as curry and rice are now staples of our diet. It’s through embracing diversity that we come closer to truth. It’s clear that God didn’t want us to be too sure of where it lies. Differences are part of the solution rather than the problem. If we added all the religious insights of the world together we’d get a better picture of a tiny part of who He might be.

There have been many attempts at setting up a more broad consensus on religion, but none have captured the popular imagination. We're essentially narrow, tribal people, most of us - and to some extent, inevitably, all of us.

'Fraid I have some vague thoughts in this area, but certainly no solutions....

 

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4 hours ago, John Hunt said:

I'll try and chip in - one immediate issue is that new posts/replies don't seem to generate notifications that there's something on the forum you might want to see. So I guess it means logging in now and again to find out who's commenting. But maybe I'm getting that wrong, I'm more of a quill pen and ink kind of guy, struggled for decades to get the hang of computers. 

John, I'm still learning what functions we can and can't perform on the forum (I'm no IT guru and the forum platform is an off-the-shelf hosted one), but I think that if you choose to 'follow' a thread you will receive an email when a comment is made there?  The 'Follow' button is roughly in the top right hand corner of the thread.  I think also you may get an email notification if you are 'quoted' in a thread, but not a notification just because somebody has posted within said thread (unless you ar efollowing the thread as per above).

You can also see what might be new on the forum overall without logging in, but you do need to visit the site.  Without logging in you can select 'All Activity' in the top right hand corner of the home page and that will list all posts made recently.  As you are not logged in at this point it will list all activity on the forum in a sequential order but will include posts you may have already read.

I hope that helps a little, and I will try to look into notifications more also.

4 hours ago, John Hunt said:

..... paganism. ..........it's by far the oldest; .........it's decentralized to the point where you can pretty much make up your own gods/goddesses, but that's what I reckon we've always been doing anyway...

I think its helpful remembering that even Judaism and Christianity come from pagan/animism roots, as humans began to question their existence and the goings on in the world.  It should help remind us all that there is no single answer to God in the world, at least that's how I see it anyway.

Cheers

Paul

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Ah, gotcha, on the "following". Thanks Paul.

as humans began to question their existence and

I don't think that's even confined to humans. After all, Neanderthal man had a bigger brain than ours, around 1.8 liters to our 1.4 - that's disputed, but they certainly seemed to have buried their dead with ritual and ceremony. And there's good evidence that Homo erectus, even earlier, did the same, in the Choukoutien burials outside Peking.


 

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On 12/13/2020 at 12:00 AM, John Hunt said:

Ah, gotcha, on the "following". Thanks Paul.

as humans began to question their existence and

I don't think that's even confined to humans. After all, Neanderthal man had a bigger brain than ours, around 1.8 liters to our 1.4 - that's disputed, but they certainly seemed to have buried their dead with ritual and ceremony. And there's good evidence that Homo erectus, even earlier, did the same, in the Choukoutien burials outside Peking.


 

I thought Neanderthals were also humans, albeit a different species or even subspecies, but I get what you mean.  Perhaps once we developed self-consciousness, these questions began to appear.

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Sure, "humans" is a vague term, open to interpretation. But Neanderthals cared for their sick and wounded (the anthropologist Margaret Mead called “a healed femur” the first sign of civilization), and buried their dead with ritual and ceremony, covering them with flowers, placing stones and antlers around the graves, and may have played music. They stitched clothes, carried spears, produced jewelry and pictures with manganese pigments, and probably went seafaring through the Mediterranean. Most anthropologists say we probably killed them off, whether through warfare or disease or both.

Which surely has implications for "theology," and "Christianity." That a species of homo could have gone extinct about 30,000 years before Jesus arrived with the message of salvation.

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On 12/15/2020 at 2:02 AM, John Hunt said:

Which surely has implications for "theology," and "Christianity." That a species of homo could have gone extinct about 30,000 years before Jesus arrived with the message of salvation.

Understanding evolution has a lot of implications for theology and Christianity I believe.  Perhaps that's why many try to deny the science.  Each to their own, I guess.  

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