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Old 01-21-2003, 01:59 PM   #16
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I would describe myself as a spiritual person with an open mind, but I have no religious affiliation of any kind. I strongly believe we have souls, that there is a creator, that there are ghosts and there is an afterlife. I have a strong suspicion there are past lives and reincarnation (but not as animals, as people, like we graduate from life to life to learn lessons), but I am not certain of it.

What does this categorize me as, an agnostic, or something else?

Since I was raised with absolutely NO religion at all I find myself in the difficult position of trying to figure out if I want to "become religious" or not. The hard part is it's easier to be religious when you are brought up that way. Then again, maybe it means a lot to discover these things in adulthood.

The benefit to suddenly becoming a Christian is that you have this sense of relief, that everything will be taken care of. It's probably the same feeling of love and contentment that I feel when at a U2 show.

You can even sin all you want in this life it seems, because once you give yourself to Christ, all is forgiven! (please someone correct me if I'm wrong on this-I'm a newbie! This part really bothers me btw...as well as all these threats of hell.)

The problem is how do you just "become a Christian" when you can't quote the Bible to save your life, your relatives tell you what nonsense it is, and the rest of the world has many interesting and valid religions?

This is something I am struggling with these days. I am 31 (soon to be 32 unfortunately), and my father is a materialist, my mother an atheist, my sister a Wiccan and my brother I think is a Unitarian. My husband is kind of a casual United Church guy, but never goes to church. I married him in his family's United Church to make everyone happy, and because I wanted the traditonal wedding. It was more for their benefit though.

No wonder I have no idea what path to follow! Maybe one day, if I ever get the time, I will go and study religion in college and figure things out. If anyone has any suggestions for my eternal soul, please feel free to post them or PM me!



P.S. Sparky'sgrrl, I know exactly what you mean about nature. The only place where I feel entirely whole and at peace is at the family cottage in the woods in the middle of nowhere.
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Old 01-21-2003, 03:47 PM   #17
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okay, i'll answer each question individually:

Basically I'm just wondering about some things such as what you believe. agnostic? humanist? perhaps you worship Loki? i consider myself a christian.

If you are part of an 'organized' religion... how often do you go to church (or it's equivalent)? hehe...hardly. i haven't found the right church for me yet. i had been going to the same church for like six years, but i just started to find myself disagreeing with things more and more. essentially, i tend to gravitate towards smaller congregations, and this church started off as a small, new church, and escalated into what is now quite large. also, unfortunately, i started to notice they seemed to care more about my money (or lack of) than how i was doing (i used to be very close with several people in the church), etc.

how do you feel about churches? i don't have a problem with them. i don't think you have to be at church to feel something or experience god's power or wisdom though. the things that happen at church can happen in any meeting. but personally, i would prefer to go to church once a week and also meet outside of church with a small group once a week as well, for a pick-me-up. it's like looking at the week in one big day, where the day you go to church is your huge triple shot espresso. it rejuvenates you, wakes you right up. then, you have that slump towards the middle of the day, and you need to have a cup of coffee. that's the meeting with the small group, just a slight pick-me-up.

how closely do you follow the bible/how literally do you interpret it? i'm not sure. i think i follow it pretty closely, although there are some things i don't agree with. it's not even so much as to what's been said in the bible. i look at the bible kind of like a constitution. makes sense, right? a constitution, for the most part, lays down the rules and says how you are supposed to govern your life. well, even right off the bat, people noticed the constitution (in america, anyway) was missing things, or needed to clarify things. so we added the bill of rights. also, now that it's been 200+ years since it was written, things have to be clarified further, and also modernized. in 1776, they weren't thinking "what if the president dies?" or if alcohol should be legal. things were added as we went along. that's how i look at the bible. things in it aren't necessarily wrong, but unclear or archaic in thinking.

what caused you to be the way you are spiritually? i'd say it was a bit of how i was raised, but mainly because of my parents. i went to a presbyterian church all my life. in fact, the last church i attended (i started going in 96) was the first and only non-presbyterian church i regularly attended. i'm excluding the few times i've been to catholic mass with my grandparents, of course. my parents are more modern thinkers. for example, they think both sexes are equal, they're not racist or homophobic. i was raised to think everyone is equal. that can obviously cause me to disagree with several churches, when they start preaching homosexuality is wrong or a woman can't be the head of a church.

If you could mention your age too, that would be helpful. i'm 19.
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Old 01-21-2003, 08:19 PM   #18
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I don't really look at it as "becoming a Christian". Its more like, for me, taking into account personal experiences, percieved encounters with God and belief that out of all the world religions, christianity (creator coming down to experience life as his creation)...makes the most sense; that I want to have a relationship with this God/Jesus I have sensed this presence of.
I look at church as a chance to meet with others who have this same hunger and desire to encounter and understand their maker. as well as being a place where I can meet those who are also in a struggle to become what they believe God wants them to be. I have been active in a Methodist church in Oklahoma for the past four years, and I am very excited about what we are trying to as a body to meet our cities many needs.
Regarding my belief in the bible....to be honest, I have no difficulty with the New Testament, but I do struggle with much of the Old Testament. I find it difficult to put the sometimes almost military God of much of OT together with a God who would go to the cross in the NT. I tend to view the Old Testament as more of a document of the relationship between God and the tribes of Israel than as a rule book of Do's and Don'ts...in other words, I do currently interpret part of the OT in a cultural context.
Regarding what caused me to be this way spiritually......its a mix of a lot of different things. First of all, neither of my parents went to church, but they still allowed me to go to Sunday School with my friends. I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, I stopped going to church between graduating HS and the 3rd month of my freshman semester....during this time I did quite a bit of exploration regarding my beliefs..or lack there-of...when I finally did go back to church, I joined a friend at an assembly of God church for the rest of that school year. In addition to this, in all honesty, my new interest in u2, MLK and CS Lewis caused me to see Christianity in a much freer way......which introduced me to Bishop Desmond Tutu's autobiography...as well as the lyrics of a few christian rock bands....add Amnesty International, Free Trade Movement, Jubilee 2000, Philip Yancey and Tony Campolo into that mix..and you have a pretty heady spiritual/political philosophy I suppose....
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Old 01-22-2003, 01:40 AM   #19
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What Melon Said...

I'm 26, male, and my belief system is much like melon's, except that I throw into the mix a bunch of "new age", buddhist, hindu, eastern, and atheist thinking in there as well. I know that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I have a lot of respect for the true athiest mindset (which is often misunderstood). I also think Rand's objectivism has a lot of merits, and try to live up to that as well. Maybe I'm a Spiritual Athiest? To be that, you have to have a pretty different view of "God" than most orthodox views however. I really look up to what I think is the true teachings of Christ. I think it is possible he was the embodiment of the Holy Spirit. I'm also a nature lover, although not to be confused with a nature worshiper. I'll never worship the creation, only the creator. I feel Spirit's presence very truely when in nature. Additionally, I am fascinated by science, and think the scientific method is a great tool for understanding ourselves and our universe. I also believe it to be a fundamental human right to explore our own consciousness through relationship to sacred entheogens. I meditate. I have had serious health issues that have changed my outlook on life. 2002 i had 5 heart surgeries, a heart disease that the best cardiologists and electrophysiologists in the WORLD were unable to fully treat, uncountable er visits, a 6 month death sentence, and a near death experience due to a complication that required immediate emergency heart surgery. I have had out-of-body experiences. I believe in a bohm's model of a holographic universe. I believe in a universe so grand that it is greater than we can even conceive. And sometimes, just sometimes I can believe in nothing AND everything and then I am truly free.

Melon, can you recommend any good books on scholarly research of the bible?
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:36 AM   #20
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I have already said here what I am. but for those new

I am a Messianic Jew, baptized several times in various versions by different churches. they like to keep the holy water standing...
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Old 01-23-2003, 10:08 AM   #21
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I'm 22 years old, chritian and find it hard to translate my feelings and toughts in english.

The bottum line is that i believe in one god and it's not important what his name his, Allah, Jaweh or the Raingod. i believe in the holyspirit in ourself. i belief in respect for everyone who has a different believe and i respect all rituals which people need to express there believes.
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Old 02-20-2003, 12:22 PM   #22
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I am a Christian - Catholic to be specific - and 21 years old; I went to Catholic school for most of my compulsory education.

I go to Mass as much as I can; but I think it's more because of the fact that my father has been dead for six months and my sister renounced church because of that fact...so it's just my mother and I. She is pretty religious, but not in a goody-goody, "holier-than-thou" way. I don't have a problem with churches...I don't like some of the people at my church, but that's how it goes. I really hate most of the music that the Catholic church has, not all of it though...a lot of the older hymns are nice.

I don't totally follow the Bible literally....a lot of it was written for its time, especially since lots of people thought Jesus' Second Coming was not far around the corner. Specifically, I don't agree with a lot of St. Paul's writings ("Women, obey your husbands"). I also believe that anyone who is treats others the way they would like to be treated can get into heaven, not just Christians, Jews etc. It is interesting that every major religion has that same "golden rule." After all, God created everyone and He loves all of us. However, I do believe there is a Hell and people do get sent there. My spirituality basically comes from my upbringing.
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Old 02-20-2003, 01:20 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by senrab
I do believe there is a Hell and people do get sent there. My spirituality basically comes from my upbringing.
Just out of curiosity, what does "Hell" look like? Is it really the fiery pit? And can you do anything to get out of it once you've served a certain period of time in there?
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Old 02-20-2003, 10:12 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mrs. Edge


Just out of curiosity, what does "Hell" look like? Is it really the fiery pit? And can you do anything to get out of it once you've served a certain period of time in there?
That is a very good question, Jessica. I think hell is more of a place where you have to do things you hate continuously....so if I went to hell, I would have to wear pink, listen to screaming children, go to the dentist, and listen to the Dave Matthews Band. Haha...seriously though, I think that if you would have to live a pretty dastardly life on earth to be sent to hell...and not have any remorse for it (ie. Hitler or bin Laden).

As far as getting out or not, I have no idea.
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Old 02-20-2003, 10:35 PM   #25
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Im a Republican
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:04 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mrs. Edge


Just out of curiosity, what does "Hell" look like? Is it really the fiery pit? And can you do anything to get out of it once you've served a certain period of time in there?
One of the biggest scare tactics churches have used is the hellfire belief.

My understanding is that the bible does not have a word specifically spelt 'hell' in the original language. The two words I am aware of are "Sheol" (hebrew?) and "Hades" (greek?) and both refer to the common grave. Example: Job prayed to go there to escape his tormentors, so why would he pray for something that was fiery and worse? Example: Jonah prayed to go there rather than go preach to the people of Ninevah, and surely preaching to idiots couldnt have been half as bad as roasting forever now could it?

There is a passage where if I remember correctly a parable is related that has Abraham in hell...but two things here: Abraham was a friend of God, and two it was a parable, not a real life account..so is it really meant to be taken literally.

Yup, and the Revelations talk about the lake of fire and sulpher etc etc...but the whole book is a metaphorical dream. I don't recall anyone seeing a literal seven headed ten horned wild beast or giant harlot running around earth anywhere...or any of the other scary monsters in Revelations for that matter.

It is interesting to note that the doctrine of hellfire did not really appear in the Christian church until hundreds of years after Christ's death, and had its strongest days thru the dark and middle ages when such things as the Inquisition were around and people were encouraged to pay their tithes to avoid being stuck in purgatory (another concept I couldnt find any direct evidence for in the bible) or even worse go to hell. I mean, back then you could get burned at the stake for owning your own bible or opening your mouth in question at church. Not very enlightened days, and out of that ignorance was spawned alot of doctrines whose root aim may have been to subjucate the masses into a common belief system.

But that would just be my opinion based on my own scant knowledge of religion...ugh..
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Old 02-20-2003, 11:32 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by KhanadaRhodes
they're not racist or homophobic. i was raised to think everyone is equal. that can obviously cause me to disagree with several churches, when they start preaching homosexuality is wrong
Well here's the conondrum:

The bible does teach that homosexuality is wrong and that those who practice it unrepentedly will perish on God's day of judgement. It says that about a multitude of other sins as well.

Before you all rush me here, please re-read the above sentence and note that I am not stating my opinion. Nor am I stating my opinion in the following observations, but just trying to put myself in the shoes of a pastor in charge of teaching what the bible says. (which i have grave reservations about anyways, the whole interpretation thing being driven by a man who stands at the front of the room trying to sort out the mysteries of scripture, but anyways I digress..)

Therefore it stands to reason that a pastor who is trying to impart the principles of good living according to Scripture would teach his flock that homosexuality, fornication, pedophilia, adultry, murder, theft, etc etc (they are usually all listed in the same sentence of 'bad things' in the bible) are wrong courses to take and to be avoided. After all he's just rereading what the bible says. Does this type of sermon make him a homophobe? I'm not so sure about that.

The huge problem comes tho when church leaders teach that people who sin in this manner for some reason are to be avoided and treated like shit, when others who sin in the other manners such as those listed above can be forgiven. It also becomes a problem when these sins, of which the bible does list the topic at hand, become an illogical pretext for the perpetuation of abuse, violence and discrimination on individuals. Its like they are trying to exact God's judgement personally, and that is not backed by Christian scripture or principle. THAT is homophobic.

Now my opinion: I believe that there are many ways we can sin and if I take what my bible says literally, that homosexual sex could be one of them. But we are all sinners, and thats why we have Christ's sacrifice, and I don't believe it in the true spirit of Christ to be judgemental about what sins others commit. He wasn't, he regularly preached and associated with sinners of all types. That belief leads me to not harbor hatred or violently abusive thoughts about sinners of any type, cause that's not what Jesus preached.

God knows I commit enough of my own.
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Old 02-21-2003, 03:34 AM   #28
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I'm 22 and I was baptised according to the Russian Orthodox tradition, but mainly on the insistance of my grandmother who became deeply religious in the last fifteen years of her life. My immediate family is not religious though and the church didn't figure much in my upbringing, although I always found The Bible a fascinating reading. I neither believe nor deny the existence of God or any sort of higher spiritual force; my answer is, I simply do not know. Most of the days I actually have a suspicion that whatever our little human minds think about how it all works probably has -nothing- in common with the way it -really- all works. However, deep deep deep down I have this (probably stupid) optimistic belief that it all works out somehow at the end,
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Old 02-21-2003, 12:50 PM   #29
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I'm a practicing Catholic. I go to mass pretty regularly (didn't go last week due to the flu; I don't like the idea of giving the priests my bug!). I consider myself both a religious and a moral liberal; i.e, people have to decide for themselves what they believe and what they don't. I can't do that for them. I only know what I believe. I don't think the Bible is infallible, and some of it is supposed to be interpreted symbolically rather than literally. Revelations is really heavy in symbolism. It's a weird book.
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Old 02-21-2003, 01:41 PM   #30
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Hmmm....let's see....I was brought up in the Catholic Church until my parents got divorced when I was five. My dad didn't go to church (he was raised Methodist, I think), but when I was eight, he remarried and we started going to a Wesleyan Church. For a while (when I was about 12) we looked at different churches (including one of the charasmatic, speaking in tongues, drinking poisons churches), but my family ended up going back to the Wesleyan while I went to a Southern Baptist church. At thirteen, I looked at Catholicism again and studied a lot and seriously thought about being a nun. The more I read, though, the more issues I had with certain things. When I was 14, I started going to a non-denominational Christian Church, and then when I was 15, I started going to a very strict, VERY conservative Reformed Baptist Church (where I was baptized). My senior year of high school, I decided I wasn't a Calvinist after all, so I became a Free Will Baptist. My third and final year of college, I became Episcopalian. Now I don't really consider myself anything. I've studied a lot of different religions and denomination and TONS of theology and church history, and I just have some issues with organized religion. I used to ALWAYS feel like I was missing something and really worry a lot about it (hence the switching of denominations so many times!), but now I don't feel like I need to belong to any denomination, and I'm much more content that I ever was before. So now, at 22, I have no idea what I am.
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