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Old 07-27-2006, 11:26 PM   #31
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I wish I could elaborate more - but I am going away for 3 weeks for Phase III of OCS (then I'm finally an LT!)

I'll respond more when I get back.

Take Care and God Bless!

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Old 07-28-2006, 08:22 PM   #32
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I'm from the Bible Belt, so religion was central to my life until I moved out of the area when I was 20. I spent those twenty years struggling to have faith, however, and to find find a belief system that I fit into. It's quite difficult for me to describe how much it tormented me now since I'm so far removed from that period of my life, but I'll try to explain my religious background as much as possible.

I went to a Catholic church with my mom until my parents divorced when I was five (and my mom married the priest!). My mom was Catholic and my dad was raised Methodist [I think!] but didn't attend church. Even as a child, I had a hard time believing what I was taught in church and remember getting punished when I called the boy next door a liar when he said the devil was real.

When I was eight, my dad remarried and we starting attending a Wesleyan church. My family spent several years looking at different churches (mostly Methodist/Wesleyan, but some non-denominational charismatic, speaking in tongues churches), and ultimately returned to the Wesleyan church, but I starting attending a Southern Baptist church.

Around the age of 13 I started investigating Catholicism again, and I spent so much time studying Catholic doctrine that I considered becoming a nun because I was so interested in the subject. I still didn't have anything more than an intellectual interest in it, though, and was still desperate to find something that I could believe in, so I starting attending a non-denominational, evangelical Christian church when I was 14.

By the age of 15, I'd made several friends who were very strict, VERY conservative (the stuff of many FYMers' nightmares!) Reformed Baptists. I started attending church with them, and while I disagreed with many things the church taught, I was really interested in their focus on theology and their intensive Bible studies as well as the studies they conducted on books like Pilgrim's Progress and other religions and denominations (emphasizing why they were wrong, but informative nonetheless). I went to church at least three times a week, took notes during sermons , attended all the study sessions I could find, and was eventually baptized in that church. As part of the process I had to be interviewed several times and write my testimony to read at the ceremony. I feel guilty saying this, but I viewed it as a sort of test and just said what I knew they wanted to hear in the language they wanted me to use, hoping that I'd convince myself in the process.

I started attending a Free Will Baptist (foot washing Baptists!) church my senior year of high school because I really had issues with Calvinism, and (probably the main reason ) because I liked the pastor's son.

My undergraduate university was a tiny, private, very strict Baptist university. I attended various churches in the area my first year and the Free Will Baptist church when I was visiting home and over the summer after my first year. In the spring semester of my first year I spent spring break on a mission trip in Northern Ireland (a place I'd always been obsessed with), but disagreed so strongly with the concept of evangelism that I spent the whole time just organising play activities with the children and social activities with the teens at the church where we were working.

I went to church very infrequently during my second year of college, but still referred to myself as a Free Will Baptist and went to Baptist Student Union and other Christian groups on campus (i.e., the majority of the organisations on campus!) meetings occasionally. As part of my degree, I was required to take courses on the Old and New Testament and attend weekly convocations (basically sermons every Wednesday morning), and I took a course on church history as part of one of my majors.

In the spring semester I was chosen as the as the winner in a state-wide competition for a three-month internship with the organisation of my choice in Washington, DC. I stayed in student accommodation during my internship there that summer, so I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from outside the Bible Belt and realised I wasn't that abnormal in my in beliefs and opinions. I went to the National Cathedral most Sundays while I lived there, and when I returned to my third and final year of college I helped set up an Episcopalian church in the area. I liked the freedom offered by the Episcopalian church and felt it gave me more room to explore my own theological interests than most denominations.

After graduation, I moved back to DC to work for my member of Congress and attended a few churches on and off. I had a very brief relationship with a Mormon which led to some study of Mormonism, but I remained an Episcopalian (at least as much of one as I'd tried to be before).

September 11th was quite a pivotal day for me since I worked in the Capitol complex, and as stupid as it may sound, I remember thinking that morning (when we were evacuated before we knew what was happening and there were reports that the White House had been hit) that if I died, it wouldn't matter whether or not I believed in a god. It was such an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling that all the years of trying to force myself to find something to believe in seemed so naive and laughable. I went to church a couple of times after that day, but I no longer felt the pressure to believe.

Now I haven't been to church in years (except when I went with my parents when I was visiting my dad in the US a couple of years ago), am agnostic bordering on atheist, and feel completely at ease with my lack of faith/religion. For years I felt like there was something wrong with me because I couldn't believe, and now I feel perfectly content with that aspect of my life. I still love studying religions and theology and don't have any problem with others having religious faith; it's just not for me.

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Old 07-28-2006, 09:23 PM   #33
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that truly was fascinating, meg.
<a href=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v196/angelaharlem/thPaul_Roos28.jpg target=_blank>http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...aul_Roos28.jpg</a>
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:39 PM   #34
love, blood, life
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Originally posted by Irvine511
it answers those questions that are too overwhelming, too terrifying, too primordial and lurking in deep, dark places in our nightmares. and that's where it comes from.
'El sueno de la razon produce monstros.'

('The sleep of reason brings forth monsters.')

(title to one of Goya's Caprichos)
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Old 07-30-2006, 10:34 AM   #35
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My parents weren't at all religeous, but told us that we were welcome to explore the different faiths, and would be supported should we choose to become involved. I consider myself a daughter of science having grown up in a household of medical professionals.

Wonderful art, music and literature have come from people expressing their faith, but it can also cause great suffering when used to justify violence or suppression. An all-powerful presence that watches over us is a powerfully seductive idea, but I cannot put my faith in something I can't see over what I know to be fact.

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