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post #121 of 194
I really liked Heart of Christianity too. It was everything I have been thinking but didn't know it. I like when he says that by making Jesus "God" we lose sight of what an amazing person he was. I find myself being fascinated with the historical Jesus. As he says we can think he was probably the peasant child of a young woman who was raped by roman soldiers, he was a Jewish mystic and healer, he was VERY political etc. I am much more interested in praying to GOD and thinking seriously about the life of Jesus the person as a way to bring myself closer to GOD than I am in praying to Jesus. When I do out of habit I am not bothered much. I believe God knows what I mean.

We were just in the hospital for 3 nights with my sweet ds. He had a virus that raged through his body for 6 days. I found myself worn down to the place where absolutely nothing matters but life itself. I found myself face to face with God. All I could pray was "help my baby help my baby, give me strength....." because I could barely think. I did realize that if I didn't pray I would probably lose my mind. But it was a constant unending prayer.
post #122 of 194
Puff, I really related to what you were saying about feeling like you have to explain. I have felt like that for years! I have to say that I am starting to lose that all thanks to you and your wonderful thread!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have often in my life felt like I needed to stop thinking about it so much and let it wash over me. It is not easy. Last Lent, I decided to stop thinking and just open to love (I was very far from where I am now). I read Eckhart Tolle and Thich Naht Hanh and Brother Lawrence and Kathleen Norris and I tried to just stay open. I am trying more and more. But I know exactly what you mean. Now I feel much better because Borg has done all the thinking for me. I am not 100 % into everything he says but after years of wondering in the desert (hrsmom, what till you get to the part about "sin" its awesome) it is close enough. He has solved my issues with the creeds and prayers and Jesus centered language and all that stuff. I feel much more free to just be with God instead of analyzing God. And like I said, dropping this whole idea that Jesus is God has freed me even more to analyze him and think about what I can learn from his life and teachings. If it doesn't fit right with you, Puff, perhaps it is not your "way". I love this thread and being with eachother on our journeys. It is truly special. For me I can incorporate what I love about the other religions (including judaism) into my "practice" in this new Christian way. It all just flows together.
post #123 of 194
I can't wait to read the part about sin!

I can not even imagine what that was like to be with your son in the hospital. Is he OK now?
post #124 of 194
Thread Starter 
Harmony,

I am so glad your son is (I assume) feeling better and out of the hospital. How scary! Give him a hug for me!
post #125 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by puffnstuff View Post
Here is link to some talks by Philip Gulley, co-author of "If Grace is True, Why God Will Save Every Person"

http://www.philipgulley.org/GRACETALK.htm
I stumbled across this website last night. Did you see his archived sermons? I read a couple and loved what he had to say.

Gulley just released a new book which looks very good. It's called If the Church was Christian It's in my cart at Amazon. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have it but it might be worth buying.
post #126 of 194
Oh please, oh please, oh please, may I join in here? It was actually this thread that inspired me to reconsider Christianity and make my way to church yesterday!

I grew up Baptist and was very much into the "personal relationship with Christ" aspect of it as a teen. I felt like I could never live up to whatever ideal or standards I was holding up for myself. By the time I graduated college I was done with it altogether, having a hard time wrapping my brain around the existence of God, let alone virgin births, resurrections, holy trinities. But atheism/ agnosticism never felt right to me. Last year I spent many Sundays at a UU church. The services were nice, the people were nice, and my 4yo dd loved the religious education program. I decided not to go back because one Sunday the minister kind of called us out in the middle of the service (my two year old making a few noises as I was carrying him out--I stood up when he started getting wiggly, so he wasn't even loud or "talking" for any amount of time!). But I had already admitted to myself that the church was alright for me, but not good enough. Basically, I missed Jesus. And when the service was over, it was like, "that's that," and I didn't think about it again until next Sunday.

I went to highschool at an Episcopal boarding school and was very involved in the choir, therefore very involved in the services, so I've always felt an affinity for that church. I've been trying to reconcile my desire for ritual, sacrament and a Jesus-centered spiritual life with the fact that there seem to be so many "gaps" in my faith. I think a lot of that comes from living in a very conservative area with fundamentalist friends and feeling as though I couldn't possibly be a Christian unless I believe that Jesus died for my sins and that there is a devil whom we are constantly battling and that only accepting Jesus as my lord and saviour can save me from him. Well I don't believe any of that--at least not in such a cut and dried, absolute way, but I do believe in God, just not as a personality, and I do have a strong affinity for Jesus and his teachings...so what does that make me?

So I found an Episcopal church yesterday, and I went, alone without the kids. It was wonderful...it felt good and familiar. The music and liturgy were beautiful, and the service just felt...good. The sermon was on the afterlife, which I have to admit was a little strange for me, but this was the assisting priest, not the rector, so maybe the sermons normally have a different feel. I will definitely be checking out more churches during the Lenten season.

I have gone to my library website and requested many of the books mentioned here. I've also ordered some samples of Spong and Borg on my Kindle! I hope I can join the conversation here
post #127 of 194
Thread Starter 
welcome!!!
post #128 of 194
welcome naismama. I am so glad our ramblings here have helped you! I highly recommened you look through the website Puff started the thread with as well as the common sense christianity site mentioned a couple of times in this thread if you haven't already. I think you will love Borg's Heart of Christianity. Yay. I am so excited for you, for us. Please join in!

Thanks guys for asking about my baby. He is really better. He has stopped the constant nursing so I think that means he is moving on emotionally. Me on the other hand...how am I ever supposed to take him to playgroups again?????
post #129 of 194
Hi naismama! I think I will visit our Episcopal church one of these days, when my dd is a bit older or I suddenly have someone around on Sundays to be with her!


Harmony, I'm glad he's feeling better and more secure. Scary!!

I pulled out my ipod the other day, I hadn't listened to it in about 2 years, since before my baby was born, I think. The music on there was from a different era in my life!!! Some Christian music I will always love, some reflects concepts I no longer embrace. It's so nice to read this Marcus Borg book, I feel like I'm not crazy!!!
post #130 of 194
I do! I do! I worship in the United Church of Canada. Our faith is respectful of other faiths and often work together in joint projects. The church overall accepts SSM which is a biggie for me, but marriage policy is set by every congregation. That said, I believe most include SSM. Our church allows a lot of open discussion on the Bible at all levels and worship services can differ radically from congregation to congregation, which is great. In my church, we have a more traditional Sunday service, songs, organ, prayer etc. With a church my aunt runs in the downtown core, the service is Thursday night, more sitting around the table, eating, talking. Their mission is more about their work with the homeless and low income community. Which is what drew me to the church. We're pretty noisy on social justice issues and can even be cheeky, it's a strong group of rabble rousers, which I do enjoy, a lot.

It's probably not much help to most Americans, but this is the website, albeit pretty crummy.

http://www.united-church.ca/about

Our more community website for discussion and idea sharing. There are a lot of sermons from ministers around the country in the blog section.

http://www.wondercafe.ca/
post #131 of 194
Thread Starter 
Hi All,

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. As usual. Ha. Anyway, I'm very glad we have this thread, and even though I still don't feel led "back" into anything resembling mainstream Christianity, I am very open to the notion of Jesus as a great teacher, among others (Gandhi comes to mind). I am really thankful for that, as I probably wouldn't have come to that on my own for a long while without all of you. I know we don't need to define ourselves, but I think the gist of Quakerism fits me well at present, and I am at peace with that. So what if it sounds too Christian for my atheist peers (I am sort of surrounded, seriously)? I need to make peace with my beliefs. If people think I'm close-minded because I have something even resembling "religion," that's their beef, not mine. I *am* open-minded...I question my beliefs constantly, and re-affirm my belief in God, even in the face of doubt, every *single* day. Anyway, I am at peace with it. I believe in God. I believe life is a blessing, and I am so honored to have this life, with my son, my family, on this beautiful earth.

Anyway, speaking of "beef" (ha) and peace, I have been reading a bit today about animal and liberation theologies, as well as about Christian vegetarianism, and I will be praying and thinking and probably writing about that. I really want to reconcile my convictions with my actions. I want to overhaul my life, bring it more in line with the teachings of peace and live in a way that testifies to my respect for and understanding of God's creation. I don't know if we can really "know" God, but I do see God's reflection in the world, the evidence of God's Being in/is everything - and I know the planet and the environment and I know that peaceful living is good. So, yeah...that's what's on my mind. I also think about my son and about how I want to continue to "introduce" him to the world, and if we should, in a world already filled with so much violence, contribute to that any further. I don't know...I need to sort this out.
post #132 of 194
Hi Joyster! I'd love to go to church with a bunch of social rabble rousers!! Maybe some day I will find my way to such a church.

Puffnstuff, I'd love to visit a Quaker church some day. I like reading your thoughts, thank you for sharing!!



We had a big ole rainbow in the sky today! Things are a little rough right now, and it was so peaceful looking at that rainbow! I was thinking what a lovely gift it was, that story of the flood followed by the rainbow, a lovely gift through time from an ancient people. To me, today, it's a metaphor for the truth that God is not about destruction and punishment, God is about peace and caring and making it through the storm. (It's hard not to sound cliche', especially since I hate all those cliche's!) I was just focusing on the rainbow and enjoying the calm inside! I will probably ponder that story some more. Anyone have thoughts/insights about that story? I love thinking about how people have been exploring spirituality and God all throughout history (that's what I see when I read the Bible) and people thousands of years ago saw rainbows and claimed that s a metaphor for God's peace. Lovely!
post #133 of 194
Welcome Naismama! I'm glad you like this thread. Joyster, your church sounds great. I'd like to find a church which was more interactive - sitting around tables discussing life events, developing real community and serving those who are in need.

Puff, I made a big change in our eating habits a few years back now. I cook mainly vegetarian food. I will occassionaly eat salmon - wild caught or free range, organic chicken to keep my husband and children happy. I want to be kind to the earth and its creatures with the food choices we make.

I've been reading a book called [U]How We Decide[U] and the author write how brains are programmed to want to be right. He refered to religion - so many people don't think too much about what they believe - they just believe because it's easier than asking questions and making the brain work. Same with politics. Anyway, it's nice to be around people who use their brains and don't just accept what has been spoon fed to them.
post #134 of 194
Hi!

I always try to read the whole thread before I jump in, but I don't have time and I'm just too excited to wait! Can I join???

Puffnstuff, I am also a Capricorn, my daughter is a Pisces and my dh is an athiest!

I also attend the United Church of Canada in Halifax, NS. It's a perfect fit for me. I was a member of the UU congregation for a long time, but something very practical kept me from it. Because dh is not on board (though somewhat willing to discuss issues), I would also need to either take dd with me or go alone. The UU church is a very long bus ride away and I didn't want to turn my solitary religious explorations into a half-day away from the family. So I really never kept going. Also, there was SO much debate among religions that it got tiring. It was what I wanted, just...dysfunctional.

Then one day I got a flyer in the mail about St. John United. It sounded perfect. I went. I fell in love. At the first service the (female, beautiful, powerful, grey-haired) minister was leading the congregation in its final step of the process to become an Affirming Congregation. That meant it had gone through a year-long process to accept gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered people as full members, eligible for marriage and to be ordained as ministers. Two weeks later I marched with my new church in the Pride parade.

Yes, this is a Christian church and I don't think I will ever be "Christian" in any way other than what has been described in this thread. But it follows Christ! It also acknowledges the validity of other religions. For example, a mosque is being built next to our place of worship. Our church immediately set up a welcoming committee and held potlucks on "Islam 101," to help educate our membership about our new neighbours' faith.

FWIW, my husband has stumbled across the kind of liberation theology being used as a means of political change in many Latin American countries. He got excited and finally we have a way to discuss religion! He admits that our church really comes close to a North American equivalent.

I'll catch up on this thread today. Thank you everyone, I am blessed.
post #135 of 194
"We had a big ole rainbow in the sky today! Things are a little rough right now, and it was so peaceful looking at that rainbow! I was thinking what a lovely gift it was, that story of the flood followed by the rainbow, a lovely gift through time from an ancient people. To me, today, it's a metaphor for the truth that God is not about destruction and punishment, God is about peace and caring and making it through the storm. (It's hard not to sound cliche', especially since I hate all those cliche's!) I was just focusing on the rainbow and enjoying the calm inside! I will probably ponder that story some more. Anyone have thoughts/insights about that story? I love thinking about how people have been exploring spirituality and God all throughout history (that's what I see when I read the Bible) and people thousands of years ago saw rainbows and claimed that s a metaphor for God's peace. Lovely!"






I feel like I need to actually read this story in order to really analyze it. It is funny that it came into my mind the other day. I was thinking how morbid it is on a literal level. I can't quite figure out what I think about it on a metaphorical level. I am trying to get there thinking of the relationship of God and Noah is a metaphor for our relationship with God.......and I'm stuck. I'll keep thinking. Any thoughts????
post #136 of 194
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harmony08 View Post
"We had a big ole rainbow in the sky today! Things are a little rough right now, and it was so peaceful looking at that rainbow! I was thinking what a lovely gift it was, that story of the flood followed by the rainbow, a lovely gift through time from an ancient people. To me, today, it's a metaphor for the truth that God is not about destruction and punishment, God is about peace and caring and making it through the storm. (It's hard not to sound cliche', especially since I hate all those cliche's!) I was just focusing on the rainbow and enjoying the calm inside! I will probably ponder that story some more. Anyone have thoughts/insights about that story? I love thinking about how people have been exploring spirituality and God all throughout history (that's what I see when I read the Bible) and people thousands of years ago saw rainbows and claimed that s a metaphor for God's peace. Lovely!"






I feel like I need to actually read this story in order to really analyze it. It is funny that it came into my mind the other day. I was thinking how morbid it is on a literal level. I can't quite figure out what I think about it on a metaphorical level. I am trying to get there thinking of the relationship of God and Noah is a metaphor for our relationship with God.......and I'm stuck. I'll keep thinking. Any thoughts????
I want to read up on other cultures' and religions' flood stories (from what I have read/been told, there are many out there). I wonder if the story is more of one of hope - just when things seem so bleak, when it feels as if there is no good left in the world, there is always someone, somewhere who is getting things right? I definitely do not see it as something God wrote for us - but I do see it as a story told by the Israelites/ancient Hebrews about God. So, maybe getting beyond the whole "God killed everything except what was on the ark" literalness of it (which admittedly for me is hard - Borg and McLaren are helping me greatly in this area), we can see it from the "what does this story tell me about how people/I see God." In other words, if the writer is a descendent of Noah (which theoretically we all are according to the story ), what does it tell us about how God see us. From that perspective, it's a story of redemption. We are both those killed by the flood and those redeemed by the ark. It is a story of the stripping away of that which turns us away from God and a story of that which draws us closer to him. In the midst of the crud and corruption of daily life; in the midst of the screw-ups we make as people; in the middle of what seems to be an unredeemable world, we all have that something in us that says, "Yes, I too am redeemable." The rain and flood is what strips us of all that has separated us from God; the ark is God's hand not letting go of us. We are being cleansed and protected at the same time. We are redeemable. Every day. I don't know ... that is where I am right now with it.
post #137 of 194
Thread Starter 
I finished my Philip Gulley book and, this is silly, I added him as a friend on Facebook! Ha! He seems really nice, and if there were a programmed *liberal* Quaker meeting near me, I'd totally be up for it. I think those are exceptionally rare, though.

I've been feeling pretty peaceful, and I am directing my "energy" toward finding ways to live a peaceful, gentle, loving life. I am constantly struck by how blessed I am, just to be alive, let alone all of the wonderful aspects of it - my family, the wonders of nature, and my ability to reflect on these. I think the best way I can give thanks for and honor that is to revere God's reflections upon the world - God's creations, my relationships, my spirit. And I think Jesus' life and message can help me to do that, to honor God. I don't know that I am a Christian, but neither was he. Ha. I have ordered a John Dear book and I'm excited about it, and there are other Gulley books I want to read. I've heard he also writes novels. Maybe I'll look into those, too. I must admit his book wasn't as info-packed as Spong's or even Borg's, but I felt embraced by it in a sense. I know that there are some hard-hitting issues to deal with, but I feel like, coming from the agnostic/non-Christian side of things, rather than the escape-from-fundamentalist end of the spectrum in terms of who these books are addressed to, Gulley's approach is more attuned to my needs and interests. I mean, I'm wary of religion altogether (even though I am fascinated by it) - I am not looking to shed an "antiquated notion of God as sky-father" or however Spong might put it, I am trying to find a way to find some shred of support for my panentheistic "comprehension" of God in liberal theology. Or something. Anyway, I'm glad all of these authors are around and they all speak to me, really.

Oh, and I think I have a Brian McLaren book headed my way. I can't remember!

In the meantime, I've started Abraham Heschel's "Man is Not Alone." I LOVED LOVED LOVED his "God in Search of Man" book on the philosophy of Judaism and I am already loving this one, too. I wish I could have met him. He marched with MLK! He is a true poet. I am also thinking of re-visiting some of Tillich's theology. Someday. Too much to read!
post #138 of 194
I'd love to be Phillip Gulley's friend on facebook!! That's neat!!!
post #139 of 194
Me too! I've read just about everything Gulley has written. His novels are lovely. They make me laugh and cry.

I've fantasized about going to Gulley's church.

Puff - what your wrote in your last post reminded me of something I read yesterday in Spong's book A New Christianity for a New World.

We worship God by living fully. We worship God by loving wastefully. We worship God by having the courage to be all that we can be.
post #140 of 194
I just discovered an online book club on Facebook for Gulley's latest book If the Church Were Christian. Check it out!
I also sent a friend request to Gulley. tehe..
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