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Curious - What is Progressive Christianity? - Page 10

post #181 of 194
Sometimes I just let my thoughts and mind wander as in conversation. God is there to listen to all your thoughts, inane or deep. So my "conversation" might go something like, ...How am I supposed to keep myself inspired to reach out to others, I feel so shy, like when I was 5 one time....but back to my original question, maybe I need to..."

It actually reminds me a bit about therapy, because in talking to God, I often find the answers just in the dialogue, and some times I think the wandering is part of that process. I had difficulties praying when I used all the poetic language, but I think it's more important to have a good dialogue, to put those desires, wishes, hopes into words, not only to God, but to yourself. I do however make a point of really focusing if I'm asking for something a little more tangible, not like material goods or anything, but help figuring out a problem or giving the world hope (nothing too big or anything ).

I am honest too. If I'm angry with something, or feeling uninspired, I'll tell God. I don't see any point in hiding it, and it's completely pure, because I don't feel like I have to be diplomatic. There was one time where every time I walked into church I was just pissed off. I wasn't happy worshiping until I felt like I had said my piece to God.

Anyhow, that's how I do it. I'll also read the thoughts of spiritual leaders and people I respect on religion, particularly if they are more progressive Christians. They too give me a lot of guidance on religion and that trickles down into prayer too.
post #182 of 194
Thread Starter 

i feel like i am constantly talking to god, and that god understands me more than even i understand myself. even before we can speak, even when we are in so much pain we can only cry, god knows our heart.

basically, i know i can never fully express my soul to god, but i try, and i know god knows.

as for concentrating, i think it's a continuous conversation, but lately i have been turning off the light and kneeling for a few moments (in the bathroom of all places) before going to bed, and focusing on giving thanks.

i would also like very much to pray WITH someone...i haven't done so in over a decade.
post #183 of 194
Thread Starter 
joyster - i feel the same, like sometimes the answer or direction comes in the conversation. like, i feel led to reflect on something, but i realize i was led there until i'm actually there.

i also like to read about contemplation and mindfulness meditation, both of which, i think, can give us even more "ways" of praying and talking with god.

sometimes, when i'm reading, i will feel like a passage is really speaking to me, and i will pause and reflect on it and maybe even close my eyes, and thank god for it and ask for help in letting that passage or reflection guide me.

i try to focus on thankfulness and recognize god in even the sad or bad times, thanking god for the depth of feeling we're capable of, and the strength of our bonds (which can make things like death and goodbyes so very hard), but i do also find myself asking for things, like help in raising my son (it's so much responsibility, but i have to have faith and know that i am not alone!) and for peace and strength and hope and patience. and acceptance. ay, that's a big one for me. i need to accept where i am and who i am with and learn that god brought me here and is always with me, loves me, and i can give thanks for life, for being itself, in the ways i live with and love those around me.
post #184 of 194
I guess I need to remember that God is always listening and speaking to me even when I'm not attuned to it. I think there is a very productive mind wandering like joyster was describing. I think what happens in my head is more like worrying. Like I am lying there in bed and talking to God about parenting or helping my friend or being grateful or something and before I know it I am trying to decide when am going to make the stirfry and if I should just go ahead and freeze the soup and did DH ever get back to x about the apartment and why didn't my friend call me back etc etc on and on. This..not so productive. This is the what Eckhart Tolle calls being possessed by your mind. I try to focus on the stillness/on God and observe those thoughts. I think I do better with set prayers, especially ones I have in my memory, because it is more like meditating. I turn my mind off and just float with God on the words. I am better at feeling the stillness and the quiet than I am talking but the talking always makes me feel so good. I read somewhere that prayer is not really for god but for us. Like you both said. I tend to worry a lot. It is my default mind pattern. I think I don't even realize how much I do it. I think I sometimes confuse normal thinking with worrying. I am working on this a lot but am realizing that it is even more than I thought. I have tried to change every worry to a prayer and when I do it makes me feel so much better even though then I feel guilty for using God as prozac. hmmm. I have some issues. For example, the other night I was trying to fall asleep and I remembered something that makes me feel VERY sad. I saw it coming, stopped it and said "God take this. I can't have it right now. I need you to hold it for me." The peace was miraculous. I then thought I should say more. I think another one of my problems is not realizing when to stop. Sometimes less IS more. I didn't say more that time. I relaxed.

I very much like hearing about your experiences with this. It is something that I don't talk about with others. I too would love to prayer with someone. I would really LOVE to pray with DH.

I think another thing holding me back from talking to God is pure adolescent embarrassment. I admit it. I feel kind of silly. I don't know why. I will explore this feeling. It isn't always. I don't feel silly saying thank you, or praying for the homeless. I didn't feel silly at all when my baby was sick and in the hospital. Then I never stopped talking to god. I couldn't. There was nowhere else to go. It was basically just a stream of "please please please please. help my baby help my baby. if you have ever done anything protect my boy. give me strength. help me." every so once in awhile I would drop to my knees on the bathroom floor or at the window and talk very seriously and focus and say words that I needed to say. I would feel soothed and not feel like I was using god for prozac. Like I said nowhere else to go.

I am going to open my heart to God.

Thanks for listening and discussing. This is great.
post #185 of 194
Thread Starter 
post #186 of 194

Puff, I hope you're still out there cause I need some advice support and I think we were in the same sort of boat. Of course I want to hear from everyone else too. So....the DH. I can see that we are getting to point where DS is older and I feel he is ready to start experiencing prayer with me and I want to be more direct about spirituality. I still haven't developed a good idea of how to do that, exactly.

I have been doing the Episcopalian Morning or Evening prayer everyday with the help of some nifty websites. I have started reading the noonday prayers to DS at lunch. I am super d duper progressive in my views as you know but I really like the structure and ritual of the daily prayers etc. Plus I like the educational aspect of reading bits of the bible etc. I guess that eventually I will include DS in these prayers in a child appropriate way.

DH knows next to nothing about the bible or Christianity or anything. He was surprised to see a book of 100 first Bible stories. I think he said "How are there more than 100 bible stories????". Um Dude. Has he ever SEEN a bible??? It is huge. Anyway....I hope you're still with me.

So I want to say a prayer at our evening meal. Usually I just quickly say "We are very thankful for our food and each other" as the boys start to chow down. I wanted to expand this a little so I got my little prayer book and I wanted to read this beautiful evening prayer (very short mind you) but I felt so strange with DH. I said to him that I was worried he was thinking I am just nuts. He was open to me doing it for me but it is just obvious that he thinks it is like um whats the word....silly???

So here is what I need help with???? What do I do?? Do I plough ahead with what I feel is right for DS even if DH just tolerates it??? How will I raise this child to love God when his father feels this way??? Can I raise this child to love God if his father feels this way???

I never really thought this far ahead. I have been thinking about you Puff and how you started feeling a need for God after marriage and are now sorting it all out. I never expected to feel like this...to want to give my child some sort of religious something. I don't know what I thought. It never really bothered me that DH wasn't totally in tune with me in this area. Talk to me. Please.
post #187 of 194
Also I am feeling pulled drawn once again to Liberal Quakerism and UU. Could you tell me what you think of as the big difference between them. I haven't been to a service of either. Puff, did you choose a church???
post #188 of 194
Thread Starter 
hey harmony,

i think you need to just plow through it. don't make your DH uncomfortable if you can help it, but you've already taken the biggest step, i think, and if you're acting out of love and truth, and you are living openly and are motivated purely by your love of god and your family, you will be fine...but it's hard, i know.

the UU church here was weird for me. it was liberal, and i agree fully with their values, but it was like we were all pussyfooting around the word/idea/concept/meaning of "god." the word was never spoken, and only peripherally alluded to. i like their open-mindedness, and i am so glad they exist for refugees from religion who need a spiritual community, but i need something a bit more explicitly theistic, you know?

liberal quakers tend to be unprogrammed, which means you sit in a room in silence and pray/worship/center down on your own, but in the presence of other quakers. quakers of all theistic paths believe in the "light within" (that is, Source, or God, etc.) and through worship, they get "in touch" with that. it's not necessarily christian, and i like that. sometimes, people might feel moved to share what is in their hearts.

gotta go, will post more tonight....
post #189 of 194
Thread Starter 
okay, i have a few more minutes...

i wanted to say, i wish i had the courage to mention my spirituality or talk about god, let alone PRAY in front of or with my husband. that's awesome that you can do that.

do you think your husband might be more comfortable if you integrated other belief systems into your home practices? like, some buddhist mindfulness exercises with the kids or reading stories and myths from other cultures, too? or even just talking about and celebrating a jewish holiday?

now, back to the quakers and UUs, if you're just looking for a community and don't need to talk about god, either would be great. i live an implicitly atheistic life, so i would really want a community with a strong emphasis and belief, but not necessarily a christian one. i have thought about checking out the unity church and have always been interested in judaism, even though i'm of many minds about the bible, you know?

i imagine when my kid(s) get/s older, i'll end up going to a quaker meeting more regularly, as i don't think my husband could object to it. there are more "mainline" quaker meetings, though, with christian language and liturgy and i would shy away from those. i would love to find a liberal meeting that had a semi-formal sermon, but i think i might need to go to indiana for that. ha! but, yeah...i don't think i'll go the UU route, i wish the quakers talked a bit more, and i don't know how i feel about the new agey stuff of the unity church. i like jewish theology, tikkun olam, and so forth, but i don't believe in a wrathful god and am not at all sure where i stand on the bible, so there goes that option. quakerism seems the best route for me and my kid(s), and i would think my husband could possibly even feel comfortable there someday in the distant, distant future, since there is no preaching. i have felt very moved by the peace testimony, as well.
post #190 of 194
Thread Starter 
as for your DS, is your preference that he KNOW god, or he know ABOUT god? i think KNOWING god is more important, and we don't need to call god "god" or be religious, or anything. i know god, because i know god's creation, and i know god's love. i know god through the love i receive from and share with others. your son already KNOWS god, your son is deeply loved and will learn to love, too. true love is of god, and...well, i think there's a verse, right? "beloved, let us love one another. for love is of god, and everyone that loveth is born of god, and knoweth god." your son, my son...even our spouses, KNOW and will KNOW god as long as we live lives of love. live that love, share that love, and help them to love and be loved, too. love for creation, love for life and love and being - that is love of god. to know that something IS, instead of nothing at all, and to realize and recognize that as good and graceful...that is love of god. "god," afterall, is NOT god's name - it's a word we use to make sense of something infinite and singularly complex. don't get too caught up on if your son will know this *word* "god," and trust that he already KNOWS god. the REAL challenge for us is to help our kids stay OPEN to this love and to loving others (and to being loved). kids know god, they know god very well. teach your son to be open and to trust the voice of love within, and he will be fine.

i struggle with this a lot, and it's hard to accept, but when i really think and pray about it, i know it's true. god is within all of us, and if we help our children to find and listen to that love and life and being within them and within all of creation, they will also know it is true.

post #191 of 194
Thread Starter 

Harmony08 - you still there?
post #192 of 194
Hey!!!! I'm here! Sorry. I didn't get my email notification until the bump. I love what you wrote. I am going to go back to it when I have more time to think about it. I really like what you said about how my son already knows God. The key is to keep him open. Very true, very true. I think what is kinda sad is how institutional religion often closes us off. I am happy that I have found a way to feel connected in my childhood church but I still have to play with the language and the thoughts. I am not sure well actually I know that I don't want ds to encounter "God" in that traditional Christian way all wrathful and confusing with Jesus the super hero walking on water and dying to save us etc. I want him to learn to stories of the bible just like I want him to learn about greek mythology and grimm fairytales. As a way to learn about the world we live in, the culture. Okay I feel myself becoming unfocused....

I think UU may be good for us. I think my beliefs are more in line with the liberal quakers but I want to include ds and I don't see us turning up and sitting in silence very successfully. I think that UU would work better. I want us to have a spiritual life as a family and I think that DH would be able to groove with UU. He would be able to be his atheist self and be all into social justice. I would have my community and my spiritual outlet. DS would see both of us participating and caring about the world and other people etc. I think we will give it a go. My mother will flip but that is another post. We are moving and won't be settled until fall so it will be awhile before we try this.

As for the meal time prayer...I took a different approach and it has been way more successful. We now sing a little song "We are thankful 2x, for this food 2x, and for all our blessings, most of all eachother, amen 2x" to the tune of Frere Jacques. Much better! DS loves it and grooves. Dh sings it with me. ahhhh bliss. I think i just need to find ways to approach it that don't turn DH off. That is another reason for UU. He may get more out of a service where Jesus isn't every other word.

I think for me it would be good to grow in a different place, a more open place. A place where I could be totally up front about what I think, believe. It sounds exciting. I also like their religious education program. Oh, one more thing. I am vaguely interested in Waldorf. I actually dig their spiritual underpinnings. I got a book called Seven Times the Sun. It has little verses, rituals, and songs for each part of the day. It is nice. Okay gotta run!!!!
post #193 of 194
Thread Starter 
i'm so glad the UU seems like a place you'd go to as a family. i had high hopes for my little family being UU, but my husband had NO interest in anything at all churchy OR spiritual. i was really disappointed at first, but when i did go, despite it seeming very wishy-washy and vague (which is why i won't go back), it was still spiritual enough that i know it would have been QUITE awkward for my physicalist husband (and awkward for me, since i know he thinks spirituality is a farce, i'd then feel self-conscious being lumped with those "types" in his head). that's why i maintain *some* minute hope he'll eventually do quaker meetings with me/us, since there is no preaching at all, and i know he has dabbled in buddhist mindfulness and philosophy, that seems very amenable to sitting in a quiet room for an hour - everyone is able to meditate or pray or center down or what have you, in their own way. other people might be worshiping and focusing on the inner light while my husband and others can be practicing meditation and still others (like me) could be working on contemplative prayer. anything with a sermon or message is off-limits for my husband, though. i also really like the RE concept with the UU, but i am happy with quiet worship with quakers and the UU here has a strong sort of anti-theist mood, so i don't feel comfortable there. i feel surrounded by atheism, i need something a bit more affirming.

waldorf is really interesting - have you looked into theosophy?
post #194 of 194
Well yes. It SEEMS like it might work for my family. We shall see. Have you been going to the Quaker meetings? What is the RE concept with UU? I must have missed that. I have read some interesting things about theosophy though I really would say I know more about anthroposophy. Although it is the kind of thing that no matter how much I learn I find myself at a loss to explain it. It is that strange I guess. I like parts of both though.
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