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Old 01-22-2010, 08:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi All,

Just poking around online and came across a link to the Center for Progressive Christianity (or something like that). I haven't quite got my head (or heart, honestly) around the idea of Jesus as God (I'm still working on the Bible, really), but it otherwise seems really compelling. Even if just for personal study, rather than religious identification. At any rate, it's interesting. I wish I'd known more about progressive or liberal religious groups and practice a long time ago.

So, I'm curious - do you identify as a "progressive" Christian, or within any religious group that you belong to? I mean, UUs are pretty progressive by definition, but other groups are what I'm wondering about. How is this similar or different from other followers of your religion (the non-"progressives") and how do you relate to your larger religious group

Thanks!

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Old 01-23-2010, 12:07 PM
 
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Great question!

Quote:
I haven't quite got my head (or heart, honestly) around the idea of Jesus as God (I'm still working on the Bible, really), but it otherwise seems really compelling. Even if just for personal study, rather than religious identification. At any rate, it's interesting. I wish I'd known more about progressive or liberal religious groups and practice a long time ago.
I'm looking through the website you mentioned. Thanks for posting this.
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:42 PM
 
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Here is the wiki answer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Center_...e_Christianity
It seems like it is not a denomination but I am not entirely sure what exactly it is.

Puffnstuff I am very similar to you in my beliefs/questions right now. I have been researching different religions lately. I was raised Episcopalian and I do like it a lot. I like many things about them and the church I have been attending is very progressive. They are cool with people having questions and doubts and seeking etc. I just always feel like I can't get totally comfortable because I am not totally down with the ideas of Jesus like you described. I like the looks of UU but haven't gone yet. We don't often make it to church because ds is a late sleeper.

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Old 01-24-2010, 04:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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nak

i visited the uu church here, but i need a community that addresses god more explicitly. at the same time, i'm not really at a place in my life where i can immerse myself in something like mainstream christianity. i'll be checking out an unprogrammed quaker meeting tomorrow, and really enjoyed a reform jewish synagogue i visited for shabbat a few weeks ago (but there are obstacles keeping me from that path as well).

have you explored judaism at all?

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Old 01-24-2010, 08:52 PM
 
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Hi,

Yes, actually I have explored Judaism. I worked in Jewish preschool so I was immersed in the prayers and ideas. I did some reading too. I really liked it. It is what sparked me to try to return to a more faith based place in my life. I guess I never thought seriously about joining them. It just seems sort of like a closed club. Did you feel differently? This is very interesting to me. The Quakers have always interested me but I have heard that joining is quite a production. I don't want to have to sign anything or swear anything really. I just want to explore. I'd love to hear more.

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Old 01-24-2010, 09:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Harmony,

Well, I've always been intrigued by Judaism, but never thought seriously about it as an adult (until very recently, when I started looking into it more diligently). I guess I grew up thinking it was like Christianity minus the Christ, but have learned through reading that it's actually got a very different philosophy and theology, that really jibes with many of my own beliefs. But it seems very difficult to get all that involved in, especially without family/spousal support/involvement.

I attended a Quaker school when I was very little, so I guess it didn't seem too closed-off to me. I went this morning and everyone was super welcoming. As far as I know, they aren't particularly dogmatic (the opposite, really) and there is no formal conversion process or anything like that. There's no ritual or anything involved - maybe you're thinking of another group, or the meeting in your town has that, but I don't think it's part of the Friends' general approach. They're "supposed" to be very accessible.

I wasn't able to sit in the meeting for very long this morning, as my son was with me (my husband is not at all supportive of my spiritual pursuits) and he was making a bit of noise, so I went with him to the children's room. Still, it was nice to spend the morning in such a warm, friendly place, and I think I might go to their Wednesday potlucks, since the Worship meetings themselves will be difficult for me until my son is older. I really would like to explore the Jewish path as well, but it's just...not possible. Maybe someday.

I would like to find a "god-centered" community without any rites to undertake (not because I am adamantly opposed to them, but because I don't want to set up a divide in my household over them), where I can go and learn and be with others and maybe (hopefully) sing a few songs with people once in a while. Worship and pray and not get caught up in the divisiveness or dogma. A place where god-talk is not off-limits (as it is in my daily life), where my son might someday learn, too, but which is not exclusive and will not set my husband's atheist-alarms off (he is extremely, extremely, extremely anti-religion - so much so that we can't even discuss these things at all). Just a nice community I can be a part of. I am wary of Christian churches because of the negative associations others have of them, not necessarily because I have had a bad experience or anything. There is what seems to be a very "progressive" Presbyterian church in my town, and I'm sort of curious, even though I know nothing about Presbyterianism.

Hey, I know. Let's start our own church! Seriously, though, I need to find a place or figure out something. I really want to explore and learn and celebrate and wonder with others/outloud.

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Old 01-24-2010, 10:22 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Harmony08 View Post
The Quakers have always interested me but I have heard that joining is quite a production. I don't want to have to sign anything or swear anything really. I just want to explore. I'd love to hear more.
It is not difficult to become a Quaker. I've done it. Basically, you attend a Meeting regularly. After awhile, maybe you start to feel like you're a Quaker. You can leave it at that and proclaim yourself one if anyone asks your religion. That was me, for years. There's really not any sort of difference between "official" Quakers and devoted attenders. Both can be active in the life of the Meeting in all sorts of ways.

If you want to join your specific Meeting and have yourself declared an official member of the Society of Friends, you write a letter to the Clerk of Meeting stating so. The Clerk will assign a "Clearness Committee," usually two men and two women, to meet with you. It's not very formal, basically a conversation about what led you to Quakerism, what is leading you to take this step (for me it was because I was pregnant and wanted a more formal affiliation with the Meeting I'd been attending).

Then the Clearness Committee will recommend you for membership and there you go. Quakers don't swear oaths. That is one of their big things.

(Of course, for me, a few years later dh and I decided to return to our roots and raise the kids Jewish, but that's a whole different story.)
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:41 PM
 
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It is not difficult to become a Quaker. I've done it. Basically, you attend a Meeting regularly. After awhile, maybe you start to feel like you're a Quaker. You can leave it at that and proclaim yourself one if anyone asks your religion. That was me, for years. There's really not any sort of difference between "official" Quakers and devoted attenders. Both can be active in the life of the Meeting in all sorts of ways.

If you want to join your specific Meeting and have yourself declared an official member of the Society of Friends, you write a letter to the Clerk of Meeting stating so. The Clerk will assign a "Clearness Committee," usually two men and two women, to meet with you. It's not very formal, basically a conversation about what led you to Quakerism, what is leading you to take this step (for me it was because I was pregnant and wanted a more formal affiliation with the Meeting I'd been attending).

Then the Clearness Committee will recommend you for membership and there you go. Quakers don't swear oaths. That is one of their big things.

(Of course, for me, a few years later dh and I decided to return to our roots and raise the kids Jewish, but that's a whole different story.)
Thanks! I just saw something online about having to sign something or something like that. What a surprise, inaccurate info on the internet! Who woulda thunk it??? (sarcasm here)

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Old 01-24-2010, 10:44 PM
 
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Puff,

I was reading through the site you linked. The Center for Progressive Christianity. I came across this little gem which has totally freed me in a way and is really making me think A LOT....

"Rather than assuming that Jesus is a sacrificial savior, or “The Savior,” this first statement suggests that one can be a Christian by considering oneself a follower of Jesus’ teachings and using his life, as we know it, as a model. It can also be implied that for those Christians Jesus and Jesus’ teaching provide a way to experience, relate to or approach that Energy, that Force or that Presence we choose to call God."

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Old 01-24-2010, 10:57 PM
 
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Hi Harmony,

Well, I've always been intrigued by Judaism, but never thought seriously about it as an adult (until very recently, when I started looking into it more diligently). I guess I grew up thinking it was like Christianity minus the Christ, but have learned through reading that it's actually got a very different philosophy and theology, that really jibes with many of my own beliefs. But it seems very difficult to get all that involved in, especially without family/spousal support/involvement.

I attended a Quaker school when I was very little, so I guess it didn't seem too closed-off to me. I went this morning and everyone was super welcoming. As far as I know, they aren't particularly dogmatic (the opposite, really) and there is no formal conversion process or anything like that. There's no ritual or anything involved - maybe you're thinking of another group, or the meeting in your town has that, but I don't think it's part of the Friends' general approach. They're "supposed" to be very accessible.

I wasn't able to sit in the meeting for very long this morning, as my son was with me (my husband is not at all supportive of my spiritual pursuits) and he was making a bit of noise, so I went with him to the children's room. Still, it was nice to spend the morning in such a warm, friendly place, and I think I might go to their Wednesday potlucks, since the Worship meetings themselves will be difficult for me until my son is older. I really would like to explore the Jewish path as well, but it's just...not possible. Maybe someday.

I would like to find a "god-centered" community without any rites to undertake (not because I am adamantly opposed to them, but because I don't want to set up a divide in my household over them), where I can go and learn and be with others and maybe (hopefully) sing a few songs with people once in a while. Worship and pray and not get caught up in the divisiveness or dogma. A place where god-talk is not off-limits (as it is in my daily life), where my son might someday learn, too, but which is not exclusive and will not set my husband's atheist-alarms off (he is extremely, extremely, extremely anti-religion - so much so that we can't even discuss these things at all). Just a nice community I can be a part of. I am wary of Christian churches because of the negative associations others have of them, not necessarily because I have had a bad experience or anything. There is what seems to be a very "progressive" Presbyterian church in my town, and I'm sort of curious, even though I know nothing about Presbyterianism.

Hey, I know. Let's start our own church! Seriously, though, I need to find a place or figure out something. I really want to explore and learn and celebrate and wonder with others/outloud.
I so relate.
My husband grew up without any religion at all. His mother is actually very anti christian/anti church. He is not opposed to my spiritual pursuits and has even come to church with me sometimes but it is like another language to him. If I try to talk about my spiritual ideas and discoveries he looks at me like I have an elephant on my head.

I am also searching for a way/resources/help/community to raise my son in a spiritual way.

I am looking for the same kind of thing as you. I want a community. I want some music. I want some ritual. I want A LOT of openness. I want to do good works. I want to have prayers I can pray. etc.

I like the very progressive Episcopal churches. For me, they are familiar and comfortable. I know the hymns, the prayers, the psalms. It does work for me as an approach the the ultimate creator truth. I have many more ideas and can't get into all of it, however. the one thing that i just don't like is the creeds. Maybe I should talk to my current pastor about it. Like I said they are very open. Maybe I should be more open and not so afraid to voice my doubts/questions. Maybe I would find I am not as alone in my beliefs as I thought.

I am loving the CFPC site. I wish it was an actual church. I guess I have at least found a place where people think like I do. I never thought it was okay to be a christian and do the church thing but not buy the whole virgin Mary, God's son ideas. Now I feel like it is. There are others.

I find myself drawn to pieces of almost all religions.

You aren't a pisces by by any chance, are you?

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Old 01-24-2010, 11:28 PM
 
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Hi All,

Progressive Christianity recognises that many of the deeper, mystical dimensions of faith have been lost - particularly in the west over the last several hundred years as we've put the need for certainty ahead of the "mythos" in bible stories. By mythos, I don't mean "fairy story" I mean that the stories were told as illustrations of spiritual truths not as factual descriptors. For example, did you know that if you lined the Gospel of Mark up against the Jewish faith year (given that Jesus was a Jew), you'll see the stories of Jesus are placed so as to give an explanation of the particular part of the Jewish calendar. These "stories" of course might not have been exact factual tellings of what Jesus did. They are (initially oral) stories of Jesus, passed down and then eventually recorded (in some form) to demonstrate a point. This is all liberating and fascinating and changes one's faith practice.

I'm in Australia, and in my "spare time" am involved in a Progressive group aligned to the Center for Progressive Christianity in the US ....http://www.pcnvictoria.org.au
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:03 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm going to eat dinner in a minute, but I just wanted to say I am loving this thread. I hadn't thought about being that sort of Christian. I believe that God is infinite and everywhere, and we are all God's children, so I can see Jesus as one in that sense. And I admit my reading is inadequate, but from what I do know, he had a message of love and peace, which I am all about. I wouldn't want to get "mixed up" in a dogmatic Christian church, though...how to avoid that risk, in an age of hostile evangelism, is the question. (Oh, and how to even go to a Christian church, let alone with my son, given my husband's disdain for them.)

I'm glad you're digging the site. I'll have to read it more myself. Let's definitely keep talking here.

And I'm not a pisces, I'm a capricorn, but my son is a pisces!

Thanks so much for posting. I feel so much less alone now!

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Old 01-25-2010, 12:35 AM
 
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If you are looking to read a very accessible intro to progressive Christian theology try Marcus Borg's "The Heart of Christianity." In the preface he says, if your religion is working for you, don't read this. But if it's not and you want to learn about another option here is an option.

As a presbyterian clergy woman, I often find myself on the edge of my denomination, but in great company with lots of others "on the edge" of their denominations as well. There is great freedom in finding your own beliefs and and then realizing there are others out there who share your journey!
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Old 01-25-2010, 01:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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(I wanted to add, I don't think anything is impossible for God, so I suppose God could bring people into being without sex, bring someone back from the dead, etc. But I don't really understand the whole dying for others' sins bit (nor do I believe in hell (in the traditional sense) or any place where God isn't). At the same time, I don't think that mainstream Christians are necessarily "wrong," either. Somehow, I think there is room and need for for many beliefs. God is so incredibly "large" that our finite minds do their best to grasp the Infinite and there are as many ways to God as there are people. Even our conceptions of God are part of God's infiniteness, and I am trying to be as open as possible to finding "my" way to living in recognition of God. I see and am so thankful for all these aspects of God in my life, and I feel increasingly compelled to honor that. In other words, I don't disagree with Christianity on any fundamental level, I just feel like my path is a bit "simpler.")

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Old 01-25-2010, 01:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Kim. I've haven't really explored Christianity in my "quest." I'll look into that book.

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Old 01-25-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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I was just going to put forth Marcus Borg as an example of theologically progressive Christianity.

I think "Progressive Christianity" is very diffuse though. To some people, all that means is that they consider themselves Christian but neither feel nor desire to be part of the Republican political party (in the US). To others it could mean that they have doubts about some doctrinal "musts" of current American mainline Christian churches (the trinity, the virgin birth, ect.). To others it reflects their own political viewpoints (they are progressive/populist politically, and want to see that reflected in the church--instead of focusing overly on abortion and gay marriage, they prefer to concentrate on helping the poor, social justice, ect--I would categorize Jim Wallis as this sort of progressive Christian). For most people that self identify as a Progressive Christian it'll be a combo of the above and more. Or perhaps none.

I would say my theological outlook is very similar to Marcus Borg. I really wanted to like Jim Wallis (and I do, on a personal level) but to be honest I think the American church has enough of a problem with nationalistic idolatry without entering it from both sides of the political spectrum. I love the teachings of Jesus. I'm not overly concerned with the afterlife, I couldn't care less about the trinity or whether Mary really was a virgin (it seems irrelevant to me). I am saddened that despite miy belief that Jesus came in part to liberate people from the old purity system, modern Christians seem bound and determined to re-enslave themselves to it. For other people, those tenants (literal interpretation of the Bible, personal and societal purity being paramount, a manifest destiny like situation for America in particular) are very important to their spiritual experience. Or they have a different interpretation of their importance.

While it's true that Unitarian Universalists have roots in Christianity, they don't consider themselves as a whole Christian anymore. There are Christians who are UU and a Christian subset within UUism, but I think it's fair to say that if you are expecting a Christian experience at a UU church it won't happen, though you will be welcome.

In my own personal case, UU helped me come back to Christianity--it was a Buddhist UU minister that put a copy of "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" by Marcus Borg into my hand. I needed that time in a safe place to heal enough from my previous Christian experience before I reclaimed my faith. I am a member of a United Church of Christ church, which self-identifies as a progressive Christian denomination (or many of the churches do, it's not a top down organization.)
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, thanks for sharing! I've heard of the United Church of Christ, I think. I've not heard of either of those writers. I'm learning a lot here.

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Old 01-25-2010, 11:01 AM
 
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This thread is really opening my eyes. I admit that I've spent my entire adult life closed minded toward this religion that I grew up in, and it feels good to know that there is the option of being a Christian without believing in the virgin birth/son of God/everyone else is going to Hell parts.
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just looked up Marcus Borg. He's a panentheist (like me)!

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Old 01-25-2010, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Annnnd, I just ordered a Borg book. The God You Never Knew...i think that's the name. i've got a baby asleep on my arm...will write more later.

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Old 01-25-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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I've been reading some of Borg's blog posts on the Washington Post online - good stuff! Well, except for many of the comments which make me sad.
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Old 01-25-2010, 07:46 PM
 
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loving this! my toddler is a;; over me so can't write now but i wan to quote everybody here. fasdinating stuff exactly what i neeeded

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Old 01-25-2010, 08:37 PM
 
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okay so he is asleep (on me) now. There is so much I wanted to respond to and to say. I don't know how to do multiple quotes (lame I know) so I will just do my best.

Marcus Borg seems cool. I watched him on You Tube and looked at his books. I will have to get reading.

In regards to the "Jesus dying to save us" idea that Puff brought up, I would like to offer my own interpretation which is this........That he didn't die so much to "save our souls" but to prove a big fat point which would transform the way we viewed ourselves/life/God. His point being basically a version of Teilhard de Challidin's quote "You are not a human being in search of a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being immersed in a human experience". He was trying to make the point that God lives in us and loves us and that there is so much more to us than the physical reality we find ourselves in. In essence he has saying "I am so certain of this...watch what I'm going to do".

So the way I see it, he didn't die to save us from burning in hell for all eternity. He just tried to liberate our thinking which in a way could "save" somebody. I hope that makes some sense. Just my interpretation. I like this discussion.

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Old 01-25-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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I don't know if any of you have seen this http://www.beliefnet.com/Entertainme...iefOMatic.aspx. It is a quiz you take and they tell you how your beliefs match up to different religions. It sounds silly but I liked having to answer the questions and think about things I haven't thought about it. Makes you clarify a bit. Kinda fun. I've taken it twice. My tops were liberal Quaker, UU, neo pagan, reform Judaism, liberal protestant....kinda in that order.

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Old 01-25-2010, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, I'd never thought of it like that. I have a lot, lot, lot of reading to do. I'm reading Abraham Heschel's "God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism" and will read his "Man is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion" next. And THEN, I have this Borg book coming and I also picked up "Reading the Bible Again for the first time." Add to this, I'm a grad student and I have a ton to read for class! All the while, I'm urging my husband to get his head OUT of the books he lives in and start living in the world for a bit! HA! But these books are, like, church to me or something. I wonder if I had a community for this, if I'd need to cleave to books and seek answers in them that I'll never find. I mean, I think reading is generally important, but we can't live in or through them - there are babies to tickle and lakes to swim in and stars to admire and so forth.

Anyway, yes...lots of books. And I'm kinda poor! Buying books isn't helping at all with that. But I was feeling quite lost and alone a few months ago and I do feel more connected to, I don't know, a web of belief and understanding or something, now, and some of that is thanks to my reading.

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Old 01-25-2010, 09:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i got UU, liberal quaker, neo-pagan, baha'i, mahayana buddhism, hinduism, new age, new thought, reform judaism, and jainism as my top ten. i don't think UU is my gig at all, though. i usually get liberal quaker, neo-pagan, reform judaism, and UU right at the top. i wonder what i answered differently this time.

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Old 01-25-2010, 09:41 PM
 
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You sure are busy! I am a book lover. My spiritual journey in the past few years has led me through Eckhart Tolle, and Thich Nhat Hanh, among other things. I wonder too, of I felt fed by a community if I would need to read so much. I think yes, probably. I just love it too much, can't really explain. Reading is great for the mind and the spirit but you are right, it isn't a substitute for community and relationships etc.

I have been reading through TCFPC some more and thought I would paste some things that spoke to me in here.

"Jesus experienced God in a profoundly intimate way as the “Parent of all of creation.” As a result of this extraordinary relationship it seems that Jesus, like others who have had such experiences, had a clear vision about the interconnectedness of all life. As part of that reality, Jesus recognized every human being as a child of one God. For him, one’s identity began and ended by simply being God’s child. Any other identifying factor was secondary to this truth and likely a distraction (e.g., family, wealth, status, position)"
(This is like what I was trying to say was the point he was trying to prove in dying.)

"When we begin to live our lives as a child of God; when we practice living, breathing, modeling and teaching compassion in a community that does that out of a love for life, God and each other, something changes in us. Sometimes when we begin to live a life of compassion we too may have a profound experience the interconnectedness of life. We may even begin to feel with the compassion of a mother for her child."
(This makes me think of Mother Teresa)

"The disciple of Jesus then would be someone who perceived and identified himself or herself as a child of God and related to others with that perspective."

I have boys! My first baby boy was born 10/08 and my second baby boy was born 7/12

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Old 01-25-2010, 10:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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i'm also finishing a book by a rabbi titled "the sacred art of loving-kindness" and your "mother teresa" quote really echoes that approach (chesed/agape).

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Old 01-27-2010, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've been thinking about going to an Episcopal service this Sunday morning. I'm actually interested in their contemporary choir. As in...joining it. I love and miss spiritual music. There is also an "alternative" evening worship service offered through an off-shoot of another church, and really interested in that, too.

baby needs me - will write more thoughts (on judaism) later.

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Old 01-28-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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I'm so loving this thread. I've spent the last two years as a full-time grad student in religious studies precisely so that I could have the solid academic grounding to defend both my faith and my radicalism (and my radical faith ).

Marcus Borg is a really excellent, accessible writer and really "gets" the theological reasons for the divisions in contemporary American Christianity. My MIL went to hear him speak recently and brought back a handout for me in which he outlines "an emerging form of Christianity today." I think it really highlights the most important elements of "emerging Christianity". Here's the gist:
  • Contemporary American Christianity is actually "a tale of two Christianities," a theological and political split characterized by desire for change on one side, and resistance to change on the other.
  • A new form of Christianity is emerging in our time - particularly in mainline denominations and in one stream of evangelicalism. (That emergent "stream" of evangelicals includes people like Jim Wallis and Shane Claiborne - some call themselves the Red Letter Christians.)
  • There are five common threads to this 'emerging Christianity':
    • 1) It focuses more on transformation in this life and less on the afterlife. This is not a denial of the afterlife; it is simply a change in focus. (This also embraces the biblical emphasis on this life and this world.)
    • 2) Intentional rather than conventional: people are starting to be part of a Christian community because they wish to be intentional in the way they live the Gospel, rather than because it is simply culturally assumed that most people will be part of a church.
    • 3) Progressive theologically: increasingly historical/metaphorical interpretations of theology and the Bible, rather than the problematic literalism and absolutism that has characterized more recent Christian theology and biblical studies.
    • 4) Socially and politically progressive, especially around issues such as women's leadership and the full participation of gay & lesbian church members. Politically progressive in the spirit of the biblical concern for the poor and oppressed - expressing "God's passion for a different kind of world."
    • 5) Recovering the pre-modern Christian meanings of "faith" and "believing" - emphasis on action and motivation rather than rigid orthodoxy. Prior to the 17th century, "to believe" meant "to belove" and the verb always had a person as its direct object. In a Christian context, the direct object was God and/or Jesus. "To Believe" in God is to "belove" God - and to love what God loves. The post-Enlightenment understanding of "belief," on the other hand, is "believing a set of statements to be true." According to Borg, this "suggests that what God most wants from us is to believe difficult statements to be true." Progressive Christians believe that God asks more of us than this!

I'm traveling the world with my kids without ever leaving home and blogging about it -- watch, taste, and share our adventures at TheGlobalStayCation.com!
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