Moving beyond Christianity - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 01:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I struggled with whether to start this thread. My intention is not to insult any Christians, but to offer a forum for those who were hurt, traumatized or otherwise disappointed by a Christian upbringing, and have made other spiritual choices as teens and adults.

I also stuggled with what to call this thread--damaged by a christian childhood, leaving christianity behind, disaffected christians>pagans>atheists and others?

I was flamed on the devil thread for "showing contempt for" christians, their beliefs and their book. But how can I and others share our pain (and our honest questions), in the hopes of moving beyond it into some kind of spiritual peace and (hopefully, eventualy) bliss, without honestly discussing the trauma we received in the first place?

If anyone wants to read about some of my thoughts on this, see the devil's gonna getcha.

Further childhood information: Adding insult to injury, when I finally did get confirmed (against all odds), and my sister was confirmed a year later, my mom told us, she and dad had been atheists all along, and only took us to church for 13 years, to avoid conflicts with my mother's mother. The hypocrisy! Mom was able to enjoy church for the music and social aspects. She sang in the choir (as I sang in the jr choir), and played the organ for years.

So all that sin, threats of damnation, and begging for mercy were empty words coming out of her mouth, as much a fantasy as Santa and the bogeyman.

What a trip to lay on a 13 year old. Dad never did go to church, as he was "an Episcopalian," so couldn't go to our Lutheran church.

Hoping to hear from livinlovin and others of like mind. If this subject is too controversial for a Mothering board discussion and is edited out, i will understand.
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#2 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 01:58 PM
 
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As one who has been there done that in terms of leaving the faith I was raised in, I've found the best healing has come from refusing to define myself in terms of what I am NOT, what my religion is NOT, and what the religion I was raised in does wrong.

This is just my experience, but when I quit worrying about what that religion "thought" (realizing that people think, religions don't) then I was able to start erasing the negative programming inside my head--the excess unnecessary guilt, the mysogyny, the narrow minded viewpoint, etc.

Many, most even, of the books on the shelves about Wicca and most of the websites I've seen are still too much about defining Wicca/Paganism in relation to what they assume Christians think Wiccans/Pagans are. "We are not Devil worshippers" is usually somewhere on the first page. This leads to a very negative perspective and is a rut I think it's time to climb out of.

Duh, of course we aren't. And if someone says that, we refute it as that is a belief within their religion and that's all there is to that. Personally I hunger for books that get beyond the Wicca101 and spell casting. What are the ethical considerations of the Rede("an it harm none, do as thou will"--all 8 words)? Can our ethics really be based on only 8 words? (I think not) What societal policies would come from this? How does one teach the children to practice this?

Attacking where we disagree with Christianity does nothing positive to define us as Pagans. It also maintains Christianity as the power defining the terms of the discussion, thus relegating Paganism to second-class citizen in the religious world. Demographics being what they are, why would we want this mindset in our own heads? Bad enough it's out there in the RW.

If one really wants to move beyond Christianity then Move beyond it and stop allowing it, or the perceptions of it, control the discussion.

I know this is difficult. Took me Years, and mine was not a traumatic experience to recover from. But it's been amazing since I've relaxed and just lived from the positive side of My faith. There are many things my mom and other Christians do agree upon, if from different reasons.

I was wondering how to raise an aspect of this topic myself, though from a different angle. You've got guts, I'll grant you that!

"What will you do once you know?"
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#3 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 02:29 PM
 
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I can only speak for myself. While I wasn't hurt or traumatized by Christianity (my parents weren't religious), as an American the views of Christianity permeate our culture. The result being that I will never be mainstream, I will never get their world view. I will always be an outsider. My cosmology of the world is so vastly different that it effects every part of my negotiations with this society.

I do think that if anyone has been hurt as a result of their religious upbringing they have the right to talk about it and do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to come to terms with it. Especially if you have left the dominate cultural religion and have chosen to walk another path. The dominate religion in any culture also brings beliefs into the secular part of society. These are the beliefs that we don't notice as easily and are the most insidious. It can take years to even recognize them. Let alone figure out if it really is our individual belief, or someone elses? IMO it's a life long process.
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#4 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 03:13 PM
 
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I realize now how interesting it is that this has never been a source of controversy for me. I had zero exposure to any sort of religion, spirituality, etc. growing up, as my parents are atheists. I grew up in the bible belt of the south for most of my life, and although that climate was around me, my parents sent me to school where religion wasn't an issue--so it never really affected me. I went to school with people from all faiths, which I feel created a spiritual curiosity as well as tolerance on my part.

Spirituality didn't appear on my radar screen until I had a spiritual crisis that required me to acknowledge the presence of something greater than myself. I needed hope. So I guess I began seeking, at the age of 27, and put together my own understanding of spirituality. I feel very, very lucky to have kept it a "pure" experience, without any of the negativity I know so many people have gone through in childhood with organized religion. So I hear you.

All of that having been said, I still find it possible to co-exist harmoniously even with the most zealous representatives of organized religion--even though that's not my chosen path. Although I do notice there are some that aren't able to reciprocate that--which is a bit puzzling, but certainly not my problem.
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#5 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yay! Thanks for responding, guys.

You know, Meiri, I felt as you do until quite recently. Yes, I finally shook off the shackles of Christianity at age 17, and had a live and let live philosophy until just a few months ago. That's 30 yrs of live and let live.

Unfortunately (or not, perhaps it is God's will haha!), my dh's huge extended family is all fundamentalist Xian! So, several times a year, I have to spend with them, feeling like I would imagine a Black or Jew would feel at a Neo-Nazi rally.

Even tho pagans/witches/Hindus and Buddhists may have a live and let live philosophy, it seems to me, the Bible has a more sort of Live and Let Die philosophy. Yes, I think chauvinism is written into the Bible. Of course, it contradicts itself continually, so believers can forgive or judge, depending on their personality, vengeful or loving.

I lost respect for my MIL, when we once had a confrontation on this, and she said, yes, all dead Buddhists, no matter how good, and Ghandi, no matter how much he did, and peacefully, for his people, were all burning in hell. And she is a warm, loving woman.

My 16 yo dd has been radicalizing me, she turned me on to Spiral Dance, she got me off my butt to go visit Salem yesterday, etc. she showed me the websites I linked on the devil thread. I started by reading the websites, then read Revelation for myself, read 2 commentaires on it. then I started reading the Revised Amer Standard from the beginning. I think I am finally ready to face my fears and read the Book. I have to have reached this age of maturity and strength in what I *do* believe, to not be overcome by fear when reading the scarier parts of the Bible, as a non-believer. Just as I used to not be able to watch WWII films or documentaires, as it was too upsetting, but now I can face my fears in both areas. It is not a walk in the park, however, i plan to persevere.
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#6 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 04:52 PM
 
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Daryl--I appreciate your courage in starting this conversation. I have so many thoughts and not much time to write. I agree with wehat you said about the Bible. I have read it--all of the Old Testament and much of the New Testament, and while there is beauty to be found in it, I found it to be basically a guidebook for oppression. Before I ever read it, I experienced that oppression at the hands of Xian relatives. I know, we're all supposed to be tolerant and accepting, but I say oppression is oppression and I don't find it tolerable. Now, I know some really awesome Christians whose faith is admirable and whose hearts are compassionate. But the overall religion, I would say, is damaging. Probably I have said too much, and not said it tactfully enough. This is a passionate subject for me. My feelings are not directed at individual Christians, but at the foundations of Christianity.

I am a spiritual person, more and more so, but do not define myself as Pagan, or anything else. I try to be open to spiritual truth, from whatever source it presents itself. I feel that much of what is taught by organized Christianity is antagonistic to this kind of spirituality.

And now the baby's waking and the big kids are hungry, so back to the mortal world...
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#7 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 05:25 PM
 
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I think I see what you're doing DaryLLL. Face the fear and remove its power over you.

Those relatives sound pretty toxic. My usual advice for that is to avoid the poison as much as possible, which sometimes isn't saying much.

I would have great difficulty defining someone who consigns people like Ghandi to their Hell as warm and loving, but I know what you mean since my MIL has been spouting some pretty ugly stuff in the last year. DH and I call her on it when it happens, but it makes for a less than pleasant visit.

I had a good friend for 14 years who suddenly decided that she could not be friends with someone who believed so differently from her. She hasn't called in well over a year now. Live and let die???? For me, I can't let someone else's, or some other religion's attitude affect me and my attitude. Their "live and let die" attitude is their problem. I will continue to be "live and let live." For me, to do otherwise is to hand over control of my life and feelings to them. But that may be just me.

I agree with you Arduinna about how the dominant religious paradigm permeates this culture. It's to the point that in other discussions of this sort of topic in other places, some of the Christian participants can't even see the differences or the problem. Makes it hard to find solutions.

"What will you do once you know?"
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#8 of 32 Old 09-16-2002, 07:07 PM
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It is not easy to phrase these types of experiences and feelings in our culture permeated by In God We Trust, etc.

What language to use in honestly describing how humans used the Bible to, IMO, saddle me with massive hang-ups from a tender, vulnerable age?

And, before others try to help in love and offer that it isn't the real Christ or real Christians who hurt others with Biblical verses, I must clarify that the Christian religious persons who instructed me during my youth were extremely faithful to the Bible, verse for verse. In fact, I would have been spared a ton of pain if these same elders had only educated me in the Christian tradition, not the Bible. For then, I could have heard mostly 'invite Christ into your heart as your personal Savior' or 'God only wants the best for your life - seek His will and you will have righteousness!' or 'Jesus loves everyone!'

Those statements/philosophies are not in the Bible but comprise much of Xian culture in most churches. I won't even get into the whole 'you need to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as your Lord and Savior' types of proselytizing because that, too, is not advocated by Christ in the Bible. Unfortunately! It would be alot easier to go with the kinder, gentler, 'only believe, only believe! All things are possible, only believe!' type of spiritual path to Christ except that he himself never advises that.

I used to really dig Christ because I liked how he upset the applecart (pun intended) amont the Judaic tradition in his time. I dug how he called out the fakers in the Saducees or Pharisees and basically gave alot of people with 'questionable backgrounds' (i.e. prostitutes, lepers, some beggers, etc.) a vehicle to denounce the powers that be. He seemed to be a socioeconomic do-righter...telling the rich that they needed to sell everything to get into heaven, telling people 'your faith made you well' and he was he had lots physical affection with his male friends.

The only problem is that Christ said the way to heaven was via obeying the commandments (Ten Commandments) and good works and then added commandments which are not in the Torah ('defraud no man') which confused me terribly in my youth.

I'm getting to my point!

I think my damaging exeriences within Christianity stem from not only Christians themselves in my past, but with the doctrines and Bible verses themselves. I know one is not supposed to question the Holy Book upon which one swears in a courtroom, but here I am doing it. The Bible was filled with such inherent contradictions, violent images, irreconcilable factions (i.e. a 'loving' God who is so 'jealous' he tells his people to rape Babylonian women, doesn't help his 'only beloved son' when he asks for help - I don't need that kind of dad), I was left with absolutely no way to make sense of it UNLESS, I picked out those verses which supported Christian Tradition, as taught in most theological seminaries, and went with it. And sung hymns which supported it. And listened to pastors preach sermons in that Tradition. And ignored those parts of the Bible which contradicted the Tradition.

I grew up hearing that the Word of God was the Word of God because the Word of God said so. It was inerrant, too because the Bible said it was inerrant. And that was enough for my family and church family. But it wasn't enough for me since every other sacred text was claiming the same thing - what's a girl to do??

My extreme sensitivity to spiritual concepts and images coupled with a huge desire to memorize (I memorized entire books, not just a few verses of the Bible) created a very threatening little girl for the pastors of churches I attended in my youth. I knew this Bible backward and forward and the contradictions demanded some kind of answer, I felt! When I'd ask my questions, pastors didn't know the answers, couldn't go back to their seminarial training, or the flavor of the month book (Dobson, McDowell, MacArthur, H. Lindsey, etc.) to find the answers and I was judged in the harshest manners for my 'lack of faith', 'rebellious attitude' and 'contamination of others'.

So, I spent 15 years of my youth going from church to church, only to encounter the same attitudes in the religious leaders and community. During my teenage years, I had youth pastors anonymously mailing me Bible verses filled with hatred (like, 'ye think ye are rich, but you are poor' sorts of stuff). When these same pastors were exposed (by my parents) for mailing these verses to me, they defended their actions saying, 'she needed to be humbled and repent.'

I feel confident that my religious upbringing led to my struggles with eating disorders, extreme social phobias, and an overall distrust of people. These Christians took my precious curiousity about spiritual matters and my voracious love for researching the Bible and just dashed those attributes on the rocks. I learned that it's me who is the problem, not 'Them' and to go along to get along. B/c it is damn lonely to be a teenager, kicked out of the second church in two years, with only yourself to 'blame.' I felt that I caused my family to be a pariah in the Xian communities. Everyone knew that I was a 'Jezebel' and the Xian boys were not to be around me, according to their parents.

Interventions were done by my peers countless times in attempts to 'get (my) life back on track with God' or 'stop the backsliding you're doing' or 'stop giving Satan a foothold in your life.' Again, I felt alone, alienated, misunderstood and yet, when I looked out at the Amerikan culture at large, all I saw were examples that the Christian Tradition was The Way to go if I was to navigate successfully in this culture.

Okay, time for me to stop so everyone doesn't fall asleep.

I really appreciate you raising this issue, Dary. It is a very delicate subject in our culture. And so many people feel they are helped by having a deity in God who is (allegedly) 'omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent'. Anyone who has studied the lack of stress for the omega in pack animals can understand 'casting all (one's) cares upon' such a deity. If the alpha has it together, then whew, what a relief! And every Xian I know feels that God/Jesus is/should be in control of every aspect of their lives and as my DH says, 'to be able to put all this stuff one can't control onto someone else is a big exhale'.

DH and I are not sure which approach we will take with our children but we have ruled out some kind of organized thought being a system in our home. But DH grew up without much Christianity and feels he is limited in Amerika as he doesn't know the Christian Tradition. I would like DS to be exposed to many different religions and always be encouraged to find his own path. And yet, I don't believe in CAing either. I will talk with DS about not CAing whatever one wishes from different religions. I believe it is possible to respect religions and their sacred paths without CAing those ceremonies or traditions.

I do come in peace with my experiences, in case it is not clear.
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#9 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 01:28 AM
 
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First, luvinlivin, may I ask what CAing is? I figured out Xian...I was born to a minimally observant Jewish family. My parents belonged to an orthodox synagogue but I think my father just wanted to go to produce a certain appearance of standing in the community. My mother made meals on holidays, and there were a few superstitions that got passed down.

My mother is spiritual and instilled in me a great sense of a relationship with G-d.

I married a Lutheran minister's son. I had no aversion to attending church with him and seeing what it was about. I heard what I wanted to hearfrom the messages. The church was very liberal and the minister asked if I wanted to be baptized. Dh and I talked about it quite awhile, I created my own sense of what baptism meant, and I agreed. I did not see this as conflicting with a Jewish identity that seemed to build the more I went to church. I feel like one of the early Jewish followers of Christ.

But the regalia of the church and it's teachings make me uncomfortable. Even though I am able to filter out what I feel is from Christ from what I feel is from the Church (I'm sure I'm offending someone here), it's hard to go to church on a regular basis and listen to the underlying messages.

When I became pregnant I realized I did not want Dd, unable to filter as I can, to grow up with these messages. At least not without a lot of input from me, and exposure to other views.

So I did not grow up with a Christian upbringing but I do see how it could produce a lot of screw up. And most of my church exposure is in a fairly liberal setting.

Dh and I are still going to that same Lutheran church, but are also looking for a synagogue. We aren't having much luck. The small one we thought we liked, because it had teaching services for the ignorant, just got a fancy new building and morphed into heavy orthodoxy (separated men and women, et.al.). We have talked in the past about the Unitarian church, and after our synagogue experience for Yom Kippur, I think it's time to revisit that idea, even though I had wanted to learn more about Judiasm, and keep that aspect of Dd's identity alive for her. All while maintaing my connection with Christ.

Have I offended everyone yet?
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#10 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 02:41 AM
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Curious: I should have spelled out what CA as an acronym stands for!! I was rushed, my apologies. It's 'Cultural Appropriation'. Or, perhaps in the context I was referring, it's more Religious Appropriation. For example, me, as a woman of Irish heritage using ceremonies not native to me, like 'sweat lodges' or 'BlessingWays'. I would be simply taking from a culture/religion (if you will) what I enjoyed, and leaving the rest. Appropriating the bits I liked for my own ends. Yeah, most call it 'stealing' but Cultural/Religious Appropriation is a more academic term contemporarily speaking.

Nursing Mother you asked me,

"Oh and one quick question. Whats with the Xian? Does that mean you do not wish to type Christ? Is it that offensive? or just a quicker way to spell? Just curious. I've never seen that done before."

My goodness, if I found typing 'Christ' so offensive, I wouldn't have typed that word in more than 15 instances in my original post!

No, I do not find typing 'Christ' to be offensive in any way, shape or form.

Sometimes I do get lazy though, I'll admit it. So I do the common shorthand for 'Christ' which is 'X'.

The shorthands "Xianity" and "Xmas" arose because the first letter of the word Christ in Greek (Christos) is a Chi, which looks like an "X". In fact, this shorthand is used by many Christians, particularly in scholarly discussions.

So, the next time that ol' 'Don't take (or x out) the Christ out of Christmas!' (by using Xmas) comes around, you now know that it is simply stating 'Christ' as the Greek language does...not removing Christ at all.

HTH.
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#11 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 03:32 AM
 
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What a great thread! Luvinlivin, I so relate to your post -- had a similar journey myself, although I don't think I was as smart and confrontational as you describe yourself. I do however, remember one time asking my pastor's wife about one of those "unanswerables" and the response was "I'll ask my husband -- he'll know." How lame! I knew she'd never ask and of course she didn't. It was a dodge. Another time, I sat across the desk from her husband the pastor after having poured out my heart and doubts to him and you know what his response was? "Well, you have to understand that our church (this was a fundamentalist church) works on the principle of behaviorism. Meaning that if you put up a fence around a flock of sheep, after a while you can remove the fence and the sheep will not stray beyond the boundaries of where the fence used to be." Long pause, looking straight at me. Then, "This approach does not work well for artists and intellectuals." (I considered myself both). I am not making this up, my own pastor, after basically calling his congregation "sheep" in a not-too-flattering sense, was now telling me that I didn't belong to his congregation! But hey, at least he wasn't sending me poisen-pen verses...

I can't say I feel particularly damaged by my experiences, though. Our home religion was always suffused with love, which tempered the legalism I got at church. What was damaging was when I finally realized that I could not believe that non-christians were going to hell and so that meant I couldn't be a Christian in the sense I had been. I remember a period of pretty bad depression after that. But I found solace in activity - building a career, getting married, being a mom -- and now after some years' distance I am ready to get on with the spiritual quest. Time heals all wounds. For me, backing away was the best thing to do.
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#12 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 04:05 AM
 
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Wow, this is a great thread! The three words above sort of sum up my experience of Chrisitianity - the first has been so life-giving for me, the second is the expression of the first, and the third has been like poison.

Many years ago, I had a mystical experience of God that I will never forget and yearn for again. It changed my life profoundly. That has led me on a spiritual journey that brought me in contact with Buddhism, Wicca, aboriginal spirituality and many facets of Christianity. I am not static in this journey and believe that our religions are humanity's attempt to describe the indescribable. I can, even though I was profoundly hurt by people who come from the fundamentalist/evangelical perspective within Christianity, accept that they are speaking their truth in their language. I wish that acceptance was two-way...

There are expressions of Christianity and many Christians who would be considered progressive in their thinking and in the work that they do to bring the Church (and its members) into harmony with the commandment to love. For now, that is where I find myself. I will continue, as Joseph Campbell said, to "Follow my bliss" to see where my journey will lead me.
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#13 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 10:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Cultural appropriation: livinluvin, (and my name is Daryl, BTW, with the "clever addition" of LLL to let people know what my favorite coven is!) I feel I have every right to take from any culture what pleases me, including spiritual concepts. You don't?

If I like sushi, and pasta, and corn, why can't I love Zen ideas, the idea of spirit guides, and being aware of the moon's cycles, and what they symbolize to me as a woman?

We are all one human family, with similar archetypes going thru all our religions. The earth belongs to me, and all that is in it, despite the "ownership" of certain things by certain people(s).

I did read in a book, a priest of some religion saying that it could be dangerous to sort of dabble in only certain aspects of various religions. He was saying you could actually cause yourself physical or spiritual harm. Well, yes, if I was going to go on a vision quest using peyote, it probably would help a lot to have a knowledgable guide to keep me safe! But, otherwise, I don't see the danger.

We were saying on the devil thread, that many (most?) xians just take what they like from the Bible and leave the hard stuff behind, anyway.

Someone complained when I called her religion absurd. Well, when you read a book culled from centuries of ancient myth, you will find absurdities. Yes, a blue elephant as a god is absurd, but I think Hindus aren't worshipping him as an elephant, but the meaning behind the mask. Elephants are really cool.

When Elishah took on Elijah's mantle, he was teased for his bald head by an apparently huge group of boys, for his bald head. (didn't they have anything better to do? Life back then must have been pretty boring. If it was, that could explain all the wild stories in the Bible, good entertainment value ;-) He called 2 she-bears out of the forest, who mauled to death 42 (exactly!) of them. Now, absurd, at face value. first of all, wouldn't more of them have gotten away? 2nd of all, nice prophet, to kill boys for teasing his bald head. But underlying message, don't f--- with Elisha. So, absurd story, (fundies will take it literally), but not to be taken literally. Then again, the message behind the mask is not so helpful either. Not my kind of God!

42=7x7. 7, I am just finding out, is the number of complete perfection in the Bible. So, a story about a multiply perfect murder for the dignity of god's prophet. I guess...
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#14 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ha! My dh just read my post and told me 7x7=49, not 42. I am an artist and an intellectual, but no math whiz! So, I guess the murder wan't quite perfect. Ow, too early in the day for numbers!
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#15 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 11:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Are you trapped in a Frame? LIBERATE YOURSELF! You'll have access to the entire site!

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I hereby CA these commandments!




.
Native American Ten Commandments (one version)

1) The Earth is our Mother; care for Her
2) Honor all your relations.
3) Open your heart and soul to the Great Spirit.
4) All life is sacred; treat all beings with respect.
5) Take from the Earth what is needed and nothing more.
6) Do what needs to be done for the good of all.
7) Give constant thanks to the Great Spirit for each day.
8) Speak the truth but only for the good in others.
9) Follow the rythms of Nature.
10) Enjoy life's journey; but leave no tracks.
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#16 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 11:35 AM
 
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Ummm...7 x 7 = 49. :

I was raised a church-going Catholic. Went to Catholic school for 2 yrs (until they determined I was "slow" and I had to go to the public school--where I eventually ended up valedictorian). Taught RE, sang in youth choir, served on diocesan youth board. Wanted to become a nun as a 7/8th grader--but knew I wouldn't because I wanted more choices.

I skipped a unit in RE teaching 1st graders, because I thought it was too exclusive. It was called "We are Christians." And I had barely heard of Islam at the time. Eventually, I was confirmed--and like so many, I quit going at that point. I guess that, once I ran out of things to do and really thought about it, it didn't work for me.

I was drawn toward Islam. I volunteered in Morocco, a wonderful Muslim-filled country. I married one. He never pushed Islam on me (believe it or not, Islam forbids forcing practice). One day, I decided to declare my faith--and I'm learning more each day.

I need a system that acknowledges the truth in other paths (again, believe it or not...). I also need a system which promotes personal responsibility. I believe, in the end, it is my heart and deeds that will be totaled, and the rest I cannot know now. Salvation through another person does not fit into my system--it works against my logic--and I do not think my Creator would require me to accept a "truth" against my own logic. I believe in miracles, but I draw the line at the issue of salvation.

When it comes down to it, Islam says those who believe in a Creator, do good work, and believe in the coming end have nothing to fear. To me, that is pretty generous and inclusive. I think the earth has been graced by so many wonderful teachers of people--we should try to learn from them, absolutely. For me, that is where Jesus (peace be upon him) has an important place. I wanted to name my ds Aissa, the Arabic form of Jesus (my mother freaked, and so we chose another name). Like others have mentioned, his example is for us to learn from. Personally, "I am the Way and the Truth and the Light..." to me, means, I am an example for you to follow on the path toward your Creator.

And to me, this is Islam: I am a creation of an uncreated Creator who has created life in many forms, seen and unseen, and sent wisdom to that life in many forms (i.e., prophets, books, mystics, etc). I believe I am here for a reason, and that the end of this life is not my absolute end. My purpose includes loving, respecting and helping my fellow-beings, and considering, thanking, and remembering that Creator. Every time I screw up, that is my call to try again. All I can do is my best.

Of course, there are so many Muslims who offer an ugly portrait of the faith, and that sometimes makes it less easy. I guess kind of like pagans--we are NOT terrorists. Really--millions of us are not. I am hoping these millions become the more visible ones in the next few years. We're really not weird or hateful, most of us.
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#17 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 03:36 PM
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I am and continue to be a Christian.

I have, however, found myself profoundly hurt by church and the control these people seemed to demand.

I have never been the conformist type but I tried to keep quiet about some things (and, damn it, try to change who I essentially was for a time)

When I was severely mistreated by the church over my parenting beliefs I just about had it with organized religion.

I don't take what "they" have to say about theology for granted.

With the help of a couple of women here I have, for example, really questioned the anti gay theology

I've enjoyed this thread, can't say I've "moved beyond" Christianity but I sure have moved beyond some narrow fundie types at least!!!

Debra Baker (never got back to the devil thread so I can't say whether I'm offended but not likely)
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#18 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 05:56 PM
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Daryl - I sent you a PM yesterday about this thread. Could you please read it and get in touch with me? Thanks!

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#19 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 06:05 PM
 
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There's a difference between appreciating an aspect of a culture, or an aspect of a culture's religious heritage and taking/using it out of context.

I'll use some of what I've learned in conversation with NA's over at Beliefnet for an example. In Cherokee traditional religion certain clans have certain duties. Other clans do not perform those functions. Only members of the clans who have been trained by the elders for those duties perform them. To perform their ceremonies without All the proper functionaries in place is to place the entire community at risk, spiritually and possibly physically. Therefor, to use an aspect of their religion as part of a personal ritual, out of culture and out of context, is considered by them to be not only rude, but dangerous. And probably ineffective as well.

And the rules, beliefs, and ceremonies are different for every one of over 500 nations.

The Celtic cultural community feels the same way about aspects of their cultural heritage being taken out of context. They get even angrier when things that are not Celtic are claimed to be in order to sell books while Celtica is popular. Again, there's context missing, which means the true depth of meaning will be missed. Another aspect of their ire is that claims are being made as if these cultures no longer exist, or as if Christianity somehow destroyed them. In the case of the Celts this is not so. The cultures have continued and the traditions from before Christianity have continued as well. Only some names have been changed, and they don't take heads any more.

...more later, I can't write at this level wrong-handed with DD nursing

"What will you do once you know?"
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#20 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 06:14 PM
 
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I have to interject and say that what you're parents did was wrong but that it is not the general way of Christianity. I am a Christian and do NOT parent my children that way. I also had some horrible childhood experiences but blame my parents, not an entire culture or religion. I'm wondering if you might find support over in the personal growth threads. There are people over there that are also trying to overcome traumatic childhood experiences.

Good luck!

Amy - Blessed wife to Jesse (the best dad in the world), mother of 10 on earth plus 8 in heaven.   PROUD to be a Catholic! : winner.jpg familybed2.gifhomeschool.gif

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#21 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 07:06 PM
 
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Yammer, those books sound like just what I need to read right now, especially the first one. Fingers crossed that they will have it at the library.

I was raised Catholic. I did not have the kind of traumatic experiences some of you describe, but I was definitely indoctrinated from an early age to the beliefs and teachings of Catholicism. I didn't know any different, though, and our community was fairly homogenous (military overseas) so I did not have much exposure to anything non-Western. Our church was generally a loving, warm community of people, a great many of whom lived their lives in accordance with their beliefs. I admired them for that, and I still hold on to the memories of some of those people when I think of "true believers" -- those who live it. I never felt anything spiritually from the teachings of Catholicism though. I never had a true faith, just a habit. I stopped attending church when I left for college, and have rarely gone back. I don't bear the Catholic church any ill will for myself (OK, I do have a few hangups left but they don't rear their ugly heads much). I do have a bone to pick with them though over some of the damage done to my DH by his Catholic upbringing. He's an atheist now, and doesn't have a shred of doubt about that.

Anyway, I no longer consider myself a Catholic nor a Christian. I still have all the tapes in my head though! But it holds no appeal or draw for me. I've come to my current spiritual beliefs over time, and they don't seem to fit any established religion. I'm inspired by and influenced by many different beliefs, but would probably best be described as an agnostic. Still, I'd like to have something, because I miss the community. I miss the ritual. I've been thinking about trying a UU church to see how that feels.

I am really enjoying this thread, BTW, and I hope it doesn't do a disappearing act.
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#22 of 32 Old 09-17-2002, 07:54 PM
 
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Can O Beans: As long as the thread stays civil, like all other threads, it won't "do a disappearing act".

Amy - Blessed wife to Jesse (the best dad in the world), mother of 10 on earth plus 8 in heaven.   PROUD to be a Catholic! : winner.jpg familybed2.gifhomeschool.gif

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#23 of 32 Old 09-18-2002, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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luvinlivin--

(I get your name wrong half the time too!) I sent you a PM.

thanks,
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#24 of 32 Old 09-18-2002, 03:40 PM
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My parents were married in the Catholic Church. They were married twelve years and had two children.

When they divorced, my father put a new roof on the rectory. He received an anullment of his marriage so that when he remarried he could do it in the Church.

I always wondered where that left my sister and I in terms of Catholicism. Were we erased?

I tell you, it made more of an impact than 13 years of forced fed Church going and CCD classes ever made.

~~~~~

I avoided organized religion for a long time after that. Wouldn't discuss it, went out of my way to avoid it.

Then I had the great good fortune to run into an Episcopalian priest whom I consider to be extremely open minded. We discussed spirituality and religion and I was surprised at how much alike our thoughts, but not our lexicon, were.

One thing on which we both agreed, zealots and bigots and nuts are not teachers or caregivers. They do not represent anyone but their very own, very human, undivine, bureaucratic agenda.

And so now, when I discuss religion with someone, I am much more likely to try to find the points on which we agree. And my opinion is, all religion is the same. We just call it different things and practice it a little differently.
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#25 of 32 Old 09-19-2002, 02:28 AM
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Debra Baker-

I am so much where you seem to be--trying to move beyond the cultural "churchiness" to learn who God really is-without the social conventions and traditions, which came from man, not God. It is so freeing to realize that perhaps I can reach out and take His hand, without somehow molding myself into the white, suburban, "conservative" church lady. I can be me, who He created.

I have a family tradition of church hurts, and am trying to cognitively separate God from those. And I'm interested in reading the Bible word for word, somehow separating the true meaning from the traditions I was raised with. (One interesting point, there really are as many "inclusive" verses in the bible, ones that speak of Gods love and redemptive desire for all creation, as there are "exclusive" ones, that SEEM, on first reading, to exclude others from Gods plan.)

I am working so hard to see God as loving and kind. It is so hard to erase those hurtful tapes...it is a struggle.

Great thread, anyways I feel that in moving beyond Christianity (as it was taught to me) I just may find wholeness, healing, and Christ.

dlb
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#26 of 32 Old 09-19-2002, 09:50 AM
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DeAnna,

It would be appropriate that the woman who'se shareing my initials would be walking a parrellel path.

To be honest I don't feel as though I fit in anywhere (the Mothering boards are a great place, too bad I can't actually hang out with other Mothering friends)

I realized that the "comfort" I felt in the old church was a manifestation of cultism. I was "comfortible" because I had friends and belonged to something larger than myself.

That feeling of comraderie and belonging was ultimately used as a weapon against me because they were able to take that away from me when they ousted me from their midst (remember this was strictly over parenting practices and I was rearing great children...even by their words)

I realized that instead of cultivating a direct relationship with G-d I was lazily depending upon the "wisdom" of these leaders. It was a hard and lonely path to walk but it really helped me in my growth and was the catalist to making me think for myself and not be so dang judgmental of others.

At times I feel like a real hybird Christian-Jewish New Agey leftover person who doesn't fit in anywhere but I'm getting more accepting and comfortible with my self.

Debra (L) Baker (edited to spell DeAnna's name correctly)
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#27 of 32 Old 09-19-2002, 10:59 AM
 
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(((((((((((((DB))))))))))))))
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#28 of 32 Old 09-19-2002, 04:12 PM
 
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I did not have a religious upbringing. For that I am thankful. My parents didn't want to indoctrinate us, wanted us to explore and find our own paths. I did go through a brief phase at about 10 years old when I went to church on my own (I rode the Joy bus, a bright blue bus that picked me up Sunday mornings). I was concerned that my family was going to burn in hell, and talked my sister into coming with me. For this, I was rewarded by my Sunday school teacher with candy and a new bible with feathery pages. I liked those feathery pages. But, eventually I tired of church and quit going.

So, I do not have childhood hurts related to religion. But, I know many who do. Especially my dear lesbian and gay and transgendered loved ones. I know so many queer folk who have struggled for years to reconcile their religion with their sexuality, who have struggled with shame and guilt and hating themselves and praying to god to make them straight. Ugh. The way the Bible is used to reinforce homophobia and hatred of queer folk drives me nuts, and is one of my biggest beefs with Christianity. And "love the sinner, hate the sin" just doesn't work for me. I absolutely refuse to believe that loving anyone, regardless of gender, is a sin.
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#29 of 32 Old 09-19-2002, 11:47 PM
 
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When cultural appropriation was touched on I was thinking, we may all be a big human family but some of the family members have been taking advantage of all of us. Some religeons do not welcome converts, you have to be born to it to participate. It isn't intended as an insult, or to be exclusionary like a private club, it's just the way it is. Maybe some of the stuff at this link will help explain it. http://www.alphacdc.com/treaty/r-explt.html#top

I am working on this in my own mind too, trying to sort out what is and isn't cool...
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#30 of 32 Old 09-20-2002, 12:07 AM
 
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(((((DebraBaker))))

Every time I hear what happened to you it just breaks my heart, it really does.

-Deirdre
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