Dark night of the soul - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 25 Old 01-24-2003, 01:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was a very devout Catholic a few years ago. I converted (I really think I was rebelling from my Unitarian-Buddhist mother) in college. I found great peace through this religion. Greater peace than I have ever felt in my life before or since. However, the more I learned the more I got upset with the rules of the church. Since I was raised so liberally, I had a really hard time with the thoughts about gays, women in the preisthood, women's right to choose, etc. When I first worked on converting I told myself that I could still be a Catholic and not have to believe everything they taught. Well, somehow I started feeling like a hypocrite. My godmother was able to do this (take what she liked and ignore the rest) but for some reason I couldn't shake the hypocrite thought. Also, living in a relatively conservative town, most of the homilies would make me seething mad, so I quit going to Mass. I even worked at a Catholic Book and Gift store, so I quit that job to avoid the hypocricy thing.
Anyway, since then I've not really prayed or got in touch with my spirituality. I went to my mother's Unitarian church, but it was just not really inspiring and the church politics that goes on in any church pissed me off. There were very little rewards for me in going there so I quit.
I meditate each night (that I remember to) so that I can try to relax and get rid of my headaches, but it's just a body relaxation, not a connnection to God or a universal love (well, maybe I really am, I'm just not aware of it, KWIM?)
Anyway, I really miss the peace I had when I had Catholism. I could look at a group of people and I really felt love for them, that we were all connected and a part of God. That angels could be everywhere and that God was whispering in my ear everyday the love that he has for me. It makes me want to cry I miss that so much. Why can't I have both my connection to God and my political/humanitarian beliefs too? I don't know.
The whole issue with the Bishops covering up child molestation doesn't help either because now I'm afraid to get too involved with the church and expose my son to danger.

I guess I just wondered if anyone else has ever been in my shoes, could you ever find a way to "make up" your own religion and how do you go about celebrating that spirituality?

Marcy
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#2 of 25 Old 01-24-2003, 02:07 PM
 
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Wow, sounds like you're having some troubles with this, feel the need to respond.

Hmm where to begin? You may get a lot of opinions about what others think you should do, and that seems easy enough to answer, but you really need to come to that decision yourself. I would like to suggest, though, that you look at this time as an opportunity to find that connection to God within yourself, to find connection with others in places outside of a church, because it is possible.

The thing with spirituality is, you really need to find what works for you. Some can devote themselves to an organized religion and find their spirituality within that. Some devote themselves to their God within themselves, with or without the religion.

I'm trying to tell you to not despair. Although this sounds like a bad time for you, try to look at the opportunity for spiritual growth. Reach out to people who you feel can listen and be helpful to you. Talk about what you are experiencing, journal, tell your story. It's often in the storytelling that the answer is uncovered.

I wish you peace on your journey,
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#3 of 25 Old 01-24-2003, 07:39 PM
 
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marcy - just wanted to say I can relate in some ways. I was raised Catholic, and was very involved in the Catholic community where I grew up, through high school. I drifted away from the church as I got into my 20's, and became college educated. And more liberal.

I miss the feeling of peace, and SAFETY I felt when I felt close to God. I don't feel that anymore. It was a nice feeling. Don't think I'll ever get it back.

I'm attracted to Unitarian-type eclectic spirituality. But I haven't attended a UU church yet, cause I feel sort of bad about it - guilty or something. But I'm very affected by the seasons, and nature, and the weather. In a poetic, spiritual sense. I don't think I could do all of the structured rituals in some pagan religions, and I know I'll never be totally Catholic again.

So, I feel lost. I don't have a solution for you, just company.
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#4 of 25 Old 01-24-2003, 10:12 PM
 
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Dear Marcy,
You have a touching story. I'm sorry you feel like you're going it alone spiritually these days. Good for you for being cautious of falling into the trap of hypocrisy.
I am not Catholic but worship the same Savior as the Catholics do. Perhaps the most important question for you is: Did you fall in love with the Living God, or did you fall in love with the rituals, the aesthetics, the tradition, and the sense of family that so beautifully characterize the Catholic Church? If the former, the most important thing to do is to read the Bible and to pray. Even if it's only 5 minutes a day. If you went all day without eating, your body would atrophy; every day that you do not partake of the Word or pray to God your spirit suffers. Pray that God would draw you close to Him and that He would lead you to a place-- a church or para-church ministry--where you can grow in Him and strengthen the Body of Christ. Even though it is certainly possible to be in relationship to God without going to church, the Bible does warn against the perils of "forsaking the assembly." You like "high church"--maybe you could try the Episcopal or Lutheran churches in your town? Maybe the sermons would be less politically charged? Finally, I would suggest seeking out an older, Godly, wise Catholic woman whom you trust, and ask her to explain to you the church's position on the social issues you mentioned. Not to persuade you or debate you, just to gently explain. You may find that while you disagree with the final conclusion or the way it plays out in politics, you can appreciate the spiritual reasons behind it.
Best of luck to you; I'm rooting for you Marcy!
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#5 of 25 Old 01-24-2003, 10:19 PM
 
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Well my suggestion for you is to do your research. Find out why the Catholic church has a certain teching which is opposed to your beliefs. Really do your research, and search into your soul. Dig around for why you believe what you believe and why the Catholic churchs teaches what it does. Talk to a priest or other expert. Explain to him or her your feelings and beliefs. Ask him why the church teaches what it does. Ask yourself why you believe what you do. How important are those beliefs to you? How important is that felling of safety and closeness to God.

Dig around in your sould, and think about why you believe what you believe. Why did you have that feeling of peace and closeness to God when you were Catholic?

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#6 of 25 Old 01-25-2003, 02:53 AM
 
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Im thinking Amelia has a point...what did you find your peace in, was it the people of the church? going to church? I was thinking that actually going to church and socially interacting is the only thing you miss by stopping going to church, the rules are the church but the higher power and divine order, your angels and love, that is still there, regardless of the rules, hypocrasy or what have you,
I was once catholic and travel many paths, one of the things I LOVE about the catholic religeon is the rosary, that and mother mary...
I say the rosary often, feel a close relationship to mother mary when i need to, and proceed to travel the other paths that I travel,
I am sharing what I do, that you may find something of value, if you do not simply read on, take what you like and leave the rest sort of mentality...I try and do that with the religeon stuff too-
well blessings of clarity and simplicity for you. Oh and you might find the Unity path interests you if you like the whole God concept...they are a bit more...conservative that UU in my experience but a nice feeling...I work with a Unity member at a Spirituality class I do with recovering addict ladies and the religeon seems to be very focused on tolerance .
~mary
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#7 of 25 Old 01-25-2003, 03:34 AM
 
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Hi,

I'm not sure if this will help you in anyway but this is what first came to mind when I read your post. And just for clarity, I am a devout catholic.

First, and unfortunately, some priests have taken upon themselves to change the true teachings of Christ. This has caused many problems within the church. A person can attend a mass at one church and get a totally different teaching from another. Instead of always knowing that you'll receive the true teachings of Christ, it's become a find-the-catholic-church-that-best-fits-your-beliefs mentality.

I would also suggest learning why the church teaches what it does. It is out of love for us. Remember, Jesus did not teach us to hate, judge, discriminate, etc. We can disagree with someone's life choices without hating them but it doesn't mean we need to support their choices either. Look at the company Jesus kept on earth!

I think expecting (not that you are) a church to change its teachings because the world has changed or because it's not politically correct is wrong. If a church proclaims to teach the truth how can it then change to passify the world? It would be like saying "well, I guess that wasn't the truth because now we believe this way...yeah, this is now the truth" KWIM?

It sounds to me like God is inviting you to seek him out . Opening ourselves up to receive God is inviting knowledge. You many not understand why things are as they are now, but through prayer you will.

I wish you luck in your spiritual journey and pray you will receive the peace you seek
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#8 of 25 Old 01-25-2003, 01:52 PM
 
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Marcy74~ I can so completely relate to what you are going through...I was a devout Catholic, have my Masters in Theology and was a Campus Minister for two years at a Catholic University. I loved my "community" both at grad school and the Catholic peace group I was heavily involved in...but I am seriously disillusioned with "the Church"

I used to think I could change it from within, nudge it to actually follow the Catholic social teaching it claims to believe, push the Bishops to take a serious and consistent stand against violence and war, work to change it's view on women's ordination.....but I just don't feel like fighting the good fight anymore....when so many decisions are so obviously based on $$$ and keeping the hierarchy in the power it so desperately craves. I am not bitter or angry at the church, I just accept it as a reality~ and I can choose to be involved in it or not.

I have great peace about what I am doing right now...I am more "in touch" with God than I have ever been in my life. Because now my relationship is based on my own conversations with Her...not what someone else is telling me to believe. Now for the "community" part ~ I think this is the most difficult aspect of leaving any organized religion...but I have faith I am going to find exactly what I need.

Please feel free to PM me anytime you want to talk



~Deirdre
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#9 of 25 Old 01-25-2003, 03:09 PM
 
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You have touched my heart with your obvious desire to find meaningful spiritual and religious experiences in your lives.

I wonder if a protestant church such as Episcopal, Lutheran, or Methodist would better suit you.

I wish you well on your spiritual journey.
b
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#10 of 25 Old 01-26-2003, 12:44 PM
 
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I know that I have posted my story on here before, so I apologize if anyone is bored with it by now

I hear you. It is frustrating, lonely, scary. I was born and raised catholic but questioned everything that has been listed above. Then at the height of my questioning, my 23 year old sister in law, 31 year old former best friend and boyfriend of 6 years (we had broken up years before but it was a really ugly breakup and we never made peace with each other), and my grandpa died, plus I had three miscarriages-- all in a 19 month span. So now, I am questioning not only the Catholic God/ faith, but the existence of a Diety at its very basic level. I am liking the Christo- Pagan path, but I am still so far from finding resolution in regards to if I am even theistic or agnostic. I often feel like I am healing, and then I get a surge of rage that tells me that I am not as far on the path of healing as I would like to think that I am. And to make matters more tough, dh has his Masters of Divinity and works for the RC church. Needless to say, he is USUALLY very supportive, but he is human, too.

So, I too, have no answers, but a sympathetic heart that is sending you energy.
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#11 of 25 Old 01-26-2003, 06:06 PM
 
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Waldohood - sending love your way . I can relate. My mom is very Catholic, and my dh's mom is very Catholic. My FIL, who passed away, was an officer high up in a Catholic organization. So, with expectations from our parents, we did get our baby baptised Catholic. We may have him go through the sacraments, too. Right now we don't go to Mass, though, unless our mothers drag us on a holiday. I'm at the point of questioning Diety at its basic level, too. Have been for years. It's an awful feeling.

Hugs.
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#12 of 25 Old 01-26-2003, 11:06 PM
 
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Marcy, I was raised catholic, and attended by parental force until I was out of college. I objected to all the things that bother you about it, really from the time I was a small child.

There are many other churches that have a more progressive, humane political stance where you can still find a wonderful sense of community. We attended Quaker meeting for years, and I love it. We currently are United Methodist, however, because the local Quaker meetings are very small and didn't have a peer group for the kids. We've found the UMC to be open, friendly, spiritual, progressive, etc. They welcome women into the clergy, which was key for me.

I guess all I'm saying is that if you start to look around, you might find that there wonderful church families where you fit in and will be nurtured without the negatives of the catholic church.
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#13 of 25 Old 01-27-2003, 12:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to everyone for your responses. I've been through all of this before. I've talked to priests, nuns. I've talked to a liberal catholic wise nun and all she could tell me is that if she were a young woman who was married and there was a priest telling her not to use birth control that she wouldn't obey that. But that leaves me with the old "hypocrocy" thing .
I do struggle with a doubt about a diety. Usually I do believe in something, some kind of universal Love or something. It's the bible that I often doubt- Did the holy spirit really inspire someone to write it, or was it a way to control people into believing a certain religion? It's always struck me as odd that Paul suddenly goes from killing christians to being a wise man of the church. Surely some of his ignorance is still there when he says that women shouldn't ever teach or wear ornaments in their hair. And we're supposed to take that as gospel?
The thing that I miss is that personal connection that I felt with God. I could take or leave the community thing. I'm very shy, so it was always a struggle for me to go to church anyway- I was the type who sat in the back. I've thought about more liberal churches, but I've not been yet- I think it's the whole doubting of the bible thing that keeps me away.
The ritual was what attracted to me in the first place to Catholicism (I went to Catholic school). But in the end, it is that feeling that God is watching over me and loves me unconditionally that I miss. Though, I don't know how much I really got the "unconditional love" thing though, as I was always running to confession for fear of dying suddenly and then being sent straight to hell for saying "g-- da-m" when I stubbed my toe. Seriously, I was that scrupulous. It was sad and I often irritated the priests with my over-zealousness.
Anyway, I do appreciate the responses. It's hard to be in this place especially since I knew such peace before.
I didn't mention that I suffered from some mild religious abuse as a child. We had a cleaning lady that would help my mom out once a week who was a very religious fundamentalist christian who really messed with me. She burned one of my dolls because she said it was satanic. So, as a result of that and some family issues with the Church of Christ, I am very leary of fundamentalist churches. I don't want to offend anyone by that last comment. If you believe in those churches I'm very happy for you, it's just not going to be the thing that gets me closer to god.
Sounds like UU is really the place for me, but I just don't get anything spiritual out of that at all.

Marcy
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#14 of 25 Old 01-27-2003, 02:37 PM
 
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marcy--

I feel for you. I also was raised Christian, but had to leave a long time ago.

Many many people are in your shoes. The idea of diety is so huge, really it can't be put into words, IMO. It is ineffable. When we try to describe it, we will always fall short of the mystery and greatness.

The childlike faith you miss, maybe it was inevitable to lose it, as you mature. I have heard faith compared to a vessel. When you are young, it is small, it takes less to fill it. As you grow, your vessel is larger, and it takes more ( information, experience, fellowship with others, reading, prayer, ritual, whatever) to fill it, for the same amt of faith to result.

Many people doubt the infallibilty and absloute truth of the Bible. It is a series of books and essays, written over a centuries long period of time. Did you know, the "Old Testament" is only a fraction of Jewish teachings? Xtians really sell them short with the books that are included in the OT. The entire Bible was written by men, without the benefit of modern science. It was imagined, just for ex: there was a firmament in the sky, a dome, which held back the rain. Above this dome was heaven (or 7 heavens), where god and the angels (powers, authorities) lived and sang and and sat on thrones. I take it as legend or symbolism or psychology. I find it hard to take it literally, in this day and age. JMO. You can do this with every biblical story. Take it as fact, as a child would do, or look deeper for meaning encoded within.

Did you know, as well, there are dozens of other Xtian writings that early church fathers voted out of the "official" Bible? If you like history, and digging into things, you can get a great picture of the history of Christianity by reading The Jesus Mysteries, by Freke and Gandy. Another great book, is the Other Bible, a compendium of all those "other writings," painfully unearthed over the last couple centuries, that were left of of the Xtian canon.

To find the similarities between Xtianity and paganism, see this site:

POCM

You can also find books on similarities between Xtianity and Buddhism.

As far as UU, we have found one in the next town that is very spiritual, healing, beautiful and friendly. UU churches, like LLL mtgs, vary from one to another. Maybe you will find another one more suited to you? We are lucky to be in NE,with one in every town.


To sum up, I am not trying to disrespect anyone's ways of believing, Christian, Jew or otherwise. I am speaking to marcy, a seeker, a doubter, like myself. We are all different, and there are many "roads up the mountain." I find, marcy, that studying religion, and seeking god, can be quite uncomfortable and make me uneasy quite often. But here we are, in heavy bodies, spirits, more or less, trapped inside a "meat puppet." It isn't always a comfortable, warm and fuzzy place to be. I wish you (and everyone) good luck and lots of fun and adventure on your own personal journey!
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#15 of 25 Old 01-27-2003, 04:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Deirdre- I tried to PM you- but your box was full

DaryLLL- thanks for the links and book suggestions. I work at a library , so I just ran downstairs and found the Jesus Mysteries book right away. I'll let you know what I think! I think you have a great point about growing up and having a bigger vessell. I think part of the bliss I felt was at not having to make my own decisions- the church just told me what to do. I kid you not when I say that almost every problem I came up against I would ask, "What would Jesus do?" Even before all those bracelets and bumper stickers! :LOL
The church gave me an answer everytime. I guess I could still do this, but instead ask "What would Love do?" or even "What would God do?"

Wonder if the headaches have something to do with all this? Nah, I remember having headaches when I was a devout and happy Catholic. Never mind.

I'm still open to other suggestions or others sharing their path with me. I find everyone's stories so comforting and just talking about it all makes me feel a little more connected to God.

Marcy
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#16 of 25 Old 01-27-2003, 07:56 PM
 
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Marcy~ I cleared my PM box.

I have also enjoyed reading these posts and take comfort in just knowing I am not alone

For most of my life I took great comfort in my inherited faith~ but I guess I finally got to the point where I felt that the ritual, tradition, dogma, and scripture were actually hindering, not helping, my relationship with God, .

I now feel more in touch with God than I ever have before ~ perhaps because I now understand we are all One and there is nothing that can separate us from God.

~Deirdre
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#17 of 25 Old 01-27-2003, 08:27 PM
 
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Hi, marcy!

I have a secret...sometimes, I miss being a Muslim. I miss having "the way" paved for me, having a community, I miss "knowing". But, then I remember all the things I hated, the things that challenged my "knowledge": inferiority of women, blasphemy, intolerance, lies.

I think ppl just go through phases in their lives when they're afraid (spiritually) and wish they could just go back to "simpler" times. Some of us keep searching and some of us just settle for the uneven comfort old ways provide. I suggest you just start reading abt every spiritual and religious curiosity you have. You won't find "the answer" in the books, but I'm sure you'll find a wealth of information that will take you on an interesting journey.

Good luck! One thing I keep in mind on my journey is: None of us knows. All of this...they're just beliefs. We all could be lying to ourselves, so it's best to just go with what I feel in my heart.

And, don't forget that no one has a trademark on God. He's not anyone's copyrighted property. If you want to see God in everyone and everything, the only thing stopping you is you.

But, maybe it's time for you to give up God, and hitch your wagon onto a Goddess...
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#18 of 25 Old 01-28-2003, 10:19 AM
 
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marcy--

I'm so glad you found the book so easily! I will look forward to your review.

(OT--Chaka--

I can't get your wagon analogy out of my mind. I need more than one lil ol goddess to pull mine. Well, I think I have a chariot. Let's see, in front of me, a god and a goddess. She loks real feminine, maybe like a more empowered Marilyn Monroe. He looks something like Johnny Depp. In front of them, the god beyond gender--looking like-- Legolas? David Bowie? kd lang? LOL! With a yin yang symbol on their breastplate.)
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#19 of 25 Old 01-28-2003, 01:00 PM
 
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LMAO, Daryl. That is sooooooooo funny!

Sorry...T
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#20 of 25 Old 01-28-2003, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaryLLL
He looks something like Johnny Depp. In front of them, the god beyond gender--looking like-- Legolas? David Bowie? kd lang? LOL! With a yin yang symbol on their breastplate.)
T Okay, forget all the struggles, I'll worship at the feet of a "David Bowie" god any time! :LOL


Marcy
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#21 of 25 Old 01-29-2003, 02:12 AM
 
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hey marcy, just thought i'd put a couple pennies in,
i consider myself a highly spiritual person, in my own personal religion i've found all i need, its a combo of a bunch of religions out there including many of my own beliefs. sometimes just looking within yourself you can find the whole universe and what it means to you, there is no need to follow any particular gathering of like thought if you feel your thoughts differ than those you observe. all you need to know is in you, find what you believe, go on your own journey and explore all the possibilities that make up your spirituality and your configuration in this universe.

David Bowie...
Legolas one good lookin elf
T i prefer gandalf
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#22 of 25 Old 01-29-2003, 09:32 PM
 
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Hi Marcy, just one more post to say yeah I know how you feel too. I was a good little fundamentalist christian until I found I no longer believed it when I was in my mid 20s. And I remember the feeling of being lost and lonely! I remember the fear of trying anything else because I was sure it must be wrong. I'm 39 now and have two things to add: one is, time heals. It's bad now but you won't feel like this forever. You will move on, learn, discover, and come to some new understanding of who God is and he s/he relates to you. And this time it will FIT. The second is, there are lots of other christian communities out there besides fundamentalists and catholics. I went to a Mennonite church for years that was extremely liberal--urban Mennonite churches often are, as are Quaker churches. There are even liberal catholic churches -- the big downtown cathedral here in Seattle which I sometimes attend (I love the ritual too) has women in very prominent positions, and altar girls. Good luck!!!
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#23 of 25 Old 01-30-2003, 04:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi! I was out for a day or so with a migraine but I'm back now!
I've actually been on this "dark night of the soul" for about 6 years now. It's been a hard 6 years. I know that it's effecting my health, part of my migraine problem is a failure to deal with stress well- which I really think is linked to my mistrust of the universe and a lack of spiritual fulfillment.
I've studied countless books and religions. Most of the time I don't feel a strong connection.
Since I got married 3 years ago I stopped even studing because it was getting pointless.
I was pissed at Jesus for the "gnashing of teeth in hell" comment in the bible, pissed at Buddha for not allowing women to be monks- even though he knew it was the right thing to do. (I found out about this in a Thich Nhat Hahn book)
Pissed at the Koran for the "don't be friends with Jews and Christians" comment, etc. You name a religion and I can probably find fault with it. The key here is I'm over-analytical but I can't help it. I'm such a perfectionist so I expect my faith to be perfect- which is impossible. I've read lots of Krishnamurti and I agree with him in most of what he writes, but what he says doesn't give me any peace. So it doesn't seem right either.
Does that make sense? I'm I crazy?
I'm going to check out the Conversations with God books again, I remember them giving me a sense of peace. Perhaps I can let go of my perfectionism enough to embrace something spiritual.

Marcy
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#24 of 25 Old 01-30-2003, 05:12 PM
 
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Sorry abt the headaches. I've been getting them since starting good ole peri-meopause. Not fun.

Now that you are feeling better, hope you will dip into The Jesus Mysteries. It won't give you any final answers (I sure haven't found any yet either!), but it is an interesting deconstruction of the checkered beginnings of Xtianity.

Have you read much Joseph Campbell, or seen his video series?

The thing abt god is, it is an uncreated, ineffable being. So we, being created, keep trying to describe him/her/it, and we just can't, or it wouldn't really be god. We can just approximate him/her/it, with anthropomorphized beings.

I just hope we "get it," when we pass out of the body.
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#25 of 25 Old 01-30-2003, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaryLLL

Have you read much Joseph Campbell, or seen his video series?

I just hope we "get it," when we pass out of the body.
Yes, I have seen his video series (another perk about working at a library is you have instant access to all that great stuff!) Very interesting stuff.
I still haven't had a chance to read that book, it's in my briefcase now though and I hope to read more this weekend. I've got the Discipline Book to get through also though, and with a 5-month-old it seems nearly impossible to read. DS loves touching and grabbing pages from books.

I hope we "get it" too when we finally pass from this body. It'd be my luck that the afterlife is just as confusing as this one is! Or that I'd be reincarnated into yet another confused person's life.

Marcy
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