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#1 of 30 Old 04-09-2004, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, here I go!!(the first christian posting on this board. whee.

I am really sruggling with Christianity. I was raised Christian and have a love for Jesus. However, we(dh and I) are deliving into the hypocrisies and atrocities of the religion. His dad has spent quite a bit of time studying the Cathars, the Templar and the Crusades and has bred a healthy cyncicsm into my dh. We have been discovering the creation of the nicean creed. We ahve bee reading Spong, and now I am reading the DaVinci Code.

At the same time, I an struggling with the fact that I dont recevie joy or blessing from the typical Christian service. I do not find God there. I find God in the fields, the meadows, the ocean, my sleeping children. I also think the goddess has been squashed out of the church, and a lot of turmoil has come from it.

So, if there ever was a perfectly balanced christian church, what did it look like? If the bible is not what Jesus was trying to teach, what was he trying to teach? And how do we live that message today?
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#2 of 30 Old 04-10-2004, 12:56 PM
 
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I too have been struggling with this. I read a book called "Reincarnation: The Missing Link in Christianity" and it really touched me. Strangely enough I actually found more joy in our religious services after reading that. It's like I'm learning to synthesize the outer trappings with my inner feelings.

I suppose some would say that makes me a hypocrite. Standing up and singing with the choir all these words and reciting the Apostles' Creed and all that.

But I think for myself anyway I've decided that it's okay, that even if I don't believe every doggone word of it (and I don't, but that's a whole 'nother discussion) that I still find meaning in it and personal joy. I also receive personal joy from camping, hiking, and savoring all those small moments that the Creator has blessed us with and just being out there in it.

It was funny because when I went to beliefnet.com and took the test I ended up as 100% compatible with Buddhist! :LOL
I enjoyed telling that to my church friends. :LOL The ones who knew me best just grinned, the others looked puzzled, like they thought I was going to leave and go to the nearest temple and quit coming. They can't get rid of me THAT easily. I need to stay and be as disruptive as possible.
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#3 of 30 Old 04-10-2004, 01:25 PM
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This is totally random - and a fiction book - but read Narcissus and Goldmund - by Herman Hesse. It is a well written book, and touches on some of the issues that you brought up. I really enjoyed it. You might find it has no bearing at all on what you are going through, but I though I would throw that out there!

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#4 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 12:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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dh is thinking about just not saying the creed. He is very bothered by parts of it.

Why does the Christian faith have such a problem emracing the pagan parts of our religion? Why is pagan considered so evil? I know a lot of people are embracing the Jewish customs, so why not the pagan ones?

How would a Christian goddess worship ceremony look?
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#5 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 12:54 AM
 
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In regards to the goddess in the church - I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic school Every year on May 1 (Beltane if your pagan), we did a whole ritual outside crownig Mary "Queen of the May" with garlands of flowers and special songs. It was really quite beautiful and my favorite celebration of the year. I think some sections of the Catholic church have tried to keep Mary as close to a Goddess as they can, without being considered heretical. On a similar note, you may want to check out Mathew Fox's writtings. He was a Catholic priest who was brought under the office of the Inquisition for his teachings. He believes in Original Blessing rather than Original Sin, for example. He has now been accepted as an Episcopal priest. I think he's the closest contemporary to synthesize Christianity and a more Earth based approach to spirituality.
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#6 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 01:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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steph. that is true. I was raised catholic. M mother is a very deout catholic and is a very marian catholic. I am bothered by the eternal virgin status though. I am intrigued by the idea that magdalene was the goddess and the church was so horrified by the idea of Jesus being married(thanks augustine!) that they elevated mary, mother and lowered mary, wife.

Adina, I put the bok on hold at the library. What is it about? Tracymom, my library didnt have the other book.
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#7 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 03:20 AM
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It is about two men - Narcissus and Goldmund - and their very different approaches to G-d and struggles with that. There is some heavy mother/goddess imagery in it, which I loved. I need to go back and read it - it has been years!! I think someone borrowed my copy and never gave it back.

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#8 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 10:54 AM
 
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Before Mary Virgin was elevated by the Catholic Church (as she has a very small role in the gospel narratives actually) the gnostics had a Christian goddess. I am talking 1st and 2nd century CE. Her name is Sophia and she is Jesus' consort. Mary Magdalen is her earthly avatar.

Read about her in The Jesus Myteries and Jesus and the Lost Goddess both by Freke and Gandy.
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#9 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 10:25 PM
 
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Tracymom, my library didnt have the other book
I happened to find it in a used bookstore. I dunno where it came from originally. It's pretty far out of the mainstream.

Basically it boils down to the author believing that Jesus taught reincarnation, and that it's not incompatible with the idea of Jesus as "savior," but in the sense that he came to show us the way to the kingdom. She uses as evidence some of the Nag Hammadi texts, particularly the Gospel of Thomas, which of course contain a great deal of cryptic and mystic sayings attributed to Jesus. She makes a very good case.

I think the thing that made the most impression on me was her contention that the Kingdom is here, always available, and that Jesus as a practicing mystic taught his followers how to enter that sort of trance state where one enters a heavenly place. It's her opinion that once you have attained that state of sort of oneness with God, THAT is the kingdom and you may practice keeping a portion of your mind there all the time, and thus experience the kingdom all around.

I believe the book is unfortunately titled because it covers a whole lot more than just the idea of reincarnation but more Jesus as mystic.

Anyway, that's the 250-word school book report version, and not a very good report at that.....
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#10 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 10:29 PM
 
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dh is thinking about just not saying the creed. He is very bothered by parts of it.
Yeah, I kind of went through that too when I initially found out where and how the creed was created. Artificial is the adjective that I think of.

But as I became more peaceful and at home with my own evolving belief system, it didn't so much matter anymore that I was repeating the creed nearly every week and not believing it. I'm not really sure why. It's somehow only some words and the fact that I'm repeating them with 200 other people at the same time sort of makes them powerful, not in their meaning itself, but in the sort of purposeful oneness that seems to move across the congregation while it's being said. It's hard for me to express it, but it just ceased to bother me. It's like a nonissue at this point. I don't feel like a hypocrite or a liar - it's just like it's no longer important, or at least the words aren't. I can't really explain that. Every time I do, it sounds like a cop-out but it really doesn't feel that way. Sigh. I give up, it's not getting any better....
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#11 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 10:39 PM
 
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Interestingly, I am filling my journal with similar thoughts and conflicts at this point in time...and that is not an easy thing for a pastor to be doing (former pastor really...SAHM now). I have always been very liberal, particularly for a Lutheran pastor, but I find myself going beyond liberal in terms of just plain rejecting certain tenants of what we know as the Christian faith and also embracing certain tenants of other religions. I struggle tremendously with the decidedly Western MALE version of the incarnation in Christianity and am appalled at how evangelism (which is nothing more than cololnialism in a modern context) has taken shape in contemporary Christianity. I am also repulsed by the lack of emphasis on justice and peace issues within the Christian church (which I consider to be the crux of Jesus' ministry). So, for me, it is not so much "CHristianity" that causes my struggles...it is the way Christianity is celebrated and it is all that has been squeezed out of Christianity by the patriarchs of the church.

Finally, how do I reconcile the exclusivity of the Christian church with the heritage of my children, who were born in Haiti, where vodoun, in its very ancient, African form is practiced by 100% of the population (even all those with "Christian" attached to their identities)?

I too wonder how my perfect Christian church would look.

Peace,
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#12 of 30 Old 04-11-2004, 10:56 PM
 
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Originally posted by Nursing Mother
The Jews and Christian's believe in the worship of only one God as made clear in the Scriptures. Paganism believes in many gods and godesses.
That is quite a generalization.
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#13 of 30 Old 04-12-2004, 09:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nursing Mother
(Could put references down, but am short of time).
The basics:

John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Exodus 20:
2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 "You shall have no other gods before me.
4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

both NIV.

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#14 of 30 Old 04-12-2004, 10:32 PM
 
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Originally posted by Nursing Mother


But it is forbidden in the Scriptures to do so. (Could put references down, but am short of time).
Now this would be part of the issue I have with modern day evangelism. It feels like we are being told (in subtext, of course) that we should not be debating/considering/struggling with the issues mentioned in this thread. This does not seem like the place to be offering up the quoted information...(nor the quoted scripture below that post). It is akin (to me) to telling a chubby person that they need to lose weight. The chubby person knows and does not need to be told. It merely fulfills the needs of the person telling the chubby one to lose weight. It is not helpful. I am guessing that the OP knows all about what the Christian church allows and forbids and what scripture says. I certainly do not need reminders of this after 4 years at a Chirsitan university, a 4 year masters degree in divinity, and 3 years serving a call in a parish (I hope that doesn't sound pompous...that is not my point...I am trying to demonstrate that the people posting with these struggles are not new to Christianity and do not need to be evangelized). The OP was asking how a perfectly balanced Christian church would look...one that fits more closely with what she is believing. It is clear to me that her struggles are being thoroughly considered, as are those of all the posters. Perhaps for those who are not struggling with similar issues, another thread or simple silence might be more appropriate. We know we are "chubby". No one needs to tell us.
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#15 of 30 Old 04-13-2004, 12:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you irishgreengables.
I am extremely offended by the idea that conservative christians have exclusive right to the title Christian.
I happen to believe that a lot of the bible is written for purely political reasons and alot of the bible was left out for political reasons.
But, NM, such a big chunk of today's Christianity comes straight from paganism!! So, why do we celebrate as pagans do, and then turn around and scorn them?
IGG, I agree 100% with everything you say!! Hurray up and start your own church so I can attend, ok??
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#16 of 30 Old 04-13-2004, 10:09 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by boysrus

So, if there ever was a perfectly balanced christian church, what did it look like? If the bible is not what Jesus was trying to teach, what was he trying to teach? And how do we live that message today?
No, there never was a perfectly balanced Xtian church. As humans are not perfect. We try to be kind, and we often are. But we are also egotistical and selfish.

Now, we need to have a certain degree of selfishness just to survive. But as "Paul" says in some of his letters, when we seek to be spiritual (pneumatic), not fleshly (sarkic) we are in the Kingdom. Here on earth, here and now. Then we are awake and alive.

When we are in the spirit, we will find the barriers between one human and another dissolve. The barriers between us and our environment, which are illusory, also dissolve and we are complelled try to live in harmony with our environment, not pollute, tread lightly etc.

As far as a more balanced Xtian church, you are on the right track. My path too. Gnosticism. We must embrace the divine feminine to survive as a species. The Cathars tried and were destroyed. Hopefully this time around, the movement can grow unimpeded.

Have you read Starbird as well?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/se...302593-0833559

As far as your question, is the Bible what Jesus was trying to teach...well, you make assumptions. First of all, you assume there was a HJ (historical Jesus). That the Xtian Church was begun with a big bang, Jesus' life and mission. Some scholars see evidence that the Jesus movement was created in fits and starts from pagansim and Judaism (Tanakh midrash) and neo-Platonism, and see scanty evidence for a HJ.

Read Robt Price's new book, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.
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#17 of 30 Old 04-17-2004, 03:59 AM
 
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Perhaps this is not keeping in context of the discussion here, but I have always thought of the the Holy Spirit as the goddess aspect of the one God. In the trinity we have the Father (male), the Holy Spirit (female) and the son (child) also being in earthly/human form.
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#18 of 30 Old 04-17-2004, 08:37 AM
 
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Originally posted by Nursing Mother

True, some of our celebrations symbolism and imagery was taken from Paganism (celebrations and such) Doesn't mean the message of Christianity is the same as Paganism though...... (Remember how many times Jesus said it was all about "heart worship" and not rituals and vain revelry. Christianity and Paganism are like night and day imo.
Verses, please? This is a board for scholarly discussion, not polemics.

Your suggestion that Paganism is nothing but empty ritual and vain revelry is insulting, not to mention false.
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#19 of 30 Old 04-17-2004, 08:16 PM
 
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Originally posted by boysrus
So, if there ever was a perfectly balanced christian church, what did it look like? If the bible is not what Jesus was trying to teach, what was he trying to teach? And how do we live that message today?
IMO - You already answered your question:
Quote:
I find God in the fields, the meadows, the ocean, my sleeping children.
There's your perfect church - in the fields, the meadowns, the ocean, your sleeping children. Why do people look for spiritual guidance in church, anyway? Don't all the wise people of all different faiths throughout the ages tell us to look within for the answers we seek? :
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#20 of 30 Old 04-18-2004, 05:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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because this is something very wonderful and powerful about crporate worship. Throughout the ages, people have always gathered together for worship.

barbara, I have been reading aout this idea, and I like it, but still all Christian churches I have found worship a the male God. Or, they say HE is not male nor female. (??)

Darylll, I am reading starbird right now. I read most of the woman with the alabaster jar(but it had to go back to the library and I had to get back in line for it!) I am reading the one about MM and symbols and numbers right now. I read the one about Feminine worship, but it didnt really give me any new worship ideas.

It seems to me that a goddess worship does not belong in a traditional worship setting. The service should be different and more earthy. There is a gnostic church in Seattle, but the services appear very Catholic in flavor, although they do have eucharist that includes the goddess.

nm, I think that Christianity and Paganism are different only because people have ade them that way. I dont think that was Jesus' intention. The early churches were much more in tune with their "pagan" side.
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#21 of 30 Old 04-19-2004, 12:01 PM
 
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Originally posted by boysrus
nm, I think that Christianity and Paganism are different only because people have ade them that way. I dont think that was Jesus' intention. The early churches were much more in tune with their "pagan" side.
I find this statement interesting, can you elaborate on the thought?

Yes, it does seem that the Christian Church (in the USA anyway) is very adamant that G-d is male, and it seems popular in Christian culture, to be offended by any reference to a feminine side. I'm somewhat baffeled by this, since the Scriptures refer to the maternal nature of G-d so often.
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#22 of 30 Old 04-21-2004, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that early Christians would have be in touch with both god and goddess. In the OT, there are many examples of people (Isrealites and others) worshipping the gods and goddesses and prcticing paganism. I dont think this suddenly went away in the early church.

I honestly believe that statements written in the OT and NT dealing with wh we worship were wrtten because thw writers and readers were being oppressed and needed a "hook" If there were lots of religions around and the one you were practicing was putting you in danger, you might not stick to it, right? So, what if its "god" suenly told you you have to stick with it or else you will perish for eternity? So, I think those kinds of statements come from a place of trying to wield power through fear.

I don't know that I have anything concrete to back up these ideas of early Christians worshipping in a more pagan way, but I just feel it. Plus, all of our rituals can be traced back to paganism, including the resurrection and the eucharist. Therefore, it seems that early christians must have blended them.
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#23 of 30 Old 04-21-2004, 10:56 AM
 
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Originally posted by boysrus

It seems to me that a goddess worship does not belong in a traditional worship setting. The service should be different and more earthy. There is a gnostic church in Seattle, but the services appear very Catholic in flavor, although they do have eucharist that includes the goddess.
I agree (altho I would love to go to a gnostic church out of curiosity). While my dh goes to his UU church every week, I myself am not comfortable with "square worship," ie: a square/rectangular room with pastor and altar up front. I prefer circle worship, ie: a few people sitting in a circle with altar and/or fire in the middle. There may be a leader of the ritual but s/he is not "special", ie: somehow closer to god/dess, than the rest.

I do not seek/create even this often tho, and find just being out in nature to be spiritual, without any traditional ritual.

Asherah of Canaan was worshiped in groves and on hills and the Jerusalem elite found this to be wrong.

The Temple was seen by the priestly caste (who passed down and wrote down the "P" parts of the Tanakh) as the "only" proper place to worship YHWH. Israel, the northern kingdom, being far from Judah/Jerusalem, and from the Temple, was therefore more "pagan" than the south. In fact, Galilee, where Jesus is supposed to be from, was called disparagingly, Galilee of the Gentiles back then.

Quote:
I think that Christianity and Paganism are different only because people have made them that way. I dont think that was Jesus' intention. The early churches were much more in tune with their "pagan" side. [/B]
This is a bit of a generlization. There were many different proto-Xtian sects back in 1st and 2nd centuries CE, and some were more Jewish, some more neo-Platonic/Hellenistic. Some were apocalyptic, some were schools of philosophy. Some recognized a goddess named Sophia (Marys 1 and 2 as her avatars), some focused on God's Son, the Christ. Some had free love, some were chaste. Some ate meat, some were veg. Some believed you had to be Jewish and follow the Law including circumcision, some did not. Some thought you had to sell everything and become a begging apostle, some had homes and families and incomes. Etc.
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#24 of 30 Old 04-21-2004, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, Daryll you are right. I should have used the word *some*!!
I do intend to go visit that church at some time and I will report back to ya
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#25 of 30 Old 04-21-2004, 01:10 PM
 
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The sanctuary at my UU church is round.
And there's an altar in the middle with a lit chalice.
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#26 of 30 Old 04-21-2004, 01:25 PM
 
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Asherah, that is the coolest. I understand all the Templar churches were/are round (with maybe a couch in the middle for the heiros gamos.) Do you also have comfy chairs instead of hard straight backed pews?

What about a choir and organ/keyboard/other instruments? Do you have them? Where do they fit in?

boysrus, I hope you do go to the gnostic church and tell us about it.

I would like to amend a prev statement of mine:

Quote:
The Temple was seen by the priestly caste (who passed down and wrote down the "P" parts of the Tanakh) as the "only" proper place to worship YHWH. Israel, the northern kingdom, being far from Judah/Jerusalem, and from the Temple, was therefore more "pagan" than the south.
I know there were synagogues in the north kingdom and the diaspora, but do not know when they first began, nor do I know what kind of worship would have been practiced. (dado, where are you? ) Reading from Torah, but of course, no sacrificing. So what counted as "worship" and how would it have been carried out, outside of the Temple and after its destruction? Reading from Torah, a "sermon," prayers? Building of altars was prohibited, I think I have read.
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#27 of 30 Old 04-22-2004, 12:37 AM
 
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Darylll, FWIW, the chairs at our UU church are cushioned, and are rearranged as needed for whatever the service will be. Most of the time they're in rows, but not always. They have to be set up every week after the Saturday evening T'ai Chi class. No doubt the Sunday night drumming sessions result in severe rearrangements too.

The piano sits in a front corner. Choir, if they're doing a song, walk up to the front, then go sit down wherever afterwards.

This church started as a fundie type church, then was attempted to used as a daycare center, and then bought by our congregation when the licensing and permits failed... Quite a turn around for the building, eh?

"What will you do once you know?"
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#28 of 30 Old 04-22-2004, 04:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by asherah
The sanctuary at my UU church is round.
And there's an altar in the middle with a lit chalice.
That sounds so cool. Our Non-denominational Christian church is also built in the round with beautiful stained-glass windows in the roof. (It is late 60's early 70's architecture) Anyway we do have pews but they are padded and circle the brick alter. We often dance barefood around the alter and the musicians are over to the side. The accoustics are not the best with the brick floor and walls, but the sense of the devine can sometimes be amazing.

It is very much not a traditional setting, and newcomers are often put off on thier first visit, but those that are curious return, and often comment on the sincerity of the worshipers. The people that make up the Church represent a wide range of beliefs from fairly traditional christianity to a more earthy, intuitive, style. It is often a challenge to worship along side (or in circle with) one another, but our love of God and his creation bridges the differences. (sorry, I think I got off topic.)
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I don't know that I have anything concrete to back up these ideas of early Christians worshipping in a more pagan way, but I just feel it. Plus, all of our rituals can be traced back to paganism, including the resurrection and the eucharist. Therefore, it seems that early christians must have blended them.
Thanks for elaborating on that boysrus, I have felt (or thought) that also, yet I don't really have enough scholarly backround to back up my 'feeling'. I do feel ,that like our Christmas and Easter celebrations, most of Christian ritual can be traced back to pagan roots. I'm sure to get flamed for this, and I mean no disrespect to modern day Pagans, but IMHO, Christianity (or Christ worship) seems to be a natural evolution of ancient Paganism. Some of the ways that is manifest in modern Christian churches, however, has without a doubt, strayed a bit too far from the example of the early churches.
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#29 of 30 Old 04-22-2004, 05:57 PM
 
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I'm sure to get flamed for this, and I mean no disrespect to modern day Pagans, but IMHO, Christianity (or Christ worship) seems to be a natural evolution of ancient Paganism.
You might find Gus DeZereaga's book Pagans & Christians interesting. In one section I remember his mentioning that certain things assumed to have been invented by Christianity were starting to happen in the Paganism of the time too: things like charitable places that took care of the poor and sick...

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Some of the ways that is manifest in modern Christian churches, however, has without a doubt, strayed a bit too far from the example of the early churches.
Amen! can I say that?

"What will you do once you know?"
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#30 of 30 Old 04-22-2004, 08:46 PM
 
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Originally posted by Meiri
Amen! can I say that?
Absolutely!

I'll check out that book. I did read parts of either that book or a similarly titled one that my dd had gotten from the library about a year ago. It was extreamly interesting!
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