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Old 10-18-2005, 05:36 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Lost Faith

I did some searches and didn't really find a thread on this subject but if I missed it let me know.

I feel like I've lost my faith. Mostly. I still believe there is a God and believe that the way to heaven is faith in Christ's payment on the cross for our sins (as detailed in the 10 commandments and nothing more). Beyond that I have no idea where I stand. I have little trust in God for anything above and beyond that.

Where I'm coming from:

I was raised strict Baptist. One church which my parents attended while I was a pre-teen and teen required that the women ALWAYS wear dresses and that they wear a headcovering during church. You can guess the rest of the rules. My parents aren't quite that strict anymore but movie theaters, dancing, drinking, or sex outside of marriage are all strictly taboo. I don't agree with them in any of those areas. I do believe that we should exercise moderation in all things but that is only common sense mostly.

Hubby had a severe head injury about 4 years ago. He was comatose for a few days and sedated for even longer. I nearly lost him. Post injury and when we came home we really found out who the 'real' Christians were and the 'real' friends. The two groups together could be counted on one hand. We had previously been members of a very large church and knew most of the members as hubby had grown up in that church. but unfortunately almost none of them noticed our absence. We struggled with the reasons we were put through the trial and even more with the reasons that our 'brethren' had forsaken us. The recovery period was long and difficult on each of us and on our marriage. We nearly got a divorce, hubby was out of work for 6 months, and our finances suffered. We felt neglected by God and by those of our religion.

I am at the point now that I want to believe in something. I know I could not be agnostic or atheist. For one, faith in a superior being is too ingrained in me. I've considered the idea and concluded that without a faith in a superior being I would find everything in life more empty. In fact, what would be the purpose of life beyond the pursuit of pleasure? But that is another thread of it's own.

What I'm looking for in this thread is: Have you struggled with your faith? What made you settled? How to demostrate that faith without following the blind sheep in a church? and one question that I think I will deal with for a long time - How could our friends and church family and most of all God, thurn their backs on us in such a way? It was too painful to want to put ourselves in a position to be hurt like that again. I'm almost afraid to go back to church for fear they will hook me with their flowery words and then next time a trial comes they will abandon me again.

I guess I should add that since hubby's injury I have rarely if ever prayed. I have rarely gone to church. I have worked hard. Through our own efforts we have managed to get our finances cleared up, our marriage back on track, and are more independant than ever we were while I did have more faith. It seems like faith in God to help us disables me. I don't attempt as much when I expect his assistance. I know that is a state of mind and can go along with faith but also it seems like I can accomplish more without God in my life than with.
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Last edited by raeanna74; 10-18-2005 at 05:41 AM..
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Old 10-18-2005, 08:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reanna74
...What I'm looking for in this thread is: Have you struggled with your faith? What made you settled? How to demostrate that faith without following the blind sheep in a church? and one question that I think I will deal with for a long time - How could our friends and church family and most of all God, thurn their backs on us in such a way? It was too painful to want to put ourselves in a position to be hurt like that again. I'm almost afraid to go back to church for fear they will hook me with their flowery words and then next time a trial comes they will abandon me again...

Reanna,

I've been in the exact position you've described a couple of times. A couple of times I've been out and out pissed at God. What has helped me personally, is remembering that other Christians who I would consider "good" and even Jesus Himself have been in this position. In His Passion especially, He experienced what I've heard called the "midnight of the soul", i.e., that dark place where you feel abandoned by all, including God: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me??"

I have also experienced "good weather" Christians who seemingly evaporate when times get rough. Again, I look to Jesus, in this case, the example of His followers forsaking Him at His hour of need, especially Peter.

You say that you could count the people who supported you on "one hand", well focus on that hand. Even as Abraham bargained God down to not destroying Sodom for 10 good people, don't condemn all Christians because of those that fail. But also know that it is inevitable that you will run into those that cry "Lord, Lord" who are not what they say they are even as there are those who are true Christians without the proclimations. In those cases, you will "know them by their fruits".

In the end, it is you who has to find your answer in this hard time, but please know that there are people who care and that God will not truly abandon you.

God Bless,

-lebell
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Old 10-18-2005, 08:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Lebell's cite of forsakeness is a good one, and since you (raeaenna) were raised a strict Baptist, you probably know about Job. Think of it this way, if you had two assistants, one was okay. Gave a good day's work. The other excelled far beyond your wildest dreams. You had to leave our business to one but you want to make absolutely sure they can handle it, who would you test?

I think it's the venue of faith that those who really want to believe will be tested. A big haired hymnbot will not. It's the essence of faith to be tested. If you haven't thought about abandoning your faith, then you really don't have faith. Here's a short list of those who felt they had been abandoned by God: Adam; Eve; Cain; Abram; Job; Moses; JESUS.

"Rock" solid faith is an oxymoron.

As for your church family, the best parable I can relate to that situation is the one that people commonly misconceive is about money. Trying to trip Jesus up, a pharisee asked him about the new Roman law of paying taxes. Jesus asked to see a coin, gave it back, and asked whose image was on the coin. The pharisee of course said it was the Cesear. You probably know the rest. Give to Cesear what belongs to Cesear. What isn't understood about that is that the answer the pharisee should have given about the image was that it was God's image, made man. They couldn't differentiate between their purse and their heart.

The lesson from that is to give the petty things and people in life their petty due. Give your financial burdens their just due (as you have, congrats!), Give your career the importance a career needs. Give your family the rewards you harvest from it, and give those things that you believe are the best, most loved things in life, your heart and soul.

You've been through quite a test, and you've battled back. It's really impressive. I think you'll find your faith much stronger when you figure out how you want to practice it.
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Old 10-18-2005, 09:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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One other thing that complicates my thoughts is that I THOUGHT I had been tested. I HAD questioned my faith. I completely abandoned it when I left my first boyfriend who was abusive. How could someone I have loved like that harm me? How could God let that happen? were some of my questions then. I turned and studied Satanism - I couldn't abandon the view there there was a God and a Satan but I did not want to trust God because I'd felt betrayed. I eventually found that that path brought me no happiness. I came back from that and worked as a missionary full time in my town for a time. Threw myself into church. I was happy and fulfilled.

So I've tried throwing myself back into church and it's like swimming against a tide of negative emotions about it. I can't find that joy or any right now.

I thought I'd been tested - so why test me again. So many people said to us "This is for good." "God will draw you closer." etc. But even when I try to be/feel closer I just feel fake and angry.

Guess you can see I'm pretty confused.

Thanks for the comments so far. They are helping me think. I I had never thought about the coin in that way. Thanks
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Old 10-18-2005, 09:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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How I see it is like so, God will "test" you...regardless of if you believe He is or not. Many people cannot seem to believe in a higher power until they have been broken and feel they have nothing. Others claim to always believe. God is not understandable. He can't be. If we could understand God, we could deconstruct God. We could essentially create God.
I do not believe a human could ever understand the movement of God, whether it seems 'bad' or 'good' in a earthly sense.

That all sounds Christianese like, which I don't agree with so lets move on. I understand what you mean by doubt. A short while back, I was at my church, which I love by the way, and was looking around. I became appalled. It appeared to me that no one was genuine, they were all following the pastor. He raised his hands, so did they, he clapped, they followed. My thoughts were that they were just there to impress the pastor. "Do they understand the meaning of the song they are singing?" "Do they even see the relevance of the pastor's message in their life?" "Or are they just content to say 'hallelujah' to whatever the guy says?"

This got me to thinking and that is the point of what I mean to get at. It got ME to THINKING. Just as you are right now. Things don't seem to fit for you now, so you can't just look at doctrine and say "OK, sounds good to me". There is a need to know why, to understand.

While I still hold to God not being able to be understood, I believe by seeking further knowledge we can only strengthen any belief system. If the things you have believed for years are indeed true, thinking on them and asking questions will only prove to strengthen that belief. If what you believe is not true, you will begin to see problems, your faith will be further shaken. Either way this is good. Your beliefs are now based on a greater foundation of knowledge.

For background, I am a Christian and have never felt stronger in my beliefs than I currently do. I am not willing to take passages of scripture and quote them to sound religious, I really desire to know more about God. About Jesus. About that which I claim to base my life on.

I am sorry you have had bad experiences with your church. But now you know that those people are not always perfect. They all have flaws, and truthfully many of them may be living a lie, fulfilling the stereoptype of a 'Sunday Christian' , professing love, showing none.

I encourage you to explore churches. Find one you seem to like and go. But don't just go, get involved. Get to know the people on a intimate level, find out if they are true, if their beliefs are in line with what you believe/know to be true.
Churches should serve to bind other believers together in celebrating whom they worship, they should not define a person's faith.

I don't know if this is making sense. Just know you are not alone.
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Old 10-18-2005, 09:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raeanna74
So I've tried throwing myself back into church and it's like swimming against a tide of negative emotions about it. I can't find that joy or any right now.

I thought I'd been tested - so why test me again. So many people said to us "This is for good." "God will draw you closer." etc. But even when I try to be/feel closer I just feel fake and angry.

Guess you can see I'm pretty confused.
I think what people miss in those instances is that there is no simple one true test and then things are ray of sunshine and happiness. A test isn't constructed to make somebody happy when they pass, it's to demonstrate aptitude and assure that you have the tools for even bigger challenges.

This is just my personal opinion, I think you need to find another way to worship. Maybe not even go to church, nor feel guilty for it, for the meanwhile. I did this during my darkest time about ten years ago. What I did instead was pack a picnic every Sunday and go to a solitary beach on a lake, and just sit there and think about things. I eventually started going back to a traditional service and went through Stephen Ministry training to better understand my own faith issues.
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Old 10-18-2005, 10:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Sometimes it feels like the only things I've really gained in life are those that I've had to fight against God's tests to gain. Yes he tested Job but he rewarded him later, ON earth. I've been tested, returned, worked for him and been rewarded only with more hardship. It doesn't seem like the pattern supposedly shown in scripture. Where's the relief?
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Old 10-18-2005, 11:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If you compare to Job, the absolute agony of losing everything and being stricken with disease, the comparison ends.

You know, the crux of the agreement is to not expect ANYTHING. What a deal. We have to have faith that Heaven and the afterlife will be such a reward that it will all be worth it. That's some real faith there.

Job is held up as an example of one who was rewarded terra firma.

Paul didn't have many good days. He started writing to Timothy to get him up to speed before he was put to death. He supposedly received his reward in Heaven.

It's hard for those of us leading regular lives with all these new fangled things like mortgages, Visa, etc. to identify with these two guys. The fact is, faith should be helpful in your life, not hurtful. If you find being a Christian is hurtful to you, re-examine your beliefs, and by all means, look at other ways to worship. I've lived in the bible belt most of my life and know how "church families" can be preventative to healthy faith. They are as dysfunctional as any family. Like how Job and Paul used faith, it's supposed to help you deal.

When Paul knew he was going to basically live a life in prison and then be killed, he told Timothy to tell the church to avoid timidity, live with spirit, power, and love. There was nothing there about being straight laced, wearing a conforming tie, and driving a sedan. I think it's a good rule whether you're Christian, Hindi, Muslim, or atheist.
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Old 10-18-2005, 12:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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In my personal experience, faith is not the best avenue to religious knowledge: I find it excessively normative. It seems like a tool by which you are able to bypass your rational faculties in order to adopt a belief you aren't sure is true.

What I recommend is a rational inquiry into what the appropriate foundation for knowledge of God is. I have found the best starting point to be David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Essentially, Hume presents a skeptical approach to natural religion, a dogmatic (faith-based) approach, and [another that currently escapes me]. The conclusions he reaches about natural religion are quite profound.

Once you have made the discovery of proper natural religion through rational inquiry, you will be in a far better position to discriptively analize revealed religion. The end result will either be:

1. You end up (re)gaining confidence in your previous set of beliefs, but are far happier because you have tested the solidity of the foundation upon which your beliefs rest.

2. You discover that a different sect or religious preference better aligns with your naturalized account and you will be happy with your newfound understanding of God.
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Old 10-18-2005, 02:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by politicophile
...What I recommend is a rational inquiry into what the appropriate foundation for knowledge of God is. I have found the best starting point to be David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. Essentially, Hume presents a skeptical approach to natural religion, a dogmatic (faith-based) approach, and [another that currently escapes me]. The conclusions he reaches about natural religion are quite profound...
Yeah, wow. That will take me a while to read. I've not read stuff like that in a while and I rarely get time to read ONE single magazine page let alone a single page of stuff like that. I got it to read though.

To jump start me do you mind at least giving a definition of what you consider Natural Religion?? The term for me conjures up images of nature worship and such. I'm guessing it's more than that though. Thanks
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Old 10-18-2005, 03:05 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by Poppinjay
If you find being a Christian is hurtful to you, re-examine your beliefs, and by all means, look at other ways to worship. -snip- Like how Job and Paul used faith, it's supposed to help you deal.
Poppinjay makes an excellent point. Raeanna, why do you feel you *have* to go back to church? I hope it is not out of guilt. I threw myself into the church for 10 very formative years of my life and invested heavily in terms of time, money, and my own identity (most costly)... in the end, Christianity was not helpful to me, nor were the majority of its followers. I didn't give up on it entirely, but I stopped going to church and haven't really looked back since.

I feel the same way you do, Raeanna, that I have actually grown and matured more in my post-Christian years (without God, as you say, though I don't see it that way) than I ever did during those 10 years in the church. If that is how you sincerely feel, then why not trust that feeling? I know most evangelicals would writhe over that question... that you would trust yourself instead of God... but gimme a break. If your own mind isn't at peace with the practice of your beliefs, then those beliefs are just a cause for anxiety instead of an aid for peace in your life.

By the way, on your comment about the meaning of life... do you see things as believing in God vs. living a totally hedonistic (pleasure-seeking) life?... I think that in casting your alternative-to-faith as being something inherently flawed/sinful/"pleasure-obsessed," you are not allowing yourself to really seek out your own meaning. You are still thinking within the strict Baptist mold of good vs. bad. As someone who was stuck in that dichotomy (two opposites) for a very long time, and watched as it degraded my quality of life and intelligence, I encourage you to seek out what it means to live a life outside the church, and yet not indulging in every temptation to pleasure that comes along. I believe there is a middle ground... there are many middle grounds! Check out secular humanism on the web (or even Christian humanism, if you want), as a starter.

P.S. It sounds as if you have lost faith in Christians, rather than in God himself... be careful not to associate the character of God with the character of the people you had the bad luck to encounter... that's just my take. Don't lose sight of a good thing (God, spirituality, etc) just because human beings are screwed up.
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Last edited by abaya; 10-18-2005 at 03:09 PM..
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Old 10-18-2005, 03:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I suppose I should add that my mother is still a big part of my life. It is difficult to get away from that. In fact hubby's parents as well as my own are both very religious and want us to be as well. My parents more than his are constantly asking me/us to go to church and I either have to give a reason why not or say that maybe I will. I know supposedly I should be able to just say that I'm not and I have no reason other than I don't want to but my mother begins to preach to me about 'forsaking the assembling or ourselves together', and 'what kind of example am I to my daughter', 'do I want her to grow up godless?' (on this point I want her to choose for herself not be brainwashed and I have no idea how to do this), and so on. Because I was indoctrinated for 27 years (including earning a minor in Bible from college) it is difficult to see past the programming to the truth for myself. That's a LOT of programming to sift through. I appreciate the questions and comments so much. It is helping a tiny bit.

You are right. I have lost faith in Christians, not entirely in God. I have questioned the definition of God that I've been taught. This omnipotent, fearsome judge of evil, and protector of good isn't exactly that. I was by the definitions given - good - since my only job was working in the ministry at the time this happened, yet this 'protector' allowed me to be judged. I know it's not that entirely but during the trial I was told by more than one person that perhaps this was judgement because I was not walking with God daily. I know it was absurd for them to say and yet I question if it was the truth. When I can't reconcile the too I just feel angry at all involved. I can't leave things as they are though. I have to weed through this. Thanks for hearing me out and helping.
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Old 10-18-2005, 03:54 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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I know supposedly I should be able to just say that I'm not and I have no reason other than I don't want to
Raeanna, I say this with all due respect: if you cannot stand up to your mother and, with hubby, stand behind your own personal conviction... then your mother has wayyyyy too much power over you. You are a very capable, thinking, grown-up adult and you have no reason (I think?) to fear your mother. If she doesn't respect your own decisions, then it's your job to assert yourself to her and make her see that you are indeed an adult. If she still doesn't see who you are, then I highly recommend walking away from her for a while so that you can regain confidence in your own convictions. If she gets so pissed off that she won't even talk to you after that (is that what you are afraid of?... very few parents actually follow through on that), then what kind of mother is she, really? Where is the unconditional love that she, as a Chrisitan, is supposed to have? (sorry if this sounds harsh, but I have a controlling and insecure mother, and I have been dealing with her since I was about 5 years old, and this is the only way I see it can be done.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raeanna74
during the trial I was told by more than one person that perhaps this was judgement because I was not walking with God daily. I know it was absurd for them to say and yet I question if it was the truth.
Raeanna, you said it yourself, but I'll say it even louder: THAT IS BULLSHIT. Trust yourself... you said you knew it was absurd. What made you question it? I know the programming gets so deep under your skin (believe me, I do)... but damn girl, that is just crazy talk. That was the most unchristian thing I've ever heard.

Trust yourself!! You've got a better head on your shoulders than any of those people. Seriously.
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Old 10-18-2005, 06:05 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Your doubts are well founded. There is no God, no heaven or hell. Jesus wasn't a savior. Those purporting to be Christian have long ago (1700 years) disregarded all of his basic teachings. 50 years after your death, no one will have the slightest memory of you. We'd all be a lot better off living our lives like the finite quantities they are instead of preparing for some farcical afterlife. Your problems with your husbands church congregation have nothing to do the existance of a higher power, or even the belief in a god-boogeyman you may have once shared with them. Humans for the most part are selfish uncaring creatures. We've developed a sophisticated system of protections and laws regarding only the basic relationships we're expected to uphold: parent-child, marriage partners, etc. Beyond that you can expect everyone to let you down. Trust your doubts, grow from them, experience life fully.
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Old 10-18-2005, 06:34 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by raeanna74
Yeah, wow. That will take me a while to read. I've not read stuff like that in a while and I rarely get time to read ONE single magazine page let alone a single page of stuff like that. I got it to read though.

To jump start me do you mind at least giving a definition of what you consider Natural Religion?? The term for me conjures up images of nature worship and such. I'm guessing it's more than that though. Thanks
Hume is moderately difficult to read. The Dialogues can probably be read in a weekend, though, if you don't have a lot else to do.

By natural religion, I mean religion that we are able to infer from the way things are in nature, without appeal to any sort of "revealed" text. Hence, the contrast between "natural" and "revealed" religion. I personally think it's important to look at the actual world before looking to a book for insights about that world: the words of the book must correspond to reality, not the other way around.

I hope the conclusion to your inquiry, whatever it may be, is as satisfying as my conclusion.
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Old 10-19-2005, 09:22 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by politicophile
... if you don't have a lot else to do...
I never get a weekend to myself. I rarely get more than a half hour to myself so I don't doubt it will take me a while. I read one page worth before bed last night. I will just have to wittle away at it slowly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by politicophile
...By natural religion, I mean religion that we are able to infer from the way things are in nature, without appeal to any sort of "revealed" text. Hence, the contrast between "natural" and "revealed" religion. I personally think it's important to look at the actual world before looking to a book for insights about that world: the words of the book must correspond to reality, not the other way around...
This makes a lot of sense to me. I need to learn more about it.

As for my mother having too much control - I know it's the case. I've gotten better and Dei37 would agree that things are better. I still have trouble telling her no without feeling like I have to have at least some kind of reason beyond not wanting to do something. I don't want to cut things off from her because I get along with her pretty well in all other areas. Religion is a big part of her life and it's not easy for her to see that it's not as important to me.
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Old 10-19-2005, 10:06 AM   #17 (permalink)
 
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I don't want to cut things off from her because I get along with her pretty well in all other areas. Religion is a big part of her life and it's not easy for her to see that it's not as important to me.
Raeanna, I understand so well... with my mom it's quite ironic because she converted as a result of me doing so before her, and now she puts pressure on me because I'm a bad example to her!... very weird. Anyway, I know I was ranting a bit in my previous post, but I know that saying no to one's parents is just really damn hard. They mean well, but unless they're very compassionate and perceptive, those good intentions don't do much for helping you feel more loved and accepted.

Anyway, I also wanted to say that I love your new signature. It's a beautiful statement of something that I, too, believe very deeply.
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Old 10-19-2005, 11:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Well, these are my thoughts on the matter, take them or leave them...

Personally, I am a spritiualist. I believe in a higher power, but I refuse to associate with any organized religion, Christian or otherwise, because they all impose something upon me. I don't believe that spirituality should include impositions. Whether it be how you dress, with whom you make love, or when you die, even by your own choice... those are YOUR choices to make, and if there are consequences, they will be yours to face.

I grew up with Baptist parents and an Orthodox family on one side. Neither suited me well, even as a child. The papacy and Catholicism is too self-contradictory. This is not a flame, it's a truth. Friends who practiced other religions would talk about church and such and it just gave me the willies. I don't want a man to tell me how to talk to my god, what prayers to say, when to say them, what days I should say them more often. It's crap, in my book. Just like a physical church. If god is everywhere, which I believe as I think the diety(ies) are omnipotent, then the world is it's church. I think going out into the woods or out on the lake and talking to god, even silently, is multitudes more powerful than sitting in (or falling asleep in) church, sitting on a rock hard pew, listening to someone judge you and or tell you what is right or wrong.

Also note that I don't believe in "tests" from god. God is not there to test you. God has other things, I'm sure, to do. Misfortune is just that... misfortune. Bad things have happened to people LONG before Christ. Long before Judaism. Long before "The Word" existed. You don't think prehistoric ancestors had sickness? Got eaten by wolves? Had stillborn babies? What terrible thing do you think happens now as a result of sin that didn't happen 50,000 years ago? Or does your god simply forsake all of those that existed before the word? What about aboriginals? They don't know about Christ... or god the way Jews and Christians (or any other religion, per se) do. Are they damned? If life is sacred, how can a child be damned for being born to the wrong parents in the wrong culture? None of it makes sense. The doctrine of organized religion is set down to bring law and order to humans, who are naturally chaotic. That's it. End of story. I don't discount the existance of god... I discount mankinds belief that we can understand him. That he authored a book through the hands of mortals. Or that he or she comforts or forsakes people at random. We can't ALL have it right... but we can ALL have it wrong. Think about it...
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Old 10-19-2005, 03:04 PM   #19 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by xepherys
Also note that I don't believe in "tests" from god. God is not there to test you. God has other things, I'm sure, to do. Misfortune is just that... misfortune. -snip- I don't discount the existance of god... I discount mankinds belief that we can understand him.
Xepherys, you have summarized much of what I myself have come to believe... nice way of putting things. I struggled for a long time with the idea that accidents were really just accidents, that there was no meaning behind them; but then I realized that if I really went around attaching some kind of meaning to everything, then I would start to believe that some people deserved bad things to happen to them, while others did not, etc etc. If God exists and allows things to be anything other than random, I don't see how he could be a just God. And my God, if I am to believe in him, must be fair above all else. I do think that there is meaning in suffering, that there are choices one can make in response to pain, but there is not something divine behind them. I think that life is what we make of it, and that the pursuit of God/spirituality is very important and healthy overall, but that one must have the freedom to pursue those things in whichever way one would like.
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Old 10-19-2005, 08:28 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I struggled with religion after years of devout Catholicism, questioning everything, and come to my conclusions. I was first struck by the passage in my CCD book stating that "homosexuals disobey God's law and should be shunned and avoided for their sinful lifestyle." This wasn't the love that I'd been told flowed through us in the form of the Holy Spirit. I struggled with individual beliefs and found myself picking at the core of the religion itself, the assertion that God is good, he created us in his image, and he gave us free will.

A paradox I cite frequently in discussions on religion is that an all-powerful being who gives us free will and threatens us with eternal punishment if we don't use it right is exhibiting sadism, a very human characteristic. Combined with the way I see religious figures manipulating the masses, I am left with the conclusion that if an all-powerful being did create us in his image and gave us conditional free will, then this being is not Good. Anyone who would abuse divine powers like that as flawed as the rest of us. So the choices I have based on that are that either man created God in his image, or that God does exist and is one hell of a prick. Unwilling to accept an evil deity, I allowed the uncertainty to simmer in my mind for years. Finally, one day, someone asked me why I go to church, and if I have a reason for believing in religion, and I couldn't find an answer.

Left with a false God created in the image of man, I was left with other possibilities. There could be a "blind watchmaker" deity who wound up the universe and let it go, not interfering, and who would not demand worship and tribute, and would certainly not expect anyone to organize masses of people in his name. The other option, which I leave open as an equally plausible theory, is that there is no God, there is nothing out there, and everything came about on its own. These two theories seem equally plausible to me, and I see no reason to pick one or the other.

Since abandoning my faith I have, however, come up with a reason for going to church. MY mom needs someone there with her (she gets upset and starts crying at times since my father died,) and the University chapel uses whiskey instead of wine.
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Old 10-20-2005, 06:55 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raeanna74
What I'm looking for in this thread is: Have you struggled with your faith? What made you settled? How to demostrate that faith without following the blind sheep in a church? and one question that I think I will deal with for a long time - How could our friends and church family and most of all God, thurn their backs on us in such a way?
Sure, I struggle all the time. Some days I'm aggravated by what I see as naive irrationality, obedience through fear, and an unreliable crutch. Other days I get a strong sense that there's an entity beyond the veil who actually has a plan, although its plan may not be beneficial to me, individually.

In the long run, I choose to (attempt to) lead an ethical, forthright life, rather than put myself at the mercy of a god who may not be interested in my personal growth. A little scarier -- but a lot more liberating, for me.
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Old 10-20-2005, 07:09 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Intresting how both sides can be preachy.

Last edited by Mantus; 10-20-2005 at 07:14 PM..
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Old 10-20-2005, 08:26 PM   #23 (permalink)
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While I myself am an atheist I did not come to this conclusion lightly.

On my way I had a realization though. God must either not care about human suffering or must be a real asshole. Totally random acts leading to great suffering was just to hard to swallow as 'Gods grand plan'.

My conclusion was that seeing God as an asshole was pointless, as one would have to be amazingly petty to be both omnipotent and doing little acts of cruelty on purpose. That lead to me to believe that if there was a god, he just didn't CARE about human suffering, it didn't matter to him, and as such he could be ignored.

Finally I surmised that if god did in fact exist, he would have to be a real asshole for condemning one to hell for eternity for not believing in him when he has given us the brains to question him (and he doesn't bother to show up now and then) and since the concept of God the Asshole just doesn't seem to fit, I will assume I am safe in my choice right or wrong.

I do hope I'm wrong, oblivion does not seem inviting.

So to me suffering is not part of Gods plan, or being forsaken by God, but do to our own poor choices, bad luck (not that I believe in luck, just events with so many variables that the outcome is random for all intents), and the actions of others.
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Old 10-20-2005, 09:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ustwo
So to me suffering is not part of Gods plan, or being forsaken by God, but do to our own poor choices, bad luck (not that I believe in luck, just events with so many variables that the outcome is random for all intents), and the actions of others.
Ustwo, I am going to have to agree with you for once, man!! Really though, well put. I can't believe in an asshole God, either, though I haven't given up on the idea of a greater spirituality/"oversoul" (thank you, transcendentalists... Thoreau).

Which is why I really liked Johnny's quote...
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyRotten
entity beyond the veil
I haven't heard anyone use this language other than myself and a few old hymn-writers, so I was very grateful to see someone with a similar outlook. There is something for everyone, beyond the veil...
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Old 10-21-2005, 03:50 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Thanks for all the comments. This is giving me lots of food for thought. I think my greatest obstacle at the moment is deconstructing my former image of God and reconstructing it again based on new information. After LIVING, for about 31 years, the belief in the image of a controlling, judging, God: I need to relearn thing whole concept. Not everything I knew before will I be throwing out but there is a good bit that does not fit into life as I know it. It's gonna be a lifelong struggle. Here at TFP I have been challenged to consider what I believe and why, not just ignoring the struggle. Thanks
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