Posted by: Marie | November 9, 2010

(440) Reader Input: Source of your faith

Post #440

Solicitation for Reader Input

This week, I happen to run across an older post titled, “Groomed to Doubt through Spiritual Abuse“, in the Emerging from Broken blog. I commented on the post shortly after it was published, but I had not been aware of the multitude of comments that followed mine. When I stumbled across this post this week, it was with great interest I read the entire collection of comments.

Within the comments, I found a number of stories of how individuals had found and developed their own faith. Since this is something I am currently working on, I paid special attention to these stories.

And, I am interested in hearing about how you developed your own faith (or religion or lack of religion or spirituality or dogma) . . . .

Were you taught a specific faith as a child? Do you still embrace the same faith? If not, how did it change?

What steps did you go through to determine and define your faith? Did you attend church? Read books? Talk to friends?

Do you often talk about your faith with others? When you do, what is your purpose for doing so? Are you trying to convince others they need to see things the same way you do? Are you trying to offer another possibility while staying detached from the outcome? Are you trying to confirm and validate what you believe by bouncing it off of others?

If your faith is unique to you (meaning there is not a church or group of people who share the same belief system), do you have opportunity to fellowship with others in a spiritual manner? Do you ever feel judged because your faith is different than that of people with whom you fellowship?

I really want to hear your thoughts!! Please send me your comments!


Responses

  1. I was brought up in an evangelical/fundamentalist church. (Eg. Politics is of the devil unless it’s conservative politics.)

    A broader Christian tradition still works for me. (I suspect a good few of those I grew up with wouldn’t consider me a Christian anymore). It changed through my paying attention to the scriptures of my tradition and being honest about my experience and the tradition. (My experience didn’t always match the teaching and the tradition was far broader than the teaching.) The biggest change was realising that Christianity (an incarnational faith) didn’t have an equivalent to yoga – a physical spirituality. This was greeted with suspicion rather than rejection – it was too far off the map.

    I was fairly busy in church stuff and read serious theology. The relationships we had in youth group were pretty – though they had all the usual problems of young people’s relationships.

    These days I don’t talk about my faith much. Sometimes because it is important to me people need to know about it. I’m not really interested in defending the abuse of power by the various church institutions – and advocating for the charity work the churches do isn’t welcomed. I do find that I sometimes engage about spirituality – because I don’t think we can deal with much deep change without engaging with values. I do find it nourishing to engage with others on what is most important to them. Sometimes there is a sense of spirit/magic happening. I don’t think that god is scared of anything we know (or don’t know) about – this is my problem with the fundamentalists; they seem to think that god can’t cope.

    I have some friends that I talk with about spirituality. Most are in the Christian tradition more or less, some aren’t. We’re pretty non-judgemental but we don’t mind arguing about particular subjects.

    You or others are welcome to ask if you would like to know more.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I appreciate the insight into your personal journey . . . I like how you have been influenced by outside forces but have also put much thought into what your version of spirituality looks like.

      One thing I’m curious about . . . what reason(s) would most Christians have for not thinking you are a Christian? What would you have to do differently in order to meet their standard?

      – Marie

  2. First off, interesting topic Marie. It will be neat to see the responses from regular readers (like Evan).

    I was raised Jewish but my family was not strict about religion. It was just sort of something we did out of tradition but without a lot of heavy indoctrination. I was never very enthusiastic and didn’t find the cosmology of Judaism or any other of the Judeo-Christian teachings particularly relevant to my life.

    What I practice now is not something that I could qualify or quantify in terms of a religion or faith per se.

    When I was about 28 I was introduced to meditation through Buddhism–a religion I have a bit more affinity for–and I did some zen meditation, etc. But even in this scenario I found the teachings and doctrine of Buddhism off-putting.

    It was only when I met my teacher (or Guru) Steve, that I really felt a true connection with a living embodiment of spirituality. Steve taught me a certain kind of meditation which involves relaxing and breathing, and he teaches it as a moment to moment practice to be done throughout all of life.

    Steve is the most relaxed, together, with-it person I’ve ever met. He is my spiritual guide. But even without him–and I don’t see or speak to him regularly as he lives across the country–I have learned to walk my own path.

    My practice is to be aware of my experience as much as possible and to relax into each moment of my life and my experience as much as possible, moment to moment. Being present to my life is my prayer. Each breath I take is a prayer, is contemplation, is my way of asking for help from god or the universe or whatever is out there–or in here, as the case may be.

    I don’t have any answers. All I know is that since I began this practice, my life and my intimate relationships have just improved exponentially. I have been able to make tremendous positive changes in my behavior.

    But it’s not for everyone. At the beginning of my practice, I used to preach a little…but not anymore. This kind of practice is something that most people simply have no interest in pursuing and I accept that. I have enough to worry about myself without worrying about others.

    However, when I continuously tell you that “you should trust yourself” and “trust your gut” that’s probably the closest thing I have to a bit of preaching on this subject.

    Thanks for the chance to share!

    Aaron

    • Hey, Aaron –

      It sounds like you have had a very personal and unique spiritual journey. I think it is neat that you don’t feel bound to follow any organized dogma.

      And, it sounds like you were not strongly exposed to the traditional Christian set of teachings (Christian = includes New Testament) which seems rather unusual in the United States (I think — but my perception might be influenced by having mostly lived in/near the Bible Belt).

      Do you have someplace where you can fellowship with others of like mind?

      – Marie

  3. Hi Marie,

    In fact I was exposed to Christian teachings. My best friend growing up was Catholic and I frequently attended mass with him and his family (his mom used to make me go up to get the sacrament!)

    But it wasn’t “Bible belt” exposure. I live in the Northeast and its fairly cosmopolitan, although the actual town I grew up in was kind of blue-collar and not a lot of other Jewish kids. I stood out in that way.

    As for fellowship, I have a few close friends and my Guru who I can call, if not visit, when needed.

    I have the ‘net which helps a little.

    But I don’t feel a strong desire to be part of a group that practices these things with me. I see it as a very personal journey and the responsibility for it is on me. Other than that, I am no different than anyone else regardless of their particular spiritual beliefs. I think my lack of belonging to a particular organization or religion allows me to feel generally more connected to others, since I am not always separating myself out as being some specific religion that is different from them.

  4. Hi Marie,

    Mostly because of my sexual ethics. I don’t think homosexuality is a problem; my wife and I lived together before getting married (largely for the reasons of legal and bureaucratic convenience).

    Evangelicalism is very sexually (and bodily) obsessed. This goes back to the Reformers rejection of the medieval churches attitudes on these things. Unfortunately the social critique and concern of the Reformers and Evangelical leaders has been lost. I was/am on the Evangelical Left – which tends to not get a lot of press. Mostly, they would reject me to due to my divergence on sexuality.

    The fundamentalists would have no time for me at all. Literalist interpretations of the Bible are just stupid (and the fundamentalists are always selective about which bits are taken literally. Paul devotes chapters in 2 Corinthians to saying that their should be equality of wealth between Christians across national borders. Haven’t heard a sermon on this from a fundamentalist in quite a while!) And if they paid attention to how the NT interprets the OT (fundamentalists don’t seem to read the Bible much) they’d know that the NT has lots more ways of interpretation than the literalist. RT France on ‘fulfilment’ in Matthew is very good (it’s one of those Ph.D’s turned into a book so it’s not exactly a gripping read).

    I could go on, but this is probably already becoming a rant, so I’ll stop.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I have come to much of the same conclusion about how literally the Bible should be taken . . . I have a very hard time believing all this strife and confusion about who is right and who is damned based on harsh rules and man-shaped dogma is what God intended for us in our fellowship with him.

      – Marie


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