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So. Now that we are better able to manage the troll situation ourselves, it's once again safe to talk about spirituality. How ironic, no?

This thread is for anyone who wants to talk about god/dess, the universe, or whatever. There are no restrictions on which belief systems are acceptable or unacceptable in this thread, but since we are talking about the spirit, everyone is asked to be RESPECTFUL in our discussions. This is a pro-spirituality thread, and I ask that everyone who wants to participate understand and honour that. Please do not denigrate the beliefs of other. Stay mindful that your truth is not the absolute truth for everyone (nor does it have to be).

So. In between the time I started the first version of this thread (which has disappeared) and now, I have to confess honestly that I had a sort of existential crisis, where I lost my faith. Except that I'm not exactly sure what it is I have/had faith in. Sometimes I think it's my faith in god/dess, sometimes I think it's my faith in *me.* Sometimes I think they are the same thing, and I don't mean that in some kind of egotistical way. I'm not sure what I mean.

I find the older I get, the less I *know* what "it" is. I'm using "it" because I'm not even sure how to express what I mean. "It" could mean god/dess, could mean the universal lifeforce, or could mean something that I have no comprehension of whatsoever. I do know that when I don't "believe" in "it," I have a hard time facing my life and the world. Yet I still can't make a decision one way or the other. I know the point of "faith" is to let go and trust that "it" is out there (or in here), but without "proof" or even basic comprehension, how can I? Sometimes the ambiguity is overwhelming.

A friend, and my board chair, said something a couple of weeks ago that really hit home for me. She said to her, spirituality comes from giving to her (our) community, from putting her energy into making this a better place for everyone who wants to live here. I feel like I USED to believe that, but maybe I lost it along the way. I know I am exhausted from the community work I do, and have given up pretty much all of the stuff I used to do as a volunteer. I don't know how to get it back. I don't feel like I can right now. But at the same time, I wonder if that's why I had my "existential crisis"....because I lost the one thing that made me feel truly "at one" with the world, and which allowed me to express my love and compassion for those outside of myself. Or maybe I just lost my faith that I actually was making a difference anymore. (Or could.)

At the same time, following the "existential crisis," I found something in myself that I thought I had lost, which was my sense of self, and my passion for the more solitary pursuits of the spirit....specifically, making art, but also, other creative and nurturing passions, like gardening and crafting, which bring me joy and peace. At the same time, I feel more "humbled" about my place in the material world and the spiritual universe, where before the crisis, I think I was kind of arrogant.

None of this has provided me with the answers of what "it" is. I'm not even sure I'm as comfortable not knowing as I used to be. Or thought I was. But I guess I feel more resigned to not knowing.

Anyway, this is long and kind of all over the place, but there's probably no better way to start a spiritual dialogue than with confusion and ambiguity! So, busties, here is our space to discuss all things of the spirit. Off ya go! What's going on in your head, heart, mind, and/or soul?

(ETA: by the way, the title was snafooey's idea a couple of years ago, and it was so good I'm keeping it!)
Hmmm....maybe I need to ask a question to get the ball rolling. No scratch that, I'll start a poll....

EDITED: Just to add, I didn't know starting a poll would add "poll" to the title of the thread! Hopefully everyone knows this thread is MORE than just a poll!!!!!
doodle, i will expound on my answer (i dunno) at a later time. i have way more to say than i feel like writing right now.

hm, who'da thunk it!?
I could only choose one poll answer and went with "universal life force/energy," though I believe that in conjunction with a divine being. I might get into my spiritual history later, but these are some of my current beliefs:

- There is an overarching Divine presence in the universe.
- Every living being is connected - to the Divine and to other beings.
- All gods are one god / the ways are many, the Light is one / etc.

This is pretty simplified, but I think it will do for now. Thanks, Doodle.
hey...............any (unprogrammed) quakers here?
I'm starting to become more and more spiritual but I'm not really ready to articulate most of it yet.

"Sometimes I think it's my faith in god/dess, sometimes I think it's my faith in *me.* Sometimes I think they are the same thing, and I don't mean that in some kind of egotistical way."--doodlebug

I know what you mean. I feel like I am my own goddess, and my very existence is both proof of divine presence and a manifestation of it. I say goddess because of the strong affinity I feel with the energy/life force/divinity but I also think that gender is something that we ascribe, not something that's particularly meaningful or important on a spiritual level.

I also think that what we believe shapes the world and has material consequences, and that we have access to energy and power that we have forgotton how to use/supressed/lost. At the same time I belive that not being in control is a beautiful and scary part of life.

I believe that everyone is connected.

I feel more spiritual when I have a connection with the earth. Gardening is very spiritual for me, as is hiking and being outdoors, especially in the forest. I'm young (24) and I don't plan on dying for a long time, but when I do I am really comforted knowing that my body will return to the earth and become part of it, and part of other living things. (I'm hoping I can have a green burial, like what was talked about in the death thread awhile ago.) I actually had this sort of vision? flash of insight? a little while ago, where I could see myself settling into the earth and it felt so comfortable, like i was settling down to sleep. And since then I've felt like I wouldn't be afraid to die, even if it were to happen tomorrow. I mean, I hope I don't because there are still things I'd like to accomplish before I do, but I'm not afraid of death, even though I have no idea what will happen to my spirit, only my body.

Wow, I guess I was more ready to articulate than I thought. I still have lots I haven't figured out yet though (thankfully).
I was raised Catholic, and went to a Catholic school for nine years of my life, and it was probably the worst experience of my life. I don't agree with most of what the Catholicism teaches. Things like abortion/gay marriage/cloning is wrong. I don't buy any of that. However, while I don't have any faith in the church, I do believe that there is a higher power. I believe everything happens for a reason and there is a higher being that governs everything that happens to us in our lives.

I also believe that if there is a God (and i hope there is), I don't think he/she would look at people's choices in life and automatically hate them for it, or you have to act or be a certain way or you'll go to hell when you die, which is what I was taught in Catholic school.

My parents are still practicing catholics, and the catholic from years prior in me finds it hard to not envision myself getting married in a church or getting my future children baptized. And I still have moments when I pray consistently to God because I was taught that God listens to those who are persistant. I also like the traditonal aspects of the Mass ceremony itself and things like Stations of the Cross. And it's hard because all these thoughts were enstilled in my head for years and years. But I find it hard to believe in anything else the Catholic church teaches, really.

And I feel like I need to have some sort of faith in something, and while Catholism didn't seem like it was for me, I started looking into Judiasm and was seriously considering converting, but that didn't seem right to me either. So, I don't like to consider myself any specific one religion. I believe in a higher power, whatever he/she happens to be or what name they go by, and I believe he/she is a very forgiving, understanding, loving deity that loves everyone and everything.

I hope the post didn't offend anyone, I realize that religion and spirituality is a very sensitive issue.
QUOTE(battygurl @ Aug 17 2006, 01:34 AM) *

I feel more spiritual when I have a connection with the earth. Gardening is very spiritual for me, as is hiking and being outdoors, especially in the forest. I'm young (24) and I don't plan on dying for a long time, but when I do I am really comforted knowing that my body will return to the earth and become part of it, and part of other living things. (I'm hoping I can have a green burial, like what was talked about in the death thread awhile ago.) I actually had this sort of vision? flash of insight? a little while ago, where I could see myself settling into the earth and it felt so comfortable, like i was settling down to sleep. And since then I've felt like I wouldn't be afraid to die, even if it were to happen tomorrow. I mean, I hope I don't because there are still things I'd like to accomplish before I do, but I'm not afraid of death, even though I have no idea what will happen to my spirit, only my body.

I share a pretty similar outlook to you. I don't really know what I believe in, when I was a teenager I became interested in Paganism and Wiccan because I felt that it was the only religion(s) that articulated the way I feel connected to nature. I still feel a connection to Paganism but I don't feel a need to worship or acknowledge holidays and things like that, I feel like it's a good starting point though to try and explain some of my feelings of my spirituality.

I've always been an outdoor environmentally friendly girl and i feel really at peace when I'm camping or hiking, especially in the mountains where everything is so pristine and untouched. I've thought about wanting to have a green burial as well partly because it's comforting to me and partly because I know how environmentally damaging things like cremation can be. Also, my grandma was just buried two weeks ago and she's in the ground surrounded by a vault. For some reason that really freaks me out, like you're forever stuck in this steal box disconnected from anything that is natural.

Unfortunatly I haven't come to terms with the whole death thing as well as others have. It scares me. It's not really dying that scares me but what happens after...I say that I believe there's some sort of after life but I'm not sure if I do and the thought of not existing terrifies me so I've resolved myself to not think about it at this point in my life. I think I'm just not ready to deal with it yet.
I definately consider myself a spiritual person. But like many of you, I don't follow any organized religon. I've always had troubles understanding religons such as christianity. I was not raised to follow any religon, though my parents are both Bapist. To thier great disappoint I just don't believe in god. I am troubled by blind devotion. At times though, I am a bit jealous of people who find so much comfort in thier beliefs. But my mind is just unable to have faith w/out asking questions.

But curiousity has lead me to look into various religons, and though I relate to Budhism the most, I can't say I fully agree with all aspects of the teachings. I believe in karma, and treating people well. But I just can't fully explain what makes me spiritual. Like erinjane and battygurl, I also feel closely connected to the earth.

I guess that's all I have to add for now. But I like this thread. I think some really interesting discussions may go on here.
Wow, some really great thoughts going around. I very much appreciate what everyone has to say...I think this is the kind of thread that will give people food for thought about spirituality, whatever they feel or believe.

I feel connections to the rest of the world, but in a different way...I don't feel a particular affinity for the earth, though I respect it and try to do a little better by it every day. I have just so often met people and right away felt as though I'd always known them...spent years being friends or in a relationship and still discovered surprising commonalities...had people convinced that no, it's not that I remind them of someone, it's that they *know* me from somewhere.

I think I get what Doodle and Batty are saying about being your own God/dess. To me, it's a sense that there is Divine in all of us, and we're all connected - so we're divine as individuals *and* in a collective. I feel that everyone decides what is holy/sacred/of overriding importance to them, religion regardless.

I grew up in a Christian background of nebulous denomination. My mother is thoroughly devout in her own way, though not a churchgoer due to the way she was treated as a young single mom (divorced 23-year-old with a 7-year-old kid = OH DEAR, say some church ladies). I joke about being raised "Captist," as I went to church with Baptist friends at home and with my Catholic dad and stepmom when I was visiting there.

I've discarded a vast amount of what I learned back then, for a variety of reasons. At one point I thought maybe I was some brand of pagan, but that's proven to not be for me, though I deeply respect it. Lately I'd been calling myself a heathen, but I didn't think that explained it either.

Then I mentioned it to GameBoy, who is still essentially Christian but very, very liberal in his theology. He shrugged kind of happily and said, "Personally, I like to consider myself a heretic. Because what else is a heretic but a believer who questions?" I liked that a lot - I'd never thought of it that way.

A few days later, I was on the phone with my friend/spiritual adviser (long story!) the Faerie King, another ultra-liberal Christian mystic. We were discussing my path, which others have told me I should label and define. And if I'm lyin', I'm dyin' - he said:

"Personally, I think of myself as a heretic."

So there it is (at least for now): I'm a heretic. My mother will be so proud.

Wow, there's so much to discuss...I don't want to stop! Thanks again for all the thoughtful answers.
Yay! This thread is going great!

I used to be a christian as well. My father was pretty much agnostic, my mother is spiritual but not religious, and my brother is an atheist. We weren't baptised because our parents wanted us to make our own decisions about faith and religion, and they encouraged us to always think for ourselves. They were very "liberal"-minded, pro-civil rights kind of folks. Once when I was six, I innocently used the "n" word, not having a clue what it meant (I'd heard it at school, in a playground rhyme), and that bought me a two-hour lecture from my mom on the history of the black struggle. smile.gif

When I was in primary school, a friend invited me to come to sunday school with her, at the united church. My parents were cautious, but allowed it. That was pretty fun. I remember the crafts, mostly! When my parents split, I wanted to continue sunday school, so my mom found me one where they picked the kids up on a bus. It happened to be pentacostal. Neither of us knew anything about different denominations, but holy crap, did they ever freak me out. Basically, they told me it was my duty to god to try and get my parents back together...even though my father was abusive to my mom! I went to pentacostal bible camp, and they showed us a horrible film about the rapture, where all the non-christians were left behind, and of course, being eleven, I was scared shitless and I professed my newfound belief immediately. (Also, they took my little radio away at camp, because rock and roll was "the devil's music.")

Also, my father met a new "ladylove" (his word), and she came from a family of real zealots - evangelical free church - where she was mistreated in the name of god. (When she was three, her mother caught her masturbating and started tying her hands to the bedpost at night.) Her family were very oppressive and rigid. Once, when I was 12 or 13, her mom took me to breakfast and sprung the ulterior motive of getting my parents back together on me. She said, "Wouldn't you like to see your parents back together?" She was really shocked when I said, very emphatically, "NO!" But of course, she felt it was HER duty to get her daughter back with her own husband, and that couldn't happen as long as she was with my father.

Eventually I fell away from it. I think I was an atheist, or at the very least, agnostic. My main frustration at the time came from my stepmom's family. In the mid-80s, when the public started learning about AIDS, they were the first to jump on the "god's punishment" bandwagon, and their kind of christianity really turned me off. They were also anti-birth control and anti-choice, and this confused me because it went against the moral principles my own family had taught me (as was their anti-gay stance). But at that point they were the only christians I had regular, "deep conversation" contact with, so I think they drove me away from it. (They drove my stepmom away from it, too, to the point where she still talks about how religious zealotry should be included in the list of forms of child abuse.)

But when I was around 18/19, and threw myself out into the world, I was scared and felt really alone, and I found myself back in the christian faith....but it was a more private and personal relationship with god. I never went to church....I was probably more influenced by Bono, U2, and The Joshua Tree at that point! smile.gif The truth is, I didn't really KNOW there was anything else to believe in, except other monotheistic religions like Islam and Judaism. I did investigate Judaism, but not very deeply. I really struggled with my faith, because I didn't agree with a lot of the moral teachings of the church at the time (anti-gay/anti-reproductive choice). I also was involved in amnesty international at the time, and I struggled with the death penalty...I was frustrated with the hypocrisy of many christians who believed abortion was wrong but capital punishment was okay. This was probably around the time Ted Bundy was put to death, which I had a real moral crisis over.

When I was 23, I started reading about pre-christian beliefs, and I became angry. Coming from pentacostalism, I had really bought into what the church told me about being the "one true faith," and that everything else was "satanism." I was enraged at the church, actually. I felt misled and lied to. And I didn't just drift away, I pretty much recanted my beliefs. I started learning about the female aspects of god and the history of paganism and pre-paganism....for a long time I called myself a goddess-worshipper. I still use "goddess" when I talk about my faith, but nowadays, it's more because I don't want others to make presumptions about what I mean when I talk about "god."

I don't regret the time I spent being a "goddess-worshipper." I think I really needed to do that, as a counter-balance to everything I'd been taught to believe about male power and religion. Now I think I'm at a place where I don't assign gender attributes to a higher power, although I do lean more towards the female aspects....I think this is still a personal form of counter-balancing the general interpretation of god as's the same to me as how in feminist circles we talk about gender-inclusion versus gender-neutrality. But in my head, and my heart, when I do believe in a higher power, it goes beyond gender.

At the same time, I think I've come full circle, where I can believe in many of the teachings of jesus as a human being and a spiritual leader (and radical revolutionary!), but I don't believe in the divinity of jesus, any more (or LESS!) than I believe in the divinity of all human beings.

I don't believe in the bible, though. I just don't believe in the "revealed word" of god. I think seeking a relationship with god, or goddess, or spirit, is meant to be a private and individual path. I think god/goddess/spirit reveals itself to each human being differently, personally. I believe each one of us has our own spiritual path to follow, and none of them are necessarily "wrong."

But I still get angry when people try to impose their beliefs and their moral imperatives on others. I'm still angry about the "one true faith" teachings. I believe it's just as wrong to profess to "know" god's will for everyone as it is to say you "know" what's best for others on any other level. I think it's arrogant to claim to know the mind of god, and it still makes me angry that others insist that the bible gives its believers superior status as human beings and spiritual entities.

Anyway, that was a huge, long, excessive ramble! But I'm glad we now have a safe place to ramble. Thanks everyone, for your thoughtfulness and respectfulness. I'm really excited about this dialogue!
Mouse, I know there are a few Quakers roaming around the Lounge. My husband was raised as a Quaker. Maybe he can come in here & comment on that when things calm down for him at work. smile.gif May I ask what you mean by "unprogrammed"? I'm still learning a bit about this denomination(?), so I don't know what may be considered programmed or not.

I don't feel ready to talk about my own thoughts and feelings, yet, but I'm enjoying reading everyone's responses.
roseviolet, quakers fall into either programmed or unprogrammed Friends. i was raised unprogrammed.
Oh, I see. I've heard my father-in-law mention "evangelical" Quaker services which sound just like what that article describes as "programmed". But that isn't the sort of Quaker service my family attends; they're of the unprogrammed variety.
yah. when i first met unprogrammed quakers, they told me i was going to hell for not believing in teh jesus. i don't think that's entirely representative, but a bad introduction nonetheless, especially because one of my favorite things about quakerism is the openness to other faiths and viewpoints.

if you don't mind my asking, where did your husband grow up? i see you're in nc...i went to a big quaker thingy in asheville in like, 96.
My husband (known around here as Sheffield Steel) and his family are English. Sheff moved here to the states to be with me, but the rest of his family is still in England. He still identifies himself as a Quaker, but hasn't been to meeting in about 3 years. My father-in-law still goes every week, though, and attends the big annual meeting in London, too. He usually attends meeting in a traditional meeting house that was built back in the 1600s (it's the only place where I've attending a meeting, actually).

I find it bizarre that the programmed Quakers were so harsh on you! That just sounds so ... un-Quaker-like!
I have almost nothing to add except that my grandfather's people were Quakers. Um....

Sorry. I just wanted to bump the thread.

It is true, though. About them being Quakers. I had to interview Granny once for a family history, for my 9th grade English class. smile.gif

ETA: also, I think it's really cool that 40 people have voted in my poll as I write this! And the results are really interesting...
Okay, so.....where is everyone?

I haven't come to terms with death and dying either. I'm struggling with my fear that there's nothing after this life. I don't want it to just end! At the same time, I think, well, maybe I'm depending on the idea of a next life as a salve to my fears of really living this one.

What do y'all think about that? Am I nutso, or does anyone else go down this road in their heads?
This isn't a dress rehearsal, it's a one off performance and we're the star of the show playing our little hearts out. If we're lucky (not good or bad or fucking boring) there will be a party in the green room after, where we can read and discount the next day reviews as it's only our assessment that counts and receive love, adulation and flowers.

Um, may have taken the analogy a little too far.
QUOTE(doodlebug @ Aug 29 2006, 06:24 PM) *

Okay, so.....where is everyone?

I haven't come to terms with death and dying either. I'm struggling with my fear that there's nothing after this life. I don't want it to just end! At the same time, I think, well, maybe I'm depending on the idea of a next life as a salve to my fears of really living this one.

What do y'all think about that? Am I nutso, or does anyone else go down this road in their heads?

Yes, and it terrifies me. I try to live my life doing all the things that I want, like taking a class that catches my interest, or doing some sort of art project, or going after the courses I want to in uni because part of me feels like this is my only chance and I want to make the most of my life. But at the same time I hate thinking like that. I want so badly to believe that i will go on after this.
Geez, i'm freaking myself out thinking about it now.
Doodle, I think I'm nutso for not being more afraid of death and dying. It's not like I have it all figured out, because I don't. But when I think about it, it doesn't scare me.

I think all I can do is live my life with joy and compassion. If I do that the best I can, then it every thing else will follow. If there's nothing after this, then so be it, I'll have as few regrets as possible. And if there is... well, I'll deal with that when I come to it. One thing I don't believe is that there's some punishment waiting for me for mistakes I've made. I don't believe it's more important to live for the afterlife than for this life. It's possible that it'll turn out I haven't learned enough or done enough in this life, and I'll have to come back, and I'm okay with that. I love being in my body; my flesh is joy and beauty as well as pain and suffering.

I should note that nobody close to me has ever died. Once I've experienced that, I'm sure my relationship with death will change, but I'm not sure how.
I don't even know where to start. Doodle, I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to post here but just couldn't come up with any words to string together.

I go back and forth between thinking that life is not a dress rehearsal (and carpe diem and all that jazz) and thinking about reincarnation and ancient Egypt. When I was in elementary school, an Egyptian classmate's mother came in to talk to us about ancient Egypt. At the end of her presentation, I remember her giving each of us a turqoise scarab. I used to think it had been a real beetle at one point but had been transformed into a beautiful blue stone. (For all I know, it could have been made out of plastic.) I carried it around in my pocket for a long time until I probably lost it or something. Touching it and holding it in my hand gave me some kind of comfort, something way different than my stuffed animals and Strawberry Shortcake dolls.

Like I said, I'm at a loss for words. To be continued.
This thread's been quiet for a while, but I think it's an excellent discussion and I'd like to see it continue. As many of you may know, it seems I'm one of only a few Busties who will openly confess to being a Christian, so that's contributed to my hesitancy to post in these threads in the past. I've always been willing to talk about my faith with those who have had questions, but I'm not a fundamentalist or a psycho troll and don't want to say anything to remotely suggest that the behavior of the fundie troll is anywhere near right. *sigh* I guess the time has come for me to screw my courage to the sticking post and put some thoughts out there and see what gets tossed back at me. So here goes.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist church. Dress up, sit straight, don't wiggle, hellfire, brimstone, solemn hymns, backstab everyone when church is out, and remember: God will love you but only as long as you beg forgiveness for every breath you take. It never made sense why a God who supposedly loved all his children would let my Dad beat the crap out of me every day. One day, at age 15, I tried to kill myself. When I came around, I was an atheist. I believed a merciful God, if He existed, would have let me die, so He must not exist.

A few years later, I fell in with a group of Christians at college and started to change the way I thought again. They weren't pushy Bible thumpers or scary UberChristians; they were just normal people who happened to believe certain things about the nature of God and the universe. A couple of them saw I was in pain - I was still carrying deep depression to the point of being suicidal at times - and reached out to befriend me. I didn't even realize they were Christians until we'd become friends, and that made me more receptive to what they had to say. Slowly, almost without me realizing it, my beliefs began to change.

Still, things didn't really change a whole lot for me until I went to a Christian concert during Spring Break 1993. I didn't have a lot of social skills and was apprehensive about going with the group, but I decided to go on and give it a shot. I also had no positive experience with Christian music at that point - I really was going to just be out with friends more than anything else. As luck would have it, the tickets that the group had purchased weren't all together; one person was going to have to go sit alone. Of course, not being an overly social person, I quickly volunteered. I found myself sitting alone up at the top of the ampitheater, no one around me for 30 feet or more. The Newsboys were the opening act, and as their second song began, something strange happened.

"When you're dull from all that glitters / when your thoughts have a hollow ring / when you can't escape from the feeling / you're getting it wrong... / All your foolproof plans seem foolish / all your status is status quo / all you really need to know / is where you belong. / Turn your eyes upon Jesus. / Look full in his wonderful face. / And the things of earth will grow strangely dim / in the light of his glory and grace. "

At that point I quite literally heard a voice talking in my ear. A strong, pleasant, male voice, blocking out the sounds of the crowd and most of the music, telling me to let go. And I did. I let go of the pain and the hurt and everything else, and for the first time ever in my life, I was free and happy. I don't remember the Newsboys finishing that song; by the time I became conscious of my surroundings again they were launching into the next number. But something in me had definitely changed, and as emotionally bad as I may have gotten at times since then, I've never gone back to being in such a dark place again.

Do I think I'm a perfect person? Far from it. Do I think I'm better than everyone else? Not than everyone, and those I do think I'm better than, it has nothing to do with their religion. tongue.gif Do I think it's my job to try to convert everyone, whether they want to hear it or not? Heck, no. Those kind of UberChristians nearly kept me from coming back to the faith; last thing I want is to be accused of forcing my beliefs onto anyone else, or to have someone say, "Where it left only to TallGirl, I might not have become a Christian. She was so pushy, she turned me off to God." My personal beliefs are between me and my God, as yours are between you and whatever you believe in.

I'm apparently starting to disclaimer again, so I'll stop and take it in this direction instead:

For those who don't know, music has always been a huge part of my life. So for some reason it doesn't surprise me at all that when I tried to think of how I could more or less cohesively state what I believe in, it would be in the form of two Contemporary Christian songs I've loved since first hearing.

Creed - Petra
"I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. / And in Jesus Christ His only son, I believe in the virgin birth. / I believe in the Man of Sorrows, bruised for iniquities. / I believe in the lamb who was crucified, and hung between two thieves. / I believe in the resurrection, on the third and glorious day / I believe in the empty tomb, and the stone that the angel rolled away / He descended and set the captives free / And now He sits at God's right hand and prepares a place for me / This is my creed / The witness I have heard / The faith that has endured / This truth is assured / Through the darkest ages past / Though persecuted it will last / And I will hold steadfast / To this creed / I believe He sent His spirit, to comfort and to reveal / To lead us into truth and light, to baptize and to seal / I believe He will come back, the way He went away and / Receive us all unto Himself but no man knows that day / This is my creed / The witness I have heard / The faith that has endured / This truth is assured / Through the darkest ages past / Though persecuted it will last / And I will hold steadfast / To this creed / I believe He is the judge, of all things small and great / The resurrected souls of men, receive from Him their fate / Some to death and some to life, some to their reward / Some to sing eternal praise, forever to the Lord / And through the darkest ages past / Though persecuted it will last / And I will hold steadfast / To this creed"

Creed - Rich Mullins
"I believe in God the Father / Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth / And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord / He was conceived by the Holy Spirit / Born of the virgin Mary / Suffered under Pontius Pilate / He was crucified and dead and buried / And I believe what I believe / it's what makes me what I am / I did not make it, no it is making me / It is the very truth of God, not the invention of any man. / I believe that He who suffered was crucified, buried, and dead / He descended into hell and on the third day, rose again / He ascended into Heaven where He sits at God's mighty right hand / I believe that He's returning / To judge the quick and the dead of the sons of men / And I believe what I believe / it's what makes me what I am / I did not make it, no it is making me / It is the very truth of God, not the invention of any man / I believe it, I believe it / I believe it, I believe it / I believe in God the Father / Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth / And in Jesus Christ His only begotten Son, our Lord / I believe in the Holy Spirit / One Holy Church / The communion of Saints / The forgiveness of sin / I believe in the resurrection / I believe in a life that never ends / And I believe what I believe / it's what makes me what I am / I did not make it, no it is making me / I did not make it, no it is making me / I said I did not make it, no it is making me / It is the very truth of God and not the invention of any man. / I believe it, I believe it / I believe it, I believe it / I believe it, I believe it"

I think part of what I love about those two songs is the utter simplicity. "Here is a statement of the core of my faith without all the extraneous muckity muck that other people stack on top of it." So. Lest I go on longer - it's already been an hour and a half since I started this post - I'm going to stop now and let this float in the Bust ether for a while and see what is brought to the surface.

*despite being hopeful, dons fire protection gear and prepares to bunker down if necessary*
TG, thanks for taking the time to make that post. I truly truly enjoyed reading it. I certainly found myself identifying with parts of it.

I, too, have been reluctant to post in here. And maybe at some point I will open up the floodgates and let all of my thoughts pour out. It's just that this is such a complicated subject and the church has been such a HUGE part of my up-bringing, that it's difficult to even know where to start. And it's even harder to know where to end.

Tallgirl, thanks for posting. It's so frustating to me that the trolls (both online and real life), create an environment where people are reluctant to talk about their beliefs. It's so ridiculous that they shut down the kinds of conversations they purport to be encouraging.

On another note: Newsboys! I went to a Christian bible camp in junior high, and the Newsboys and DC Talk were all anyone listened to. We thought we were so hip, listening to Christian rock. Hee.

ETA: this next section is just general thoughts and not addressed to anyone specifically
I'm not sure if I've said anything about my background here? I grew up in and out of the United Church, which is very in line with the moral values I hold today. I had female ministers more than I had male ones, and the church believes that everyone, from young kids to elderly people have valuable contributions to make to church life and community. So, as a kid I wasn't told to just shut up and listen, but to explore, offer opinions, lead prayers or call and response and ask questions. In youth group we respectfully learned about other religions, such as the Jewish faith and we had a First Nations medicine man visit and talk about his faith. There are openly gay and lesbian church members, including ministers and [whatever is higher than a minister, I don't know the terminology]. Abortion is between a woman, her doctor and God, and the church takes no stance on what God would have to say about it. Divorce is acceptable, and in cases of abuse, encouraged. At the same time, marriage is not something to be entered into lightly, and people are encouraged to think about the responsibility that comes with it before doing it.

I'm still trying to figure out how Christianity fits into my current spiritual beliefs, or if it does at all. Part of the reason I fell out of the church was that I didn't like the way the body, especially the female body, was so denigrated and thought of as shameful. Looking back, I don't know if this went on in my church specifically, or Christianity more generally (it was hard to tell because a lot of members of our church were more conservative, so it may have come from them and not the church itself). I've since learned a lot about the political and social forces that shape what's in the bible and taken for doctrine, and it has less to do with the word of God and more to do with how people in power wanted to control society through the church. I don't believe Jesus cares who I'm fucking or what else I do with my body, so long as I'm taking care of myself and not hurting others. I think if I wanted to be a Christian again, I'd have no trouble reconciling that with my politcal beliefs and sexual orientation(s). But now I'm not sure if I want to. Since turning to other spiritual ideas, I've grown a lot, and learned new things. Sometimes I feel like I was only a Christian because it offered easy answers: I'm forgiven for everything I've done, God is taking care of me, there is a heaven and I can get there.


Reading the lyrics to one of the songs tallgirl posted, got me thinking. "I did not make it/no, it's making me." I wonder how much of what I believe (see my earlier post below) is real and how much of it is what I would like to believe. And is there a difference? I believe that we shape the world around us with our thoughts and beliefs. We have the power to shape the fabric of reality. So what I would like to believe and what I do can be the same thing. But how do I know that? I feel like most of what I believe comes from within me, and yet I have moments where I know with every fibre of my being that what I know is true, and that it is beyond me and bigger than me.

I like that I don't know everything there is to know, and that I have room to challenge beliefs and have them and evolve.
tallgirl, looks like you had an honest-to-goodness, text-book "epiphany" smile.gif
Hey all...I'm around, just not up to posting in the thread right now - too much anxiety about other stuff going on in my head. So glad this is still going, though!
One reason on a long list of my reasons not to follow organized religon, is I don't like things being pushed at me. I bring this up b/c today, my hubby and I went to a local festival. The festival had nothing to do with god or religon and yet at one of the main entrances there was a man passing out free bibles. We didn't want one and he stuck his arm out farther and said "free gift" after we had politely said, "no thanks". I practically had to shove the man away, b/c he was waving it right in my face. Then after leaving we were walking home, and some guy said "Hi" we said "hi" then he said "Praise the lord", we were both kinda like whatever and kept walking without commenting. So the guy apparently took offense and said "It is Sunday", annoyed I flipped him off. So he started yelling about god punishing me. Way to make me believe, I thought.

So here's my question, why can't people just be happy that they have thier chosen religon and leave others alone? Why try to recruit other followers? Like the angry little jesus dude that roams our board and the UberChristians, tallgirl mentioned in her last post. I am unsure how any one can find comfort in those sort of tactics.

I hope it was okay to post this in this thread.
Oh, shit, it had to be me, being the one(!) person believing in something totally different.
Well, I'm not even sure, if it's so different.

I wasn't baptised, and raised atheist, by lefty hippy parents.
I don't really believe in anything, which makes me mad sometimes, because I think (and worry!) about death way too much.

For some strange reason, I get extreme pleasures from the moon, to the point, that I have to get up at night and just to admire it's great's made me quite an insomniac.
Luckily my neighbours haven't seen me yet, when I'm standing on my balcony in a pink nighty and squeak excitedly "Oh fuck, how beautiful! Oh my, oh my..!"
They say that the moon is the great goddess of the pagans, but I'm not sure, if I can relate to that.

I also have my own god, some kind of spaceman, who I met in London's Covent Garden, he helped me grow up, but that's another story..
I also have an altar/shrine dedicated to Keith Moon.
O.K. maybe I'm just a little nuts.

pherber, I don't think you're the one person with different beliefs, in fact everyone's beliefs in here seem to be pretty different and individual from eachother.

I don't really know how I feel about mass organized religion. On the one hand, I don't pay too much attention because it doesn't really effect me, but on the other, I think that sprituality is a very personal thing and should be discovered on your own.
Oh, that's a little misunderstanding.
When you vote, there's several options, and I clicked the last one, that *literally* says "I believe in something totally different". After voting, the percentage and how many votes the options got show up. The last option only had one vote. Me!
Of course I think *everyone* is different in what and how they believe, else we wouldn't need this thread. smile.gif
I also don't think I'm more "special" because of my eccentricity. laugh.gif

I really love this thread, it's such a great topic!

QUOTE(weprevail @ Sep 19 2006, 12:03 PM) *

God loves you pherber. smile.gif

Yeah, but the feeling ain't mutual.

*goes to check out ignore function*
Wow, thanks for this thread, doodlebug. This topic has been chasing itself around in my head for a long time!

I would call myself a liberal - maybe even radical - Catholic. There is so, so much that disturbs me in this Church, and some days I don't even know whether I believe in God, so what keeps me identifying with this religion?

I was brought up in a left-wing Catholic home - I was always taught that following gospel values was counter-cultural and I spent twelve years in great, relaxed, co-educational Catholic schools which reinforced this.

However by the end of my school years, I was feeling angry and rebellious, HATED going to mass every single Sunday morning of my life, and was smart enough to see through what I still see as disgraceful hypocrisy and cover-up in the Church hierarchy.

I pretty much totally rejected Christianity for a couple of years there but still pursued religious studies in my undergraduate degree, looking into Australian Aboriginal spirituality, the occult, magic, Eastern religions, mysticism, even did a little Sanskrit! I got heavily interested in ancient goddess worship and various forms of neo-paganism. Like pherber, I still love the moon as well as other sublime natural symbols of divinity and power.

I decided I wanted to be a teacher and that I would like to teach in Catholic schools because I saw that they were one place where some of the best things about my tradition were truly lived out in hope-filled, compassionate, aware communities. I therefore attended the Australian Catholic University to undertake my Education degree. I remember the day I made the decision to go there, it just felt right on a gut level even though I knew that it went against what was going on in my head. It was weird.

I encountered two or three truly inspirational academics at ACU, with whom I still work, who presented to me a range of theologians' visions of Catholicism (liberation, cosmic, feminist) that were more radical, and made more sense to me, than anything I had previously encountered.

Now I am a Study of Religion teacher and half way through a Masters in Theology. My beliefs are not fixed - some days I believe in a traditional God-type being, but more often I believe in a dynamic energy which links people to one another and to their environment, that has benevolent intentions and is involved in a special way in our creation and sustenance.

I believe that many spiritual leaders have existed who have taught humanity truth and wisdom, but the tradition into which I have been born reveres Jesus as our 'son of' this universal energy. I believe that Jesus showed humanity the way to overcome the darker side of human nature by striving in the way of radical love and forgiveness. I believe that after his death, his friends experienced his presence or guiding force among them in a new way - it is Jesus' example of love and definace of bullshit and following those beliefs through no matter what that can save humanity from pettiness, emptiness and depravity.

I would like to think that there's something after this life but I can't yet quite come up with a coherent argument as to how there could be. Is our personal energy spark absorbed back into the universal energy, like the belief in moksha held by Hindus, perhaps?

I REALLY don't think that this is the only way and I don't desire to make others think the way I do. Althouth I sometimes find evangelical Christians intrusive, I do respect that they are actually authentic enough to do what their beliefs demand of them. I disagree with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church on just about everything, but my experience of Catholicism in my family, in the schools I have attended and worked in and in my parish (where the gay and lesbian pride choir regularly sings and is part of our communion, for example) where I go to mass about 5 or 6 times a year, has been wonderful.

It has been so enjoyable to read what has already been posted here and I look forward to more!!
whoo... this one is a doosy... so here I go...
I was baptized into the lutheren faith when I was an infant, something I see as wrong. I think people should choose to be baptized. The only reason I'm ok with it at all is because my grandma died soon after that, and she was rather religious. I'm glad she saw me baptized.
When I was six months old, my grandmother killed herself. It is still a mystery today, what with her religiousness, and how my grandfather only "found" the suicide note a few months later, even though there was another, smaller one found immeadiatley after she died. There is rumours floated around that my grandfather murdered her, but I suppose, almost two decades later, that is between him and god.
I found out what happened to my grandmother when I was six or seven. It bothered me profoundly. At that point I was going to sunday school every sunday, and I had learned that those who kill themselves go straight to hell. I didn't like the idea of my grandmother being in hell. But that was my only problems with my faith so far.
My mother says that I started throwing tantrums when she tried to get me to go to church, but I remember no such thing. I didn't attend church or really think about it again until I was 13 and moved to northren nevada, where my grandfather and step-grandmother lived. I loved singing, and wanted to be in the choir, so I was. and everyone told me what a beautiful voice god had blessed me with, and it made me happy, because, you see, I was not a very happy little girl.
The stipulation was, however, that I continue with my confirmation classes, because technically you're not allowed to be in the choir unless you're confirmed, at least in that church. This is where it went wrong. I continued with them, and sometimes even ignored the things I disagreed with.
we had a little workbook. They had a list of true and false questions, about dogma, really.
"A good and pious man who lives alone and rarely comes and talks to people reads the bible everyday but never goes to church, this man will go to hell."
In my brain, I thought "oh, that is so obviously false..." But I was wrong. My teacher said he's going to hell, because he "never celebrated his faith with other people."
"Isn't that a little harsh?" I said.
"It is in the bible"
" I don't know exactly..."
"Well, I need you to show me, because I think you're wrong."
"I don't need to explain myself or the workbook to a teenager."
"Well then you're not doing your job, are you?" Boom. Just like that, the teacher asked my mother not to bring me back. And because of that, all the sudden, my voice wasn't so pretty anymore, and I was out of the choir. and I stopped going. and I was angry. when I moved to california with my dad, I was open to new things. I tried paganism, and "intuition medicine" (which I still do sometimes, it's not really a religion) and finally I was and athiest. And was a strange aithiest. I knew god was there. but I refused to believe in him. I turned away from him. and thus started the worst years of my life.
I moved back in with my mother, and she had changed. she abandoned me. she would leave for weeks on end. Leave me alone in a bad neighborhood in and apartment that had a back door that wouldn't lock. But then, all of the sudden, I had a boyfriend. That was strange. I had never had one, nor had I ever had a guy show interest in me. But now I had him, and he kept anyone from hurting me, and he made it so I wasn't alone. I found out later that he was a true to the bone christian. He was converted at a concert, like you TG. And he felt it his duty to become a pastor, but not now. he said he wasn't ready. of course, this man turns out to be Mr. Otaku, but that's later. Well, we decided the we were meant for eachother after about two months of dating, but we weren't engaged until much after that.
Then he had to move a thousand miles away.
My mother had come back and decided that she wanted to be my mother, so about after a month after saying that Mr. Otaku could stay, she kicked him out to the street. and he had no where else to go but LV. and it was terrible. and I hated god more and more and more. and then I moved down to be with him two days after I graduated. and I still hated god.
But then something happened. my anger cooled. I began to see signs everywhere. I started to believe a little. Then things got terrible in LV, but I didn't loose my faith. instead I began to look for signs of what I must do. and it became clear that I needed to go back. we needed to go back. and we did.
and things are still hard. I'm broke and in debt. Mr. otaku is unemployed.
But I believe in god. I believe jesus christ died for our sins. I believe everyone should be accepted for who they are.
and I'm finally happy.
Wow. Thanks for sharing that amazing story, Onna-Otaku. Love prevails.

OK What do people think of this?
"Feminist christology, argues Rita Brock, should liberate Christ from the unholy trinity, father-son-holy ghost, that has cradled Christ in its patriarchal arms. Speaking of Christ as the principle of erotic power, "the power of our primal interrelatedness," she attempts to save Christ from captivity to Jesus and to patriarchy. Her christology is not centered in Jesus but in relationships and community as the whole-making, healing center of Christianity She moves beyond Jesus as the Christ. Christ is identified as the Christa / Community of erotic power of interconnectedness, the revelatory and redemptive witness of God/dess's work as wholeness of community in history. Jesus neither reveals nor embodies this principle or power of Christa / Community, but himself is brought into being through it and participates in the recreation of it. ... "Using feminist experience and analyses of male dominance and a feminist hermeneutic of erotic power on the biblical texts, it is possible to catch gimpses, within androcentric texts, of the power within the Christa / Community"... The Christa / Community of erotic power is the connectedness among members of the community who live with "heart," the human self and our capacity for intimacy."
(Tyron L. Inbody The Many Faces of Christology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002) 128.
Hello all...deepest apologies for being AWOL from the thread so long. So many things going on in my life right now, which are, naturally, resulting in even more spiritual awakenings...when I feel less tongue-tied (keyboard-tied?) about it, I will try to write more.

In the meantime, I wanted to give this thread a bump! And also to post this really interesting article/interview I just finished reading on You may have to watch a brief ad before being able to access the article.
i believe that each of us contains or creates god within us and that the "naming" of god as jesus, yahweh, etc. is the cultural consensus/manifestation of individual spirituality. because of that, i am skeptical of conversion to religion of another culture.

i believe that organised religion is a social force that can also be spiritual and can work for incredible good or incredible evil. i believe that jesus would not have agreed with many of the teachings of contemporary and historic churches.

i believe that authentic spirituality cannot be defined by external texts or creeds, though it may be (partially) expressed through them.

and because of that, pherber, you're no longer the only "totally different" one. none of those other boxes fit at all.

eta: it's so interesting to think about stating my beliefs in this way. i only hope they're not totally incoherent!
I agree with just about all of those points, grenadine, but I am curious as to what you might mean when you say "contains or creates god within us" - do you mean that you think that god is a psychological fabrication, or that god is an entity created by or contained in collective energy / belief?
ellen (i love your avatar, btw; it reminds me of ellen allien for some reason),

neither, really. i don't at all think god is a psychological fabrication - that would make me an atheist, and i've always been more comfortable as a deist. and i don't think god is collective in its origin/nature; only the expression of god is social/collective, IMO. i believe that god is immanent and is known individually by each person; i also believe that god is universal - everyone has one. you could construe god as an organ, and that's not a terrible metaphor. or you could construe god as "conscience," "ethics," or "good," and i wouldn't disagree with that either, though i think that's an unnecessarily bloodless and cartesian way of looking at it. i don't believe god can be empirically proven or known or that it matters what colour jesus's hair was, except as a point of cultural curiosity (i also don't care if he was shacking up with mary magdalene; the sermon on the mount is still great...for that matter i'm not really invested in the idea that jesus was jesus, or that jesus was, at all...which is why i think certain tr*lls have really got the wrong end of the stick).

i should add that my own understanding of god is hybridised by accident of birth: on one side of my family i come from a tradition of children being raised in buddhist monasteries, and that worldview is still dominates us culturally; on the other i was raised in the high anglican tradition and came to love the ritual and mysticism of that.
i have never seen those two traditions in conflict. it has always seemed obvious to me that they are responding to the same primal human compulsion - a compulsion for (rather than to) god.
so these ideas:
1)What we are today comes from our thoughts of yesterday, and our present thoughts build our life of tomorrow: our life is the creation of our mind. (from the dhammapada)
2) God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made. (from the nicene creed)

seem entirely coherent to me, and i see god as begotten within us: our life is a creation of our mind, and our mind is inhabited by (inhabits) god. we create religions in order to express/honour god in community, which is a lovely idea; then we kill people who belong to other religions, and we damage the go(o)d within us.

also, i'm under no illusions that i am a great theologian manquee, though my understanding does seem to me more inclusive, harmonious, and sensible than most! smile.gif

does that help?

eta: actually, the one thing that doesn't make sense to me in the nicene creed is the tense. i would say "are" made. that about us which is god is eternal. making is eternal. etc. (that must be the cultural buddhism kicking in).
i see god as begotten within us: our life is a creation of our mind, and our mind is inhabited by (inhabits) god. we create religions in order to express/honour god in community

I love it, grenadine. I find the hybridisation of religion so interesting. Many write it off as eclecticism and call it a cop-out but (when it is done properly) it opens up so many mind-blowing parallels and intersections between cultures and human experiences.
thanks,'s not, however, as if i'm consciously trying to hybridise religions - it's more that i'm trying to explain how i see religion through my cultural hybridisation. since i think culture determines the language/expectations we have for religion, it could hardly be otherwise (and that's why i'm extremely skeptical of people seeking spirituality who embrace religions of cultures they don't participate in; i tend to think they should take voltaire's advice and cultivate their own gardens)... anyway.

there's an anglican church in san francisco that prominently displays the creed "we believe in one god, known to us in jesus christ, known by other names in other traditions" or some such. i think that's splendid.
Ooh, no.. I didn't mean to suggest that I thought you had consciously constructed your belief system. I agree with what you say about people taking bits from cultures one does not participate in. I think, though, that as the world becomes smaller that it will be harder to distinguish between what is and is not one's "own" culture, or the culture that one "participates in". Like, when I was living in London, I was picking up bits of Indian, Bangladeshi, Somalian, Afro-Caribbean etc... culture in the different neighbourhoods I lived in; this wasn't a conscious effort, just being part of a community. Being an Australian means that, although I have Anglo heritage, I am influenced by the other cultures, including Aboriginal, around me... I'm not going out there and taking it, it is imbuing me as I live my life and meet lots of different people. I guess that might be what you mean by "participating in" culture - having it contribute to who you are and what your beliefs, values and attitudes are...?
Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret. wink.gif

treehugger, this thread is pretty quiet.

Bumping it now.

I'm feeling kind of a need to go on a solitary meditation retreat. Has anybody here done this before? I did it once, years ago, I went backpacking solo.

Imma Jesus Christ fan myself smile.gif I was in the church as a young child, but didnt really begin to understand His significance until my late teens, and early 20s.
TreeHugger, i've never been on a solitary meditation backpacking trip, ihave hiked alone which really is quite refreshing...especially when you feel you need to get away from people in general...

but speaking with some people about this, I think being with people also helps you connect with yourself on a different level. I talked to a friend about going to a Buddhist retreat with her because I have always wanted to go but i've always felt like I had to go with someone for some reason....

hmmm i dk just some thoughts on that.
Hey all, I thought I'd bump this thread so that some BUSTies could have a thread where they can celebrate their faith without it devolving.
Speaking of the solitary mediatation retreat, I think it would be really interesting to go on a vision quest.
muito thank you for bumping this thread, bunny be mine!

this may be a good time to repeat the purpose of this thread:

"This thread is for anyone who wants to talk about god/dess, the universe, or whatever. There are no restrictions on which belief systems are acceptable or unacceptable in this thread, but since we are talking about the spirit, everyone is asked to be RESPECTFUL in our discussions. This is a pro-spirituality thread, and I ask that everyone who wants to participate understand and honour that. Please do not denigrate the beliefs of other. Stay mindful that your truth is not the absolute truth for everyone (nor does it have to be)."

- snafooey's idea originally, continued by the lovely ms. doodlebug. no discussion or arguing here. that is the purpose of the "too much religion for me" thread.
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