• Welcome to Christian Forums
  1. Welcome to Christian Forums, a forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to be able to join in fellowship with Christians all over the world.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon and God Bless!

  2. The forums in the Christian Congregations category are now open only to Christian members. Please review our current Faith Groups list for information on which faith groups are considered to be Christian faiths. Christian members please remember to read the Statement of Purpose threads for each forum within Christian Congregations before posting in the forum.

I am going through a period of confusion

Discussion in 'Whosoever Will, May Come - Liberal' started by FireDragon76, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

    +9,328
    United States
    Lutheran
    Legal Union (Other)
    US-Democrat
    I have come to realize slowly in the past year that I feel confusion in my life after the election of Donald Trump as president. I have struggled with anger and dismay, and I have been feeling alienated from my Lutheran congregation over the past year. It feels like a different tribe to me. I have had issue with their allowing security teams and firearms in the worship space- the church no longer feels like a sacred space.

    I grew up a Methodist who attended church a few times a year, and was not deeply religious. In college, I became irreligious altogether. At one time in my life I was a Mahayana Buddhist under the lineage of the Ven. Master Thich Nhat Hanh. I later explored Eastern Orthodoxy also but ultimately I was at odds with the church's authoritarian, anti-humanist approach. So I left the church and became very alienated from Christianity. When I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, I considered myself ex-Christian, and I took refuge in Amithaba Buddha. I hung out with a few folks online and received guidance in the Pure Land teaching, which was mostly shaped by a hybrid of Chinese and Japanese teachings of various sorts, and I would spend some time twice a day burning incense in front of an icon on an altar in my room, listening to chanting of the Buddha's name, and holding prayer beads and focusing on the gratitude I had in my life. I accepted that I was a fundamentally foolish and weak person and entrusted myself to primordial Wisdom and Compassion expressed in Amithaba Buddha.

    Some time later (and after more medical tests revealed I did not actually have cancer), I fell in love with a woman who was disabled, not unlike myself, and I eventually moved in with her. She was ex-Pentecostal, she had come out as transsexual years before and was forced to leave her church. She had struggled with alcoholism. I was impressed by how her faith helped her to give up drinking. Eventually, we decided to try going to an Episcopal Church together, which was OK at first but eventually they had a controversy where people in the church expressed objections to baptizing the child of a gay person. I decided to leave because I felt hurt by the church's intolerance, and afraid for my own family, and we started going to an ELCA church where the pastor said I was welcome and nobody would be forced to leave. But after a few years, I started having real problems at the church, I just do not mesh with white evangelicals very well, even the more tolerant ones, such as are at in my congregation.

    And I still struggled with irritability and I started having panic attacks at church. So, I decided to go back to at least working with biofeedback, so I bought an emWave machine from HeartMath and I learned how to use it. And very soon afterwards I came to the realization I was not happy at my church so I stopped going. My partner still goes but I don't. I might go to the dinners but I really have differences with the pastor and the church council that I am not sure how to resolve.

    It was around this time that I learned that Master Thich Nhat Hanh had fallen ill over the years and probably won't be alive for much longer, and I remember feeling a sense of gratitude for his teachings, aware of how much learning to be mindful had helped me to see the truth more deeply. So, I became interested in meditating again, connecting with something that had been a source of strength in my life that I owned for myself, and I can see I have benefited from that in the past month.

    My perspective now is probably closer to a very liberal Protestantism or liberal Mahayana Buddhism... and I am far away from the Lutheran confessionalism of my pastor's background, and much of the congregation I am a member of (I consider God a symbol of our deepest intuition, but my metaphysics are probably closer to Process thought or Mahayana Buddhism). I am very much concerned about environmental issues, and my church doesn't seem to focus on this issue much, but I have read a little bit about TNH's teachigs about environmentalism, and what he says just makes sense: environmentalism is a spiritual problem, not a technological problem, that comes from alienation, from people that have a delusional view of the self that does not also include their relationship to nature.

    I also want to read Laudato Si by Pope Francis, on the subject of the environment. Some Catholic monks like Br. David Stendahl Rast greatly impress me, but I could not be Catholic due to my living situation, and at any rate I don't agree with their teachings about LGBT people. So Catholicism is not an option for me, even if I feel affinity with Catholic monastics.

    Years ago I had a moving experience walking in the woods, during a period when I was alienated from church. I can't put it into words fully, it was almost animistic (like St. Francis canticle). I am convinced connection to nature is important spiritually, and I simply can't take seriously a religious ideology that seems to objectify nature.
     
    • Prayers Prayers x 3
    • Winner Winner x 1
    • List
    We teamed up with Faith Counseling. Can they help you today?
  2. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

    +3,073
    United States
    United Methodist
    Celibate
    US-Others
    I have a panENtheistic (not pantheistic) view that God is not just existing somewhere apart from nature, but a part of him is in every single part of his creation, humans, animals, plants, rocks, mountains, birds, etc. As a human example, when we create something, we put some part of ourselves into the things we make. It is part of our being created in his image.

    Practiced correctly, Christianity *should* be very spiritually connected to nature. God's creation is his first earthly incarnation and ought to be greatly respected rather than being abused, exploited, and discarded. We dishonor God when we dishonor his creation.

    (Note that I'm not talking at all about worshiping nature or God's creation as a god rather than God himself.)

    Christianity, as a label, has gotten to the point of being meaningless. When someone tells me they are a Christian, it really tells me nothing at all about what they believe and who they are as a person or their character in general. And since the term in the U.S. has been largely co-opted by white conservative nationalists who are in opposition to practically everything Jesus taught during his earthly ministry, calling oneself a Christian in some parts has about the same appeal as calling oneself a Nazi.

    Some have tried to get around the negative "Christian" label by calling themselves "Jesus followers" or some similar phrase, but I'm not sure it's been all that clear or effective outside of those who are doing it.

    Maybe it's reached the point where there simply is no sufficient label for a Christ follower who seeks to be more than spiritually bankrupt and who doesn't agree that God demands most of the brains he created for us be lobotomized.

    With that said, I think that periods of confusion are a normal part of our spiritual journey. They are times that help us to spiritually grow and mature, painful as they may be while we are in them.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • List
  3. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

    +9,328
    United States
    Lutheran
    Legal Union (Other)
    US-Democrat
    There are forms of Shinto monotheism in Japan that are similar to that, such as Oomoto or Konkokyo. But, they are explicit that God depends on people to live, so there is an interdependence on God and the world that isn't part of classical western theism. Also, Shinto sect monotheism is not exclusivistic, it's not as important what name or religion people follow, what matters is the sincerity and love people feel, and a desire to help others and improve the world.

    Animism and nature worship bothers me less than it "should" I suppose. Mostly because I believe it can simply be seen as expressing respect, and I understand how Abrahamic monotheism itself also developed in response to historical forces that were unique to a particular region of the world.

    Which is why I'm trying to be careful about being judgemental. It's hard to separate out what's good and bad in Christianity, ATM. I don't want to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    When he was living in France before his stroke, Thich Nhat Hanh had a picture of Jesus next to his picture of Buddha on his altar in his room.

    I am trying to explore what following Jesus might be like outside the institutional bounds of evangelical orthodoxy. This book might be interesting, I have it on my "to read" list:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KC1KHQ...olid=1LUEQE3CM34DX&psc=0&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    I actually find this idea of Jesus more interesting (following the way of the Jesus instead of merely being his fan), but I'm not sure there are any churches in my area that are at all conducive to that approach. The mythological aspects of the Christian tradition tend to overpower most peoples religious consciousness.

    It is involving returning back to basics, I suppose, and rethinking things.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  4. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

    +6,551
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    So, I am not a liberal Christian by any stretch, but I will certainly pray for you. I also struggled with gender identity and sexual orientation for years. Was on a huge spectrum, and also felt drawn to Buddhism. Was a huge fan of Thich Nhat Hahn, too. So, I hear you. Have been there.

    May the God of love and mercy and Truth guide you home, and give you His peace.
     
  5. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla His little lady

    +2,645
    United States
    Non-Denom
    Single
    I’m sorry to hear of your challenges and pray you find peace in the Lord’s bosom.

    I’ve spent years discerning my place. I had reservations about church which was through no fault of theirs. Something within me felt disconnected. It didn’t fit but I didn’t know why.

    Over time I realized what I’d lost when I left the synagogue. I forsook my zeal for busyness. More than I’ve known. And my spirit was withering. My trips to the monastery were necessary for replenishment. I was running on empty.

    But that’s no longer the case. Once I made the decision to go home my spirit quickened and I felt a thirst for the Lord. And I feel nearer to Him.

    The turning point for me was admitting what I felt and not forcing myself to conform. I had to address the discomfort and find its root. My expression of faith will always be Jewish. And I need to be in the company of others who feel the same.
     
  6. Paidiske

    Paidiske Clara bonam audax Supporter

    +12,038
    Australia
    Anglican
    Married
    I wonder, OP, whether the Society of Friends - the type who engage in unplanned worship - might be a helpful community for you to try?
     
  7. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

    761
    +555
    United States
    Oriental Orthodox
    Single

    I spent 8.5 years on a Postmodern Christian forum.... largely as a contrarian or at least advocate of traditional theology etc. (I am however Postmodern by one common definition). I think you would get on with the Emergent Church folks the revisionist ones like Brian Mclaren and Rob Bell.
    Unfortunately that movement's best days are behind it from what I can tell.


    Emerging church - Wikipedia







     
  8. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

    +9,328
    United States
    Lutheran
    Legal Union (Other)
    US-Democrat
    I have thought about it. Last time I took the Belief-O-Matic quiz, it said I was a liberal Quaker or Unitarian Universalist. Mahayana Buddhist was 72 percent, and liberal mainline Protestant was 75 percent. Of course, I take the results with a grain of salt, but I still found the results interesting. "Conservative Evangelical" and "Islam" were about 13 percent, which explains why I don't really feel like I fit in with that type of religion.
     
  9. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

    761
    +555
    United States
    Oriental Orthodox
    Single

    I guess my other suggestion is to perhaps to consider your general situation a Call to a Kind of Ministry. Which is what I believe it is and that is how I view my own life experiences (going though my own problems). I believe we have our own unique problems and experiences to fulfill a niche that is missing somewhere in the body of Christ. But anyway you might try to develop your voice as writers say and find that certain something that appeals to you and start working on it.


    And to the practical ends of that I got some suggestions. If you haven't used Meetups.com you should consider joining up.

    We are what we do



    It's a great way to meet people (OK so I hear, I admit I have't quite gotten into using it).


    I was dabbling with creating my own Christian group on it. I actually did make a group called "Road To Emmaus" where I was going to teach Early Church history, theology etc. to Charismatic Protestants. I got some bites, not enough to actually run a meeting but I believe the platform really has potential when it comes to finding people, organizing events etc. All the pagans, Wiccans, New Agers use it (the people who generally lack brick and mortar facilities), so I think there is potential there (the ability to boot strap some kind of ministry or other organization on the cheap that is).


    Now it does cost a little $ if you want to start your own group, but you can join all the other groups in your area for free. So this is a great way to meet new friends, network etc. I would probably be doing that myself but I work a nonstandard graveyard shift schedule so I tend to be sleeping, or worrying about getting ready for work when most of the good action is, but that hopefully isn't going to be a problem for you.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2019
  10. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

    +9,328
    United States
    Lutheran
    Legal Union (Other)
    US-Democrat
    @Pavel Mosko Orthodoxy is one potential response to postmodernism, of course, so that observation doesn't seem completely out of place.
     
  11. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla His little lady

    +2,645
    United States
    Non-Denom
    Single
    Your affinity for religions whose message and ethos corroborate yours and your lifestyle makes sense. But Christianity is different.

    We’re meant to undergo changes. We’re meant to be transformed. Even if the changes mean pain or emotional discomfort. We bear it in deference to Him. That’s not a cross everyone can carry.

    I forsook my heart for God and walked away from something that meant the world to me. I didn’t ask Him to compromise His standard on my behalf. I bent.

    Letting go wasn’t easy but its a must. Because He must come first. I decrease. He doesn’t. And having set aside much in my walk, I find myself dwelling in a place of peace and joy. That wasn’t always the case.

    You have to be honest with yourself about who comes first in your life and heart and the things you’re unwilling to do. You won’t find peace until the truth comes out. He already knows. But until you admit you’re choked.

    As long as Buddhism and other paths fulfill you and have a place in your spirit you’ll be in conflict. You’re dividing yourself when the necessity of being all-in would resolve it.

    Until you address your esteem for other things you won’t see your place in the church through honest eyes. You’ll keep going in circles.
     
  12. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 En cuanto lo hicisteis a uno de estos mis hermanos Supporter

    +9,328
    United States
    Lutheran
    Legal Union (Other)
    US-Democrat
    I used to have a similar attitude until it landed me in a mental hospital. Obedience to external rules imposed on us outside our nature is not exactly going to lead to any kind of inner transformation. You can't turn a potato into a maple tree, no matter how hard you force it to be one. And frankly having that expectation about people is beyond cruel.
     
  13. LaBèlla

    LaBèlla His little lady

    +2,645
    United States
    Non-Denom
    Single
    You should record everything you’ve written and play it back and ask yourself what you hear. If you need autonomy this isn’t the right path. Paul called himself a bondservant for a reason.

    If you don’t want rules or boundaries you’re at odds with the principles of the faith. You can’t turn Christianity into something else either. Instead of getting frustrated about who we are and what we lack in relation to your philosophy you have to come to a different conclusion.

    Your philosophy and desire for freedom are incompatible with most tenets of Christianity. You can’t expect us to conform to your desires. That’s not how it works.

    If you need a custom made faith fit for your lifestyle and preferences this isn’t it. That’s something else. You may decide on an eclectic approach. But call it what it is. And you’ll have peace.
     
  14. Dave G.

    Dave G. Well-Known Member

    +2,726
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    It isn't the church, foolish other religions and fitting or feeling in or feeling comfortable, it's about Jesus Christ and believing and accepting Him and the Gospel message. Without that the rest is useless, you can search the rest of your life for something comfortable or fitting for you, die and go to hell with the rest of the lost. You need Jesus Christ front and center to your life, then the changes will come. As well as His peace that surpasses understanding.

    We come in faith not in reason !
     
  15. Tigger45

    Tigger45 St. Mark Supporter

    +7,256
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    US-Constitution
    Simplistic answer I know @FireDragon76 but have you visited other Episcopal parishes in your area. I’m pretty sure most if not all of ours baptize infants/children of Gay couples.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
    • List
  16. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

    +3,073
    United States
    United Methodist
    Celibate
    US-Others
    Galatians 5:1 - For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    Galatians 5:13-14:
    13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.
    14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    The principles of the faith aren't rules and boundaries, but of freedom and love. When we show love for our neighbor (who is everyone), we show our love for God. Jesus' ministry here on earth was not to reinforce the yoke of legalism, but to free us from its law of sin and death.

    A desire for freedom is not incompatible with Christ.

    Institutional Christianity <> Christ
     
  17. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

    +3,073
    United States
    United Methodist
    Celibate
    US-Others
    I've heard of faiths (though granted many from fantasy novels) that gods only exist because enough people in the world (or worlds) believe in them and serve them. Once a god loses all of his or her followers, that god dies. I'm not sure how far Shinto corresponds to that concept.

    We also might ask if those who are loving and helping their neighbors (and improving the world) are following Christ regardless of what name(s) they call it. Conservative Evangelicals would probably say "no!", because these people haven't said the Sinner's prayer, but when it comes down to people who plaster the word "Jesus" over everything and yet hate people who are not like themselves vs. people who do not acknowledge Jesus by name and yet are obedient to his commandment, I wonder which one of these follows Christ.

    I think animism and nature worship is more of a misplaced focus. If someone hasn't gotten to the point of believing in the existence of God as the source and creator of all things, then their focus will be more on the things they see and experience around them, not having gotten to the point of who is *behind* all of those things.

    For me, I ask whether or not something fails the John 13:34 test. If it fails, I don't need to even go any farther. If it passes, then perhaps more thought needs to go into it. God created everyone unique, so everyone is going to have a different spiritual journey and relationship with him. That's one reason why I can't accept denominational views that proclaim themselves to be the one true Church or some similar thing because it excludes a large number of people who cannot relate to God in their particular way even if for others, it's practically perfect....for them.

    I think I may have seen the same picture or read the same description of his altar. I have a huge amount of respect for Thich Nhat Hanh and find that he is far more Christian in the non-institutional sense than many Christians.

    Thanks! I've added that book to my wishlist. One of the worst things about evangelical orthodoxy is it has so strongly discouraged asking questions that many people are terrified to even think outside of their own ingrained viewpoints and others just simply can't see anything deeper than cherry-picked literalism.

    I think that was one of his big points during his earthly ministry. Even the devils acknowledge his existence and truth. Actually following him is a whole different matter.

    Just remember that no church is going to be perfect and you probably aren't going to agree with everything, but not all of them will have a conniption fit because someone doesn't have views that completely fit with their established doctrine.

    Which is something beneficial to continuously do even after we *think* we've found all the answers. That's the point where many seem to stop, but it's really only the beginning of another cycle.
     
  18. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

    761
    +555
    United States
    Oriental Orthodox
    Single

    yes in some ways, but I'm actually talking about Larry Walls talk on it, I am Wallist in philosophical outlook. But there are definitely many parallels of postmodernism to premodernism of Orthodoxy. Larry Wall I believe shares your Myers Briggs profile (INFP) incidentally.


    Perl, the first postmodern computer language


    1) Talking about the various cults of modernity. i.e. reductionism, and the other isms


    2) The idea of "showing your ductwork" is very important in the internet age etc. People greatly value authenticity over formalism etc.


    3) deconstruction to some degree of course. Actually discussing the nature of the construction of reality is a good one etc.
     
  19. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

    +4,437
    Presbyterian
    Single
    Your experience is not uncommon, so there are plenty of people out there who you'd find it useful to be with. I think it's best to be part of a community. As you've discovered by now, denominational boundaries don't always mean much. There are plenty of Episcopal churches that welcome the kind of broad spiritual experience you're talking about. Also PCUSA, Methodist, and Quaker. Our church would be welcoming, but we wouldn't have many people with the range of experience and interests you have. There are plenty of Presbyterians who have, including clergy, but probably not a whole church full of them. I agree that Quaker might be worth looking at, though there are evangelical Quaker churches.

    The emergent movement, mentioned above, isn't a separate denomination. People who find it helpful are typically in the kinds of churches already mentioned. It originally came from the more liberal end of evangelicalism, but I'm not sure how common that really is. At this point I don't think it's really separate from liberal or progressive Christianity.

    Orlando is in an area of the country where mainline churches tend to be conservative, but not all of them.
     
  20. bekkilyn

    bekkilyn Contemplative Christian Supporter

    +3,073
    United States
    United Methodist
    Celibate
    US-Others
    I think part of the issue too is that many people in general aren't really all that concerned about going deeper into their spiritual practices, even in the more "liberal" churches, so it would be unusual to find more than a few in each church.
     
Loading...