Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Faith Blog...were you once a non-believer?












If you were a non-believer
, or someone whose family members were really only what I call "Christmas Tree Christians," .....what made you become a stronger believer?
If you were an atheist and became a believer in God, how did that happen?
I have a very important reason for wanting to know this and would so much appreciate your input here.
Spring flowers come out from the Winter like faith comes out from the darkness........."Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Please pray for faith for my friend Bryan. Thanks...

photo by Mr Z's daughter, Ms Z...Munich
z

50 comments:

FJ said...

I went from Christian to agnostic, but no longer am either. I was in the process of reading Will Durant's "History of Civilization" series when I stumbled across a small book of his called "The Story of Philosophy". Using it as a reading guide, I read all the translations of Plato's works and have been a Deist ever since.

Beth said...

I would recommend C.S. Lewis' book "Mere Christianity" to someone who is questioning their beliefs.

Beth said...

Another good book, Donald Miller's "Blue Like Jazz".

JINGOIST said...

I was an atheist.
My parents were atheists and they raised us kids that way. I think maybe my mom still is an atheist. She was raised Methodist by German and Irish immigrant parents.
I think my dad has come to terms with G-d. He was raised in a Jewish family in the Jewish faith. I think they got that way as civil rights activists in college.

They raised us to be FIERCELY patriotic Americans, but they always left out that pesky GOD thing. G-d was omitted.

Growing up atheist in south Florida was no picnic! I can STILL remember the scorn in the classroom, and I refused to back down. I was also a "ni-ger lover" because I made friends among the black kids. I played football and basketball with them so it never occurred to me NOT to sit with them at lunch or talk to them in the class.

I started believing in late 1999. The reason's personal, because if I divulged it, you'd think me a kook. I'll never doubt again, that's for sure.

Z said...

Jingo, I sure wouldn't think you're a kook. I WISH you'd share but I understand.
I was stunned to hear about your family's atheism because I know you only as a person of faith...
the last thing i'd ever think of you is 'kook'...

Beth, BLUE LIKE JAZZ? A faith book? I think MERE CHRISTIANITY is the most sublime title for a book ever.

I highly recommend A SEVERE MERCY, too, a Jewish friend of mine came to faith through that and a few other amazing situations he experienced,one of which must be like Jingoist's, because he'd never tell me what it was and he'd told me so much ELSE that had brought him to Christianity!

Z said...

FJ, I've had and seen so many amazing 'miracles' that it would be hard for me to be a Deist...of course, it would be hard on other levels, too, as I do believe in the New Testament...Makes me feel very lonely somehow when I contemplate not believing in Christ....though I must admit to doubts from time to time.
A friend once said "You can doubt your beliefs, but never believe your doubts" ....:-)

Z said...

CNN's Farid Zakaria is interviewing Soros. Soros only smiles when he's talking about the demise of the dollar and the Euro..
I had to turn it off.

JINGOIST said...

Z, I believe with all my heart. All of my grandparents believed in G-d, and I was allowed to go to church and temple with them. I was raised that religion was the "Opiate of the masses." It was for fools, and the weak-minded. I think my parents got that way from the civil rights types they ran with in college, I'm not sure.

Some of their good friends from those times (people who I referred to as "uncle" or "Aunt") are household names these days. My mom and dad split from the civil rights movement for good because of the overwhelming left-wing influences in the movement.

They HATED communists, and to this day cannot abide them, but they adopted the atheism.
It all seems so odd looking back.

Anonymous said...

Jingoist,
If your posts had been a trailer for a movie about your life and conversion, I'd go see it. Sounds very interesting.

tio

JINGOIST said...

Tio there wasn't a whole lot of boredom in our house when I was growing up, that's for sure. My parents moved us to south FL in 1973, where everything changed. To this day, they're wonderful people and loving parents. I hope someday that my mother comes to accept Him.

Did your parents raise you to be a Christian? Or a Jew?

Faith said...

I was sent to church as a child and sort of believed but lost it very easily when we moved and I encountered sophisticated teenagers and teachers in a big city school. I stayed an atheist for the next thirty years.

Then in my mid-forties I had a lot of friends who were into New Age and Eastern religions, and although I scorned all that too in my atheist wisdom, I did start reading up on those things. Reading some Hindu gurus about their personal experience of "God" brought me to a sudden complete belief in God. My idea of God was shaped mostly by my church exerience as a child although I thought He was the same God for all the religions at first.

To make a long story shorter I began reading in all the religions and eventually read my way to belief in the Christian God. C.S. Lewis was one of the influences along the way. It took about two years to get there from my initial belief and another couple years before I went near a church. I've just kept on learning and never looked back. I believe of course that God Himself led me by this route.

Z said...

Jingo, this is interesting "My mom and dad split from the civil rights movement for good because of the overwhelming left-wing influences in the movement."

You know, so many people believe conservatives wanted nothing to do with the civil rights movement...we 'racist', 'unkind' types who American kids, their profs, and our media find pitifully lacking in compassion, right? :-), that I find your comment telling and I wish you'd write down some of your experiences and feelings about all that!

Faith,I, too, believe that it's not WE who lead ourselves down that route, but we help through reading and learning......I didn't realize you were an atheist for that many years.

Z said...

By the way, my blog team member, Elmer's Brother, had to delete a comment very early this morning...apparently a very nice comment about faith followed by a link of a lewd sexual picture including Jesus Christ.
You see, one can't just be against faith, or against Christ, one has to defame and shock.
I just wanted to mention that.

Anonymous said...

This is quite interesting Z. I was raised in such an uptight religious environment that when I went to college, it was so easy to grab onto the "I'm Agnostic" mantra, that I did that for many years. As a young adult though, I think I felt the "end result" of so many good people and family members praying for me in the hard times, that I came to throw off that mantra. God has a way of making his presence known.

I won't bore anyone with my walk, only to say he has saved me many times to the point I could no long deny it. I still have my moments of "crisis in faith", but I will never give up the belief. It is hard work to fill in the chasm that exists between the individual and God, but I find Jesus lights the way when you finally "get it". :-)

HAM

Faith said...

Jingoist's story is similar to David Horowitz's. I'd love to hear more. Or, on this blog, at least more about the experience we might think makes you a kook? Strange supernatural happenings perhaps? I bet some others here, including myself, could come up with some of those too.

Z said...

Faith, that's what I was SO hoping we'd all share here....Thanks for the encouragement.

Later today, maybe I'll share something that happened to me that really shook me up. I'm gone till about 5 EST.

HAM, thanks for your comments, I hope you'd reconsider and post one, thought I know ONE isn't always the 'deal maker'....xx

JINGOIST said...

Z, someday down the road, when my parents are long gone, I plan on writing some of the things I remember.
I googled the name of one of the guys I remember best, Jim Goodman. Last I heard he and my dad still kept in touch, he was a GREAT guy.
I hope he's still kicking. I found on that same ANOTHER one of my dad's old buddies.

http://web.msm.edu/inauguration/history.htm

BTW, good for ebro!

beamish said...

I don't know how much I can offer here, as I couldn't "talk" my own little sister out of converting to Islam a couple of years ago and she's largely the reason I pledged myself to Christ when we were kids.

We were raised in a very Christian home. My parents are still to this day strongly grounded in the faith they lived in front of us.

My own faith path is a theological safari. Theology and philosophy are two of my biggest interests, and there was a time in my life I even considered becoming a minister. Maybe even a cult leader, heh. The more you know, the more cynical about this world you become. I'm not a good Christian.

I've explored Eastern mysticism, Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism. I have to admit I do have a fondness for the simultaneous irreverent simplicity and fierce self-chastisement af Zen Buddhism. And no, I'm not a good Buddhist either.

I've wavered between agnosticism and atheism, or at least "my own atheism." But I've found that people who take atheism seriously, enough to wear it on their sleeves, are among the most insipidly dull people I've ever encountered. I often joke that a proof of God's existence is that those that don't believe in that existence are the most faithfully stupid people walking the Earth. Sure, they know all the Latin names for logical fallacies, but have no recognition of them in their own arguments. Pedantics on parade.

For me, the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes, and the rest of it is exposition on that book. No greater philosophical treatise on our relationship to our fellow man and our relationship to God has ever been written.

To paraphrase Robert Pirsig, the only faith you'll find on the mountaintop is the faith you take up there with you.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I still don't know if I went agnostic out of spite or mere indifference. For years, as a kid, I wanted to actually attend church; you know, actually inSIDE the chapel with my parents. But instead I was shuttled off to "Sunday school." My parents stopped attending after I reached 10 or 11 or so.

I held myself, when I thought about it, as an agnostic: yeah, there might be a God but, on the other hand, there might not.

I wrote about my personal religious beliefs here. I'm still not much on so-called "organized religions." I carry my beliefs in my heart.

And here is why I think religion is good.

I think my turn came right around here. And, oddly enough, it appears to have come after I listened to one of Johnny Cash's final albums, American V.

Yes, I believe; that's how and why.

BZ

Faith said...

Z has up that great quote by C.S. Lewis, about not merely believing in Christianity because we can see the sun but because we can see everything else by it. That was my experience on becoming a Christian. Everything makes sense that never before made sense.

Especially evil, especially the things that make you cynical about life and about people. No other religion teaches that humanity was changed by an act of disobedience to God and continues to exhibit the evil fruits of that change, the Fall. Still the image of God but corrupted by that first act of treason against our Creator so that we continue to stumble along in the dark until He reveals the way out. I think the recognition of our fallen state was possibly an even bigger revelation and help to me than the recognition of salvation. At least equal. Of course it EXPLAINS salvation, it explains why we need salvation, it explains why God Himself was the only one who could save us although He is the one we sinned against. God Himself become a man in order to die in our place because we are blind and dead in sin and can never pay our own sin debt. God's love expressed in such a way for His traitorous creature is something that no other religion even comes close to recognizing. It had to be revealed because we are so blind. And God revealed it, in His written word. Other religions know many things about God and spiritual life, but they do not know about this fundamental corruption at the heart of humanity and our need of a Savior because of it.

Anonymous said...

Z, this is a great post and so thought provoking.

I was not raised in a religous home in the conventional sense, but, a very spiritual home. My parents believed in an after life, and in what they referred to as a universal power beyond this earthly place. In other words, God.

We had a Bible, and I remember reading Jesus's words, which were printed in red. I chose to do this on my own, as my parents felt we should come to our own decision, as we grew up, regarding our beliefs.

This made a great impression on me, and began my committment to what he taught. My Dad was raised Christian Science, because of which he almost died when a child. Needless to say he wouldn't have imposed that on himself, and especially on us.

My parents' influence was great, even though we were not made to subscibe to any one church or denomination. We were given the gift of spiritual awareness, and the freedom to find our own way by wonderful, loving parents who were deep thinking and feeling people.

I was baptised as a baby, but Mom made it clear years later it was mainly because it was the thing to do. By the time my sister was born six years later, they had since discarded that notion.

We, as children, said a prayer every night when we went to bed. That was encouraged and Mom would be there at our bedsides with us when we did.

Our Dad meditated and read many books on spiritual renewal and faith. All of this was well discussed in our house.

I came to the religious place I am today, simply because of what I learned growing up, years of soul searching and my fervent belief that the miracle of life, is not an accident.

I too have had experiences which would be inexplicable to someone who is rooted in all things physical here on earth. However, they happened, and I am the richer for them. I'm also open to recognizing the meaning of these experiences.

How else can I end this except to say, thank you Mom and Dad, and God bless you.

Pris

JINGOIST said...

Beamish writes:
"For me, the Bible is the book of Ecclesiastes, and the rest of it is exposition on that book. No greater philosophical treatise on our relationship to our fellow man and our relationship to God has ever been written."

That is a fascinating part of the Hebrew bible. We're given a glimpse into the heartbreak and brilliance of Solomon. He looked for peace and contentment WITHOUT G-d and failed. And everyone knows Ecclesiastes 3 KJV (because I LOVE the poetry)

http://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-bible-text/Ec-3.html

1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;....

JINGOIST said...

Pris that was very touching. Your parents sound like wonderful people.

Z said...

NOW WE'RE GETTING TO WHERE I'D HOPED WE'D GO........

Beamish, thanks SO much for that. I need to read Ecclesiastes again. Thanks for the nudge...
I don't think your attempts at changing your sister's mind and heart have any reflection on your faith; I'm beginning to realize, more and more, that HE finds us....and that's that. Might not happen at the first exposure...might take years, but if it's supposed to happen, it'll happen. I pray that for your sis.

BZ...FANTASTIC, and thanks for going to such trouble to give us those really interesting and revealing links. God seems to have definitely been after you! CS Lewis once said to a young friend who had questions about Christianity "it doesn't much matter what i say to you now, sounds to me like you're in His web and that's that....you're on your way!"
I love the Cash lyrics (am a huge fan, anyway).....am trying to figure out if I should copy/paste to my friend Bryan who WAS teetering on Thursday into faith but Friday wrote that he's 'probably too old by now to change'....I was so sad until I had lunch just now with a friend who's a real 'witnesser' (I'm not); she started talking about how it's only up to us to 'sow a seed', not 'seal the deal' and it helped a lot because I was so disappointed. I KNOW God's tugging at his heart, too, or he'd have NEVER asked the questions he did at lunch Thursday nor would he have promised to pray about it that night. Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for a really good bunch of links; I loved reading about your journey.

Jingo...John Goodman must be a VERY fine man...and how wonderful that he was such friends with your parents, who have always sounded extraordinary to me every time we've talked of our folks at all.

Pris sounds like she had extraordinary parents, too....so many of us are very, very lucky on that score. That's some really beautiful input there, Pris...I wish more parents were raising their children like that today.

Jingo...some day, I hope you'll tell us a story about why you became such a believer. You could have knocked me over with a feather when you mentioned your dear dad is an atheist.

Z said...

OK. I'll tell ONE story of 'something' drawing me closer to FAITH...here's a "Reader's Digest" version in the interests of space and my time, I've got a busy afternoon ahead of me:

In Paris, after 4 years of absolute BLISS, things started getting rough. Mr. Z quit the presidency of a company there because he disagreed with some ethical issues, we figured he'd be hired in a minute somewhere in Europe because of his amazing experience and references. He wasn't. and things got tough for us. Also, the Canadian friends I'd met there all went back to Montreal because their husbands' jobs were up....
I had to quit my French class every morning after 3 years, too. I was now bored and WORRIED. TOUGH TIMES.

I suddenly remembered Bible Study Fellowship which my sister had recommended I attend "if you're going to Paris...you should call BSF!" My words back to her those 3 years previous had been "you don't REALLY think I'm moving to PARIS to READ THE BIBLE, do you?" (we were raised in a Christian home but it wasn't much spoken of at home...my folks were VERY involved in the church... and I couldn't wait to be old enough to be far far too cool and STOP GOING TO CHURCH! Which I did. Then I moved out and that was that for years.

So, I'm in Paris now, years later and contemplating bible study?!. I tell Mr. Z I'm not sure I want to go there the night before classes were starting, saying "Honey, what if they're saccharine sweet icky women and i hate it?" "so, walk home!" He was right. But, I loved it immediately...VERY non saccharine women, very fun, very very bright, and very convicted of their faith.

I joined and started attending. One night, when things were really bad for us in so many ways, i was doing my homework and Mr Z had already fallen asleep...I'm going thru fast because class is tomorrow and it's due then...so I'm not really reading, I'm looking for quick answers!

We were studying John about the fish and loaves.......the homework said to refer to Matthew 6:25 and I did... But, I'm hurrying and just glossing over the words looking for FISH or LOAVES and hoping to find the answer to the question...no fish, no loaves. I look at the homework again....yup...it says Matthew 6:25..I quickly look for those words again...I do this about six times, fussing with those thin Bible pages, grumbling under my breath, writing in my homework page "My Bible doesn't have a reference to that ...maybe it's defective"...

Finally, I decide to actually slow down and READ the Matthew 6:25 verses....MAYBE THERE"S SOME ALLUSION, maybe those words FISH AND LOAVES aren't actually WRITTEN. At THE scariest time in my life, financially, etc....I see what it says:

"Do Not Worry
25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?"

DO NOT WORRY. WORRY was always my middle name and I was fast making excellent use of that, believe me, during those months. I was kind of shaken up because that whole chapter was exactly what I needed to hear. Here's the miracle:

I looked back at my homework and it actually, very clearly printed, said MARK, not MATTHEW. Clear as day...I shut my eyes and, literally, saw a very white paper with big huge black letters with big serifs that said Matthew 6:25.
Yup. I read it so clearly as MATTHEW and it said MARK after I'd finally READ THE WORDS I was supposed to read.

MARK does have the "Jesus Feeds the 5000" in it...and it had the answer to the question.

Matthew had the answer to my life. DO NOT WORRY.

Z said...

CONTINUED (as if that wasn't long enough?):

that's only one story and I hope I got it all in because that was a shocker and a REAL eye opener, believe me. Maybe I haven't described it dramatically enough because reading it again it sounds Ho Hum, but it was SO weird to realize I'd read it WRONG so many times and then...well, it was quite a night.

ALSO...every single time I get a big wigged again, worrying about something, etc., and mention it to a prayer group or at bible study, someone will come up with "Don't forget Matthew 6:25" or say "Hey, even the birds have what they need..."
That verse FOLLOWS ME AROUND.
Once I was very worried about something and went into a woman's breakfast room and there was that verse needlepointed and framed on her wall!

beamish said...

Jingoist,

to everything... turn turn turn... ;)

It's not just for the Byrds

::ducking and running::

Z said...

Beamish, you deserve to duck and run for that one!
That was one beautiful treatment of those words...

Faith said...

That's a great story, Z, and I could hear it many times. When He wants to teach us, He teaches us even if it takes blinding us to our current projects.

I'll tell one I think is similar. While I was still seeking, had one foot in Christianity and the other still in some occultic practices I'd picked up from the Eastern religions phase, I'd become fascinated with astrology. I'd learned to make horoscope charts for anyone who would submit to the experiment and had a great time learning how to match the chart with their personalities. I stayed away from the predictive side of astrology for a long time, though, because I knew THAT was forbidden by the Bible. Even what I was doing already was bad enough, of course.

Well, I succumbed to the predictive stuff eventually, and one day I was studying my own chart and finding SO much unpleasant oppressive stuff in my future I was getting rather upset. I kept redoing the prognostications to see if I was getting it wrong and it kept coming up with that same unpleasant future.

I had the Bible open on the table while I was doing this, and at one point a breeze from the window lifted the pages and riffled through them in a way that FELT portentous though it's hard to say exactly what that means. In any case when the fluttering stopped and the Bible lay tremblingly open at a new page my eye went immediately straight to

John 16:33:
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

I cried. I threw out my astrology books. (I have to say that there's something to it, though. I think what was being predicted there has been happening to me over the years, nothing dire, just a constantly recurring tribulation of a certain sort, just as He said we are to expect, and His comforting presence in the midst of it.)

Anonymous said...

Z and Jingo, thank you both.

Yes, my sister and I were very lucky. Memories came flooding back, rather emotional for me as my parents are gone now.

I never stop missing them, but, they are never really far away are they.

Pris

Z said...

Faith, that's so comforting! He sure did TELL YOU! :-)
Thanks for sharing that...
I have a friend who was a very involved Buddhist for 25 years...meditated 3 hours a DAY, etc.......she's become a Christian and feels such relief with it, that it's not about HER, but giving her life and her problems and all to HIM....she says the difference is astonishing.
PEACE is His, isn't it...astrology sure isn't!

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

Blue Like Jazz is a good read, Z.

My grandparents took me to church when I was very small.

I walked to church by myself as a child. I attended alone. I accepted Christ on my own.

After spending my young adulthood with the same denomination...it just wasn't working anymore. I feel like I'm in the desert now.

Anonymous said...

Jingoist,
I was raised Lutheran. I spent some time in non-denominational Christian church, which my parents are in now, but I am back in the Lutheran fold. I enjoy hearing conversion stories though.

tio

Anonymous said...

Beamish,
At the risk of sounding preachy, I'd encourage you to read on. I think Ecclesiastes is a book we can easily relate to. There's something comforting about knowing someone else has struggled with meaning of life questions, but I think Ecclesiastes is more prelude than focal point. Solomon laments that there is nothing new under the sun. When Jesus is revealed, we discover that we are made new. "If anyone is in Christ, he a new creation. The old is gone! The new has come!" (2 Corinthians 5:17) The meaninglessness of life without Christ makes what he did for us that much more significant.

tio

Anonymous said...

Faith,
I also thought David Horowitz when I read Jingoist's post.

tio

Jen said...

Pris,

I just want you to know that the story of your parents was inspiring to me, as a mother.
Thank you for sharing.

It's also inspiring to me to learn about your personal spiritual journey. I know that I'll continue to grow and change until my dying day. I do SO miss the peace I once had. I know I'll have it again...

Jen said...

Z,

your Matthew / Mark story freaked me out...in a good way.

:-)

Z said...

Jen, the peace comes from reading Scripture, too, as you know. Sometimes reading it out loud to yourself is even more peaceful and we 'hear' it even better..

I'm glad Pris's story inspired you!

And I have to admit, my story REALLY kind of freaked me OUT, Jen. I've had several things like that happen.
You'd think I'd have no doubts EVER. I wish.

Anonymous said...

Great thread! So glad I stopped by.

Late here, and I haven't much time, but let me say that I was raised by nice, conventional, middle-class parents who identified themselves as Protestant Christians. Both were active in the church. Dad was a deacon, then an elder -- mother taught Sunday school for several years. I went to Sunday school in the Presbyterian church, and also sang in an Episcopal boy's choir across town. Member of my family were involved in both churches. Sundays were very busy in our household -- an exciting time frankly -- something to look forward to.

BUT, very frankly it was more of a family and social thing than it was soberly spiritual and reflective, though like Pris I was taught from earliest childhood to say a prayer before going to bed every night.

However, if I took anything seriously it was the wonderful MUSIC I heard and got to sing every week. Purcell, Vittoria, Palestrina, Sweelinck, Handel, Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Schubert, Brahms, Faure, Duruflé, Berlioz, Messiaen, Parry, Gustav Holst, T. Tertius Noble ... GORGEOUS glorious, thrilling, stimulating, beautiful beyond belief -- and all of it either direct quotations from the Scriptures or based on scriptural themes and events.

I sang solos as boy soprano and was paid for my efforts. By age 12 I was playing church services at the organ, and played piano for the Sunday School all the way through high school.

At any rate, I never lost interest in the Church, but when I went to college I spent a lot time "shopping around" by attending as many different churches as I could find -- including visits to the Roman Catholics.

Because I had been involved with "the business end" of religion from an early age I grew cynical about church organizations, and quite correctly learned they were made of fallible, often venal, often rather silly and sometimes spiteful people. Consequently, it became more difficult for me to identify with any church in particular, because it was so apparent that the majority of Christians did not really practice their religion in any meaningful way -- or so it seemed.

It was the high quality, great integrity and sheer brilliance of the MUSIC that made me certain that God was real -- but most of the WORDS uttered in humdrum, unexpressive Bible readings and tedious sermons lacking wit and insight struck me as decidedly second rate if not downright worthless.

WELL, to try to make a long story shorter I fell in with a well-educated, highly sophisticated crowd of self-styled elitists in New York (my home town, where I spent a great deal of my time after graduating from college). Very frankly I got SO sick and tired of hearing them denigrate, lampoon, deride and condemn everything I'd been brought up to love and cherish it made me realize how WRONG they must be, and how RIGHT were the values with which I was raised.

It's not really that simple, but since atheists, cynics and hedonists invariably make me feel uncomfortable and indignant, I've been searching for reason TO have faith ever since.

Many Christians would doubt that I AM a Christian, because I think for myself, and need to feel that I am growing in an understanding of who and what God really is -- and understanding that I can translate into words of my own. If anyone would insist that is not Christian that is their right and privilege, but I can find no other way to identify myself.

"... By their fruits Ye shall know them..." is a favorite bit of Scripture that -- for me -- tests everything and everyone. If cynicism, smugness, self-righteousness, mockery, contempt, bitterness, hatred, violence, slovenliness, enviousness, greed, malice, egoism and excessive pride are present, love and respect for the Lord are absent.

I'm grateful for my faith, such as it is, because without it life would be unendurable, but with it life is often a great joy.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Jen, thank you so much.

At my age now, I can promise you, change and growth are inevitable. I wish you a good life's journey.

Pris

Faith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Like most people commenting here I attended Sunday school as a child. For a number of years I recall attending almost every Sunday. I even joined the church at about the age of seventeen, and it was then as I was standing up to be confirmed looking out over those in the congregation that I was struck by the realization this just didn't seem right, that something was either wrong or missing. I think it was then that I realized that it was more important to come to understand the world with your own mind as independently as possible — not to be pushed into something as part of the herd. So the day I joined the church kind of marked the end of my attendance except for special occasions like wedding or funerals.

I don't think I became an outright frothing atheist nor was I a self righteous religionist. My problem isn't believing in God, I can accept the existence of God as a possibility. I have not found anybody that prove definitively that God exists and no atheist can prove God does not exist. So I have no problem accepting people choosing to believe in God — and I remain open to the possibility to the existence of God.

To me the problem is not if God exists but religion itself, or more specifically those who speak for religion. To assume the voice of God and assert that one is the representative of God on Earth is something common to all religions, at least those that I seem to have witnessed. The pretense that one is closer to God that the unwashed masses of the congregation — that the followers must follow and strictly obey the assertions of that leader, even to the point of slaying the unbelieving infidels is not something I could accept. To join the herd of true believers in condemning the unbelievers of the religious doctrine of the moment seems less Godly and more outright evil to me.

I recognize that human beings have a body and a soul — the existence of a human spirituality. Perhaps that's what keeps me reaching out attempting to find God in church and somehow not being able to do find it.

Waylon

Z said...

FT...thanks for that...I do think most Christians 'think for themselves'...and I'm happy you feel that joy and I think you're so right about our fruits...

Waylon...I think the Scripture's more where God is than in any church, don't you? And, I have to admit I don't know a clergyman who thinks he's closer to God than the 'unwashed masses' but you probably have a point that that is the impression on can get! if that's the case and some are, then they haven't read Scripture or their pride has got in the way, right !!? Thanks for sharing your story :-)

Anonymous said...

I should have been more specific, I guess. I wouldn't broadly say that about all clergymen, some are good people and well meaning. Some maybe not so much. But the upper levels of all religions look differently at those below them in the congregation, and some of those religions have in the past and even today exhort their followers to commit some of the worst sins imaginable against others, asserting they are unbelievers, infidels or blasphemers. These are supposedly the people who speak for God here on Earth. Then there is always the question of whose God is the real God.

I don't see the scriptures as being God putting pen to paper, but rather being individual men or women who have set down their interpretation of what God is and give some guidance for living life here on Earth. Some did great work and they merit reverence. I'm not one to think that we are automatically smarter today than people were back then and to sneer condescendingly at them as is commonly done by many today.

But I do have some serious questions and concerns about some of even the most visible of the televised ministries appearing to have veered off the rails. I long ago recognized that I was right to not become enamored with the church I was brought up in — it's since gone off the rails and become quite stridently leftist and sympathetic with the like of Castro.

I'm sure there are good churches around today, I just haven't found one that I have remained around for long.

Waylon

Z said...

Waylon, I hate to be understood as broad brushing a whole group so i'm sorry if my comment seemed like I was suggesting that you were. I know you'd never think ALL clergy are like that.

An interesting Bible study might be more enlightening than any church these days. And you are SO right, many churches have turned left and do support extreme leftist tyrants...what shows their idiocy is that people like Castro oppress their people so much but have sold to those with little understanding or desire to really see the truth that they're FOR THE PEOPLE, which I think is what puts the churches on their side in the beginning. Silly, but true?

Sadly, the Episcopal church here has fallen deeply into that category and my own Episcopal friends are now Anglican, which hasn't at all gone for the leftist doctrine. The really scary thing is that that church's diocese owns the land and buildings (unlike Lutherans, for example, which are all autonomous, bringing other types of problems with it, believe me, but not this one)...and my Episcopal friends' congregations have had their churches taken from the diocese right from under them for not espousing the Episcopal gay clergy, and leftist philosophies!

Anonymous said...

My in-laws were total non-believers. They said to be catholic but never went to church (only for major events like a wedding or baptism) so my husband grew up in a home not knowing anything about religion. When we married we had a hard time adjusting as I came from a Christian family where we had daily devotional time together, grace was said before all meals and personal bible study was a given. After years of prayers and finally just literally leaving my husbands relationship with God in God's hands, one day I was getting the kids ready to go to church and hubby asked if he could tag along. I was thrilled but tried not to show it too much so I wouldn't "scare him off" about 3 months later, he accepted Christ as his Saviour and till this day, thank God, has remained an active member of our Church.
(me!)

Z said...

Great story, ME...thanks for sharing that with us xxx

Anonymous said...

Once a "church" starts acting as an arm of a particular political party or non-Christian ideology it is no longer a church -- it is a POLITICAL organization.

People who don't like it should leave and found their own denomination.

How do you think Protestantism came into existence in the first place?

I dare say there is as much disunity among various sects calling themselves "Christian" as there is among all the various other religions and political philosophies in the world combined.

Disunity and discord are part and parcel of the human condition. Regrettable, perhaps, but inescapable nonetheless.

The tension experienced by this phenomenon MAY be a major source of creative energy and inventiveness. Conflict -- real or imagined -- is tremendously motivating.

After all the essence of stability and concord may be to sit forever on a C-Major chord, but there is no MUSIC unless we move through a labyrinthine series of modulations, thematic mutations, dissonances resolving into harmonies of various degrees of activity both away from and towards the starting chord. After adventures of this sort, the music seeks to resolve the conflict it expresses and finally comes to rest where it began.

Without conflict there is no drama, no music, no invention -- no LIFE.

DEATH is the ultimate resolution of conflict.

~ FreeThinke

Anonymous said...

Reading the Bible in its entirety has had a profound impact on my faith, resulting in a depth and strength that I would not have thought possible and for which I do not have adequate words to describe. I once heard the New Testament described as an appendix to the Old Testament. This is hyperbole, for sure, but still points to a truth, that being that there is a central unity to the Scriptures--they cannot be broken--and that the New Testament at once unlocks the Old Testament and serves as the fulfillment of it. Truly, from Genesis to Revelation, Scripture testifies to God's holiness, righteousness, and His grace in Jesus Christ.

-- a voice