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Stunted
08-06-2010, 09:17 PM
This is a question for Christians who are more religious now than they used to be. What made you decide to become more religious? How has Christianity enriched your life?

Thank you.

shaldna
08-07-2010, 12:18 AM
It just sort of happened gradually. For me it was never a sudden 'I've found Jesus' thing, but more and more as I got older and my life changed, I found that it was something that gave me peace.

When i was younger I hated church and religion, because it was sort of forced on us. But once the folks learned that wasn't the way to go with me, they backed off and I sort of worked things out in my own time.

It wasn't a decision, it was just something that happened.

In addition, our family is pretty mixed in terms of religion and beliefs, in my immediate family we have muslims, anglicans, catholics, a buddhist and hindu. One of my cousins was a monk and my ex's aunt is a nun. We're bringing our daughter up primarily as a catholic (i;m not a catholic) but open to all religion and spiritualism.

I personally think that religion and belief are aren't necessarily the same thing, and soemthing I've definately learned is that at the core of most religions is the same principle and philosophy, which I think has helped me personally to become more tolerant and more open to new and different ideas.

It's made me a much more centered person than I was before, adn it's given me a focus that I didn't have.

johnnysannie
08-07-2010, 03:26 PM
I'm Catholic and was raised Catholic although my parents left whether or not I went open. My dad was very devout in his youth; my mom converted to marry him. By the time I was a teenager, going to church was something that I alone of my family at home did by my own choice.

As I have grown older and more mature, I am very faithful in my faith. It enriches my life in many ways and I love the sense of tradition, handed down from generations of my family who were/are also Catholic. It ties me to the "old country" in various ways and is a bond there.

Sometimes when life is rough, it is a comfort to have the continuity and the hope of religion, to believe that there is actually someone up there that has more control than I do.

heyjude
08-07-2010, 04:56 PM
Hmmm... this is such a general question. There are several times in my life when I've moved deeper into faith for various reasons. But like shaldna and johnnysannie have said, most of it happened over time, with maturity.

One of the things that moved me further toward Jesus is having children and wanting them to grow up in a church environment. Seeing God through their eyes has been remarkable--that childlike faith that comes so naturally to them has renewed my faith every time I see it.

Are you looking for something specific, Stunted? Can you tell us more about why you've asked?

Stunted
08-07-2010, 08:22 PM
Oh, I'm not looking for something specific. All the accounts I've heard so far have been extremely useful. Thank you.

I'm thinking of writing a fantasy story in which fantasy-Catholicism starts to become popular in a traditionally atheist country. A lot of the MCs are negatively impacted by this change and are somewhat prejudiced against religion. I wanted to show the good things about the religion, what it means to people, how it enriches their lives.

And most of all, I don't want to come off as saying, "Wait, guys, the fantasy Catholic Church is evil just like the real life Catholic Church! Get it?" I like a lot of books that have that message, but I don't believe that, and I really don't want to be That Guy.

shaldna
08-08-2010, 12:30 AM
Oh, I'm not looking for something specific. All the accounts I've heard so far have been extremely useful. Thank you.

I'm thinking of writing a fantasy story in which fantasy-Catholicism starts to become popular in a traditionally atheist country. A lot of the MCs are negatively impacted by this change and are somewhat prejudiced against religion. I wanted to show the good things about the religion, what it means to people, how it enriches their lives.

And most of all, I don't want to come off as saying, "Wait, guys, the fantasy Catholic Church is evil just like the real life Catholic Church! Get it?" I like a lot of books that have that message, but I don't believe that, and I really don't want to be That Guy.


one thing that I have definatley found is that the mix of religion asround me has reall helped. There are areas that I really struggle with soemtimes, and sometimes someone else with a completely different religion can provide the answers.

rosewood
08-08-2010, 07:24 AM
I was raised by godly parents and always believed in God, but it wasn't until I was about 16 years old that I recognized that I was becoming someone that I didn't like. That was when I would say that my faith became more than just "mind" belief but also began to effect how I lived and viewed the world around me. It was a transformation that I "wanted", but I believe that God lead me to that wanting.

The maturing didn't end that sunny morning either. Believe me. Sometimes I wrestle with God, not wanting what He wants. Sometimes the wanting aligns with His desire for my life. All the while I rely on his Grace ("the salvation that I've been given, but don't deserve").

Cyia
08-08-2010, 07:34 AM
I'm thinking of writing a fantasy story in which fantasy-Catholicism starts to become popular in a traditionally atheist country.


Maybe you should start with some real life accounts of people found their faith in countries like that. There are stories of underground and home churches in China, and similar things in the former Soviet Union you might be able to glean specifics from to get the right tone for someone becoming religious in the midst of a Atheistic culture.


You could also look at religious art as a jumping off point for religious revival if someone collects or comes across icons from your fantasy-Catholicism and starts their "journey" by appreciating the art itself and then trying to figure out its origins. It might be a way to introduce the dogma of the church in an organic way.

DavidZahir
08-08-2010, 11:19 AM
I am not Catholic but Eastern Orthodox. For me, some kind of interest in religion has been the norm my entire life. When a child, I attended private schools run by Baptists and certain Churches of Christ. Honestly, much of what I was taught was troubling and by my teens I was an avowed atheist--mostly in reaction to the Churches, their specific doctrines and the way church-goers treated the world.

Much later, I felt a growing spiritual hunger, which crystalized after becoming a widower. Having studied various churches, and still feeling a great connection to the story of Jesus Christ, ultimately found myself drawn to the Orthodox Church with its focus on the soul-altering act of worship rather than an obsession with sin/guilt/punishment. Plus nobody goes around claiming to know all the answers nor that any mere human was or could be infallible. Attending Orthodox services in particular felt extraordinary.

shaldna
08-08-2010, 01:54 PM
I think it's interesting considering the posts above, and the experiences of people I know in rel life, that many people seem to have been brought up in a religion, but not really interested in it until much later in their lives when it became their own choice, and not just something that their parents had tried to instill in them.

CACTUSWENDY
08-08-2010, 07:47 PM
IMHO

To be truthful, I have hesitated in replying to this thread. My 'relationship with God is a very personal thing and it would take a whole book to relate the reality that it curtails. This is the nutshell version.

I 'came' to know Jesus at a very young age, 3-4 years old. No one pressured me or tried to 'talk' me into it. My parents raised me in a Christian household, but not one that preached it or made any big deal of it. For the on coming years I talked/prayed to Him and 'knew' He could/would hear and take care of me because He cares about me.

My teen years were pretty uneventful and by the time I was out of school I had a series of events take place that caused me to turn to Him for help that only solidified that relationship deeper. Up to this point I would say I gave Him 25-50% of my life. The rest I stayed in charge of. I didn't know or understand that there was or could be more.

I later became a wife/mother and when my kids were about 4-5 years old I had a couple of face to face encounters that caused me to give Him my 99% attention. By doing so and at this point, I put Him first in my life.

The ensuing years were/are an adventure that I could never had expected. That's not to say I didn't/don't make mistakes along the way, as that 1% can get you in trouble sometimes. I still consider myself a 'child' and still have tons of questions, but I know where to go for the help.

There is a difference between knowing about God and 'meeting' Him. Once you have 'met' Him, been filled with the Hold Spirit, and begin to understand Who He is and what He wants for your life, it makes everything else fall into place. That's what is neat about free will.

I believe that in your story it is very possible for folks to 'find' God. He is the one that pursues and reveals. There is no man/woman that could ever fill those shoes because it is a spiritual thing. Man/woman can only tell you about Him, He alone can 'show' you Him. I believe in each of us is a 'place' that is set aside for Him. It can either be filled with Him or filled with some other 'spiritual' identity, but it is never empty. What we choose to fill it with is a choice, as well as to what degree. (Again, this is IMHO.) I would also, for your story line, not put your people in any specific denomination, as God is not denominational. ;) Make up a new name.

You may also want to study the 'God head' and understand the workings of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. If spirituality is only a passing thing in your book, it will not make much difference, but if it is the main thread of your story, then you will have to get a lot of research in for it. I don't see how you could write about it if you have not experienced it. IMHO

As an old person, in real life, I am at peace and look forward to a day when I will get all those questions answered, be without the tears and pain of this life, and get on to bigger and better. Best wishes with your story.

shaldna
08-08-2010, 09:18 PM
I'm in the act of introducing my 3 year old daughter to God. Our dog died at Christmas, which is what started her introduction. She wanted to know where Elizabeth was, so we told her about Heaven and God, and she totally grasped that, which surprised me. But I guess it's the childish ability to understand and accept even the most difficult concepts.

To date she hasn't been told much except the basics, which is enough for ehr at teh minute. I'd realyl like to her to develop a faith, but I dont want to push ehr into it.

Robin Bayne
08-09-2010, 12:14 AM
Like Wendy, I feel it's rather personal but can give a brief summary. I also was raised Catholic and found church nothing but boring, dull old men giving long lectures. I hated being forced to go to religion class on Saturday mornings and later confirmation classes on weeknights, but I did it because my parents wanted me to.

It wasn't until I was in my 30's I realized that not only was God real (which I'd never doubted) but that He wanted me to have a relationship with Him. He didn't want me to be "religious," but to be a follower. I attend a Lutheran church now with my dh, but would consider attending one of those Calvary Chapels someday that are all Bible-based.

I tell people I'm not religious, but I have a strong faith.

Hope that helps.

shaldna
08-09-2010, 01:02 AM
That's ineresting, because thats how I feel. While I believe, and strongly, I don't liek organised religion, mainly because I don't agree with so much of it.

Lavern08
08-09-2010, 06:35 PM
Surrendering my whole heart, soul, body and mind to Jesus Christ was the best decision I ever made! :snoopy:

While nothing traumatic happened in my life (almost 30 years ago), to make me seek a deeper faith, I started to feel a tug in my heart and felt that I needed to get closer to God.

Since I was a child, I always believed in God, owned a Bible, and prayed before going to sleep every night - BUT - I wasn't 100% committed to Him.

After watching - believe it or not - The 700 Club, and hearing the testimonies of people who became born-again Christians for a couple of months, I called their prayer line and asked Jesus to take complete control of my life.

Am I now perfect? No way!

Did my life become a bed of roses? No!

Is my heart overflowing with peace and love and the knowledge that I'll spend eternity with my Lord and Saviour, Jesus? Yes, yes, yes! :hooray:

Belle_91
08-09-2010, 06:47 PM
I'm Catholic and I went to a Catholic School (Kindgarten-Senior in High School), and for me I went through a rebellious phase where I didn't want to believe in God mainly because I was pissed off at my school-I know real mature right.

However, as I got older and more mature, my faith started to deepen. I realized that I had alot to be thankful for, that God had given me so many blessings in my life, that I remembered what it was to be a Christian and belong in that since of community. To me, believeing in God is just a great comfort, knowing that someone is looking out for me, and that I can ask them for wisdom, guidance, and strength. Sometimes I still have my doubts, but for the most part I believe that someone is watching over me.

gracemichael
08-09-2010, 06:56 PM
Am I now perfect? No way!

Did my life become a bed of roses? No!

This. I think some people falsely believe that when they accept God into their heart, then life is going to suddenly become trouble-free. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it does offer is the ability to turn your troubles over to Him and know that He will help you through anything and never leave your side while you go through it.

For me, I was raised in a Catholic home. I attended 12 years of Catholic school. I was very active in church but when I hit college, I wandered away from church.

When my husband and I married, we started going to chuch again, although we started going to a Methodist church. I admit that I get much, much more from the Methodist traditions than I did from the Catholic ones. When my youngest son was a toddler, we became aware that he has some disabilities that really rocked our world and it was at that point that my faith began to really take hold. I could not have made it through my journey with my son without my God and my church family.

Now, I have a very, very strong faith and no fear in sharing it. I am now a Christian author - my first manuscript was a scriptural guide/Bible study for parents of children with special needs. Now, I'm working on my first novel which has a heavily Christian message.

Lavern08
08-09-2010, 07:23 PM
... I think some people falsely believe that when they accept God into their heart, then life is going to suddenly become trouble-free. Nothing could be further from the truth. What it does offer is the ability to turn your troubles over to Him and know that He will help you through anything and never leave your side while you go through it.

Exactly! ;)

dirtsider
08-09-2010, 11:40 PM
Oh, I'm not looking for something specific. All the accounts I've heard so far have been extremely useful. Thank you.

I'm thinking of writing a fantasy story in which fantasy-Catholicism starts to become popular in a traditionally atheist country. A lot of the MCs are negatively impacted by this change and are somewhat prejudiced against religion. I wanted to show the good things about the religion, what it means to people, how it enriches their lives.

And most of all, I don't want to come off as saying, "Wait, guys, the fantasy Catholic Church is evil just like the real life Catholic Church! Get it?" I like a lot of books that have that message, but I don't believe that, and I really don't want to be That Guy.

Ok, if the country's traditionally atheist, why and how does the fantasy Catholicism take hold in the first place? Do missionaries come into the country and start preaching? Or does the religion start as a grassroots movement and go from there? Or does it start with a Christ-figure and just explode from that starting point?

How it enriches people's lives depends on how you answer that. Some Orders were known to move into a new area and set up schools, hospitals, and other charities (if the Church was already established). Or it could be a run charity/clinic privately run by a convert who shares his/her beliefs with those who ask. Stuff like that.

Robin Bayne
08-11-2010, 04:44 AM
This. I think some people falsely believe that when they accept God into their heart, then life is going to suddenly become trouble-free. Nothing could be further from the truth. .


Exactly. And people also expect Christians to be perfect, or to try to be. I have relatives who are committed Christians but still don't behave the way other relatives expect them to.

But being Christian doesn't make us better, it just makes us better off.

DrZoidberg
08-11-2010, 12:03 PM
You might want to check this out. Barry Kosmin replicated an earlier study on what people in USA believe. They went into detail on the specifics. He found that even though religious faith was on the rise, the types of belief has shifted. So being, let's say, Catholic today, might not be what it was before.

http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/research_briefs/aris.pdf

People believing because of an authority figure has told them to, (ie tradition) has taken a sharp nose-dive, and has been on a steady decline since the 18'th century. Today's religious faiths are quite complicated. The labels "Christian" or "Catholic" today, don't tell you that much of what the believers think about God and the type of faith they have. The same goes for all religions.

It's a fascinating read.

johnnysannie
08-11-2010, 04:34 PM
So being, let's say, Catholic today, might not be what it was before.

.

Interesting read, indeed but as far as beliefs and worship go, the Catholic CHurch today is no diffrent than it has been for many centuries. The only major changes in thousands of years came under Vatican II during the 1960's when the language of the Mass changed from worldwide Latin to the native tongue in the parish and other changes to the Mass that allowed more lay participation began.

The core beliefs - which we call our Cathechism - are unchanged. I have an early 1950's cathechism and the current one - no changes in beliefs.

shaldna
08-12-2010, 12:27 AM
Interesting read, indeed but as far as beliefs and worship go, the Catholic CHurch today is no diffrent than it has been for many centuries. The only major changes in thousands of years came under Vatican II during the 1960's when the language of the Mass changed from worldwide Latin to the native tongue in the parish and other changes to the Mass that allowed more lay participation began.

The core beliefs - which we call our Cathechism - are unchanged. I have an early 1950's cathechism and the current one - no changes in beliefs.

i think that there is a diference in the church as a whole and the church as an individual.

our priests are pretty great, and even though I'm not catholic, they are wonderful to me, accepting, non-judgemental and very loving in their ways. I was worried because the older priest has a reputation for being pretty traditional, and when we had our daughter baptised, not only were we unmarried, but I was a prod and I brought my cousins Hindu husband and kids, and my buhdist monk unlce to the ceremony, which proved to be a talking point and was very much appreciated by all who were there.

In additon, the younger priest at our parish is very good friends with my ex;s sister (the grew up together), who;s a lesbian, and he's very supportive of her.

50 years ago we would, as a family, have been outcasts, as older memeber of my family are very fond of reminding me. but I really notice that religion, not just catholosism, is moving forward, it's becoming more embracing and more relevant, and I can't help but feel that's a good thing.

Impress Me
08-12-2010, 03:22 AM
Stunted,

I'd caution you to think carefully about putting atheists and Christians (Catholics are Christians) in opposing camps.

An atheist is someone who has wrestled (is wrestling) with the big questions, with purpose, origins, ends. These are the same same big questions Christians wrestle with. I'm a Christian and think I have more in common with an atheist than with someone who has simply not wrestled with big questions -- shall we call them shirkers? Simpletons?

I don't see atheism as the antithesis of Christianity or any other historical religion. Far from it. The enemy of both atheistic and religious conviction are those who don't even get outside of their own skin enough to ask, "What is there?" to the big black space above.

I think that both religion (and I mean a personal response to one's chosen religion) and a decision to reject a supreme being of any kind, are both thinking, active decisions. It's the folks who never decide, who never grapple with such issues who are more of force for evil.

Religion fosters hope. Even an atheist, who rejects anything outside of humanity, still has hope in humanity, something larger than himself.

Hopeless people are the most dangerous, perverse creatures possible. They will sacrifice their children to molesters, their bodies to death, their lives to inconsequence. They fill our prisons; they're children are taken by social services; they slit their wrists; they offer their time and skills to bleak notions of happiness and get their tits enlarged while children starve. These are not atheists or Christians; they are people who have ducked the decision all together.

shaldna
08-12-2010, 11:53 AM
Hopeless people are the most dangerous, perverse creatures possible. They will sacrifice their children to molesters, their bodies to death, their lives to inconsequence. They fill our prisons; they're children are taken by social services; they slit their wrists; they offer their time and skills to bleak notions of happiness and get their tits enlarged while children starve. These are not atheists or Christians; they are people who have ducked the decision all together.


For someone who just gave another member a lecture, this is very wrong of you to make these sort of assumptions. You are suggesting that only people asking themselves questions on morals and beliefs are the only people who are 'good' which is a horrible assumption to make, and comes across as preachy and patronising.

johnnysannie
08-12-2010, 12:07 PM
i think that there is a diference in the church as a whole and the church as an individual.

our priests are pretty great, and even though I'm not catholic, they are wonderful to me, accepting, non-judgemental and very loving in their ways. I was worried because the older priest has a reputation for being pretty traditional, and when we had our daughter baptised, not only were we unmarried, but I was a prod and I brought my cousins Hindu husband and kids, and my buhdist monk unlce to the ceremony, which proved to be a talking point and was very much appreciated by all who were there.

In additon, the younger priest at our parish is very good friends with my ex;s sister (the grew up together), who;s a lesbian, and he's very supportive of her.

50 years ago we would, as a family, have been outcasts, as older memeber of my family are very fond of reminding me. but I really notice that religion, not just catholosism, is moving forward, it's becoming more embracing and more relevant, and I can't help but feel that's a good thing.

Ah but I'm old enough to remember pre-Vatican II and of course the Church today. Things have not changed all that much. My family has long been a mix of Catholic and Prod, even fifty years ago. My mother, who converted to marry my dad in the Catholic faith, had bridal attendants who were non-Catholic and were welcomed. A lot depended then and now on the individual priests and how forward thinking their views.

mattias
08-12-2010, 12:20 PM
I was tempted to write about my own relation to the Christian faith but I didn't because that was not what Stunted was asking for. When I read the post by Impress Me, however, I felt the need to defend myself.

I don't want to think about the big questions! It doesn't serve any purpose to me, on the contrary I think it could be unhealthy. We all know what happened after the Big Bang (at least we have theories which seem to be correct), but I don't want to think about whether it was a work of God or if there is an explanation which doesn't involve God.

When I look into space, which I like to do, I see galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. But I never ask myself "why?".

I consider myself to be a good person; I try to be kind to everyone, I like to make people happy and I am a volunteer in the National Home Guard.

Nivarion
08-13-2010, 12:01 PM
I'm coming out onto a limb with this post. I'll admit, I'm quite a deal uncomfortable but I think I'll give it a go.

I'm A Latter Day Saint. Most people know us as Mormons.

I've known the tenants of my religion almost my whole life, I know scriptures and believe in Christ as my savior.

I'm currently working on strengthening my faith.

Some few months ago, while doing some very deep soul searching I realized that my faith is woefully weak, it's inadequate. I didn't pray for three years in one go.

I'm not talking about things like praying at church or at meals; I mean honest, deep private praying to draw myself closer to my god.

What prompted my decision to strengthen, or rather gain my faith was realizing I didn't truly have one. I do now, It is small and weak but it is growing.

heh. This post is so small, but I was so nervous making it. I'm honestly still nervous hitting submit.

shaldna
08-13-2010, 04:05 PM
heh. This post is so small, but I was so nervous making it. I'm honestly still nervous hitting submit.


i'm glad you posted. you're not alone in this, and even hearing you say it will help others who are having trouble with this same issue themselves

heyjude
08-13-2010, 04:10 PM
I'm coming out onto a limb with this post. I'll admit, I'm quite a deal uncomfortable but I think I'll give it a go.

I'm A Latter Day Saint. Most people know us as Mormons.

I've known the tenants of my religion almost my whole life, I know scriptures and believe in Christ as my savior.

I'm currently working on strengthening my faith.

Some few months ago, while doing some very deep soul searching I realized that my faith is woefully weak, it's inadequate. I didn't pray for three years in one go.

I'm not talking about things like praying at church or at meals; I mean honest, deep private praying to draw myself closer to my god.

What prompted my decision to strengthen, or rather gain my faith was realizing I didn't truly have one. I do now, It is small and weak but it is growing.

heh. This post is so small, but I was so nervous making it. I'm honestly still nervous hitting submit.

I'm glad you posted, too. :Hug2: I think there are more people than you know who've faced this: I know I believe, but am I doing anything about it?

You are. It's a good thing. :)

Stunted
08-13-2010, 05:16 PM
Thank you so much, everyone. This has been so helpful and inspiring.

Impress Me
08-13-2010, 07:00 PM
shaldna,

What are you talking about? I gave Stunted my opinions/beliefs surrounding the questions he/she posted here. If you want to feel preached at and patronized, when I state my opinions, that's your doing, not mine. Don't even see how what you're written relates to what I wrote.

shaldna
08-14-2010, 02:41 AM
shaldna,

What are you talking about? I gave Stunted my opinions/beliefs surrounding the questions he/she posted here. If you want to feel preached at and patronized, when I state my opinions, that's your doing, not mine. Don't even see how what you're written relates to what I wrote.


re-read what you wrote, especially the last paragraph. Then sit down and have a really good think about what it means to have a faith, or to decide that you don't have a faith. Whether you want to believe it or not, half the people living in the developed world fall into the space between, the space that you branded 'hopeless' and your post suggested that these are somehow 'bad' people. It's incredibly misinformed and lacking in humanity, empathy and understanding. Which is amusing as you had just called out someone else on what they said.

Impress Me
08-14-2010, 03:50 AM
shaldna,

I don't know who I called out. I was telling the OP that I, as a Christian, feel a greater affinity to atheists than to folks who have never made a decision about their religious beliefs. I feel a greater affinity to folks who are/have wrestled with the Big questions. I wrote this in response to what the OP said about the religious themes of his/her book.

I also said that religious beliefs foster hope and that people without hope are some of the most dangerous, deprived people around. Never said a person couldn't get hope other ways. Also never said hopeless people are bad, but that bad people are often hopeless people. Hope, for me, is one of the gifts of religious beliefs, which is what the OP was asking about, at least as I read it.

Guess I'm at a loss on how my thoughts offended so much. Big Question discussions often get passionate, as they should. But, please do not read into my stated thoughts and feelings any sort of preachiness or as patronizing. I don't even know you. I have to know someone quite well to even attempt patronizing.

MacAllister
08-14-2010, 08:30 PM
Let's try not to go off the rails, here, folks. There's no reason for anyone to either take anything posted, personally, nor to address personal remarks towards one another. It's a research thread, asking about individual experiences and perceptions.

Giant Baby
08-14-2010, 09:47 PM
I have an odd (well, I think it's odd, perhaps it's more common than I realize) appreciation for how faith and or religion can enrich a life, even though it's not something I experience personally.

I am not an athiest, I'm not agnostic, I'm not a believer. And this is not becauser I'm a "shirker." It's actually because I've been asking questions my whole life that I haven't found faith in any current ism. (I know, at first read, this may sound agnostic, but it's really not that simple.) I have thought, prayed, studied, meditated, discussed, sought to find what I believe at different times in my life and continue to do so. What I keep coming away with is that I can't presume to know. Nothing in my heart has thus far overridden the fact that I have no idea what presence there might be that's greater than myself and has an interest in my life.

Which is complicated, most particularly because my husband is a man of enormous and beautiful faith. The relationship he has with his God enriches his life in ways that inspire me to wish I could believe just to siphon some of what he's got. I often go to church with him, because I adore the community, each and every member of which is warm and generous and loving and committed to one another and the people around them, and I often help out at some of their truly beautiful community works (my favorite is the night they have twice a month where the local homeless come to the church kitchen and, together with member volunteers, plan and prepare the meal, and then eveyone eats together and cleans up together). I find a lot of faith in this community, but in my heart, I know my faith is in the people. So, in some ways, I guess I am siphoning off the faith of others.

Okay, that was long. What I can tell you is that my husband finds peace in his faith in God. He trusts in it, and isn't frightened. Jeff is blind. Everything he does (and he does a lot- very demanding job, very demanding wife...) is a little harder for him than it is for *most* other people.

When asked if he'd wish to be sighted, his answer is this: If they come up with an operation that can restore or replace his retinas, sign him up. He'll be there tomorrow. But if asked whether he wishes he'd been born with normal vision, the answer is no. He likes the man he is, and doesn't know if he'd be the same man today if he hadn't walked to road he has (and it was a very hard one for many years) to get there. And this faith in himself is something he found through his faith in God.

Jeff takes two busses and a train (cane traveling), followed by about a half mile walk, to get to church the weeks I don't go. And then he does the same to get home. That's all fine with him, and more than worth it.

DrZoidberg
08-15-2010, 10:34 AM
I am not an athiest, I'm not agnostic, I'm not a believer. And this is not becauser I'm a "shirker." It's actually because I've been asking questions my whole life that I haven't found faith in any current ism.


I think you're technically an atheist. Atheism isn't any faith at all. It's the belief-slop-pail you land in if you don't find any available belief in god convincing. There's a few systems to define atheism, but you can safely call yourself "weak atheist", "implicit atheist" or "negative atheist". They're all basically the same thing, and make no strong claims about anything, including atheism.

Agnosticism is when you're weighing between one or more definitions of god, and you can't make up your mind. It's when you, at the same time, in certain ways believe in a god and in certain ways do not believe. The various faiths are pulling at you from within. You seem a little bit too clear headed on what you believe to claim agnosticism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

Don't be confused by the strong atheist types like Dawkins or Sam Harris. You can be an atheist even if you don't share their "enthusiasm".

We live in a world where there's some sort of image of a battle of faiths, with atheism on one side and religion on the other, with agnosticism in the middle. This is a false image, and based on the fact that in each geographical area, one faith tends to be dominant, and get to define what god is.

I think a better image is the various multitude of gods and faiths in a tug of war of theistic faith, with agnostics in the middle, and then atheists completely separate being those that have fallen through the cracks and ended up on the ground below.

You can go to church and do everything your husband does and still be an atheist. This is extremely common within Judaism. Religious ritual doesn't need god. You say so yourself, that your husband has a great relationship with god even if you don't share his faith. In your head, he is talking to himself when he is praying. And you see its working for him. You can do that too. It can work for you as well, no matter if god exists or not.

When fundie Christians try to make out atheism as just another religious faith, they're just ignorant.

JoNightshade
08-15-2010, 10:43 AM
In reference to your research for your story, I have been a believer since I was a small child. I was never big on the "religious" aspect of it though - I did go to church but it wasn't a big part of my relationship with God. Only in the past couple of years, as I married and had a child, did I realize my need for other believers. I have become involved in church because I now understand how valuable and supportive the family of God can be. I think if you have an unreligious community where religion suddenly takes hold, the sense of family and belonging can really play a big part. Now I look at people outside of the church and I see how disconnected and often alone they are. I'm not someone who needs a lot of personal connection, but it's so nice to have people there you can trust, who are there when you really need them. Basically, it's community. Communion. :)

Impress Me
08-16-2010, 07:45 AM
Giant Baby,

Oh, I know what you mean. Your line about siphoning off the faith of others hits home for me. Faith has never been easy for me, and most of the time I've felt that if I hadn't been raised in a Christian home, I wouldn't be a Christian. Because I've never felt that God called or selected me. Rather, I often feel like I'm hanging on by my fingertips, yelling, "What about me?"

You seem to fit the definition of agnostic to me -- someone who is/has wrestled with Big questions and comes up with a bigger question mark. This isn't shirking; it's the opposite. I think it's pretty innate in humans to ask Big questions and it takes a lot of effort to shirk that, maybe even a conscious and steadfast effort. It's that dedication to shirking that which I think is an innate tendency -- artifacts suggest even Neanderthal dealt with such questions -- that leaves me less identified with a person. I'd much sooner enjoy a balls-out conversation with someone who cares and has thought about God and Big questions and disagrees with my current thinking than a conversation with someone who wants to talk about who did what to whom for more than five minutes.

With all my questioning and conflict with God, I think he must laugh at me a lot and maybe even appreciate that I can't ever (so far) feel like part of the flock, that I'm that sheep behind going, "Guys, um, are you sure that white-robed guy has our flock's best interest at heart? Are we even sure he's not just like some figment of our sheep-imagination?"

Goodness, I don't even know what I've just written. But I enjoy the discussion.

kuwisdelu
08-16-2010, 08:40 AM
What are these Big Questions I keep hearing about?

Impress Me
08-16-2010, 09:06 AM
Well, that would be Big questions, with the "q" down so that we are not confused as to the importance of the biggness one places upon the questions in question rather than the question itself.

You have to ask yourself, what is the Biggest question that has ever entered my mind? Once you get the image of your Biggest question, you try to bigger it. Ask yourself, if I were a bigger person how would my Big question expand. Therein lies answer. Your Big question, plus the expansion imagined by a bigger person, yields the biggest Big question you are able to conceive at present.

Nifty, no?

kuwisdelu
08-16-2010, 09:16 AM
You have to ask yourself, what is the Biggest question that has ever entered my mind? Once you get the image of your Biggest question, you try to bigger it. Ask yourself, if I were a bigger person how would my Big question expand. Therein lies answer. Your Big question, plus the expansion imagined by a bigger person, yields the biggest Big question you are able to conceive at present.

Nifty, no?

Huh? I have no idea how that has anything to do with faith or religion.

And I don't know how to measure whether one question is "Bigger" than another.

Plus, I don't want to be any bigger of a person. I'm on a diet. ;)

Giant Baby
08-17-2010, 03:26 AM
Hi DrZoidberg and Impress Me,

I really appreciate your thoughtful responses to my post. I don't want to hijack this thread--and I really posted my own experience as a bit of explanation for why I was telling someone else's story in response to the OP's question--but I certainly opened a door, and considered and well-meaning input from people who've clearly thought a lot about about the subject is worth thanks and much respect. Sincerely.

Peace out.

-Mags.