Introductions - Who We Are, Why We're Here

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MacAllister

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Feel free to share, if you're willing to talk about your own interests, background, and so on. I'll go and compose my own brief personal introduction, in the meantime. I'm still working on a mission statement for the forum (Roger Carlson has been a huge help, btw, and been one of the foremost enthusiasts about building this place, so if you're glad to see it, you might drop a thank you in his direction.)

So, who are ya? Why are you here? Why on earth are you interested in discussion centered around religion and religious differences?
 
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Calla Lily

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Whee! I get to be first!

Some of y'all may know that I used to be a nun. I can snag my photo from Facebook tonight and you can chuckle at the image of "clueless, personified".

I was de facto excommunicated from the RCC when I married my husband (a divorced Lutheran), and no, I didn't leave the convent for him. :) Met him 2 years after I jumped the wall. Yes, there was a wall, but I left in a car, down the driveway. But the drama remained intact.

After the jump, I booted God to the curb and looked for some other spiritual path. I researched Buddhism, Paganism, a few versions of Protestantism. Nothing gave me that spiritual connection, and I assumed it didn't exist for me.

What the searching did give me was insight into many other faiths. After being "on the inside" of the RCC and (cliche alert!) seeing the seamy underside, I realized that there were many paths to Divinity, and we're all in this together, equally.

A good friend once told me how the Morrighan appeared to her and why she became a follower of the Morrighan. A year or so earlier, Jesus hounded me and appeared to me in practically the same manner. A lightbulb moment for this Lily.

So, I'm in this forum to talk about religion, because I know a lot of its nuts and bolts. My brain is here to pick. Plus, I love hearing other folks' stories--how they're similar, how they differ, and how we can learn from each other.
 

Don Allen

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Timely Mac, for me personally I've seem to lost my way a bit lately and need to find out who I want to be, how to get there, and where to find the passion for things I care about that I've seem to misplaced. Still believe in God, but have come to literally hate religion to the point where I almost curl up in a rage when someone starts going off about what I perceive their latest round of brainwashing by whatever cult they attend.

I KNOW,,,,,,, cyinical to the point of absurdity, but I can't shake it. Maybe thats the problem I'm having in trying find a place for myself, I don't know....

Not ready for the 911 call, yet....


B
 

AMCrenshaw

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Well. I'm a nontheist-- which for me is either atheism or pantheism, depending on the day-- and a nonviolence activist. Nonviolent justice and healing are at the center of my spirituality, so quite often I help the Catholic Workers and march in Reading with the Berks Advocates and Women in Crisis, or the Phil Berrigan Institute, which I helped co-found.

I don't believe in God or in gods for a variety of reasons that don't matter right this second. But that said, I find sacred texts beautiful in that it reminds me how powerful and strange human insight, observation, and imagination are.




AMC
 

MacAllister

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I grew up in an extremely fundamentalist Christian sect - think the church in "Footloose" but more repressive, for those of us old enough to remember the movie - but left home as soon as I turned 17 and went to college (in spite of being told bluntly that women had no business seeking higher education.)

A philosophy professor essentially deprogrammed me, by the simple virtue of teaching me to question, question, then question some more. If I made some flat assertion about anything, (which I did a lot of, being 17 and convinced I knew what I knew) he'd ask simply and gently, "And how do you know that?" (I should add, Charlie was a Christian, and had no bone to pick with regard to Faith - he just thought we should all know the difference between faith and actual knowledge.)

I'd answer something like, "because...so-and-so (or the Bible) says so..."

Rinse, repeat, until I learned to think much more critically about all the stuff I thought I knew. It absolutely unraveled Fundamentalism, for me. The more I actually learned about the Bible texts in their original languages, and the history of those texts, the less I could take a strict literal interpretation of the KJV seriously for ten seconds.

So I'm here, and I've built this room, to pay it forward in a sense. That philosophy prof - I think - saved my life and sanity. I think questioning is healthy. And I think a reasonable, calm comparison of religious differences - and similarities - contributes to better understanding of each other, and of our world.
 
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Medievalist

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I'm the child of a seminary-trained ordained clergyman.

I learned to read Latin and Koine in my teens, and then picked up Hebrew and other languages, mostly dead ones, in college.

I have particular interest in myth and language, particularly Indo-European and Near Eastern myths and language. I'm profoundly interested in text and words and how we use them, read them, and find meaning.

When I'm pressed about my religion, I typically answer scholarship.
 

Ruv Draba

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I'm an atheist, a skeptic and a secular humanist. Having been a precocious youngster whose impertinent questions got fobbed off too many times (questions are far respected in professors than precocious kids), I'm scornful of superstition but not of faith or myth.

Religion isn't for me but it is an inalienable part of my social environment, shaping art, philosophy and community. Religion has shaped human destiny every bit as much as economy, environment, or scientific lore. Therefore religion is a humanist concern -- even if it's not part of my own tradition.
 

StephanieFox

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My Facebook pages claims that I am a Poly-atheist Jewish Pagan Pastafarian.

I was raised in a household where religion was important, especially in an intellectual way, and it didn't matter which religion. We had Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist and Hindu friends, pretty good considering this was small town Iowa.

I am still interested in religions, their practices and beliefs. There are questions I have but hesitate to ask friends because I don't want to sound like I'm challanging their faith. They can believe whatever they want. Myself – I believe I'll have another martini (tonight). I'll be asking a few questions later.
 

cindystubbs

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religion

Football was the religion in Alabama when I grew up. The bear wrestiling Paul "Bear" Bryant.
I like Yoga but they lost me on chakras.
I have a friend who see auras?????

I do know when I was ten I had a hallucination or a religious experience or a dream while awake.
I asked God if He was there by asking the trees.
Okay I was ten and imaginative.
The wind started blowing like crazy, except it wasn't really blowing that hard but I felt God then. Then like ten seconds later the feeling was gone and I was alone again. Nope, nothing like that ever happened again. What happened? I do not know. I must say I could never not believe, not when I've had a personal experience. I feel almost like I am not supposed to talk about this or something which is strange...
 

Bartholomew

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I'm a 22 year old Buddhist who has discarded most of the mystical aspects from his practice. I do yoga, I meditate, and I go to school full time. I'm a writing tutor at JCCC a student and reporter at PSU, majoring in English, or possibly and Communications. I've always been interested in human spirituality (or lack thereof) and I like to think that every culture and religion has something I can embrace and use.

~edit~

I was raised Buddhist, though my parents paid to send me to a Catholic school, as they believed it would provide a superior education and a broader range of experiences for me. In the third grade, I confided to a teacher that I wasn't catholic, and neither were my parents; she called Social Services. -_-

So fourth, fifth and sixth grade were at public schools, until my father decided that they were vastly inferior, and decided to home-school me. I spent a good deal of my time as a home-schooler studying history, language, and religious texts (from various schools of thought.)

My father died, and I became somewhat obsessed with symbols and spirituality, a phase I grew out of (much to the forum moderators' relief.)
 
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Saint Fool

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Lapsed Episcopalian who still has the Book of Common Prayer I received at confirmation.. Probably best described as a Christian Agonostic who occasionally gets visits from Ganesh in my dreams and collects hymnals.

I'm addicted to Slacktivist's coverage of the Left Behind series, love civil discussions of religion and myth, and I'm a sucker for ritual of any kind. (Is it possible to be an Anglican-Catholic-Shinto-Gardnarian Wiccan?)
 

StephanieFox

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Football was the religion in Alabama when I grew up. The bear wrestiling Paul "Bear" Bryant.
I like Yoga but they lost me on chakras.
I have a friend who see auras?????

I do know when I was ten I had a hallucination or a religious experience or a dream while awake.
I asked God if He was there by asking the trees.
Okay I was ten and imaginative.
The wind started blowing like crazy, except it wasn't really blowing that hard but I felt God then. Then like ten seconds later the feeling was gone and I was alone again. Nope, nothing like that ever happened again. What happened? I do not know. I must say I could never not believe, not when I've had a personal experience. I feel almost like I am not supposed to talk about this or something which is strange...

Sounds very Pagan. Kinda atheist Pagan. In Paganism experience is the inmportant thing, not belief.
 

sunna

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*waves*

I was raised in a very strict Catholic church until my parents were kicked out of the church for using birth control. We went to a Baptist church for several years, then Episcopalian, then Methodist, before my parents decided they had four fairly confused kids and stopped going altogether, saying we could decide for ourselves later on in life. For all of high school I believed I was agnostic, until a few experiences my first year of college showed me I was actually Wiccan, and just never knew what to call that. :)

And in the middle of discovering that I went to Bosnia to do humanitarian work, and was exposed to three religions coexisting in one small part of the world, a fairly astonishing feat by itself considering the history there. In some cases they coexisted with a lack of tolerance that made my early years in church look like bliss by comparison, and in some cases with an openness and acceptance that to this day still puts anything I've seen in America to shame.

I've been fascinated ever since. What I believe is very much a part of me, but I don't think it's ever really been the driving force behind my best and/or worst moments: and for so many of the people I've met what they believe seems to be that, no matter what the faith. I'm envious, wary, appalled, in awe, and slightly relieved to be on the outside looking in on that experience, I guess. :)
 

Ken

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...ain't religious or atheist either, 'shamed to say.
Have always liked the gods of yore, though, like Zeus and Pallas Athena.
So maybe I might participate in discussions in this nascent forum by leasing the ancient Greek religion and debating it's advantages with those of other faiths and beliefs here, if that would be okay? // I'd be like Fyodor Karamazov, when he discussed religion in the monastery with Zosima. // Kidding, kidding ... no buffoonery; I promise!
 

stormie

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I'm Roman Catholic. Went to Catholic elementary school, high school, college, and then taught for nine years in Catholic elementary school. 25 years of being immersed in my religion. But I don't agree with everything my religion says. Yet to follow blindly and not question would be not to grow.

About a year or so ago I became friends with a woman who came to my door with her booklets and her well-worn bible. She's a Jehovah Witness. She comes by about every two weeks now, bringing another member of her congregation and we talk. They know I'm Catholic and not about to change religions, just as I know I won't even try to convert them. Why should I?

We're all on this quest together, no matter what religion.
 

Jean Marie

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I like this room, Mac :D

We're all here to improve who we are, hopefully and help each other a bit along the way. If that includes a God of our understanding, than so be it.

Essentially, what stormie said is right on the mark: we're on this quest together regardless of religion.

I'm a Roman Catholic, too w/ a paternal Jewish grandfather that no one told me about until I pushed it (yeah, not much has changed) when I was around 10. My grandmother got yelled at by my mom for spilling the beans. Pretty stupid if you ask me. Scenario: Grandma, grandpa and I are walking along a NYC street on a lovely Sunday am (I was visiting from CA), we were on our way to Mass, or so I thought, next thing I know, grandpa says goodbye and I say,"Where's he going?"

"Well, your Grandpa's not going to Mass w/ us."
"Why?"
"B/c he's got things he has to do."
"You're not telling the truth, Grandma. Why's he skipping Mass? If he gets to, then I get to."
"Ask your mother."
That's never a good answer. Long and short of it, I pulled it out of her. Pretty stupid if you ask me.

So, I go home and in school the nun says, "Catholicism is the one true religion." I raise my hand and ask, "Then, why was Jesus raised a Jew?"

My mom blamed the fact that I spent so much time in the principal's office that year on my dad's mom. Oh well. Coming from a mixed religion family, what are ya gonna do. You shouldn't keep things from kids.

Now, I don't buy everything the church teaches. I take something from each person I know, each religion has something to teach. The basis is the same, but I do love a lot of what the church has to say. The particular church I go to has a couple of wonderful priests and that's what makes a difference for me, they talk to you, not at you. And they really listen. Not all priests do.

A dear friend of mine is Navajo, I love that family! A few of my cousins practice Buddhism and Catholicism.

It all works if we're open to it.
 

aruna

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I was raised by atheists who tried very hard to debunk Christinaity for me -- which was the mainstream religion of my family and the schools I went to.
I grew up more otr less neutral, but very critical, absorbing everything, questioning everything. I've always been deeply moved, sometimes to tears, by Christian hymns and some Bible passages, loved OT stories, but alwasy sceptical of Christina dogma, especially the teaching that there is only one way, and could not believe in Hell.

Went through stages of intense Christianity and atheism in my teens, then began a serious search which catapulted me to India, where I found a spiritual "Home" in Advaita Vedanta, which most Westerners seem never to have heard of!

I was lucky enough to end up, without even knowing it, in THE most important centre for Advaita and I've never turned back, not in 35 years.
I still love Christina hymns. I go to Church sometimes, but also to a Buddhist temple to meditate, and I;ve been to a Sikh place of worship. If it inspires me, it's good!
Through Advaita I came to understand that all paths lead to the same goal, and all religions are valid in their own way. And God, for me, is not some man sitting up in heaven but a state of mind, perfect happiness, that is inherent in myself and in us all, though hidden by a curtain of thought.
 
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Lyra Jean

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I was raised generic Christian. I don't know what else to call it. I've attended many different Christian denominations: Church of God, Non-denominational evangelical speaking in tongues kind of church (in high school so it had the most influence on me) we were small 10 people on a good Sunday. We rented a conference room at the Days Inn, and even a little Jehovah's Witness. While in college I've been to Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist.

I'm not sure where I stand right now except that I did except Jesus and all the rest is gravy. I've always felt that women in Christianity been um, kept in their place, so to speak. As if a woman cannot do something without her father's permission if single or husband's permission if married. Perhaps I've just been talking with the wrong groups of people.

I did have one experience where I was "slain in the spirit" and I felt I actually went somewhere and came back but I can't say where I went.

I'm currently looking into Quakerism as something that I could handle better. Right now reading the Bible my brain is stuck with women are being dominated by men and cannot or not allowed to speak their minds. It's not real healthy right now.
 

Cassiopeia

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I think I'm a mut. I was baptized into a Catholic family. My mother divorced my father and we went back to her families church which is Presbyterian. I am of Jewish descent. I was baptized into the LDS church years and years ago...and then I left for quite some time. Now, I kinda go but not really invested into it as much.

My friends tell me I'm Christo-pagan because of my spiritual beliefs and practices.

Hey you know what, I'm a spiritualist. I belief that faith should be something that makes you happy and enrich your life not scare the hell out of you. :)

Yep that's about it.
 

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Hi, my name is Margaret. I am a 21 year old christian. I'm a charismatic pentecostal, staunch believer in the existence of God, the reality of Jesus Christ and the felloship of the Holy Ghost. I cannot be swerved, but that's not to say that l believe blindly. I am an intelligent human being with a voracious brain so l approach everything with an open eye, an open mind. I am a firm believer and l am grounded in my faith. Always have been and always will. I hope!!!
 

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I am also a Spiritualist. I was raised a Catholic by great parents who demonstrated integrity and love. I questioned Catholicism at an early age of about 10 when I realised I was born bad with original sin (What the hell is that?). I didn't know or feel that and so I started to question everything I was told. I had to be saved (from what ?) and I was petrified I would be called to be a nun. The nuns told us God would tap us on our shoulder and we would then be a Bride of Christ. I prayed every night for God not to tap me. I trained as a Catholic Teacher.

I was a devout pray-er and believed in the existence of a higher order. Now I believe it is either in me or comes on other days from the outside. The motivation and emotional connection to this higher order is what drives me to live and love better, every minute. I practice Spiritual healing and wear crystals in my bra, I don't know if it works but I do. I teach Astrology of the Soul and work as a Wholistic Counsellor. I have been clairvoyant and a Medium since a child and my parents accepted this. I am a born sceptic so test everything to the hilt. Truth is paramount to me so as a Medium my clients give me the validation of the evidence. I am merely the Vessel. I am on a joyous journey. I have 7 beautiful children who walk their own paths, much more conservative than their Mum! I believe if people are comforted and inspired by their religion or beliefs it is their resonance. There are many ways up the mountain.
 

Roger J Carlson

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I am a Christian. A dyed-in-the-wool, born-again, washed-in-the-blood, baptized-by-immersion, Christian. I used to call myself a Fundamentalist until the media started using that term to describe suicide bombers. I guess I'm really a moderate to conservative Evangelical Christian. (Which may or may not be any more illuminating.)

I do believe in the infallibility of scripture, old and new testament. I also believe that Jesus is the only way to God. However, I find that most people outside of Evangelical Christianity don't really understand what these two statements mean. I'm hoping to clarify that here.

One of the reasons I asked Mac for this forum (thanks Mac) is that I thought we needed a neutral place to discuss religion. We tried to do that in the Christian Forum with varying degrees of success, but in the end the conflicting purposes of that board became problematic.

The Christian Forum is still there if you want to know about Christian Writing or what Christians believe about an issue, but anything questioning the validity of Christianity will be kicked here, where it belongs.

I don't much care for debate, so my role here is just to give what I believe the Christian perspective is (at least, some segment of it). I don't intend to "prove" anything.

I also hope that any animosities that might have been created through my modhood of the Christian Forum will not carry over here. In most cases, I was just doing my job as forum moderator. I'm not a mod here by deliberate design and at my request. Please know that I harbor no resentment toward anyone.
 

III

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I hope I’m here (both in this forum and on this rock) for the same purpose as all of you - peeling back the calloused dermis of this life to uncover the slick arterial network of Love, Nobility, Beauty, Compassion, Genuineness, Truth, Connection, and Purpose.

That being said, I guess I’m just in love with Jesus and I keep falling deeper for him at every turn. Can’t help it.
 

LaurieD

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I was born and raised strict, strict Catholic but am not a believer in organized religion of any kind - for starters, I've found all of it to be too power hungry, money hungry, and control hungry for my tastes. I don't see the bible as the word of God - it's been translated, revised, and versioned countless times over thousands of years - by men. Ordinary human men. I do believe there is something beyond what we are, though for all anyone can truly know, that something may be a wise old man, a black woman, or a laughing golden retriever.
 

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