Introductions - Who We Are, Why We're Here

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Kateri

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I am glad for the same reasons. I've always felt safe here. Where on other forums, I've been accused of so many things that it just sours my desire to talk about religion anymore.

Re the safety aspect: I feel the same way because there is an intention to act and show who we are because of what we believe. Cass, it is disconcerting when you have an opinion and its ridiculed or dismissed. It is just great to have this thread. Sometimes my beliefs make me feel isolated, now I feel a sense of connection. So cool.
 

Calla Lily

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It is very very important that we all -- and I mean all -- feel safe here.

We absolutely must watch out for each other, and be mindful of our differences, and our abilities to celebrate that difference while we find our common humanities.

QFT.
 

Jean Marie

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I am glad for the same reasons. I've always felt safe here. Where on other forums, I've been accused of so many things that it just sours my desire to talk about religion anymore.

It is very very important that we all -- and I mean all -- feel safe here.

We absolutely must watch out for each other, and be mindful of our differences, and our abilities to celebrate that difference while we find our common humanities.
This is definitely the only corner of AW that's protected and safe.

It's what thrills me about this room! We can actually discuss our beliefs w/ each other w/o any fear of being pounced on by anyone. Almost surreal.

We have total freedom of exchanging ideas/interacting w/ each other and therefore truly learning from one another w/o any interference of slap-downs or harsh words.

Positively brilliant, Mac :Hail:

It would be immensely cool if this could occur in rl. Dream on of the possibilities. Or, even in the other forums on AW. Deserves repetition.

ETA: Thanks, Chris and Jason for co-modding :D You're sure to do a great job.
 

Higgins

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Very late in my medical training, I entered a sort of chronic panicky bleakness--Mr Rima called it ontological shock. Maybe it was the cumulative effect of seeing lots of suffering; maybe it was my difficulty reconciling what I knew of neurology with what I had been taught about the immortal soul; I don't know. I read a lot about Christianity and the historical Jesus and it only served to make me more ontologically shocky.

Gradually I stopped going to Mass and have become more comfortable living with uncertainty. I want to believe, but I no longer feel anything. Whenever I go to church with my parents I feel like Cordelia in Brideshead Revisited: "Suddenly, there wasn't any chapel there any more, just an oddly decorated room."

It's difficult for me to countenance going back to the Church, given the particular brand of Catholicism I knew as a kid. But it's extremely exciting to think of learning about other faith traditions in this forum, and that maybe one of them would be my way back to God.

Gosh...ontological shock sounds intriguing. I raised myself as a Catholic since I thought I needed some kind of religious training. My parents thought I was a bit odd, but didn't discourage my religious self-training and they even funded some of it.
I think I owe the Catholic Church a great deal in terms of showing me how rationality and tradition could work together constructively. I have no faith in anything at all worth mentioning, but this does not mean I find other's religious experiences uninteresting.
 

Dawnstorm

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I thought I was going to be a lurker, but since I've now got three more posts in here than I thought I would have, maybe I should have a go here.

I'm the son of two Catholic parents in a predominantly Catholic country (Austria), but as a child I was way more interested in animals than religion. An old elementary school religious teacher of mine told me I was speaking up for snakes when we talked about Eden. (The German translations have one term for the animal and Biblical creature: "Schlange"; there's no "serpent" vs. "snake" usage at all.) Well, that pretty much defines my religious development. The Easter Bunny fell first, but I played along a while, because looking for hidden eggs and - above all - chocolate was fun. I don't remember ever agonising over the question whether God exists or not; I suppose I had an Easter-Bunny play-along attitude (though that might well be my current atheist/agnostic re-interpretation). I do remember wondering how to tell my parents. The only reason I wanted to tell them was because church was boring.

My main interest isn't in Religion so much, as it is in certainty. Not being certain about very much, I find myself at an inherent disadvantage in discussions. Either I argue a point I don't really believe in, or I get overpowered by conviction.
 

Monkey

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If this room functions as intended, you shouldn't get overwhelmed here--or even have to argue any points, really.

What Medievalist said.
 

Dawnstorm

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If this room functions as intended, you shouldn't get overwhelmed here--or even have to argue any points, really.

What Medievalist said.

Thanks.

I'm not actually worried that I get overwhelmed online. It's more real-life decision making that's hard. I'm a bit of a pushover, thinking "Well, if you care so much..." That's not much of a problem in itself, but can accumulate into fatigue at times. This part in my post was meant to explain the motivation for my fascination with belief/certainty/conviction. :)
 

Sean D. Schaffer

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Hi,


I'm not on the forums very much anymore, but when I saw this portion of it I thought, "Why not?" So I'm here, with a "Thank you" to Mac and to Roger, as well. It's nice to have this place to discuss stuff. :)

Me? I was raised Christian, specifically Conservative Baptist and later on Independent Fundamental Baptist. I left the Baptists in 2002 to attend an independent charismatic church that leaned toward the Pentecostal beliefs. I've been at other churches since then and have been heavily confused in a lot of the things I've heard over the years.

I've also been involved in the Noahide tradition taught by Orthodox Judaism, though only for a short while, about a year-and-a-half. And I even delved quite a bit into Wicca and Paganism. At the present, if you were to place a label on me, that label would be Eclectic Wiccan. I have no desire at all to debate my religious principles with anyone. And no, I'm not out to convert anyone. I just want to tune in to some good discussion about religious philosophy and hope to learn something in the process. :)


All the best to you all. :)
 

Fulk

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Hello everyone Seeing as I would like to occasionally dip into the discussion here, I figured I might as well introduce myself here as well.

I was raised as a Christian--though I honestly can't pinpoint a real denomination. My grandparents on both sides are/were Catholic, I have relatives who belong to various non-denominational churches, I had friends who invited me to their own churches, etc. My family seemed to hop from church to church, and I'm not really sure even now as to why they didn't fit in one or another.

I used to believe in Christianity pretty sincerely, but progressively fell away from it. While I believed, I still didn't seem to feel the same sort of experiences people always claimed to have. I had trouble grasping the Problem of Free Will, which had occurred to me sometime in middle school. The older I got, the more I began to clash with some of the moral values that I saw trumpeted. I began to joke that I had to pick and choose things out of the Bible so much that I had essentially created my own religion.

The more soul-searching I did, the more I realized that the only things I identified with were acts of good will towards others, and that I only turned to church and religion in times of discontent with my life. Which really was quite petty, overall. I was only a young teen, and so all I really had to complain about was occasionally feeling out of place, which everyone does at some point. :p

Having come to those conclusions, I shed any belief of religion and began to embrace humanistic philosophy (though I didn't know what it was called for some time), so I identify as a secular humanist. The closest I have come to any spirituality recently has been an occasional flirtation with the idea of naturalistic reincarnation. I suspect it has much to do with that all-too-human fear of death, but its an interesting thought in any case.

Because religion has a very real influence in people's lives, I feel it is my duty to understand others' feelings and beliefs and prevent myself from being too self-confident in my own. The best way to keep an open mind, I believe, is to constantly subject yourself to beliefs contradictory to your own.
 

semilargeintestine

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So, I am Jewish. I was raised very reform, but we still did the major festivals and all that. My mother is Catholic, but Jewish culturally. Her mother's side is Jewish, but a few generations back, one of her ancestors married an Irish Catholic and the rest is history. Funny enough though, her own beliefs are almost exactly aligned with Judaism (except for the whole Jesus thing).

I looked into many religions during high school, including monism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam. Essentially, I felt too strong a connection to Judaism to part with it. I went from reform to modern orthodox and stayed that way for a while. I'm probably more on the conservative part now because I am not strictly observant. I would like to be, but it is incredibly difficult because of where I live. Eventually, I would like to get back to that level of observance.

I'm specifically on this forum because there are a LOT of misconceptions about Judaism, the Tanakh, and the culture in general in the world, and I assume that this place is no different. It is a mitzvah to teach Torah and about the Jewish religion/culture, and I definitely enjoy doing it.

I'm also here because I enjoy learning about other religions and how they relate to Judaism (considering the other two big religions come from Judaism). I'm particularly interested in how Christianity came to have the beliefs it has today, as I am pretty perplexed about where a lot of it comes from (my only knowledge of the religion is my mother and the Bible).

I am an observant (for the most part) Jew, which some people may take to mean that I don't like other religions; however, like most Jews, I understand that we all pray to the same God and accept different people have different beliefs. Also, while I personally don't understand how someone could not believe in God, I don't think any less of people who don't. It's just another belief as far as I'm concerned.
 

AngelRoseDarke

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Well, I guess I'll have a go here.

I was raised by a lapsed Catholic and a non-practicing Baptist. I went to several churches as a kid because my parents would send me (but never attended with me). I never felt comfortable in those places, and eventually refused to go anymore.

At 13 I discovered the Pagan paths and I never looked back. I am what is known as an eclectic witch. I practice from several paths.

I'm here because I enjoy learning about the beliefs of others. I just hope that I don't get burned for my presence.
 

semilargeintestine

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Why would you get burned (hilarious pun btw)? This is the mish-mosh forum. :D
 

MacAllister

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No worries, AngelRoseDarke. There are a great many Pagans on AW, that I know of, and I imagine a fair handful that I don't.
 

Pat~

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I am Roger's compadre (co-mod) over in the Christian forum. And absolutely thrilled this forum is here, as I've always enjoyed religious discussion but have struggled a bit with effectively doing that in any one of the "houses" offered here at AW. I've been reading in here for the first time today, and am totally fascinated by your introductions.

I'm a 'born-again' Christian, like Roger, and a Christ-follower--somedays better at it than others. I cherish a daily, abiding relationship of love with Him and His Word, and the older I get, the more He's given me the grace to shed much of the dross of my evolving belief system (my need to be right or to have all the answers, my need for false security founded upon human opinion, my faulty trust in spiritual leaders to ground my faith), so that I can finally claim "In Christ Alone" as my personal spiritual manifesto.

I believe that Divinity and humanity met in perfect unity 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, and I believe His claims to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I believed in those first two (Way and Truth) from an early age, and have come to believe in that last one (Life) in a powerful way in the last ten years. Now I also believe in the separation of church and state, which puts me at odds sometimes with my fellow believers. Because of that, I'm not always on board with religious-right political groups which I might consider as being agenda-driven, and am frankly disheartened by a lot of what passes for "Christianity" today. But that is probably because I'm still learning to extend grace to perpetual sinners like me.

Some background/life experiences that have shaped my faith today:

-raised in a "fundamental evangelical conservative" Plymouth Brethren Assembly-attending environment (but that complicated and vague label was so hard to explain as a kid, I soon resorted to answering 'Baptist' when anyone asked, though that's not quite accurate)

-attended secular, progressive, (and drug-riddled) public schools in New Jersey with smart kids who usually came from Jewish families, but then went on to Wheaton College (Billy Graham country)

-spent summer of 1974 on board a Christian commune houseboat on the main canal in Amsterdam (I cooked for 40 people) which was highly charismatic, and during the following year came to terms with the idea that I hold a theology of 'mystery'--and am content to believe simultaneously in predestination and freewill despite my limited understanding of both, so can neither claim to be a 5-point Calvinist or an Arminian

-taught in a Christian school for 8 years; left teaching to get a grad degree in Special/Gifted Ed because I was more into studying how people think and in teaching kids how to think, than I was in teaching them what to think

-a series of personal and family crises culminated in a personal Y2K crisis in fall 1999 (clinical depression) that was a major turning point in my life spiritually (that "Life" thing I mentioned above). In that desert I finally got around to reading all of the Bible I based my faith on, and in the process discovered the Person of Christ unmistakably intervening in my life and soul..."God came down," again and again and again and it has yet to stop. I wanted and needed the faith of the martyrs, or I didn't want it at all...and God graciously began to oblige. Four years later, I began writing devotional poetry, quite out of the blue, which is still my primary publication emphasis today.

-Also during that crisis time I was supernaturally led to the writings of a broad variety of Christian mystics (Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, Fenelon, Richard Rolle, Bernard of Clairvaux, etc.) who, with my Bible reading, have very much transformed my faith into a living thing, not simply a belief system. (In my Protestant upbringing, the wisdom of these spiritual forbears was sadly neglected.) I continued attending the Bible church on Sundays with husband and kids, but also started attending an Episcopal church on Saturdays, because I appreciated the 'bridge' it offered between Catholicism and Protestantism. And after about 2 years I finally 'got it'--the connection between the Old Testament and the New, Law and Grace, Judaism, Catholicism, and Protestantism. It was this blended input of the early Christians and the Reformation ones that has led me to be discouraged by much of what passes for Christianity today, and I'm trying to learn to channel that frustration into productive writing that addresses some of these concerns--but with grace instead of idealistic negativity

And all that's probably way long enough. :)
 
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Ralf_Smith

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I'm Ralf. A Taoist/King James reading 'Believer'

I was raised to believe in Santa and Jesus by the nativity play at school (Dads a scottish Mason and Mum is an Aussie disbeliever) I learnt the 'rest' of Christianity from making easter bonnets and painting eggs. Born and raised throughout South East Asia until I was 13 and going to a mix of multi ethnic English speaking schools I also took part in Chinese moon festivals, Hindu Diwali, Jain Mahavir Jayanti. The spectacle of lanterns floating on a lake or the mad fun of throwing water bombs and paint on people along with having pancakes on shrove tuesday probably didn't impart to me what they were supposed to?? My best friends were a Philipino Catholic, an Indian Jain and a Eurasian Muslim (though I didn't know it at the time - I just knew he wasn't allowed to eat pork)

I was one confused kid, with an insight into many faiths but next to no real understanding of any. I always believed in 'Something More' but because I found scriptures of all faiths a bit of a dull read I didn't start (looking for God)/(defining what I believe) till I was about 18. I read the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita and anything else I could get my hands on. I invited both Mormons and Witnesses into my home each time they arrived at my door, it was through going to the Latter day Saints church that I met my wife.

Through knowing my family and friends I managed to get her disfellowshipped then excommunicated. While I don't drink (not for religious reasons) my wife started to occasionally, have drinks at events like new years/ toasts at weddings/ Friday nights. This ostracisation of someone who always tries to live a 'Christlike' life but doesn't do it to someone elses satisfaction, is to me the epitome of everything I hate about organised religion. She still goes to church on sundays and says her prayers and reads her scriptures, however shes not 'worthy' to participate in ways that she would like to -giving talks in sacrament, helping out in the nursery/primary sunday school classes. Don't get me wrong shes not treated like a pariah or anything but she always feels 'Judged'

I enjoy discussing 'Spirituality' but I am often scared to for fear of stepping on toes, trying to walk a safe line when everyone is 'toeing the line' is difficult for someone as clumsy as I can be, plus I have big feet. I also tend to talk too much, so I'll shut up now...
 

Rowan

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I'm an eclectic Pagan, and part of me feels wary of admitting it, even here. I may even come back and erase this post at some point...Paganism is NOT accepted in the rural area where I live, and my husband teaches.

......................................
But I would love to talk to someone who could enlighten me on their personal experiences with Hinduism or chat with people who are interested in the same sort of eclectic spirituality that I am.

I am NOT interested in anyone trying to convert me, nor am I interested in trying to convert anyone else.

Monkey: :hi:
Sounds like we have similar backgrounds. :) I also follow a pagan path - you could say nature is my 'church' - and paganism isn't widely accepted in my field, etc. Coming out of the broom closet was an interesting experience. ;) As for religion - I do enjoy it from an academic standpoint and learning about other views/experiences...
 

Kitty

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I'm a bit late in doing this... I was always one to go ass about face *facepalm*


I wasn't raised into one faith or another although I did go to a Catholic school and was banned entering the church at about 10 (a minor disagreement with the Priests). My background however is gypsy/ natural magic which seemed to be an everyday occurrence at home. E.g. looking for signs in weather, animal behaviour, readings... that sorta thing.

From there, I went looking for answers. I'm not exactly formally trained but I've read a bit from paganism to Hinduism. I was a practising natural witch for a number of years then realised I didn't need the ritual to make things happen...sometimes, they just do. Some days, I believe it's the natural force around us, other days I believe it's just a spike in electrical currents.

I don't believe in a god/gods per se but believe that we are creating more than what is seen. Running along the lines of Chaos theory and collective consciousness but without the big words.

My interests lie more with people - why they do what they do and strangely, that's helped my faith. I still have my ties to the old ways; I don't think that'll ever leave me but I'm always willing to understand why another is the way they are.
 
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Zanthus

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Raised as a Christian by a Christian family and haven’t looked back, much.
Have had a few supernatural moments that all can be explained away by science ,it is however Science that convinces me God is real.
Partly because of the fact that all known facts (ones that I know) point towards a universe in decline and no one has yet to find a scientific explanation to how stuff Started.
Also partly because as a fantasy world builder I have an appreciation for just how crazy it is to build a world and struggle to imagine one occurring without help.
 
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CatherineLW

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Doesn't look like anyone has posted on this string in awhile but I figured I'd give it a shot. I am not comfortable wearing a label of any kind. I believe in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and all that the Bible says. I was raised by an Agnostic and a default Christian but had a devout Catholic grandmother that gave me my first introduction to God.

I'm not proud of what some people in our culture do in the name of Christianity. The idea of any Christian protesting at the grave of a fallen soldier or hating on gays or lesbians based on the Bible is heinous and I believe it hurts Jesus immensely. I attend a "non-denominational" small church with about 30 people and we are a very tightly knit group.

I recently got pretty beat up by some "friends" on facebook for my beliefs and I'm still a little raw from it. I'm glad I found a forum that isn't going to pound on me for what I believe.
 

blackrose602

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Hope no one minds my resurrecting an old thread here. I've read through and you all have such fascinating religious backgrounds!

I was raised mixed-faith. Dad's family is conservative Jewish, Mom's is extremely fundamentalist Free Methodist Christian. Yet all the women on Mom's side have always had a natural psychic ability, which they tend to laugh off and never really explore. My parents went to the Free Methodist church sometimes and celebrated all the Jewish holidays, but were never real strictly religious.

Because I was several grades ahead in school, the local public schools refused to work with me after a spectacularly failed experiment in placement when I was 7. That touched off my attendance at a seemingly endless list of private schools, most of which were highly conservative Christian. Every time I changed schools, I also changed which branch of Christianity was served up alongside my lessons. I was baptized 7 or 8 times, always in a public ceremony at the latest school, because I was told that baptism in whatever branch I was in the year before didn't count. I handed out religious tracts at the local mall as a school requirement, I memorized whatever the latest preacher thought was important, and naturally I came out extremely confused.

Finally I landed at an Episcopalian prep school with a rigorous college prep curriculum. The first day of the mandatory Comparative Religions class, the instructor dropped a handful of Bible translations and various religious texts on desk and asked, "Okay, which one's right?" That was my first introduction to the idea that I could, and should, ask questions rather than blindly following the leader.

Around the same time, my mom started questioning her own faith. She and I began a spiritual quest that involved tons of reading--religious texts from all the major world religions as well as personal accounts of life in different religions--and a lot of critical thinking and endless discussion. Eventually we both settled into a general New Agey sort of belief system. Dad still culturally identifies as Jewish, but he's been on the religious exploration train for the past few years.

I love to discuss different world views and belief systems, and as a psych major, I'm also interested in the effects that a person's religious background has on his or her general behavior.
 

ColoradoGuy

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Hope no one minds my resurrecting an old thread here. I've read through and you all have such fascinating religious backgrounds!

I have no problem with resurrecting old but interesting threads. And yes, we have some interesting folks here.
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

My religious background is mixed. My Mom's family is descended from the parents of John Knox, the founder of Presbyterianism. Her mother was a New Age person before the New Age; they called it Metaphysics back then. My Dad was Christian Lebanese, baptized Orthodox, but raised Episcopalian. He was born with a "veil" (piece of placenta stuck to his head) and was thought to have the gift of prophecy.

I attended Methodist, Presbyterian and Congregational churches until age 8, when my folks had an argument with the pastor and pulled us out of church completely. Thereafter, my Dad referred to religion as "that crap." Leaving me with a big hole where God ought to be. I read the Bible and other religious literature the way some kids read pornography--hidden from the sight of adults. Attended five Passover seders at the house of some Jewish friends before I ever even saw a Christian communion. I call my parents born-again intellectuals. And I'm here to tell you, it's just as repressive as any other dogmatic practice.

I attempted to look into Zen Buddhism and went to the wrong city. Attempted to look into the Self Realization Fellowship and went to the wrong building. Attempted to look into being a Quaker and went to the wrong room--ended up in a revival meeting!

Eventually, looked into yoga. Became a practitioner and later teacher of kundalini yoga, which lots of Sikhs practice, because the guy who brought this particular form of kundalini yoga to the West was a Sikh. Learned to read the language before I joined. (I'm the only person I know who's done that.)

Became a Sikh in Salem, Oregon, and all the Sikhs there disappeared on me. Salem's Sikh place of worship was in my house for several years.

Anything you want to know about Sikhs, just ask me.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
(who is currently writing a memoir on guess what)
 

Robin Passaic

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This thread made for interesting reading! I'm glad to see so many backgrounds.

Conservative Jew here--though the name 'Conservative' makes us sound like a political organization. :(

Like many Conservative synagogues, mine is almost Orthodox in some ways (in the way we conduct our services, and the way we support traditional observances) and wildly progressive in others (women rabbis? Check. Gay marriage? Check).

My family is a mixture of Catholics, Protestants, Jews, atheists and agnostics--that keeps our discussions and holidays lively.
 

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