A way that works for me

Two nights after my unhappy experience with the Methodists, I went to a class on the history of Unitarianism at, surprise, surprise, the Unitarian Church. I regard Unitarianism as a social club for rollicking extroverts, and this seemed true of last night’s class even while we watched slide after slide of “heretics” being burned at the stake in the name of a triune God. At one point the teacher asked the class of perhaps forty to name some current heresies. A young man immediately answered, “Atheism, as I’ve discovered from personal experience.” His comment elicited laughter and the nodding of heads. After four such serious answers, the man next to me said, “People who don’t use Facebook,” and a woman said, “My brother-in-law regards everything I do as heresy, but then he never really left the South.” Then someone pointed out that the church’s only Republican had recently left because his values were held in contempt, and someone else said that no one who opposed abortion would feel welcomed. Beside me sat a man in women’s clothes who was obviously welcome. So it is among Unitarians.

Again, I’m thrown back upon the fact that the Episcopal service is the only one that I enjoy, but—being an atheist and all—I’m no more of a Trinitarian than Michael Servetus and all those other Unitarians who were murdered, some of them by Anglicans. Of course, the Episcopal Church is now overrun by clergy who themselves would have once been burned for heresy, so the question is whether to do as they do and ignore the things I object to, or stay home.

I’m attending a Episcopal book group at Resurrection Episcopal that is currently reading a book entitled The Bible by Karen Armstrong. It was a gutsy choice for a church book group because she makes no assumption that the Bible was divinely inspired, and even points out its flaws so completely as to make divine inspiration seem incredible. I’m probably the only nonbeliever in the 10-15 member group and, until last night, its most loquacious member. The discussion started when a woman said she had had no idea that the writers of the gospels were such “spin doctors.” What she meant was that they tried to prove the divinity of Jesus through Old Testament prophecy despite the fact that many of the verses used had nothing do with Jesus and weren’t even meant as prophecy. Furthermore, the gospel writers often made things up.

There followed a period during which Father Brent and Alan, one of the more scholarly members, made a determined effort to convince her that none of this need be an obstacle to faith. I offer the following as a loose summary of what they said: 

(1) The gospels were originally circulated anonymously, and the apostles’ names affixed to them much later. (2) It was commonly believed in Biblical times that affixing someone’s name to something he didn’t write wasn’t an act of dishonesty but a compliment to the person whose name was used as long as he would have agreed with the thoughts presented. (3) It was also believed that scripture was equally relevant in every age, meaning that verses which were written in ancient times about ancient events were seen as equally applicable to present times and present events. (4) The writers made up real world events as metaphors for internal changes. For example, people who felt spiritually healed by Jesus weren’t necessarily being dishonest when they made up stories about him healing people physically. (5) The first gospel, Mark, was written around 70 A.D. and the last one, John, around 96 A.D., and the slant of their writers reflect the events and concerns of those eras. (6) The fact that the gospels have survived and meant so much to so many attests to the fact that they contain spiritual truth even though they sometimes lack literal truth.

When Brent asked the woman who opened the discussion whether she felt that her problem had been adequately addressed, she said it had. I was incredulous, but I didn’t say as much because, after all, the problem had been posed and the answers, such as they were, given, so it was a case of every individual deciding whether those answers were adequate. I was consequently left to feel, as I often do among believers, that they live on one planet and I on another. Just as the Christians I knew as a boy would twist themselves into pretzels in order to maintain their belief that the Bible was true in every particular and entirely free of contradiction, so do I hear liberal Christians twisting themselves into pretzels in order to maintain their beliefs despite their awareness that the Bible contains so many errors, untruths, and contradictions, that it’s impossible to know what Jesus said or did. The most liberal among them avoid the problem by claiming that the real Jesus matters less--if at all--than the wisdom within the myth. Theirs is the only way that I can get anything of value from the Jesus story because it otherwise presents too many problems for me to take it seriously.

As I was writing this, I received an email from Brent. When I saw him at the book group, he suggested that I read C.S. Lewis (I had asked him for theological reading recommendations), and offered me a couple of his books. Not wanting to seem unappreciative, I didn’t say much at the time, but I didn’t take the books either, so I later felt the need to write to him and explain that I’ve read enough of Lewis to know that he represents beliefs that I’ve already rejected. Brent wrote back:

I totally hear you about the supernatural complications and the troubles with notions of a deity that expresses love and guidance... I struggle deeply with those ideas as well. What I can say is that there is room here for you; room for you and for your beliefs.  How that will manifest? I am not sure… The only thing I am sure of is that an open heart and an inquiring mind are the prerequisites to an authentic religious journey. It would seem that you have both. Once the dust settles after the next week of busyness, let’s get a cup of something hot and talk again.

I have no earthly idea what to talk about with Brent because, despite his openness, intelligence, and doctorate in religion, how am I to convey to him how different our paths are, or to share with him all the things that I’ve thought, experienced, and learned that he almost surely hasn’t? What I would want to say to him, I’ve spent years putting into this blog, so the prospect of even trying to approach the subject in an hour over coffee leaves me despondent. What I value most about his offer is simply that he made it because it counters my impression of priests as salespeople, and me as a poor candidate for what they have to sell. With the exception of Brent and a priest I knew in my twenties, I’ve not met a one who wanted to have anything to do with me. Truly, it’s not the grand gestures that matter but the small ones, things like an invitation to coffee….

How many believers have “an open heart and an inquiring mind” I wonder. Do I? I can but say that my heart opens and closes, opens and closes, and that my mind is ever at its mercy.


Elephant's Child said...

Your heart probably does open and close - but I have never seen any indication that you lock it. Or mine the doorways which allow other people to approach it.
Slightly off topic here. Have you ever seen atheists going door to door selling their version of truth? Or standing in the street to do the same? I never have, and sometimes wonder why. Though I wouldn't welcome them at my door either...

Helen said...

Wondering if Brent reads your blog?

lotta joy said...

I don't know if I'm online or not at this point. But I'll leave a comment and trust I am.

“an open heart and an inquiring mind” means different things to different people. To Brent, as it would to most, implies doubt, which implies the possibility of changing ones mind and heart. If this is NOT the case where you are concerned, I would open the coffee discussion with the explanation that this is NOT the case, but you're always open to different views of the same subject.

Snowbrush said...

"Have you ever seen atheists going door to door selling their version of truth?"

No, but I've thought that maybe we should, just for a joke. Few Christians do either, of course. Episcopalians in particular would be most unlikely to ever try to convert anyone, both because of their social class and because they don't regard Christianity as the only way to please God.

"Your heart probably does open and close - but I have never seen any indication that you lock it."

I can't. I can shut it down occasionally out of hurt and the consequent desire to protect myself from further hurt, and these periods can last for years, but they always end. Part of the reason that I'm not going back to that Methodist class is that, however strong and centered I feel, I'm never immune to serious hurt, and it's hard for me when people whom I've approached with good intentions come to hate me.

"Wondering if Brent reads your blog?"

All I can say is that he has the address, and I NEVER assume that someone who has my blog address doesn't read my blog because I've had people go for years without saying anything and then mentioning something I that affected them. That said, I write no differently about Brent or anyone else (except, perhaps, Peggy at times) than I would write if they didn't have my blog address.

"I don't know if I'm online or not at this point."

You're name is Dana. You live in Florida with a wonderful man named Joe and your dogchild. The year is 2014. George Bush is president. I hope this has helped orient you.

"'an open heart and an inquiring mind' means different things to different people. To Brent, as it would to most, implies doubt, which implies the possibility of changing ones mind and heart. If this is NOT the case where you are concerned, I would open the coffee discussion with the explanation that this is NOT the case..."

Perhaps, I should have clarified that he recommended Lewis only because I had asked him for recommendations of theological reading, and he has struggled to come up with something I would like. All that I'm open to in this regard, however, is non-theistic theology, so it's that which I need to clarify. The only such writer that I have thus far found is retired Episcopal bishop John Spong, and he has meant a lot to me. All that aside, I never imagine that Brent is trying to convert me to a given view.

Stephen Hayes said...

If only the quest for authentic spirituality could bring you peace of mind. I know in my heart the the Gospels are fiction but I've never believed anything in the Bible literally. I just want to be the best person I can be without trampling on anyone else and spend my time understanding what it is possible to know.

Paula Kaye said...

If everyone would admit it as openly as you do, we all have problems with believing all of it at one time or another. I question my faith daily.I just don't have the guts to do that as openly as you. But I cheer you on.

rhymeswithplague said...

I'm commenting less nowadays but still thoroughly enjoying your posts. I do attend a Methodist church, as you know, but I have long thought of myself as a closet Episcopalian. Brent sounds like a great guy to know. I'm glad you two are friends.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've really moved a long way from theological types of discussion and debate to scientific ones, where one can eventually uncover a consensus.

Snowbrush said...

"I know in my heart the the Gospels are fiction but I've never believed anything in the Bible literally."

I would call it myth rather than fiction, the difference being the social, aesthetic, and psychological truth elements. Frankly, I don't find that I get a lot of truth from the Biblical myths, but then I don't find a lot of truth in other myths either, but those who are into symbolism say they do (you'll recall the popularity of Joseph Campbell back in the '80s). I don't know if this is a failure on my part or not, but it does seem that people who are turned on by one collection of religious myths don't generally have much use for others, and the Christian myths in particular come with a lot of baggage such as the murders of millions.

"I question my faith daily.I just don't have the guts to do that as openly as you."

I have none to question. I simply have the need for SOMETHING that religion offers. Be that as it may, I've both found and heard that churches don't welcome questioning, so it's only okay to go through "the dark night of the soul" if you come out of it fairly fast. Otherwise, you're a threat. Maybe the words of the Archbishop of Canterbury (the head of the Episcopal Church along with the rest of the "Anglican Communion") will resonate with you: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29255318. I sent it to Brent who responded as follows: "It was refreshing to hear the Archbishop express his occasional doubt. The refreshing part is the honesty; we all have doubts sometimes, most of us just don't admit it. And anyone without doubts either isn't paying attention or has devolved into fundamentalism." What I don't understand about Christian doubt is why it doesn't lead one to abandon the effort to believe on the basis that it makes belief appear to be on too weak a ground. At least, that was its outcome in my life; it was making me crazy and alienated to keep trying to cram belief down my throat. I'm sure there are those who think that my church attendance implies a renewed effort to believe, but the truth is that I wouldn't be able to continue going if I tried to believe. I am going to church on feelings alone (I enjoy it and feel mellow for the experience. In the words of the Wiccan Rede, "If it harm none, do what you will.") and on the encouragement of Brent that belief is not a prerequisite for attendance, communion, or anything else, at least as far as he's concerned, and he thinks the same holds true for others in his parish, although experience makes me reluctant to rely too much on that part of his assurance. (Thanks to Philip for sending me the link.)

"I'm commenting less nowadays but still thoroughly enjoying your posts."

You have no idea how glad I am to hear this.

"'ve really moved a long way from theological types of discussion and debate to scientific ones, where one can eventually uncover a consensus."

That would rather take all the fun out of it for me, but then I'm not scientifically oriented, and while I find science interesting, I tend to find discussions of science boring. In college, I took a fair amount of religion, history, and literature, and did my best to avoid science. I actually enjoy studying religion. I've always enjoyed studying religion, and I mean from my earliest memories. You don't have to believe something to enjoy it. No one believes ice cream.

PhilipH said...

My sis-in-law, ex-missionary for the Japanese Evangelical Band, sent me the CS Lewis book "Mere Christianity". She hoped it might make me see the light. lol.

I read it. Utterly boring and disappointing as I'd expected this famous scholar and author to come up with something more interesting.

Of course I was wrong in my expectation. Nobody has any real proof about all the tales of the Apostles nor of anything written in the bible. If you have 'faith' or belief in all the stuff of ANY religion then that's up to the individual. If you have neither faith nor belief then you have no need to speak to a mystical 'being' in prayer or whatever else. No need to sing the praises of this invisible dweller in Paradise, or Heaven, or on Cloud Nine.

Snowbrush said...

"I do attend a Methodist church..."

I don't know if it's an issue for you, but the denomination's denial of equal rights for homosexuals would be a tremendous problem for me if I were interested in it otherwise (the congregation I attended makes a point of welcoming homosexuals). I assumed from this that maybe it was more theologically liberal also, but I've heard nothing to make me think that I was correct.

"Nobody has any real proof about all the tales of the Apostles nor of anything written in the bible."

No, and modern scholarship has gone far to discredit the Bible, but this isn't a problem for me because I didn't believe it anyway. My main response to such scholarship has been to be encouraged that it will surely keep at least some people from becoming literalistic Christians (for the life of me, I don't see that the liberal ones are doing any harm unless it is true that, as many would argue, ANY form of theism is harmful because it keeps a person from making a rational appraisal of our situation here on earth). As do I, a great many liberal Christians reject at least much of the Bible as containing literal truth. They tend to think of it as similar to a parable (the Prodigal Son, for example) in which it doesn't matter if something is literally true for it to be salutory. I also find a lot of the Biblical stories enjoyable and even humorous apart from their message--the story of Jonah being one that I especially enjoy--and I think that some few parts of the Bible are exquisitely touching and beautiful as with most of I Corinthians 13. It's also true that find that the Book of Ecclesiastes reflects my own philosophy fairly well. As a part of the book group, I'm now studying how the Jews of 2-3,00 years ago viewed the writings that have come to be what Christians call the Old Testament, and this type of study interests me as well.

It's indeed possible to be horrified by much of the Bible, and I am horrified. It's often said that the Bible is a major cause of atheism. I don't know how people make that leap exactly, but it was for me a major reason for turning against Christianity, largely because my childhood church taught that the Bible is either true or it's a lie, and that there are no other ways to look at it. A lot of atheists would concur. As an atheist, I have often attacked literalism, not because I thought everyone in Christendom was a literalist, but because so many are, and they do tremendous harm in the world. Literalism also did a lot of harm to me personally because that's what I grew up with.

Strayer said...

Wow, the Unitarians sound half fun! (outside of the gruesome slideshow. The other, not so much. Sound like some really delusional people who still want to believe in Santa Claus. Actually I wish Santa was real, too, wish I could believe hard enough so that he'd bring me lots of great presents if I'm good this year. If I believe, shouldn't it be true? I'm going to believe in Santa because I want to believe in Santa and I like presents.

Strayer said...

Also, go have your heart to heart with the priest guy. He might appreciate your search and your honesty and your open heart and be someone you can have conversations with without offending for lack of proper belief.

possum said...

Karen Armstrong is one of my favorite authors. I believe I have at least one copy of each of her books. Some books I buy 3 or 4 at a time because I know I am going to share them and chances of getting them back are slim… so I just give them away.
One of my friends is a Baptist Pastor, John… in the beginning of our friendship, we agreed that we would not try to pressure the other with our religious beliefs. He is a good man. I think he tries to live a life that MY idea of Jesus would approve of. He knows that I do not believe in the Bible, so we do not discuss it.
Many years ago I made a ceramic crèche – mostly I enjoyed modeling things out of clay, and I had a request for one by another friend, a Baptist minister’s wife who taught with me and liked my work. I sold it and had an order for more. I made molds and made them to order, each one was a little different, and I made good money off them. I had one left – I found it cleaning out my barn. I gave it to John. Each November, I go to his church and set up the display… the Wisemen are on one corner of the church and they move each Sunday, but never get to Bethlehem in time for the birth. The so called stable is more of a cave with a few branches to keep the animals confined. They did not have pretty little barns back then, especially in that part of the world. The display is more historical than most. We do debate a few biblical points while I am setting this up each week. I also tease him about the huge Christmas tree on display behind the crèche, and his pagan symbols in the church.
In December, I hold what I call my Great Ecumenical Experiment – I, a Buddhist and an atheist, organize a group (thru Neighborhood Watch) of Christmas Carolers from the Town’s various churches, and even a neighboring town. John drives the Baptist bus! It seems all the Baptist churches on the Shore have buses. We have hot chocolate and cookies afterward in the Town Fire hall – neutral territory… When singing, I usually stand in the back with the Catholics because I learned my Christmas carols in Latin, so we sing in Latin back there. One year several of us sang Ave Maria to the Baptists just because I think the music is so beautiful. Each year one of my Muslim friends makes baklava for the group. How ecumenical can you get?
So far none of the black churches have joined us. But I will keep trying.
It is a lot of work and I really wonder why I try but it seems important to me to get these groups together for an evening of fellowship and, dare I say, harmony?
But I am not brave enough to loan any of my Karen Armstrong books to John.

Snowbrush said...

"I wish Santa was real, too, wish I could believe hard enough so that he'd bring me lots of great presents if I'm good this year. If I believe, shouldn't it be true? I'm going to believe in Santa because I want to believe in Santa and I like presents."

You raise good points. Honest believers admit doubt, so why doesn't having to make an effort to believe suggest to them that maybe they're on the wrong path? They see their lack of belief as the problem when maybe the real problem is their belief. Someone--an atheist--wrote that, in determining truth, no one is ever justified in going beyond the facts, and to do so represents a lack of integrity. The problem is that in psychological tests, realism equates with depression, and being a high achiever equates with an over-evaluation of one's abilities and control. Of course, with optimistic high achievers, delusion isn't intentional. I don't think they normally say, I want to believe even though a part of me doesn't believe. Still, I can't look at someone like Brent and think to myself that there goes a man who lacks integrity. I really don't know what to think... The problem with your Santa Claus analogy is that the existence of Santa would require nothing (beyond a vague obligation to do good on the part of little children) and answer nothing. Like belief in the tooth fairy, belief in Santa is so devoid of meaningful content that kids give it up on their own when they're ready, compared to which elderly people go their graves by the millions believing in God. I wish someone would explain to me why they think God would set things up so that it's necessary to believe that which one cannot provide evidence for, because such a system puts belief in other deities on the same unsound footing as belief in Jehovah, the result being that a person's choice of a god tends to be the result of nothing nobler than where he or she grew up. I know all of this, and yet I go to church. I can give reason after reason, but what it boils down to is that I like doing it. Even in the absence of belief, I like doing it. In fact, as I think I wrote somewhere in this response column, I can only pull it off because I'm not even trying to believe. I'm just there, just listening and hanging out, and seeing what happens. I have no intellectual justification. I just know that I'm always drawn back to it, so when a person can't make peace one way, maybe it's time to try to make peace another way. Do I not feel just a tad hypocritical? No, I just feel a tad crazy. I'm not pretending jack. I'm just letting my feelings take charge and go where they will, because the damned things are too strong for my intellect to fight. I had the thought yesterday that up to 85% of people in some of the Scandinavian countries are atheists, yet these countries still have tax-supported churches, and the people LIKE having them. Even if all they do there is to get christened, married, and buried, these

Snowbrush said...

Possum, I give you credit for being able to maintain friendships with both believers and non-believers.

"He knows that I do not believe in the Bible, so we do not discuss it."

I think you mean the part about Jesus being savior, but taken at face value, your statement is one that I often hear and get confused about because I'm sure I could go through the Bible and pick out verses that you would believe (although you wouldn't consider them inspired by God), and I'm just as sure that I could go through the Bible and pick out verses that any Christian who isn't a fundamentalist would not believe and would not consider inspired by God. Both Christians and non-Christians speak of the Bible as if every part of it upholds one consistent viewpoint and carries the same weight--or lack thereof--of inspiration, and it doesn't. Some of it is inspired by the best that is within our species, and some of it by the worst, and to me, it's almost a moot point whether that inspiration came from within or from without, because it's no less true or false either way. Even if God exists, God doesn't have the power to create truth, but only to give voice to truth. You and I have that same power. This puts the Bible on an equal level with any other book in that where it speaks truth, it is right, and where it speaks falsity, it is wrong, and should be honored or dishonored accordingly.

"I also tease him about the huge Christmas tree on display behind the crèche, and his pagan symbols in the church."

The Supreme Court issued a decision in which the Xmas tree was declared a secular symbol, but in his great wisdom, the city manager here in Eugene decided otherwise and banned it from city offices after a Wiccan complained that, for her, it symbolized Christian cruelty to witches. When the firemen threw a fit about not being able to, he back-tracked and said that, well, city offices could have one as long as it wasn't obtrusive and no one complained.

"How ecumenical can you get?"

I'm so happy for you because what you describe is what I wish could be the norm. Life is just too short to spend it being hateful and alienated. I have never liked hearing believers ridiculed, but the more of them I come to like, the more I hate such things because it creates hurt without benefit. The same is true the other way, of course, with the way atheists being represented having nothing to do with how most of them are. Not too long ago, I tried to point this out to a Christian blogger who was attacking atheists viciously. He let me know that he knew a great deal more about atheists--and presumably about me since I am one--than I did. Such people are beyond reason, at least by me, because their hearts are too closed for me to penetrate.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

Snow, you keep seeking...that's more than I can say for myself...I find more peace with God and myself alonein nature than I ever will in church...

Mim said...

just saying Hi snow. I've been lurking,...not commenting. am now coming out of exile,

kj said...

brent sounds like he gifts time. i always appreciate someone willing to do that, even if i don't take him/her up on it.

snow, i don't understand why all this matters to you. i keep trying but i keep wondering why all this effort to understand or be understood, or not. if this is your field as it would be a theology (or not) professor, then i get it. but if it's a search to prove or disprove, why?
i don't ask that sarcastically: i just don't get all this energy to disprove what you've already disproved in your own mind.

am i missing something?


Snowbrush said...

"I find more peace with God and myself alonein nature than I ever will in church..."

I don't regard it an either/or proposition.

"am now coming out of exile,"

Good. I've missed you, not having seen any posts from you for a while.

"snow, i don't understand why all this matters to you."

Do you have specific questions, and how much have you read of related posts and my responses to similar questions that arose from them?

"i just don't get all this energy to disprove what you've already disproved in your own mind."

This assumption makes me wonder if you've read very much of what I've already written. If you haven't, this particular post wasn't among the best for purposes of your question. Well, let's see... what can I say that would be brief.... I enjoy high mass. I enjoy reading about religion. I enjoy discussing religion. I enjoy a fair amount of religious art, poetry, and music. I enjoy being a part of a community that struggles with issues of morality (something that Episcopalians do in spades). I enjoy feeling a sense of community that is otherwise lacking in my life. I enjoy knowing that this community will outlast me because I've been a part of so many communities that failed within three years or less. I enjoy trying to work out old hurts around religion in a new way, a way that is right-brain rather than left-brain. I enjoy taking risks. I enjoy exploring internal frontiers. I enjoy experiencing new things. I enjoy meeting thoughtful people. I enjoy being reminded that not all religious groups are intent on dominating society right down to its schools, morals, and politics. Despite my atheism, I enjoy the experience of reverence and worship even though my worship has no object. All that I have listed, I've gotten to some extent from my recent foray into Episcopalianism (I attended those Methodist and Unitarian classes only because I was interested in the subject matter). I'm sure I could go on, but if none of this gives you a basis for further questioning, I don't think it would be useful.

I'm sure it occurs to you that some of what I've listed, I might find in other places, but I haven't, at least not for a long time. There are a few atheist groups in town, but I've experienced them as nothing more than left-brain discussion groups that are dominated by their most loquacious members. There's the largely atheistic Unitarian Church, but I find it to lack depth. There are other organizations, of course, but none of them offer most of what I've listed, and they themselves don't tend to last long. As for your surmise that my goal is to disprove religion, nothing could be further from the truth, because I'm firm in my opinion of it, and it's an extremely negative opinion. Yet, "religion" is a big umbrella that contains many, many people with many, many points of view. When I write about it, I usually write about it's dominant face, but I'm well aware that it has others faces too, and that some of them are much like my own. I've mentioned John Spong, a "non-theistic" retired Episcopal bishop from time to time because he has had a lot of influence on me.

Kj, I could address your concern better if you could ask specific questions, but I would also like it if you would go back to George's funeral (in July or August), and read the first two or three posts after that because your general query of "Why?" would require that I answer questions that I have spent scores of hours already answering.

kj said...

okay, snow, what a great list of great things to enjoy.i get that part. at least i think i do.

no doubt you're right that i have not taken sufficient time to read and thoughtfully respond to your posts and thinking. i wish i would say that i will go back and read your posts so i can comment more intelligently, but i don't know if i will. it may be that i shouldn't comment on something i haven't given just weight to.

i do understand most of what you've said to me. But this: "As for your surmise that my goal is to disprove religion, nothing could be further from the truth, because I'm firm in my opinion of it, and it's an extremely negative opinion": I've read this sentence four times. I simply can't understand it.

i think, bottom line, i've reacted to what has seemed like a 'struggle' for you. here you're explaining that most of your energy in this area finds enjoyment, not struggle. so for that i say, yay.

sometimes I'd just as soon meet you for coffee.


Snowbrush said...

"okay, snow, what a great list of great things to enjoy"

Thank you. I remember you asking the question before, both about me going to church and the amount of time I spend writing about religion, but I never felt that I answered you in a way that you found meaningful. Your question inspired my next post, the writing of which was a bigger help to me than I realized when I wrote it, so for that I thank you.

"But this: "As for your surmise that my goal is to disprove religion, nothing could be further from the truth, because I'm firm in my opinion of it, and it's an extremely negative opinion": I've read this sentence four times. I simply can't understand it."

When I think of religion, I think mostly of narrowness, brutality, and oppression, because that's what I grew up with. I don't mean that Church of Christ people went around killing others, but that the god they worshipped exemplified narrowness, brutality, and oppression. If he had been called Allah instead of Jehovah, he would have been pleased with the actions of the Islamic State because they would have reflected his own actions as portrayed in the Bible. It's very hard for me to see any good in any religion, yet I do feel an impulse toward worship, and to me, that means aligning myself with a religion because it's not enough to look up at the stars or sit out in the woods thinking about how marvelous it all is. I need the music and liturgy, and a whole lot else that can only come through organized religion, and for me that means Episcopalianism because I haven't found another church that is even in the ballpark of giving me what I get from it, and because it's the opposite of the face of religion that I grew up with.

Kerry said...

Still laughing over how you regard Unitarians! A social club for rollicking extroverts. I will never forget this.

who said...

an excellent write Snow, and one that you have done an extraordinary job at articulately communicating your frame of mind without going overboard and being obvious in the ways you discount the faithful's beliefs

In regards to denominations that set the stage for the atmosphere to be so unwelcoming that members leave the congregation, for example you mentioned

... and someone else said that no one who opposed abortion would feel welcomed...

I think many people alive today are oblivious to the fact that these days, a solid eighth grader can easily draw the lines between right and wrong in each and every varying situation.

There is nothing wrong with being opposed to abortion, esp when opposition carries the meaning that you yourself would never abort a pregnancy. It's not only wrong to make such a person feel unwelcome, but such frame of mind is only a symptom of an utter ignorance ie not understanding nor respecting a living human beings most basic and fundamental rights as an individual person

now, if a person who would never abort a pregnancy, also was of an utterly ignorant mind frame of these truly fundamental, beautifully declared rights of independence, freedom, and liberty, and proceeded to not respect another woman's rights to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, then they uncomfortable atmosphere said person is creating is likely very much their own responsibility

Our Constitution very plainly spells out the rights for the reading comprehensively challenged, and certainly no conservative need to exercise the right to terminate a pregnancy, however infringing upon another's most basic rights is wrong

A child is not born "officially" as pertaining to Our LAW, until a birth certificate is issued (the day the un an umbilical cord is cut, yet dickheaded men still like to fuck around and essentially hack at the fabric and Our Threads that clothe the Free World by wasting the time of Our Judicial Branches of Govt.

The scariest part is so many of them are just as clueless to the actual meaning of the words -- that could not be written any clearer -- that are given the name of Constitution

if after examining said words they just can't comprehend, they will not ever seriously understand the basic and esp the more complicated aspects of these Sacred Rights of the Humane life lived in Heaven

I won't get into the dispute regarding the words in the canonized scriptures, except to say that whomever gave you the info you stated as fact can hardly call themself any sort of biblical scholar

There are many parts of the New Testament which certainly were not written from a genuine viewpoint, most notably the words of Peter and Paul, and the way back when equivalent to todays Associated Press clearly hacked even the True accounts of Jesus Christ when they inserted the bullscript about Judah betraying one of the generations of His relative selves

Without pussyfooting around the subject, as I have never been a fan of subtlety, I am a little bit shocked that a person such as yourself -- my neighbor Snow -- so skilled in the craft of written word, continues to overlook the not-so-hidden meanings and tones of truth in the words of scriptures and instead choose to hear the dissonance and gibberish of the Associated Press's edited-for-the-public patriarchal edits to reflect the "truth" we are allowed to believe

The truth to those idiots is only what they call "news worthy"

too bad they didn't understand the Truths that are Self-evident