Saturday, October 30, 2010

Asking Questions and Keeping Quiet

Let me make clear that it's not my intention to leave Christianity behind. I may be asking the same questions that atheists use to discredit Christianity, but that's not my goal. My goal is to go deeper, to ask every question, look under every rock. I want to meet God. I want to understand the depth of this thing called faith.

One of the hardest things is that it's impossible to talk about my spiritual revolution-in-progress without my friends becoming sincerely worried about me. This is no small matter - I don't want them worried (they have enough of their own stuff to worry about).

And besides, there's nothing to worry about.

So I think I just have to keep my mouth shut for the time being, at least until I "settle" somewhere. Keeping my mouth shut is not my strength.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christians Don't Have a Clue About the Bible

Now that my eyes have been opened, I'm SHOCKED  at how little most Christians understand the Bible. The teachings - in churches, in books - are so, so shallow, literally never scratching the surface.

Christians aren't taught the history of how the bible came into being. They don't study the differences and contradictions, especially in the gospels, that could teach so much. Instead they pretend they all say the same thing.

It seems to me that if we were truly serious about studying the Bible, we'd study more about its authors. Like with any non-fiction book, we first uncover who the author is, their background, in order to understand the book. Even if we did this with just the authors of the gospels, our understanding of Jesus - his life, message, and significance - would be totally revolutionized.


Saving Jesus From the Church - Robin Meyers
Jesus, Interrupted - Bart Ehrman
Misquoting Jesus - Bart Ehrman

No More Christian Music

I can't listen to Christian music anymore, and the worship music at church grates on my ears. It's all "we praise you Jesus" and "Me me me... this is what you've done for me." And never what it means to follow Jesus. It's shallow, one-note, no real exploration, no depth, all emotion.


It's amazing how recently I actually liked it. Now it turns my stomach.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I Could Lose My Job Over This

I've built my career since 2003 in the Christian world, and they'll kick me out if they learn how my beliefs have evolved.

Ha! They already kicked me out once - I was fired from a job back in 2005. (Long story.)

I was able to build my career back up, fighting and clawing, as it were. Now that I've been honestly seeking God and seeking truth, and what I've found has led away from the beliefs I once held, they have reason to kick me out again.

Shhhhh! Don't tell! I actually like my job. And need the income.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Letting Go of my Christian Identity

I think the hardest part of letting Christianity go is that I found an identity there. I was a "person of faith" surrounded by other people of faith. I loved being surrounded by other seekers of truth and God. For so many years, I'd been seeking to belong, somehow. To be a part of something larger. And I found it.

But it turns out that this group only accepts you if you toe the line - but if your honest seeking takes you beyond their boundaries, you're no longer welcome.

Guess I don't want to be where I'm not wanted.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Look What God Did!

God is not an interventionist. Certainly one of the most frightening things to contemplate. It’s the ultimate recognition of our powerlessness.

That's why I'm reading about Buddhist approach to prayer. They're atheistic (no concept of God as a Being) yet prayer and meditation are vital to their spirituality. I wondered, what the heck is that all about? Who do they pray to, then? And do they expect answers?

The answers are fascinating.

What drives me crazy lately is "Let's watch what God does!" Or "it was amazing what God did."

Or the kicker, "God is good," only spoken when the baby DOESN'T die, or the job isn't lost, or the biopsy is negative.

Makes me want to scream, "Lots of times the cancer isn't cured... does that mean God isn't good?"

People are so blissfully unaware of how tightly they (we) hold to certain beliefs purely for the "opiate of the masses" effect, that is, just so we can cope without going completely round the bend.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

No More Bible Reading

I kind of feel like I don't want to read the Bible anymore. Sign of a true heretic right? There's just so much cultural/contextual stuff to wade thru, and about 95% chance of misunderstanding and/or misinterpreting every bit of it. The more I study, the more I see that the interpretations taught in the typical women's bible study are shallow at best, often just plain boneheaded.

Ugh sometimes I really wish I were smarter. Just a few extra IQ points would make it so much easier for me to understand this Borg/Crossan book (about Paul). As it is, about 50% of it is over my head. The other 50% is revolutionary for me and I love it.

But I hate coming up against my own intellectual barriers. I suppose if I really slowed down and studied this much more carefully, I'd eventually get it. Right now I'm too impatient... I'm in devour mode, not savor mode.

Reading "The First Paul." Parts of it, especially the first part, are just clear as a bell. But some parts get too deep into theological/historical nitpicking for me, and I don't understand it, although I want to.

Reading books like this one is what makes me feel hopeless in reading the Bible, because I can't possibly know all this historical, contextual background and so I can't possibly interpret scripture correctly, that is, how it was intended to be understood. I started thinking yesterday that with the Bible, I feel like I either need to study it in-depth (with teachers like Borg and Crossan) or leave it alone, because any other kind of reading is just a recipe for shallow and/or wrong interpretation. I think it's more helpful for me to read other authors these days instead of the Bible. No Sola Scriptura for me!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Challenges to Atheism

Last night I made pretty quick work of "The Dawkins Delusion" and "God and the New Atheism," both Christian challenges to Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens. (Also, both very short books, and I skimmed much of them.) They're pretty good, pointing out the many errors in logic in Dawkins book, the vast generaliza-tions, and just plain misinterpretation of scripture. Most importantly, they emphasize Dawkins apparently extreme aversion to admitting that anyone could possibly disagree with him without being a complete idiot (an attitude that is abundantly clear in The God Delusion.)

Still, my reading so far has brought me to a place of believing that there are many "valid" "religious per-spectives, and atheism is one of them; but that it's not okay to belittle or invalidate others personally be-cause of their beliefs. Christians, atheists, and people of all persuasions do this.

One of the things I liked in The Dawkins Delusion was the emphasis on the fact that nature itself lends itself equally well to an atheist perspective or a religious/spiritual/God perspective. Nature (the world around us) doesn't demand to be seen in either God or non-God terms but can be understood equally well either way. I like that.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Reading Other Voices

Books I recently finished:

Borg – The Heart of Christianity
Spong – Why Christianity Must Change or Die
Dawkins – The God Delusion
Ehrman – Misquoting Jesus
Dani Shapiro - Devotion

I also just finished the Thich Nhat Hanh book (The Energy of Prayer), which took me back to where I started all this - the Eckhart Tolle kind of thinking. (I noticed Dani Shapiro's latest blog post mentions Tolle.)

I feel like all this reading of various voices is so good for me. I emerged from Dawkins having learned a lot but the epiphany for me was realizing I'm able to say no to the parts that don't ring true for me. In all this exploration, I'm finally learning to trust my inner knowing, listening to when my spirit says yes, when it says no, and when it says, I don't know - tell me more. That's the gift in this journey, I think.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The God Delusion

Quotes from the book by Richard Dawkins:

p. 34: From Thomas Jefferson: "Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions."

(Love the humor!)

p. 126: "One of the truly bad effects of religion is that it teaches us that it is a virtue to be satisfed with NOT understanding."

p. 187: "Irrationally strong conviction is a guard against fickleness of mind."

Books I want to read:

Unweaving the Rainbow - Dawkins
Why Good is Good - Hinde
Science of Good & Evil - Shermer
Moral Minds - Hauser
The Sins of Scripture - Spong
Godless: How and Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists - Barker
Why I Became an Atheist - Loftus

Monday, September 6, 2010

My Evolution is Speeding Up

I haven't been writing much lately, but not because of a spiritual lapse. In fact, I've been so busy reading, studying and pondering that I haven't felt like writing. Everything feels so up-in-the-air, unsettled. To write it down is to somehow commit to it, and lately I have no idea what to commit to.

I'm still in this process of tearing down. Don't know yet whether anything is being built back up. I read a quote in a novel by Lisa Samson: "As part of my expansion, I have to implode."

Yes, that's what it feels like.

I've been studying Marcus Borg's book The Heart of Christianity, and it has been life-changing.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Letting Go of Self

Went to church today (I still have to go because of my kids) and I continue to be amazed at how church is helping me in this spiritual revolution I'm having. It's hard to explain in just a few words but I will try. Part of what I'm going through is deconstructing much of what I've learned about Christianity. Yet at the same time, even though the deconstruction isn't complete, I'm starting the “rebuilding” simultaneously. I beginning to hear things through new ears, understand things from a different perspective. It's like, it's the same information but I'm getting it through a whole new prism. And I'm understanding it differently.

Today in church the pastor kept talking about getting our strength from God. You know, we don't have to "try so hard" but we have to depend on God. Let HIM do it, etc. And the pastor keeps pointing to the rafters.

And I'm struggling with this because I'm not sure that's the way it works. I'm not sure God is "some guy" up there in heaven. But then it dawns on me, I don't have to know or decide right now who or what God is, and neither do I have to understand if my pastor really got it right. Because what I do understand is that this is very much related to what Tolle is teaching (along with spiritual teachers throughout history) -- about letting go of the ego or the egoic mind, i.e. the SELF.

It's what Jesus taught and it's what the Buddha taught. And it's what my pastor is trying to teach, albeit all wrapped up in Christianese. It's about this lifelong journey of learning to not be so attached to the self -- or rather as Tolle explains, the "false self." The ego.

So I can sit and listen to my pastor teach about "letting go and letting God" and I can understand it to mean that my attachment to my self - what I think, what I feel, what I think I know - is not doing me any favors and that if I will only open up and ask, the universe will guide me and give me what I need.

I'm spouting what sounds like nonsense here. But in some way it makes sense to me; like I'm seeing all kinds of truth at once, and while it's a big jumbled mess in my mind, it also somehow makes sense.

At least it's allowing me to get something good out of being in church, and that's a real gift.

Another example: I have come to disbelieve in atonement theology. I no longer believe Christ came to die for us. I believe Christ came to teach us, and to connect us with God. Christianity teaches that Christ's purpose was to die but I reject that and believe that Christ's purpose was to live—and to teach us to live. To me, atonement theology minimizes Jesus's life on earth, as if it was all just incidental to the reason he really came—to die.

In addition, I cannot believe in a God who requires the torture and mutilation of an innocent individual to satisfy his need for justice. I just can’t believe in that God. To me, atonement theology says that God is/was not powerful enough to simply wipe the slate clean, extend grace and offer forgiveness just because he wants to. Why would a good God require the horrible death of a man in order to extend grace and forgiveness? That's a vengeful, bloodthirsty God if you ask me. I don't buy it. So, here I am, no longer believing in atonement theology. Which leaves me in a precarious position. Why did Jesus die such a horrid death, and what does it all mean?

Well, he died as a consequence of his teachings. What he was teaching was so impossible for the establishment to accept that they killed him for it. People were responsible for his death, not some cosmic plan of God.

But guess what? I can still say and believe that Jesus died for me and for all people. How can I say that? Because he believed his message of God's love and grace was so important, so powerful, so life-changing and world-changing, that he needed to share it, even though he knew he risked being killed. He died because he shared his message of love with the world!

And that means he shared it with me. And that means he was willing to go to his death so that I, and people all around the world, could understand that there is a God (a Divine Presence? a Force? a Universe?) that is good. So that we could understand that the way to live life—and the way to enlightenment—is through love and grace and forgiveness.

(Honestly, how did it ever make sense to anyone that love and grace and forgiveness could only be attained through violence and torture??? How could a God of love require such a thing? In my mind, there’s no possible way it could be true. You can’t have God being “good” and also being this violent and bloodthirsty being.)

So here I am rejecting atonement yet still being able to accept Jesus as somewhat of a savior for me, because it was his courageous teaching that literally changed the world. And it was so important, he was willing to die for it.

That is so cool. And those are just a couple examples of how my thinking is evolving.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Ripping . . . A Tearing Down

I'm starting to feel the effects of the recent seismic shift in my life. It feels like a ripping. I know I'm in a tearing-down phase that may continue for awhile before I begin to build back up some kind of belief system. Meanwhile I'm vulnerable and kind of lost.

I was thinking of starting a blog where I can write down some of the stuff I'm experiencing. Like I have the time for that.

But here I am.

The ripping. I think that happens when the seismic shift starts to move out of the "safe" place of the mind and into the everyday life. When you're trying to apply the as-yet-undefined new ideas (that you know will be ultimately beneficial to your world) to a very well-tread reality that is kind of going "huh?"

This vulnerability is a necessary evil of change, I'm afraid. So is this feeling of lostness. I don't think those two things ever fully disappear for someone who is desirous of real truth and growth. They come in waves along with that tearing down (and usually at the least opportune times), but on the other side I hope I get to a place where I, not stronger, but "more." I don't know any other way to say it.

I'm reading so much lately. Atheist stuff, Buddhist stuff, lots and lots of blogs! Discovering other people's words helps me to feel like I'm not alone. But I might be in the place where I’m experiencing the solitary aspects of it - the uniqueness of my journey. That's why I feel lost (I think).

I feel so untethered much of the time, and it's uncomfortable. My untethered moments are evidence of just how important this journey is to me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who Am I Praying To . . . and Why?

It's hard to pray now. I've given up the genie-in-the-sky concept of God and am uncomfortable even referring to God in a personified way ("He"), I'm not exactly sure who I'm praying to or why.

Yet I know there is a powerful purpose in prayer. Mankind throughout the ages has always found comfort, peace and answers by asking and by submitting to a higher power. I just don't know how to conceptualize He-She-It. The "Divine."

I'm sure this is why we have this male-person-image of God in the first place. It's much easier that way.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A True Spiritual Experience?

I have recently heard it said that Christians or others who are devoutly religious are the most likely to miss out on a true spiritual experience. They are the most disconnected from a sense of the Divine or the mystery.

I'm in a place where I'm not even sure if there is a Divine. I know there's mystery and I'm becoming more comfortable living in it - not needing all the answers.

Is there such a thing as a "spiritual" experience, or is this part of the big "story" that we've made up?

The fact that I'm even asking this question is somewhat alarming to me.

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Evolving Faith

I wish I had all the time in the world to write my thoughts on my evolving faith and theology. It's practically all I think about now. I'm finally free to go  with what my gut is telling me.

I believe the individual's experience is very powerful. While theology and doctrine can be debated (and always will be), a person's experience is just what it is, and you can't talk someone out of it. I've realized that my faith in God has been part of me since I was very young, apart from any understanding of religion. I've experienced what I think is a divine and transcendent presence. I spent many years trying to explain and understand it. Now I'm coming to accept that the Divine will always be mostly mystery and can't be understood.

It has always seemed to me that all religions - all their doctrines, stories, and beliefs - are simply man's attempts to explain and understand God, the universe, and the meaning of life. The stories are mythology that try to make sense of things. I'm more convinced than ever of this. And Christianity is no exception.

This doesn't mean I invalidate Christianity or any faith. Being a Christian has been the best way for me to connect with God and my spiritual self. I think I'm moving into a phase of trying to go deeper into that as I nurture my spirituality and connection to the divine.

But I'm no longer tied to any necessity to "believe" certain doctrine in order to have "salvation." And even more exciting and freeing, I'm no longer compelled to judge or reject other faith traditions, or pity all my non-Christian friends & family because they're not "saved." I can honor and respect all faiths in that they're attempts to understand all that is not understandable in this life.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Philip Gulley - If Grace is True

 Here are some of my favorite quotes from this book:

Is a God who only forgives after an innocent man is tortured and killed a god worthy of praise? Atonement theology... refuses to allow God the freedom to cancel the debt. It contends that unless blood is shed, God is powerless to forgive. [p. 134]

(This seems to me such an obviously HUMAN view of things. How can people not see through this to realize people MADE IT UP according to their own, very human, sense of justice?)

Jesus wasn't born to die. He came to teach us how to live. Jesus didn't die to appease an angry God. He came to proclaim a God of love. [p. 135]

(And didn't he die to appease angry PEOPLE?)

Salvation is turning away from self-absorbed lives. It is trusting our acceptance by God. It is allowing the knowledge of God's love to transform our opinion of ourselves and others. Salvation is my journey from estrangement from God and others toward divine and human communion. [p. 156]

(Salvation is NOT "acceptance into heaven.")

After reading If Grace is True, I deeply understood that a true spiritual path is not about "believing" something. It's about following a way modeled by someone, Jesus even. A way of grace, forgiveness, and love. Accepting that we are loved by God. Living a life dedicated to reaching out to even the most unlovable.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Many Paths to God

I guess the biggest change I've gone through these last few weeks is being able to completely embrace and accept the truth that there are many paths to God, not just the Christian path. I've instinctively know this, it's always felt true in my gut, but Christianity tried to beat it out of me. Now I can stop fighting it and instead live in it.

This makes me happy!

It means I don't have to put down others' beliefs in order to fully embrace my own. It means I don't have to be judgmental or pity others. Instead I can celebrate life and God.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


So I'm feeling very shattered these days. Most of what I thought to be true about Christianity is being torn down. It feels like I'm being shredded.

Or maybe more like de-programming they do with people who've been brainwashed into a cult. I'm deprogramming myself.

It leaves me feeling off balance and vulnerable, but I think it's only temporary. A lot has to be torn down before I can build something in its place.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Doctrines I No Longer Believe In

Heaven & hell
The inerrancy of scripture
The virgin birth
The atonement
The second coming
"Belief" as most important
Original sin
Need to go to church
Homosexuality as sinful
Female as subservient
Unmarried sex always bad
Jesus as savior and only Son of God
Worshiping Christ (vs. following Jesus)
Christianity as the only way to God

Is there even a God to find our way to?

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is Sin?

To sin = to miss the mark.

To miss the point of life. To live unskillfully, blindly, and thus to suffer and cause suffering.

That is SO different than the concept of sin I understood from being a Christian.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Problem with Words

Everything I'm experiencing now is so hard to put into words. It's so much bigger than my puny words can capture.

I think that's the problem with the Bible and all the ancient spiritual teachings. They use words, which limit the concepts being taught, making those concepts much smaller and reducing their significance. But over the years, people have grabbed on to those small words as if they were the whole truth. Failing to recognize the vast truths behind the words - truth that must be felt or experienced rather than intellectually understood.