View Full Version : Spirituality VS Religion
03-27-2006, 08:07 PM
My first question/discussion that i will pose to all of you, is a battle that ive been fighting for a long time.
I was born and raised Southern Baptist, and i claim strong roots into christianity via this upbringing.
However, these recent years have changed a lot of my views on religion.. and frankly, God in general. There is still a lot more that i still dont understand, and that i struggle to rationalize.
My experience with my homosexuality, and battles with addiction, had pushed me away from religion (which i suspect is not uncommon.) In my recovery, i have embraced the ideology of the 12 step recovery programs of AA/NA; in which a broader understanding of God is used. In fact, many times "A power greater than ourselves" and "God, as we may understand him" are used. Principles of "Attraction rather than promotion" are used.
I guess, what i am getting at is how much this puts me at conflict with my past. I was brought up to believe that only through accepting certain christian principles, will you achieve salvation through the ONE and ONLY god, as he has made himself known.
I see all the evidence for a God of our understanding, and how comforting this fact is, to me. But i find it hard to break from my past, and most certainly the fear! The fear that if i embrace these principles, im gonna pay for it.
I see people of all walks of life, believing in all sorts of religions. One thing is true amongst all of them. they, each and every one of them, believe that they are right. They will cite all sorts of empirical/religious/spiritual/logical evidence for believing as they do... Which points a big finger at a more universal idea of God.
I guess i am seeking the truth. However, i am seriously conflicted about it. I want to break free of religion in general, and embrace a completely spiritual point of view. I want to worship God, as i understand him, and as he has revealed himself to me.
Maybe some of you guys can offer some insight into this?
03-27-2006, 08:41 PM
I want to worship God, as i understand him, and as he has revealed himself to me.
You might want to start with whether you truly believe God to be totally male. The nurturing characteristics of God, often associated with Motherhood, might lead one to think of God in more feminine terms. Perhaps God is Asexual, or even Omnisexual.
I'm not making light of your post, it's just that this is what struck me as I was reading it. ;) I find myself making it a point to refer to God as "God" and avoiding pronouns in those references. I find it opens my mind to consider the greatness of my God, that God could be male/female and even more than we can possibly imagine.
03-27-2006, 09:01 PM
Boy, when you post, you post Big. You are in as diverse a community here as the rest of "out there". Much of what you are looking for is spread throughout these pages (gee thanks). I would imagine the replies will be as helpful and confounding as anything.
Now for my own confounding help... (I am a crappy, reluctant Christian by the way) It is appearant first there is two ways to go. Either there is a conscious Creator (a Being) or there is not (Higher flexible Power). That is a crucial question that seperates Eastern thought from Western. And there is no compromise... Also, the idea that All is Godness, all religions are correct and lead to the same place (pantheism) where one can claim to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and what ever simply because they are in touch with the Spirituality behind all religions. Monotheism (belief in one Creator) stands solid against such a belief and the pantheist must assume monotheist have it wrong. And visa-versa... Where you fall on either side then offers all types of theologies, joys, pains, evidence, history and loads of crap. But this is the crux... Feel free to encourage me to go on...:eek:
03-27-2006, 10:23 PM
Wouldn't it stand to reason that god can only be a male or a female if s/he/it has a limited physical form that reproduces sexually?
Not making light of YOUR post either, Keltic, I don't intend it that way - rather to emphasize your point while at the same time moving beyond it. God is the maleness and the femaleness and the source behind and beyond them both.
I use pronouns when talking about God. I happen to think in the feminine form, but when talking to others about God I usually use the pronoun "he" because that is the way many people I know are used to talking about God. As HE, the Lord. And so, why not use the words? the words are not God, never could be, they are only markers pointing a direction. Ultimately, the words go away.
03-27-2006, 11:59 PM
Having previously struggled with fundamentalist religion and my sexual orientation, I hope I can help in some way.
First, my view of God is that it is both male and female, yet neither at the same time (I believe God is a spiritual entity that connects and exists within all life). My pastor at the UCC church I attend views God as both "mother and father."
While fundamentalists typically ignore certain passages, in particular, they also ignore passages describing God as "she." These passages are found in Proverbs, Wisdom of Solomon, the Kabbalah, and describing the "person" of the Holy Spirit in the feminine. Likewise, God is also referred to as He.
The recent book I reviewed, Where the Edge Gathers, by Yvonne Flunders, describes her opinion that transgender persons are "reflections of God" in that God is both male and female.
I support these interpretations, and it allows seeing God in a broader perspective. Similarly, interpreting Biblical Scripture literally, limits the understanding of the Divine. Stories and parables, in my opinion, illustrate lessons to study and guide - not to be taken literally. Joseph Campbell, in his book, The Power of Myth, desribes this more completely and coherently.
If I may suggest, perhaps attending some progressive churches will also help you on your journey. The UCC has provided an uplifting experience for me as I see that God loves me just as I am, and helped me rediscover the essence of Christianity, spiritually and religiously.
Good luck on your journey.
03-28-2006, 06:01 AM
You have my sympathy. I've been there, still am in some ways. If you're a fan of reading analog books, you might find Brian McClaren's "A New Kind of Christian" or almost anything by Robert Farrar Capon to be of use. I know I did.
03-28-2006, 09:36 AM
Hey germloucks2, I grew up Southern Baptist myself. If you ever get the chance to see the play Southern Baptist Sissies, I highly recommend it. It is spot-on. And it's also being made into a movie this year.
Anyway, back to your question about spirituality versus religion. For me there was some real irony into what brought about my divorce from conservative Christianity. The Southern Baptists always said "read your Bible," so that's what I did. And I quickly discovered that there were all kinds of evidence of the inclusive Spirit -- even in the old testament. And then if I took my Southern Baptist glasses off, I saw that the passages that I was taught were highly exclusive actually had some very different interpretations. So for Christians, I still think serious Bible study will lead to the religion of Jesus. (See, I'm still working in the phrase NathanATX shared with us (http://www.soulforce.org/forums/showthread.php?p=1366&highlight=jesus#post1366).)
03-28-2006, 12:03 PM
Awediot, you hit the nail on the head.. so to speak. I kinda rambled on a while there, trying to put my beliefs into perspective.
Like i mentioned before... Ive met some very interesting people, of all different religions. There seems to be some underlying spiritual common ground between them all. Each seeks his/her "higher power" in the tradition that they have been brought up in, or have embraced.
But, as the lines between religions blurr, for me.. What then? What comes after that? If one was to embrace this kind of spirituality, what principles/beliefs/way of life must be upheld?
Logically, this is a completely subjective belief! what then is permissable? What then constitutes right and wrong.. if indeed they still exist?
03-28-2006, 03:05 PM
Forgive me, but contemplating God's crotch has never interested me much... "He", is traditional; "She" is to loaded and "It" is impersonal.
germlouks2 (you've got to school me on that name), you wont like where I go with this, but a far reaching, all encompassing merely 'Spiritual' outlook is not the direction you need to go. The central, catalyst to the belief that ALL is God, is that I am God....(the Original Sin) A "Higher Power" is HIGHER than us. We are sentient. We are inteligent. We have preferences and concerns. So, so must IT. The mind of God can be no less than your own, or the most you can become is a deep, complex Athiest with nothing to deify but the self. Certainly God's mind transcends mere "beingness", but it is more than, not less.
Which directly addresses one of your points: This is specifically, intentionally not a subjective belief. It is designed precisely to destroy that subjectivity. You are IT's object. You are IT's creature. You are your own only by IT's grace... I once heard an analogy as to why Christianity is not a religion at all- If religion is seen as our efforts and cerimony, theory and prayers to reach God, Christianity is all about God's effort to reach us. We are the ones in rebellion. We have it backwards...
The principles/"beliefs"/way of life part is where it gets sticky. But the gist of Christianity, God's forgiveness through Christ, and what it means to live as a good person, "first do no harm", is comprehended by a six year old, and fills secret archives to confound the wisest, dirt old theologan. That is a life long search...
I'll shut up now (here anyway)
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