"Smorgasbord" Religion, Being of a Faith, and the Personal Journey

path_of_one

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I've been reflecting a lot on that question of "what am I?" religiously. Personally, I don't think it matters (in terms of salvation or what have you), but as an anthropologist that looks at issues of identity and community a lot, I can't help but engage in self-reflection.

I've been thinking about what I hear a lot from various people- first, this discussion of "Cafeteria" religion and the "wishy-washy" folks. I agree with many that religions and traditions should not be just appropriated by anyone without careful study, and should not be used to deceive others or missionize to others. But I suppose what I wonder about, is what to do with people like me who have long been on a personal spiritual journey, and later find that what they believe and experience resonates in some ways with this, other ways with that, religion.

I was raised a Christian, but an odd sort of Christian, with little or no emphasis on doctrine and the basis of faith in a personal relationship to the Divine (essentially, Christian mysticism). The other big parts of my conditioning were cultivating compassion and service for others, social justice, and experiencing God through nature- God as in and through the universe, the earth, and her creatures.

Over time, I tried in various ways to connect to a sense of religious community. As a kid, my friends were mostly Baptist. So I tried good 'ole conservative Baptist church for several years in elementary and junior high, and it didn't fit well with my own experience or beliefs at all. I tried the non-denom Christian mega-churches in junior high through part of college, which not only didn't fit with my experience or beliefs, it didn't fit with my personality or sensitivity to crowds and noise, either. I became interested in other cultures and religions early on, and starting around 9 or 10 began reading what I could about indigenous shamanic religions and Taoism- I think it always struck a chord but I didn't have the courage to explore until high school. Once I got into college, I minored in comparative religious studies and majored in anthropology- soaking up all I could.

What I found was interesting. The beliefs I'd developed on my own were quite Buddhist. Except that I had this personal mystical relationship with God (which I experience as both this infinitely incomprehensible Being) and Christ (which I experience as a personal comforter, teacher, and yes- deliverer). Most other stuff in Christianity made little sense to me, and most of my ideas about God, Satan, and whatnot seemed more Jewish than anything else. And I found modern Druidry, which is not a religion for me at all, but more a community to learn more about mysticism and shamanism as it relates to Earth-based spirituality. I'm intuitively shamanic- it seems to be part of my baseline personality type and is part of my life as far back as I can remember- so this nature-based mystical practice resonates too. But I can't get my head around polytheism. :eek:

So... I'm a smorgasbord, right? But an informed smorgasbord? I go to an Episcopal church, think Buddhist ideas, do Druidic ritual and meditation in grove of trees, and believe the grace of God manifested itself in the form of Christ (at least, it did to me). Sigh.

The thing is... I wish sometimes I could just be something. I like the idea of a community. It just doesn't seem to work very well. I can't rid myself of cognitive dissonance enough to be mainline Christian. I can't give up Christ enough to be Pagan or Jewish. And I can't give up the experience of God enough to be Buddhist. The thing is, I am profoundly committed to a sense of communal service and humanity becoming more spiritually aware. And I feel the type of support one would get from retreats, classes, etc. would be very helpful, but the non-religious Druidic ones are too far away (UK, anyone?) and Christian ones make me feel like an imposter, to be honest. Maybe the Buddhists would welcome me. Though they're far away too (but not half a world away!).

Long story longer, I'm interested to hear about how you think about your own religious identity. Do you feel like you found "home" and believe what others believe, do what they do, etc.? Or do you feel slightly out of place? What value you do see in being of a particular faith, and how does it relate to your spiritual journey personally? How does a sense of community relate to your vision of "the other shore" toward which you're floating/rowing/being pulled?

If you feel out of place in your religion, because you have beliefs or practices or experiences that don't quite mesh with "orthodox" or "mainstream" views- how do you view that? How do you handle it? Do you see that as imperfections in you- that is, you need to change to what the community norms dictate? Or do you see that as imperfections in the community? Or just differences arising from varied experience, conditioning, and so forth?

I often feel a bit like an imposter in Christianity. I sincerely love Christ and follow his teachings. I experience him personally. But beyond that, I have not much in common. So I sometimes feel like I'm something else in Christian clothing when I go to a Bible study or retreat. At church, it doesn't matter much as it is a liturgical church and the point is common prayer. But otherwise, the more personal groupings of Christians, I feel like I'm either rocking the boat or being reserved. Reserved is fine, but to most Christians reservedness is taken for passive agreement, and then I feel like I'm lying by default.

So... thoughts? What do you or would you do in a similar situation?
 

arthra

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I was raised in a liberal Baptist church and went through an intensive searching process between my mid teens and early twenties.. in the process I met some remarkable people and had some deep experiences. I would say a panoply of experiences in meditation and searching, this was the "smorgasbord".

There's value though in a smorgasbord in that you have a certain flexibility and latitude you may not have experienced before and it "feels" right for awhile but there's the down side.. in that in setting your own terms for things it becomes shallow and after a while even the smorgasbord is not enough.

About in my mid twenties I made a decision that most of the valuable or worthwhile things I had found were in the Baha'i Faith and so became a Baha'i..but it wasn't a smooth process getting there either. I think most of us if we are sincerely seeking need to do something like this, that is really experience to the best of our ability what it is we are studying or curious about.

Reading books are fine but we also need the actual experiences that the books allude to..i.e., being an arm-chair whatever is only half there and sometimes not even a quarter there.

- Art
 

seattlegal

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P_o_o, perhaps this will resonate with you:
Matt 8:19-20
19 A scribe approached Him and said, (Q) "Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go!" 20 Jesus told him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man (R) has no place to lay His head."​
;)
 

nativeastral

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you are well named then path of one, rejoice in it for you will/do have much to share which IS the MAIN thing for humans to do in this life.

I too studied anthropology and so come from levi-strauss/durkeim/mauss etc [long forgotten but the discipline is coming to the fore again l notice as studies in religion previously had been too text based ignoring how 'it is lived' by the believers themselves and so more 'participant-observation']!

l was baptised in a Church of Scotland church and attended 'sunday school', but even then my siblings and l would take turns to 'skive' going there so would take the 'money' and run to the shops for sweets instead; we were bored by the monotonous preachings by then; it didnt sing to me.

We had no religion in the house, my father is agnostic and my mother became 'religious' only after her parents died; she became an elder at the local kirk and now feels she would prefer to be catholic since she changed churches and maybe it is too austere and lacking in community spirit which after all is what the church is for, the body. Inter-personal relations count for a lot, even in situations where folk are singing from the same hymn book. Theres hypocrisy everywhere but when you see it in spiritual settings:mad:

Quite a lot in 'my generation' railed against any/all authority so religious institutions were/are a nono for me, though l have the greatest respect for those who love and need that for sustenance-its a commitment with rewards. I have meditated in groups and know the power is amplified. Reminds me of a rabbi [?] suggesting if the whole world prayed for the same thing at the precise time WOW.

I believe in group souls and the divine in even the mundane. Mystery is mystory, up jacobs ladder or down the rabbit hole, life is love is adventure the after life is life after the here and now.

I believe in grace and providence within and without and have not up till now 'entered' into a personal space with any particular deity so l guess l am a pantheist but transcendently speaking if that makes sense [if its nonsense thats ok as l dont like labels, seeds of which breed creeds and l would rather be a weed which supplies minerals to that particular spot of soil on the earth]:)

l am saddened by the fact that 'evils' still exist when morals ought to be 'growing on trees':(
peace
 

Snoopy

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The thing is... I wish sometimes I could just be something. I like the idea of a community.


Be a straightforward round peg that goes into one of those common or garden round pegs? That isn't you though is it? :) You is what you is PoO! You’re a church of one, so you need to work on that wish thing, I think! Can you be a member of several communities, to help better fulfil your liking of community? Does membership of one exclude you from another?


Maybe the Buddhists would welcome me. Though they're far away too (but not half a world away!).
Have far is too far for you? I thought Americans drove across two states to buy groceries:p. I have to drive for an hour to my “place of community” and to me, this is not exactly local…(Not to promote but only to assist)...I would guess someone like yourself knows how to find stuff, but is this of any help? : (scroll down to see the map)

World Buddhist Directory - Presented by BuddhaNet.Net


Long story longer, I'm interested to hear about how you think about your own religious identity. Do you feel like you found "home" and believe what others believe, do what they do, etc.?
Yes.

Or do you feel slightly out of place?
Not really, because it’s not that kind of thing. There’s no pressure or crap; nobody makes me attend…

What value you do see in being of a particular faith, and how does it relate to your spiritual journey personally?
When I first found out what my “faith” was about (stop me if I’ve said this before) I could have rejected what I was told or been knocked out by the revelatory nature of it (as two likely options). Actually what I found was that, in essence, my world view was the world view of this faith, so I was already xxx, just didn’t know it, just didn’t have the badge. I value it highly and it relates completely as my reference.



How does a sense of community relate to your vision of "the other shore" toward which you're floating/rowing/being pulled?
Not directly. The other shore for me is mine alone to realise. Guidance is there should it be requested.

s.
 

Tao_Equus

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POO-OP, (giggles... the tao that can be named is not the real tao),

Perhaps you do have a personal mission to reconcile your values with value systems, or religions. Perhaps also none are fully adopted in their entirety for you because you are only interested in what they confirm about your own senses as perceived by you. Now that seems an obvious statement but its ramifications run so deep into the psyche and areas of behaviour that are rarely applied consciously, let alone logically, that it is easy to turn a blind eye to them. But they matter, if the individual is to be fully self-honest.

In Islam the concept is tackled as a personal struggle, or Jihad. Or this is what your local Imam will tell you on seeking his advice. Rather than just give the command to cease thinking down the road of doubt it is transformed into an obstacle to be beaten. It is a clever device. It teaches the mind to not view doubt as a valid tool of human cognition but as an enemy to be overcome. Islam is a good example in this case as it does not even attempt to disguise what it is doing.

In your case I see someone whom has embraced the Christian doctrine from such a young age that it would take you enormous effort to untangle it from your core self. Only later do you look to explain doubts, as a consequence of your ever growing knowledge, in other religious groups. Perhaps it would be an interesting exercise for you to begin to relate, in some way, your education in anthropology to a study of biology and the intricate evolutionary stories that enabled and make life possible for humanity today. Not just a superficial "documentary" toe dip, but a full thesis level immersion. But when you do just leave religion on the shelf as much as you are able. Go into it unpolluted by any preconception. Look at it for what it is, not what it might be. You have studied long enough to know that it is impossible to know everything about anything, every contributory variable stretches into infinity. Especially when you investigate the tertiary extant system. There is such a vast pyramid of data below it that no individual is capable of knowing it all in its minutiae. But you can get a flavour. Get a microscope and dig up patches of forest and meadow. Find the 10s of 1000s of organisms living in their vast cities beneath your feet. And find out how they all inter-relate in a far from stable and highly precarious equilibrium. I think from what little I know about you that you would declare 'god' many times on such a journey. It is I think currently beyond you to truly cast aside what is after all a self embraced reliance on the metaphors of religion.

I think many people are afraid to be without religion. Usually they are good people who use it ostensibly as a mechanism to believe in hope. Secular or atheist movements have not as yet had time to evolve the movements (that can only say that hope is a fallacy) with a message that that does not mean we are viciously doomed. What it gives in return for your money is an incredibly powerful tool of assessment and thus a great aid for survival. But beyond that, as an atheist who's atheism could not exist without extensive personal enquiry into self and nature, nature as and of itself is still profoundly wondrous and beautiful. Just not fluffy pink, (very often).

All that said we will each continue down our own path of brief time. And it is amazing how much we are capable of cramming into that geological nano-digit of observable time. Even those with minds enquiring enough, or economically supported enough, to gain enough perspective by education to assess honestly rarely do. It is my position of relative affluence, my ready access to information, and my upbringing in a secular society witnessing the madness of sectarian murder that have combined together to allow me to ask myself the questions that lead to my current state of thought. Growing up seeing religion all around as something valued by many yet used by others to indiscriminately bomb civilians is a good stimulus into an appraisal of religion as too personalised to have universal cause. But by the application of biology it is does have human universality. Religious thought is of itself a product of the human animal, a social animal, with all the implications that brings.

So try being atheist for a while! When you find yourself explaining things in terms of god try to stop yourself, and explain it without the 'prop'. Its still beautiful.


PS. with all integrity, some times swear words are deemed as linguistic 'props' or 'gap-fillers'. Religion too can be a bit like that where it is used to fill a fundamental gap or as a 'prop' to support an idea, concept, belief or whatever. Usually such a religious prop does not stand up to real scrutiny.
 

path_of_one

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Thanks, all- I will comment more (to each person) later on, but I have a flight to catch and am going *home* for a week to be with the husband and dogs! (Drat this work in one state, home in another situation...)

I will return to this thread tomorrow or Monday, and will respond to each of you then. I appreciate all of your comments. :)

Peace,
Path... POO... LOL:D
 

Nick_A

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Hi Path

I've always been out of place. When I was young it bothered me but gradually I became able to use it especially in the music business but that was escapism into an image. I was always attracted to deeper ideas. During the times I was the divorced musician living with the town witch I was very impressed as any young man would be with the energy that was there. However, there was a certain something I couldn't accept or open to.

Time went on and as any good scientific, artistic spiritual Russian, Armenian, and Scottish man will do is to enjoy good scotch. Taking advantage of the old axiom that more is better, knocking down bottles became no problem.

I should be dead today if not for having discovered my path or rather my path discovering me. At the time I was interested in this weird and suspicious ancestor of mine who was so skilled with a paint brush that in certain areas of the world he is considered a wizard for his ability to capture the interactions of elemental forces on canvas. One of his works that depicts the descent of the days of creation still is respected by many.

Then by "accident" I found certain books. I quickly learned that my out of place questions were just normal with normal answers. We had just lost the capacity to reason normally and to feel as human beings. It also became obvious that as good as I thought I was with abstract ideas, there is no way I could have discovered these things on my own. I needed help but I didn't object to it at all but rather welcomed it even though it revealed the idiot that I was which was necesary for me to come to grips with human meaning and purpose... The experience was so profound that I had to stop drinking. Even now years after I just have only an occasional glass of wine or a shot of scotch when offering a toast.

Where normally I was conditioned to believe that it was all senseless, now I saw that it could be no other way and just a lawful expression of universal laws.

I am not really a community person but I've found that I feel more comfortable around the community that does understand these things and are willing to accept the human condition and what can be done in this mutual effort to make silk purses out of our collective sow's ear.

I've come to dislike a lot of weddings since I've been a musician at many and all the vanity I've experienced seemed to negate any of the meaning behind a wedding.

Yet I remember once where a couple on my path were going to marry so we rented a loft, set it up, did the cooking, arranged for whatever had to be done so expenses were minimal and the expression of good will became personal. I actually enjoyed the reception which is a rarity for me. You have no idea of the musician jokes that go on at "normal" weddings. There was something authentic about it that expressed why the concept of marriage is completely unique. It was an experience of community that was new to me since it wasn't based on vanity but rather on humility.

One thing that was proven for me is that "when the student is ready, the teacher appears." It was so in my case. I needed that strong and profound doorway that includes both science and art that helps me become less of a sow's ear even at the expense of societal disapproval.
 

iBrian

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The thing is... I wish sometimes I could just be something. I like the idea of a community. It just doesn't seem to work very well.

I know exactly what you mean - I remember my days with the dope smoking crowd often meant being with people who had a similar outlook, though, which was really nice and refreshing - a sense of individual interpretation from a range of sources, but an underlying respect for basic spirituality, which seemed recognised as something no religion could satisfactorily capture.
 

lunamoth

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So... thoughts? What do you or would you do in a similar situation?

For me being part of a community is a very important part of my religious discipline. Christianity, as I understand it, is meant to be a corporate (body) religion. We are meant to come together to worship, work, share the sacraments, and read and 'open up' the scriptures. This does not mean we don't also value our individual connection to God and our own understanding of scriptures, etc., but the communal aspects are critical as well.

I don't think you need to intellectually accept every piece of dogma to belong to Christianity, or any religion. I love the idea of the 'beloved community.' In this community we are held together by our attraction to the central principles of love, rather than fenced in by rules. Different groups of Christians, however, are going to expect different standards of behavior from their members, some more rigid, some more lax. I really think this is more a matter of style and really not a critical point. The Episcopal Church, as you know, says that anyone who has been baptized (in any denomination, at any time) is a Christian.


I'm surprised no one has yet mentioned the Unitarian Universal church. This seems like it might be a very good fit for you Path as it is very diverse in its membership, spanning many different religions and also including agnostics and atheists. They avoid dogma, except for their adherance to seven principles (which I will look up in a moment). Liberal Quakers are also worth a look. I think the UUs are big in DC. :)
 

lunamoth

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There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.


Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:

Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;

Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;

Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;

Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;

Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.

Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

From: UUA: Our Principles
 

mee

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So... thoughts? What do you or would you do in a similar situation?
for me it was more a case of .....what does God require of me.?... rather than me thinking God has got to fit in with my way of thinking .



putting myself inline with what the bible teaches and doing my best to put it into pratice is what i am after.


and doing that will then put me among the GREAT CROWD of others from all nations revelation 7;9-10 and the really good thing about it is that they are all in unity and they are all waving their symbolic palm branch to welcome Gods reigning king Jesus Christ.



And that great crowd from all nations are making it known .





MATTHEW 24;14 AND I REALLY LIKE THE UNITY AND GLOBALNESS OF IT ALL:)
 

Francis king

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I wrote a long post here yesterday in reply to ur OP, but my machine took the knock...

regardless, I wanted to post a reply to this, and so here I am...

... I think that to define yourself and your position in society using various different labels is what we do- even when the labels are not particularly accurate or realistic. I also think that most religions I have encountered have placed varying degrees of emphasis on this "labelling" process, and most of them also suggest to a practitioner that a practitioner should give up other, alternative or erroneous views to become "more" in the eyes of the faith...

...why can't religion be casually selected and picked up and put down as it suits a person? We do it with careers, with lovers, with entertainments. This is what we do. We buy into fads; this week the Hollywood stars are digging yoga! So we all go off to yoga in our lyrca, but next week, we're all converting to Hollywood Judaism. Most people have neither the time money or the inclination to take things further, to commit, to become adherents, to live the life 24/7.

Yes, it may seem "wishy-washy", but Religion-Lite is better than no religion at all. At least people are still impressing noble ideas upon their consciousness, even if the impressions do not run too deep. Still, if the clay is impressed often enough, it will leave a permanent mark. That the noble, hopeful, socially aware, compassionate parts stick- I see that as a good thing.

If everyone was a monk, who would bring us alms?

on the flip side...I can see the point here of INUK, also- sometimes we "eclectic" types are only so because we do not want to give up anything which we have become attached to, and for those- like myself- who were conditioned to accept a specific philosophy at a young age such roots run deep- so deep that it's difficult to rid oneself of them and stand apart from them.

Yet- if they are doing no harm, why uproot these plants from your consciousness field? All the budding ideas started off as small seeds, and what one man calls a weed another sees as food, or medicine, or beauty.

I think we all use props- labels, shorthand, identify with this and that for various reasons, yet so long as the reason is not to delude others or harm others, why worry what everyone else thinks?

But no- we crave order, neatness- people do when they live in chaos. I have lost count of the number of disembodied limbs strewn about the path, where those who walked before me have chopped off their own arms and legs to fit into the neat boxes some people call home- crippling traps, each one of them.

If everyone did as they were told and stuck with the religion they were born in there would be no buddhism, no christianity. Siddhartha would have been a ksatriya and died in battle, Jesus would have become a better Jew. If what came before suited them they would have stuck with it. They did not. That should tell you something.

We all want to be something- we are social creatures, form groups, forge alliances, but for the others, a smorgasbord is not what they have come to the buffet for, and it shakes them up a little. They have an issue with you being so blatantly free-form. They want turkey, with two bits of bread. Your open sandwhich suggests there is another way, yet like everyone else, they are told the same thing we are- there is only one way...

but when is the way never not the way?

sometimes we walk along smooth, litter free pavements, sometimes we have to hack a path through the undergrowth for ourselves.

I say all I say as... I too have yearned for community, a collective of like minded beings to learn from, to journey with, yet such delusions rapidly dissapate when I am confronted with the actuality of others.

I find the majority, however well meaning their intentions, often miss the point, wander off on tangents, are simply not committed to the high ideals they say they possess; their ambitions artifice, the group-speak of blind sheep.

I will never bow to any man (or woman for that matter). Nor will I ever believe another is better placed than I to direct me. The religionists will tell me that is my large ego talking, and they will gleefully inform me I am ready for a great fall.

I decided, long ago, that I would choose my own way. You have to bravely do the same and be a "solitary realizer" (lol) or be prepared to cut off your arms and legs to fit into other people's boxes. It's not a nice choice, but that's your choice.
 

juantoo3

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Absolutely awesome OP!

Some fantastic answers by all as well, this is going to be a tough crowd to follow after.

1. Do you feel like you found "home" and believe what others believe, do what they do, etc.?

2. Or do you feel slightly out of place?

3. What value you do see in being of a particular faith, and how does it relate to your spiritual journey personally?

4. How does a sense of community relate to your vision of "the other shore" toward which you're floating/rowing/being pulled?

5. If you feel out of place in your religion, because you have beliefs or practices or experiences that don't quite mesh with "orthodox" or "mainstream" views- how do you view that?

6. How do you handle it?

7. Do you see that as imperfections in you- that is, you need to change to what the community norms dictate?

8. Or do you see that as imperfections in the community?

9. Or just differences arising from varied experience, conditioning, and so forth?
1: Have I found a "home?" If home is a congregation or some other roughly like-minded group, I would have to say "no." About the closest I would say is here at CR / InterFaith. Here I feel that certain freedom that comes with anonymity that allows me to freely speak my mind, something I feel I must reserve in the real world.

But then, I have not felt "at home" since I could remember at the age of 5. I knew even then, with seriously limited religious indoctrination, that this existence is not where I belong. This existence is just a little side trip, a little vacation, a little boarding school...

2: Do I feel out of place? Oddly (considering my first comment), no. I am meant to be where I am at.

3: The value I get from my Christian indoctrination is basic morality...and an essential guideline to refer to for the more complicated moments that arise, those moments when right and wrong are not so clearly defined.

4: Maybe it's just my personality type, but I've got a pretty serious loner streak in me. Yes, I do long for the company of others from time to time, but I can and have gone for extended periods with only myself and critters (pets and not) for company.

5: Do I feel out of place? I think I feel contrary enough that I know I am not "normal" or "traditional," but I'm not sure I would call that "out of place." Maybe it is.

6: I handle it by distancing myself. It's not something I would recommend for a gregarious and social person, but I do see similarities with monastics. I used to joke with myself about being a monk in training...making me a "monkee."

7: Do I see myself as imperfect? Yes, I see all persons as imperfect, otherwise we wouldn't need to be here. Is my path imperfect? Dunno, that remains to be seen, but I like to think it's not.

8: Imperfections in the community? Ummm, well, yeah...see the previous answer. I don't really know how perfection can be born from imperfection, perfection is more a destination to strive for. I don't know, tomorrow I may learn otherwise.

9: Well, yes, everybody is where they are supposed to be, placed on the paths they are meant to travel. Some by their nature are more solid or settled, some by their nature are more inquisitive and restless. G-d created them all.

I often feel a bit like an imposter in Christianity. I sincerely love Christ and follow his teachings. I experience him personally. But beyond that, I have not much in common. So I sometimes feel like I'm something else in Christian clothing when I go to a Bible study or retreat. At church, it doesn't matter much as it is a liturgical church and the point is common prayer. But otherwise, the more personal groupings of Christians, I feel like I'm either rocking the boat or being reserved. Reserved is fine, but to most Christians reservedness is taken for passive agreement, and then I feel like I'm lying by default.

So... thoughts? What do you or would you do in a similar situation?

Ummm yeah, I know pretty well what you mean. When Brian asked me to mod here, I had to consider that. On the one hand, it has always been imperitive to me to allow others to speak freely (with the "leash" of civility), maybe that is one reason Brian considered me. On the other, I need to be true to myself. The trouble with being true to myself is that myself is still learning, and myself is decidedly non-traditional...yet from my perspective I am more true to the essence of what the original point Christianity that Jesus taught was. (I lean heavily towards the words of Solomon in this, reinforced by Paul)

Once upon a time I was certain I knew what was right, then I found I wasn't as right as I thought I was. Now that I am not as certain, I find a freedom that allows me to listen and learn, as well as a freedom to forgive myself and others.

You are as you should be, Path, and you are a wonderful and blessed person because of it. Fear not, you are a blessing to others here, others like me...we are all blessed by your presence here.
 

Netti-Netti

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The thing is... I wish sometimes I could just be something. I like the idea of a community. It just doesn't seem to work very well. I can't rid myself of cognitive dissonance enough to be mainline Christian. I can't give up Christ enough to be Pagan or Jewish. And I can't give up the experience of God enough to be Buddhist

You sound like you might be an Interfaith kind of person. Had you considered becoming a member of an online Interfaith discussion group?.... :)
 

Dream

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I enjoyed the responses in the thread, so I'll share too.

I've never been able to settle down, either. Someone close told me I have a psychological drive to be different from other people. If they are correct, my whole journey might be some kind of ego fling. I have to take that into consideration, though I disagree with it. Instead of having a need to be different, I think I have a lot of sublimated anger that requests expression. Another reason I think its not the case is that no solution is simple to me. Since simple solutions do not occur to me, I often appear to be trying to do things differently from the normal way, however really I wish somebody would just hand me some instructions! They then hand me the instructions, but somehow those just don't seem like they are enough! Instead of getting answers wrong on tests, I sometimes think the test must have an error on it when it actually does not. Again it is usually because the answer was too simple. Example: when I was new here, I took the 'Chakra' test and learned that none of my 'Chakras' were open. How is that possible? No open chakras? What is a chakra? I would prefer the simple, short, elegant answers, but maybe its all just an ego trip.
 

nativeastral

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I enjoyed the responses in the thread, so I'll share too.

I've never been able to settle down, either. Someone close told me I have a psychological drive to be different from other people. If they are correct, my whole journey might be some kind of ego fling. I have to take that into consideration, though I disagree with it. Instead of having a need to be different, I think I have a lot of sublimated anger that requests expression. Another reason I think its not the case is that no solution is simple to me. Since simple solutions do not occur to me, I often appear to be trying to do things differently from the normal way, however really I wish somebody would just hand me some instructions! They then hand me the instructions, but somehow those just don't seem like they are enough! Instead of getting answers wrong on tests, I sometimes think the test must have an error on it when it actually does not. Again it is usually because the answer was too simple. Example: when I was new here, I took the 'Chakra' test and learned that none of my 'Chakras' were open. How is that possible? No open chakras? What is a chakra? I would prefer the simple, short, elegant answers, but maybe its all just an ego trip.

nah, just too much detailed instruction in the the manual, does my head in too!
 

Tao_Equus

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And what is an instruction manual of superfluous complexity if not the teachings of faith via holy book(s). Each an every one can be condensed down to a single line, "be nice to each other". But we take all the unnecessary additions into that ego space and infer on ourselves some enlightened gnosis that no-one else quite understands like we do. We use it to set ourselves apart from each other, to highlight the flaws or variances we observe outside our self-righteous bubbles. To me the religions of the world are the devices of a childish mindset. And I would hasten the day we look back and laugh at the ridiculous lengths we go to to justify our base superstitions.
 

17th Angel

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Have you seen the little piggies crawling in the d
I've been reflecting a lot on that question of "what am I?"

I agree with many that religions and traditions should not be just appropriated by anyone without careful study, and should not be used to deceive others or missionize to others.

I tried in various ways to connect to a sense of religious community.

I tried good 'ole conservative Baptist church for several years in elementary and junior high, and it didn't fit well with my own experience or beliefs at all.

I tried the non-denom Christian mega-churches in junior high through part of college, which not only didn't fit with my experience or beliefs

I found modern Druidry, which is not a religion for me at all,

I wish sometimes I could just be something.

I am profoundly committed to a sense of communal service and humanity becoming more spiritually aware

feel out of place in religion

I often feel a bit like an imposter in Christianity.

So I sometimes feel like I'm something else in Christian clothing when I go to a Bible study or retreat.

"what am I"... Someone who seems to be very, trying.... Trying to look for something, something that isn't there....... But really wishes it was.

For some, when we give up looking, we find what we are in need of... Peace and rest..... Less of this stress and nonsense... OH where do I fit in?! What are the answers to these questions that are really not even worth asking....... Not looking to fit in, but just being, that's the life for me.... These roads of many, they all twist and turn and wind.... And none of them are worth the effort it takes to walk down them.... They all lead to nowhere.

"They once appeared to be paved with gold... Tempting with promises of rewards but they could not keep... But the traveller becomes tired and old, confused and alone, the terrain far too steap, stumble and fall, down to a heap.... Alone and weak, restless, need to sleep. And at this spot shall we meet."
 
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