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Teach me about your religion/spirituality

Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by NeonSocks, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. NeonSocks

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    I grew up in a very German protestant Midwest church. After some life experiences, I drifted away from traditional religion and towards an agnostic outlook. I remain a very spiritual person and find peace now when I am in nature- hiking, working in the garden, even just sitting on my porch swing and feeling the warm summer wind.

    I want to know how you find peace. What is your religion/spirituality like and how does it impact your life?

    I don't want this to become a battle over religion, I honestly just want to learn about others and become better informed.
     
  2. Secrets5

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    I like to find scientific explanation's for the evend in the Bible.
     
  3. NeonSocks

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    I like this as well. One of the big things I have trouble sorting out my feelings on is an afterlife. Science tells me that energy can't be created or destroyed. So with that in mind I have to believe that on some level we all continue to exist after our bodies no longer function.
     
  4. Bernice

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    I consider myself a Wiccan Jedi. I believe that there is some sort of natural energy force in the universe.
     
  5. WeDreamOfPeace

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    Hard to say. I'm practically an atheist in every way. But, the label tends to not quite fit me. I see most of life as rational, without any supernatural cause. But I do tend to see a spiritual element in things such as the goodness of the human spirit, or feelings of peace or compassion.

    In other words, I tend to view things as entirely rational, apart from what seems to go beyond the rational. I don't believe in a creator. In anything, I see an innate goodness. Whether that's an external or internal goodness, whether it's a personality or just a force, I don't know.

    So mostly atheistic, with a hint of agnosticism. My religion lacks ritual. It's religious deeds involve compassion. It's sins are to hate, to accept ignorance, to not obey my conscience, to act on selfish desire. I obey no religious scripture, but from it I can find inspiration.

    Peace y'all.
     
  6. Daydreamer1

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    My thoughts and view points flow around a bit. But if my philosophy had to be condensed to one solid thing, it would be that of (LaVeyan) Satanism with touches of pantheism.

    Satanism has a lot of misconceptions largely in part to fear mongering on behalf of Christianity, Hollywood, and the Satanic Panic of the 80s. The bare bones to Satanism is the importance of living in the now (since this is the only life we get) and to do what makes you happy--as long as you aren't hurting anyone in the process; so there's no animal sacrificing, baby killing, virginal sacrifices and shit like that---which are strongly against the ways of the COS. So if a card carrying member is found guilty of child abuse, animal cruelty, sexual assault or anything like that, then they get their membership permanently revoked with no chance of ever getting back in.

    With pantheism, the general idea that I see most people say is that there is divinity in everything or that the Universe is, in a way, god. However, I see that from a more metaphorical way, that if the name of or idea of a god could be applied to anything tangible that we can understand with our senses, then it would be the Universe; all powerful and everywhere at once. However, the Universe isn't a conscious, all-knowing entity that interacts with us in the way a traditional god or deity would; so divine intervention, miracles, prayer, and stuff like that.
     
  7. NeonSocks

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    This is all so interesting. Thank you all for the honest discussion! :slight_smile:
     
  8. Cinis

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    I've been raised in a very catholic family but my parents were more about theological discussions than actual belief, I think.

    I am way too interested in philosophy to belief anything specific, but I like the thought that my atoms etc. will become part of everything else when I die.
     
  9. Sartoris

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    I wasn't raised in any particular denomination or faith. Though my mother and family would undoubtedly identify as 'Christian,' I don't believe any of us have attended a church during my lifetime, were read the Bible, or engaged with it in any way other than through vaguely cultural means (Easter dinner, Christmas celebrations at home, and the like.) So, needless to say, I've always had a marginal relationship with the faith, or religion in general while having the benefit of no direct exposure to the more poisonous bile, ignorance and hatred, that an unfortunate number of people espouse in the name of Christianity (and many other traditions as well.)

    Without any direct, personal relationship in my upbringing, I've nonetheless held at least interest in spirituality and religion, if not always an active inclination toward them. These have and continue to fascinate me in numerous ways, both subjectively and objectively. Whether the variety of rituals and practices, theological or philosophical attitudes, prominent figures in their respective histories, the stories and so on. Regrettably I've never seriously researched any religion despite my interest, and only within the last several months have I begun reading the Bible (only the Old Testament so far) in earnest. Though I've been fortunate to have friends to discuss topics relating to Judaism and Christianity, respectively, on occasion.

    It seemed necessary to establish that in order to describe my current mindset. For awhile I struggled over the nature and potential relevance of spirituality, especially regarding the afterlife as NeonSocks touched on, which troubled me deeply. To some degree it always has and continues to, and I still haven't any real convictions. Aside from that, personally, I cannot view the world with an atheist's mindset, at the most all I could ever be is an agnostic (which I do not view myself as anymore.) Gradually I move closer to being actively spiritual, which I see as one day incorporating a mixture of Western (mainly Judeo-Christian, Deist, perhaps Gnostic) philosophy with that of Eastern ones (Daoism and perhaps even Buddhism.) For whatever reasons, I've felt more comfortable with the ambiguity these days, strangely enough. My attitude is that the ideal spirituality is that which accepts the irrational and inexplicable areas of experience and creates a philosophy which provides a path for us to use reason, judgement, and knowledge in order to navigate them. Life is inherently complicated, and overall I consider the human mind an awe-inspiring development in it's capacities and potential which allows us to understand our circumstances and environments. At the same time, I do not believe everything can or will be understood, not for lack of trying or to avoid doing so, but that there will always be more.
     
  10. annag423

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    I grew up in an evangelical church in central Ontario. For my family it really didn't mean all that much. The big cultural things, Easter, Christmas, you go the rest of the year because you're supposed to. At home it was a matter of saying grace and not much else. It didn't mean much for me personally until I got to high school. I was really the outcast. The misfit. Church was the one place people took me as I was. The one place I really got to be myself. (This is all pre-trans, fyi).

    I did a year of bible college right out of high school, planned on being a pastor. It was supposed to be 4 years but I left after only one. Had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Kicked around through a bunch of different things for a few years. I wasn't really active in my faith, if you want to call it that. Went to a few really dark places, figured God was kind of pissed at me. I did 6 years in the Canadian Forces, at the end of which I spent 8 months living at the basic training school. Not training, mind you. Just waiting for a medical discharge due to some blood sugar issues. I was living with people who'd been in the military maybe a month before they had decided to get out, and who didn't understand that you still have to make your bed each morning even when you're just waiting around for the paperwork to go through. I decided that I wouldn't let them treat me the same as they treated those people. I'd been in 5 years and I wasn't going to lose that identity I'd built for myself. I thought I could hold onto it and I couldn't. At the end of my time there I was hospitalized due to stress. I just wasn't strong enough. At that point I figured I'd give my faith another try.

    I went to seminary, got my Master's in Theology, got ordained in the Southern Baptist Convention here in South Carolina. Started preaching in their churches, and looking for a church of my own to lead. Never found one. All I really did was piss people off. It might have been my time in the military, I guess, but I really value being who I am and letting others be themselves, too. I mean, God didn't make us all the same, right? Turns out that's not something Southern Baptists really do well even for people they like. My wife and I got run off from our home church back in early 2016 because we actually cared about the kids in her Sunday School class and had the nerve to tell the pastor that having them learn the same material as everyone else, when they didn't care about it at all, wasn't a good idea.

    After the Pulse massacre last year I realized that no one in the conservative community was talking to the LGBT community at all in anything close to a respectful way. I started reaching out, and that pissed people off. My wife's family is super conservative, and they didn't like it much. I got thrown out of the house at one point when we lived with them because having long, braided hair and talking to LGBT people online meant I had to be gay. (That was, again, before I had come to terms with being trans.)

    What I mainly tried to do was reconcile my own beliefs about life and the Bible with valuing all people, gay, lesbian, trans, whatever, for who they are and as they are without insisting that they have to change. I wanted to be able to explain it to other Christians to hopefully spark change regarding us as gender non-conforming people. Took about a year to realize that what people were saying about gender being a spectrum and separate from biology was true, and about 2 seconds after that to realize where I fell on that spectrum.

    Lately I've been sorting through being a trans Christian in a very conservative part of the country. At the same time I've been reaching out to the Southern Baptist Convention through social media and trying to change perspectives on us. It's turned out to be one hell of a brick wall, but one I'll keep beating my head against because it's too important not to. I'm not out on social media, expect in closed groups, so I do it more as an ally than anything else.

    I still identify as a Southern Baptist minister. It gives me a voice in that community that I wouldn't have otherwise, and that's important. That being said, I don't agree with a lot of what they believe. I've spoken out against what they and other conservative groups are trying to do in this country right now. As for my own beliefs, I take the Bible for what it claims to be, God's way of showing himself to the world. At its heart it is the story of him doing everything to win us back. And by that I don't mean in terms of religious obligations or church attendance. It's a matter of trusting him, being open to new possibilities, learning to let go of how I used to live. It's the greatest romance story ever told, if I can say that without sounding cheesy. It's the story from which we get our stories. Think all the best parts of fairy tales.

    I'm also not one to insist that all of still applies today, just as I don't take all of it literally. If I'm to be honest about my faith then it has to include not only what I read in the Bible but also what I see in the world around me. So I have no problem with the Earth being billions of years old. I figure Genesis fits into that somehow. There's several theories that combine the two to varying degrees, any one of which could be valid, and I'm OK with that tension.

    That's probably a lot more than you were looking for. Hope it answers your question!
     
  11. rokara

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    Religion wasn't a big part of growing up for me, and outside of observing Easter and Christmas, we never really went to church all that much. I am a confirmed Lutheran, but after I got done with catechism, I never went back to church and that was almost 20 years ago.

    I don't consider myself to be religious, however I do believe that there is some sort of higher power. It helps explain what science can't (and we know that science can explain just about anything).

    I've seen and read about too much hypocrisy and bigotry in that religion to ever consider going back to it. I have looked into Buddhism and Islam and thought about converting to one of those religions, but I can never work up the courage to find out how accepting poeple of those religions are of the LGBT community and trans people.
     
  12. WeDreamOfPeace

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    Preach!

    I hear you when it comes to bigotry. Been hurt personally and seen others hurt by it.

    When it comes to Buddhism and LGBT+ issues... over here in the West it's generally seen as OK by all. Over in the East... according to the religious hierarchy, being not-straight is seen as disordered and unnatural, and a punishment from a previous life, same with being trans. However, the official view is to be pitied and not hated. So yeah.

    But mos Eastern Buddhists are pretty cool when it comes to LGBT issues. Might I remind you of Thailand, which performs the most SRS surgeries worldwide? Never heard of any major prejudice.

    Islam... Homosexuality is generally seen as a no-no, although most liberal Muslims seem cool with it. But the official line is that it's wrong and worthy of death in many Islamic countries. Not too great.

    Trans is actually quite a bit better off.Trans people (specifically trans women) are mentioned in Islamic literature, and seen as OK as long as they're not faking it. Iran performs sex changes regularly - though usually to "cure" homosexuality *facepalm*. So yeah, usually is legal to be trans throughout Islamic countries, though chances are you will not be treated equally. Islamic believers are generally pretty divided on that front.

    Peace, hope I helped :slight_smile:
     
  13. Mysteria

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    I'm a Wiccan- I'm a duotheistic pantheist. I believe in a One, the Source of All That Is, that manifests as the God and the Goddess. But I believe in immanence as well as transcendence. I believe they are everywhere, in everything, and everything is part of them. I very much believe in an afterlife. I am different from most pagans in that I don't believe in reincarnation.

    Before I was Wiccan I was traditional Catholic. Most would probably call it ultra-conservative Catholicism.
     
  14. NeonSocks

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    My family is pretty religious and growing up that was never really a problem. My mom taught Sunday school and church attendance was a given every Sunday.

    We attended the church that my mom grew up in. The same one that my great grandfather helped build and every generation since had been baptized and confirmed in, but to me it never felt right.

    I always felt like there was an underlying social aspect of church attendance and we were being judged not by God but the fellow parishioners. I hated how uncomfortable that felt and started drawing away from attending.

    When I was about 14, I really started examining my beliefs and something kept troubling me but I could never quite figure out what it was I was feeling.

    Later as I became more interested in nature and spent more time just sitting and listening to the world outside, I began to notice the peace that I felt was something I never experienced in the church. This leads me to feel a more spiritual relationship with something, but what that is I don't know. There is a powerful feeling that overcomes me when I walk through the woods and the smell of flowers is hanging in the air. I wish I knew if that feeling was connected to a deity or just my mind understanding what I need in that moment.
     
  15. Senpai25

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    I was raised in a Catholic Christian environment. However, I never really saw it as a big part of myself. My immediate family was tolerant, but I always felt a disconnect between how they viewed the faith and how most of the other members of the church did.

    These days I am Agnostic. The reason being that I believe that the Bible can't be fully trusted due to humanity's influence in how it can be interpreted and how it came to be. For this reason, I tend to rely more on science then faith. However, I feel that both have their place in the world. I also tend to combine parts of different cultures and belief systems that are compatible with who I am over time.
     
  16. rokara

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    That helped out a lot. Thanks!

    I forgot that Thailand did that. I've got the Dalai Llama followed/liked on Facebook and Twitter along with a Buddhism page on Facebook. I love the overall message of positivity and self improvement and have been drawn to it for a while now. It also helps that, coming from Wisconsin, the Dalai Llama visits semi-regularly (His Holiness helps the University of Wisconsin do research into happiness and wellbeing) and there is a temple that was fully blessed (only one in the western hemisphere that has this blessing from what I can gather) that was about an hour's drive from where I lived. I regret not going there when I had the chance.

    What's drawn me to Islam is the strong sense of community and inclusivity and message of tolerance (yes, I've done some research lol).

    Most of the people who follow both religions seem like they are really good people as well.
     
  17. swimmingfly

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    i'm jewish as in not 100% kosher, nor do i practice. however i do believe reincarnation. idk i'm a little bit of everything. i've read the bible, torah, and part of the quran. i like to be open. it's like an open relationship with god/gods
     
  18. BothWaysSecret

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    I'm Roman Catholic, which seems contradictory given that I'm bisexual, but then again, the Catholic faith is contradictory in and of itself anyway.

    I was never one of those super religious bible-bangers, but I am involved in my faith. Over the years, I've sort of started picking and choosing what I felt was right to follow in the religion and what to ignore. I feel the church has it wrong on some things, so I've formed my own personal beliefs regarding those things.
     
  19. Patrick7269

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    NeonSocks,

    My experience of religion and spirituality is somewhat like yours. I grew up in a midwestern US Germanic Protestant environment but today I tend to be more progressive and spiritual versus religious. I live in Seattle now.

    I also tend to find natural settings to be a spiritual experience. For me, "mindfulness" is the path, and nature helps this journey for me. By this I mean that when I am immersed in the moment and not preocccupied with the past or future then I experience spirit. It's a feeling of peace, buoyancy, and well-being. At times it feels like there is a connection with a higher power or something unseen that surrounds all of us.

    Sometimes I want to think more deeply about the universe to glimpse the possible presence of a creator. I think of our cosmos and how little we know of "reality" and I can't help but wonder if we're completely oblivious to a deeper spiritual message or truth. Of course no one knows the answers for sure, but my scientific curiosity often leads me to wondering about the divine.

    Back to earth, I've grown up with a lot of familial hate from religious fundamentalism. My dad was affected greatly by his fundamentalist roots, and these were the influences that affected my dad's opinion of me. On my better days I remember that we're all broken and that my dad did the best he could, and on my worse days I hate him. For me personally the challenge is to deepen spriritually and remain faithful while at the same time confronting some ugly truths. As an old saying goes, "Religion is for those who fear hell, and spirituality is for those who have already been there." For many LGBTQ folk I think the gift has been spiritual resilience.

    Sorry if I've rambled; hope that helps.

    Patrick
     
  20. NeonSocks

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    This is my feelings exactly! You are able to put it much more succinctly than I am, but your thoughts align right with mine.

    This has all been very helpful and I appreciate everyone's openness and honesty.

    The discussion of religion can be sticky but how can we ever move forward if we aren't informed and respectful of others beliefs. That is one of my goals in this thread, just to learn what others feel and how they interact with such a personal topic.