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Here ya go - my church experiences
December 31, 2006
10:30 pm
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bevdee
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GG- here it is from the gnosis thread

"bevdee

18-Jul-06

Tez,

I put this post here, on this thread, even though I think it would be as appropriate on the other one.

I have been thinking of 2 things. The first is how to see the littlegirl me.

The second is church. Religions. And why it jerks on everyone's nerves, not only at these boards, but everywhere. All over the world. Why MY nerves are jerked.
I observe that the topics in the lib brews get sooo heated, and angry. Why?

Defending beliefs.

I have noticed that I get very angry at reading the illogical arguments defending the faith-loop. I ask myself why? It's not like I know any of these people, they have no hold on me, don't sign my check!! I have been thinking about it since you and I began discussing the D'Adamo book, because of the furor and threads that sprang up around that discussion.

OK. I get frustrated at the illogical arguments the faithful use in defending their faith. Then, I feel anger at the frustration. I have tried to avoid even reading the "debates", but I find myself being drawn to them. Because the anger goes deeper for me. I wanted to figure out why. Not only do I not go to church, I channel surf, sneering, right past televangelists, and change the radio station if I hear "religious" music. They anger and sadden me. I REALLY avoid it, because of the emotions it evokes in me. Why does this keep tugging at me? Nagging at me?

Because of our discussions about emotions?? Saturday, I bought a CD of southern gospel music. Hearing this music has flooded me with feelings. I listened to all of it, and I did not block the feelings. The force of them has rocked me. Tez, I let them wash over me, then I examined the emotions and the memories.

It has been at least 20 years since I have gone to church, other than for Daddy's birthday, or Father's day. This was a good experiment in observing my emotions, since I haf already put some distance between myself, and the memories. I have put alot of the thought into the whole phenomena.
These are very emotional memories for me. I do not think I am unique in this. I think this is why nearly all of us have such strong feelings about it. It is tied up with early memories of our parents, who thought they were doing the right thing. Especially if we were raised in what I think of as "extreme" denominations. It is a culture of fear, shame, guilt, unworthiness, and codependency.

Daddy's church attendance had been sporadic before the divorce. (Remember? I said I had love from him until the divorce, and his subsequent "salvation"). I was 13 when they divorced, and even at this age, I saw inconsistencies in the religion of my parents. Because of the philosophy he chose to embrace, Daddy couldn't approve of me, or anyone, if I didn't believe EXACTLY the way he did. For many years, I never disagreed with him, because his approval was too important to me to lose. But he could see it in my eyes, and the more of my skepticism he saw, the more he preached. His religion taught him, as a father, to teach his children. The more frustrated with me he got, the angrier he became. I couldn't even bring myself to give any of it lip-service. I tried to keep my eyes downcast. I could see the sorrow and disappointment in his eyes at my failure to believe.

Yet, I tried to do everything else "right". He told me to honor my mother, and I sure lord tried. I did what I was told to do in my mother's home. I made good grades. I electively entered extracurricular activities, to please my divorced parents and stepfather, played 2 musical instruments, studied foreign languages, art. I helped my mother with the housework, my sister with her homework, and on the nights my mom and her husband were out, I cooked dinner for the two of us.
(I am finally feeling some compassion here for my teenage self)

I knew she expected all this of me, I was the oldest. She was not going to praise me anyway. He couldn't because of his god. Every time I got my report card, or an award, he would ask me if I had thanked that god for the talents he had given me, because we are nothing without god. I asked him about this straight A - making Japanese kid at school whose folks did not go to a christian church and his answer was that the devil would place these situations in our lives and tricks in our path to test our faith. I asked him about good people, decent people that did not believe in god, and he answered that they were walking in the dark, and going to hell. And so would I, unless I accepted jesus as my personal saviour. So the one person that I thought loved me unconditionally, had acquired "conditions" . This made me feel horrible. Helpless. Angry. I could not express that anger, because that was not acceptable. I tried so hard to be "good".

Through adult years, he pressured me to go to church, seek salvation, walk the walk, etc, etc, blahblahblah. I would ask him for proof that any of it was real and he would angrily jab his forefinger on his bible and say "the proof is here, this is all the proof you need". This thoughtless zeal horrified me. Still. When I would cite archealogical findings that negated the timeline of that bible, he would back off and say, "Well it is a guide for good living." I would think "so is the Reader's Digest", but I rarely voiced my true thoughts because when I did, he would look at me pityingly, and say, "Oh, the devil is working on you. I want to have my girls with me in heaven" When I would question the validity of the bible's outlandish claims, he would retreat behind platitudes, such as "god's wisdom is infinite, we are not to question it." I always knew when I really had him stumped, because he would say," You have always been better at arguing than me, I wish you would use that gift for the lord" ( I finally feel compassion for myself as a little girl, teenager, and young woman,just trying to get someone to talk to me)

Creation story - we went round and round about that. Evolution!! He once told me to prove to him that evolution was true. I responded by telling him to prove to me it wasn't.

On and on. Pat answers. Stock quotes. I quit questioning / arguing about 10 years ago. He has not changed his tactics but I have. He is not an unintelligent man, but he is a fearful man in a narrow world. And now he is getting old, and I just don't have the heart to challenge his belief system, not anymore. I suppose it is respect, too.I have practiced not responding. My emotions are still triggered.

Ok, to make a long story short-- oh WHO do I think I am kidding?? Short story?? I CAN'T DO THAT!!

The other path my mind took during all of this is the church service. Some of my earliest memories are in church, and honey!! we attended 3 services a week, and choir practice on Thursdays. This was not voluntary. I was baptised by sprinkling as an infant, and sprinkled again at the age of 8. I was baptised by full immersion, in the river in February, when I was 15. ( by the way, my mother, always thinking ahead, made me wear a SWEATshirt under my shirtdress, so nothing would poke through my shirt after I came up out of that icy cold water).

Saturday, listening to the old music, I wanted to cry, so I made myself remember. I remembered -
Horror - at the stories I was told as a small child - of animal sacrifice, and death and crucifixion. Easter was bad, the bleeding hands, thorny crown, slow torture.

Fear - of not being worthy/ of going to hell/ of that jealous/loving/vengeful god, (the discussion you and I had about arousal following fear - makes sense to me now, remembering, because by the time I was 15, usually in the middle of the sermon, after fire and brimstone threats, I was lusting after some boy in the congregation)

Shame - For being a lusting jezebel, having impure thoughts

Guilt - for being born. (to original sin )/ being unworthy / having jesus' death on my conscience / not believing the preacher/ not being a good daughter, good christian, for being the doubting Thomas, etc. blablacetera

Anger. At being forcefed a load of bull, and anger at my daddy for not loving me unconditionally, and for not respecting my mind. Anger from the fear of losing - his love/acceptance.

(But - I understand Guest_guest when he says he flips the bird to that god. Because I take that to mean he rejects the mentality. Me too, G_, me too.)

Memories of-
The music! Beautiful, stirring music!! With a happy, rockin beat, and lyrics of death, blood, penance, redemption, and raisin the dead. Starting the service with happy songs, full of yearning, ecstacy, building emotions up to a Full Tilt Rapture of the Holy Ghost!!

Watching my mother, so beautiful, singing in the choir, while my Nanny and Pawpaw sat beside us. God of Our Fathers.

Sunday School with the little friends I had had since before I can remember.

It's difficult breaking a deep-rooted tradition.

What's worse is being deliberately misunderstood, and god damned for not prescribing to illogic.

Maybe this is why the religious discussions get so heated and defensive? Lots of emotional triggers. It sure is for me.

Now I will think about Cinderella some more.

Bevdee

December 31, 2006
11:11 pm
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bevdee
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To answer your question, no one responnded negatively to this. There were some that got some flak, but I didn't get into debate with anyone. As I described, I had done that all my life. I needed to post my feelings, and there were some that could discuss similar feelings with me. It helped.

You are entitled to Your feelings on religion. If someone has a differing opinion, that is ok.

There are even separate denominations within Christianity, and the spectrum is pretty broad, isn't it?

December 31, 2006
11:13 pm
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yes, but I am at a standstill in my position...I think...kind of confused.

December 31, 2006
11:14 pm
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bevdee
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Maybe you could start by writing why you are confused. write out all the reasons.

What denom were you raised in?

December 31, 2006
11:15 pm
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I do agree that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and should respect others opinions whether they agree or not....

December 31, 2006
11:17 pm
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I was raised nothing...I guess...My dad was Catholic...his parents divorced (now my dad is 75 now, so that wasn't too usual) and my mom was an orphan who was Methodist...They married in a Baptist church and have never set foot in a church again...That is my setting...

December 31, 2006
11:18 pm
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are u sure you are up to this tonight? I can do this at anytime...

December 31, 2006
11:21 pm
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bevdee
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yes, everyone is entitled to their opinions -

Even reading the controversy and arguments gives me something to think about, and a way to practice not responding, or responding thoughtfully. When I first started actually posting here, I did not have a pc in my house. I had to read this site from work, or the library.

Sometimes I would be drawn to a post, and I would go away and think about it, before I decided whether or not to post or contribute. This ws a good lesson in restraining my big mouth, because sometimes, before I could get back to respond, I had already determined why I was drawn to the post, and I no longer felt the need to respond.

Say what is on your mind or in your heart, when you are ready. Libs is a good place for that.

December 31, 2006
11:23 pm
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bevdee
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GG- you tell me what you can, and if I can't respond tonight, if it gets too late, I will tell you, ok? I won't leave you hanging forever.

December 31, 2006
11:30 pm
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okay, continued: for some reason my parents would drop us off at a Baptist church...I remember attending 3 and I hated it,but we were scared to refuse....I felt like an orphan there...Everyone was there with their families and here we were 4 kids sitting by themselves...I was always embarrassed, felt like we were looked at and pitied....don't remember the age, but finally they stopped bringing us...will continue...

December 31, 2006
11:35 pm
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bevdee
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GG-when I was 15, my mother changed churches and took us to this church in the richest part of town, and no one would talk to us because we didn't go to their school.

Some churches can be cruel.

December 31, 2006
11:51 pm
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bev, having phone calls, may have to continue late tonight or early in a.m....already started it and it is a chopped up mess....ugh...

January 1, 2007
12:03 am
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Rouxlady

Don't stress over this - let it come naturally. Whenever you feel like it.

I think I am going to head for bed in a few - Happy New Year!!

January 1, 2007
11:55 am
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okay, need to finish this where I left off....I guess again because of what I was going through at the time, I remember having for this yearning for something, a closeness with a HP? someone to protect me? not sure...don't remember...I know at age 18 my family moved away and I went church hopping...searching for I do not know what....I was easily influenced because there was a void that needed filling...My mom was staunch in that we never go to a Catholic church, so curious me set foot in one...I found it calming, deep, and no one caring if you are sitting alone or with a family...for the first time, I felt comfortable...

See, I do believe in God...I just think of the human body and its systems, so complex, and think how miraculous it all is...then, look into the environment and think the same...

Anyway, began seriously dating my now h, who was also Catholic...a devout one too...so, became a Catholic...raised my children that way...I wanted that family setting that I had never had....

But, I still had this urge to learn about other religions...I wondered about Judaism and other Christian religions...even read about Hinduism and other practices such as Confucianism, etc....I guess because I wasn't raised in any confines, I was open to this? I found it all interesting, yet disturbing...So many groups think their is the "right religion" or the "right church",,,the only way to heaven, etc...That bothers me a lot...I just don't think God would be happy with all these divisions and the negative attitudes....

Now in the last year, I have pulled away from my church...Now, I also went through depression deeply and had lots of issues also...Now, I am upset with myself because I pulled away from God when I should have gone closer and I just don't seem to be doing anything about it now either. I feel like I am at a standstill, yet want that closeness...I guess I don't really feel like I have a church home?...Maybe, I shouldn't worry about it, but just establish a relationship with God....

Well, it is now the New Year and I want to deal with my codependency...but, I cannot do it alone....I am at a standstill now, but need to move forward....I think I need to begin praying...step one?

January 1, 2007
12:57 pm
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GG

I understand everything you said. I studied the other religions and found similarities in all of them. I also found similarities in Mythology and Judeo-Christianity.

I am going to pull another post. Now - I am not saying that this is right, it is only a post about my questions. Be right back.

January 1, 2007
1:00 pm
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bevdee
9-Dec-06

Hey Tez

I refer to the christian god - the god of MY fathers - the bible. And what little I know of other religions.

Enlightenment - An archaic definition of enlighten is to shed light upon

I love words, and always loved to study English, word roots, other languages, and medical terminology. I ponder on words, too. (in addition to all the other stuff I ponder!)

If you break the word apart in a different way -- en + lighten, en, a latin prefix meaning inner - and lighten to shed light on, or illuminate - I believe this could mean inner illumination.

?Thus when mystics try to communicate another way of 'seeing' things especially 'seeing' the nature of the so-called God, their totally unsuitable vocabulary of words cause gross misunderstandings at best and at worst no understanding at all. Thus such mystics, Christ included amongst them, are either dismissed out of hand or misunderstood beyond belief.?

I agree - I have thought before and I believe that there has been a lot of message and wisdom garbled or lost in translation. The bible, and probably other holy writings. I read somewhere that there are Talmud scholars. These scholars dedicate their entire lives to studying this book. Certainly many of the ?holy? books of all religions are cryptic at times, and the translating of the bible is always a controversial subject. So.

I think of the expressions I have heard so often - God is love, god is within you. And through enlightenment we can ?see? god. Some claim to. (I am not going to search for scripture - I am just using expressions that come to mind)

?god? is the light. Well if ?god? is within us and god is the light??????

And I was musing the other day (I am sure this is not an original thought!!) about old religions that were replaced by Judaism and then Christianity. The old religions revered nature, and had several ?gods? and ?goddesses?, that symbolized elements and other aspects of nature. It seems to me that the replacement of these deities with one god responsible for the creation of all nature is really just a matter of consolidation. But the old way of worshipping existence was to worship nature , and that is kind of that matrix thing again, isn?t it? They worshipped the sun and the moon and the stars- waay out there in the universe. And whenever someone mentions ?heaven?, the eyes turn upward, heavenward - toward the sky.

The thought that once ?we? accept ?god? in our life, we will be ?saved? from despair. How desperate does a person become when he does not believe in himself, has no faith in himself, thinks he is to place all his faith in an external source, does not love himself the way we were taught ?god? is to love us? (I am going to try to leave out my theory of the codependent religion and godman for now)

I think the mistake that is made is seeing ?god? as an external source. And in seeing ?god? that way, as something outside ourselves, we are not able to connect within ourselves. We are not taught to love or have trust and faith in ourselves or our own thinking. I think that is where those messages you mentioned may have gotten kind of mangled.

I looked to the outside for ?salvation? and found that there was no salvation outside myself.

Messages such as ?without god we are nothing?. I believe we should be taught to think that - without ME I am nothing. That sounds kind of simple, I hope I conveyed that well.

I am coming to believe- I have this nebulous slowly forming belief that the ?light? and ?god? is in me, and that enlightenment will come when I have the freedom of preconceptions, misperceptions and prejudice. Of myself. Because my perception of myself influences the way I perceive my world.

?I have struggled to say what I want to say above and still have failed miserably to do so at all well.? I feel this way too, but I would never accuse you of not making yourself clear. I DO always have to re-read you, though - there is no skimming your posts. I will re-read yours many times.

I really hope my musings are cohesive, and make sense.

Bevdee

January 1, 2007
1:09 pm
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wow, you are really an analytical thinker bev...you brought up some very interesting points and I too will have to reread this highly intelligent post....hmmm. very interesting....

January 1, 2007
1:16 pm
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I have no facts to back me up, GG. Just my thoughts.

January 1, 2007
1:42 pm
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I understand bev, I just wrote my thoughts also....

January 1, 2007
2:48 pm
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To me- it seems connecting with myself has to come first, because I am coda. Placing my faith and sense of worthiness in some distant godMan and a religion that doesn't seem to rever women just doesn't cut it for me anymore.

January 1, 2007
2:58 pm
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I understand your thoughts, but there is something inside that feels I can't do it alone? or is that my codependency speaking? I respect your thoughts though...

I am wondering if our pasts make this topic easier or harder to ponder...Some people are so solid in their faith and never question...then that makes me wonder, what is wrong with me, but then there are times, I like looking outside of the box....does that mean I have little faith???

As you can tell, I am confused on this issue, yet I yearn for understanding...but where does that come from???

January 1, 2007
3:04 pm
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Don't think there is something wrong with you. I mean, you could think outside the box- and find the answers are within. I don't beleive this, but what works for me may not work for you.

I believe it is the coda speaking, and I believe my church bringing contributed to that coda.

GG- thank you for talking to me about this!!

January 1, 2007
3:10 pm
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Your welcome bev...I have had all this in my head a long time, but don't feel less confused now that I wrote it out....so what's with that??? guess it was good for thinking???

I know we may reach different answers and that is okay...I really enjoyed reading your input on this subject...

I have a friend that is Jewish and she recently told me some things of her faith that I found so wonderful...

Do I want it all? Do I fear not getting to heaven? Am I searching for inner peace? Is there such a thing?

I do know that I am not satisfied now and need "something", but still so confused....

Anyway thanks for reading....hope you are feeling better too!

January 1, 2007
3:17 pm
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GG- yes, I am feeling better. I don't have a temp anymore. I've been out on one call today.

Imagine if I came on one of these dating threads and announced -

Hey all, I have started seeing this guy, man I really worship him!! He is everything to me. He's a little distant, and I hardly ever see him but he says he hears me talking to him even when he's not there.

There are all these things I have to do to be worthy of his love. At least that is what he tells me.

I have to obey him. If I disobey him, there will be punishment or penance. If he really gets mad, he will send me away- like to this place called Purgatory, or Hell. He might set me on fire.

So I am working on getting myself subservient to his will, so I will be worthy of his love. But he and his son tell me I will never be entirely worthy of his love, but to strive all my life. He says he will love me anyway.

He tells me that without him in my life, I am nothing.

He thinks women are secondary to men. Basically he thinks they are put here to be a helper to men, and have kids.

He's jealous. He says I am not to put anyone else before him.

He gave me this book to read, but it's long and kind of unclear, and it is hard to get the gist of what the guy wants to say. I've asked other people what they think of it, but no one can seem to agree on anything in that book.

I have to give him my money, but he says it will come back to me, eventually. It's a tenth of my earnings, do you think that is enough to give him? I'm supposed to donate my time to charities and stuff, and give all the credit to him.

He's got this son that never got married and hangs out with a dozen guys all the time. I'm not sure what they do, but they get in trouble with the authorities sometimes. He wants me to follow his son's teachings. He thinks his kid is some sort of martyr.

I can never question him.

I only hope someday I can be worthy of his love - if I do, he says I will get to go with him to this great place called Heaven. I hope there is a jacuzzi and a masseuse.

January 1, 2007
3:25 pm
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Bev, I am laughing and amazed...I have never heard this viewpoint ever in my life...(I am not laughing at you but your last sentence!)

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