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3 years ago  ::  Feb 01, 2011 - 7:52AM #1
micah68
Posts: 14

Howdy, y'all (Texan for "Greetings in the name of Christ")! My name is Bill, I'm 51, happily
married, have four children, and live in Fort Worth, Texas. I attend a small UMC
church in Saginaw.

My spiritual journey has been a long, tumuluous one. I was saved and baptized at
a small Baptist church in upstate New York when I was twelve. In my teens, I
became involved in the Pentecostal Holiness movement and attended a PH Bible
school after high school to prepare for the ministry. That didn't work out for
me, so I went into the Army and received electronics training, a field I am still
in today. Through my 20s and 30s, I was very involved in conservative
Christianity (Assembly of God, Baptist and Bible Church) teaching and
ministering in music. But I had a lot of questions about my faith that just
weren't answered well, IMO, by the faith of my youth. Those familiar with
classic Unitarianism would recognize many of my struggles with the doctrine of
the trinity, the atonement, the efficacy of prayer, theodicy, the exclusivism of
evangelicalism, and problems related to the conservative view of the Bible.

In my early 40s, I began looking into progressive/liberal Christianity and
reading Borg, Spong, Crossan, Karen Armstrong, etc. I really enjoyed much of
what I found there, especially the emphasis on faith being lived out in
compassionate community. My own journey was leading me to be more involved in
social awareness and causes, but I was also concerned that, as needed as the
social gospel was (and is), I wasn't ready to leave behind my own theistic
experiences of God or Jesus as the "Way" in my life. I attended a few UU
churches in my area, but, IMO, they seemed reticent to talk about God or Jesus.

Somehow (maybe a "God thing", ha ha), I stumble across the writings of Channing
and Payne and these two Christians from a prior era really spoke to my heart in
a way that seemed to call me to a spirituality that, while still centered in
following Jesus and his teachings, encourages me to still be active socially to
make a difference for good in this world in whatever ways I can.

So I've been reading and exploring the AUC website and I've found so much there
that rings true deep in my soul. My faith is no longer just about where I will
go when I die, but about how, as one of God's children, I can live in compassion
and justice in this world. I'm thankful for Channing and others who have kept
this "flavor" of Christianity alive and I'm very excited to be here to read more
about how the AUC and the UU is keeping pace with our times and culture while incarnating
the truths that historical Unitarians find meaningful.

Best regards,
Bill


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3 years ago  ::  Feb 07, 2011 - 7:39AM #2
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Feb 1, 2011 -- 7:52AM, micah68 wrote:

My own journey was leading me to be more involved in social awareness and causes, but I was also concerned that, as needed as the
social gospel was (and is), I wasn't ready to leave behind my own theistic
experiences of God or Jesus as the "Way" in my life. I attended a few UU
churches in my area, but, IMO, they seemed reticent to talk about God or Jesus.

Somehow (maybe a "God thing", ha ha), I stumble across the writings of Channing
and Payne and these two Christians from a prior era really spoke to my heart in
a way that seemed to call me to a spirituality that, while still centered in
following Jesus and his teachings, encourages me to still be active socially to
make a difference for good in this world in whatever ways I can.

So I've been reading and exploring the AUC website and I've found so much there
that rings true deep in my soul. My faith is no longer just about where I will
go when I die, but about how, as one of God's children, I can live in compassion
and justice in this world. I'm thankful for Channing and others who have kept
this "flavor" of Christianity alive and I'm very excited to be here to read more
about how the AUC and the UU is keeping pace with our times and culture while incarnating
the truths that historical Unitarians find meaningful.




You sound somewhat like me, Bill, although I've become disillusioned once again with organized religion. Roundabout and roundabout I've always gone on that, so nothing new there.

Sadly, the AUC seems pretty much defunct from what I've heard.

As you say, but for the happen-onto UU church here and there, many are not all that congenial for those of us who are strong theistic Unitarians. That's especially the case in the central U.S. in my experience. There are somewhat more theistically flavored UU churches in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, especially the historic Unitarian or Universalist churches that have retained their respective flavors since the merger in the early 1960's.

Being a New Ager-type theist is still quite difficult unless you keep your beliefs to yourself in most UU churches, I've found. There are exceptions, of course, but they're all way distant from anywhere I've ever lived. I was surprised when I was a member of the Santa Fe UU church to discover that there were so few New Age or occult believers in the church despite the fact that Santa Fe is a hotbed of New Age and occult doings. I'd thought there might be an active and fairly sizable bunch, but there were only a very few of us in a church of nearly 400 members.  

I still wish that more UU churches were as they claim to be in terms of genuinely valuing and respecting all beliefs. But too many are not in actuality. Hence, I'm a freelancer once again and likely to remain so this time.

Welcome to this spurts and sputters board as far as posting frequency is concerned,
Dot

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 08, 2011 - 3:39AM #3
rideronthastorm
Posts: 5,318
Well howdy! Im in Dallas Tx!I go to an earthbased UU church and I come from a totally different perspective. I consider myself to be a Christian Pagan mix. Most people in my church are pagans but tehre are a few Christians  I have one guy friend who is very outspoken about beign a Christain in my chruch however: Its complicated but thsi is it, he only claims Christainity to be his religion and nOTHING ELSE> He doesnt worship or serve the Pagan Gods. HOWEVER He does practice his Christainity in a mystical way, In other words he uses like the tarot card, hes a healer, he uses new age healign techniques and the Tarot card and astrology. I guess some would conside rhim to be Mystical christain but he would say no hes just christain because the tarot card and astrology is all a part of Christainity so.But to be honest he has recntly spoken to me about Christianity and says he believes my true religkion is christain as well so Im Christian too, but like I SAID A Christian earth based mix.My church is heavy on Paganism, we use rituals at the beginning of the churchs ervice and to close our service and we celebrate the holidays the Pagan holidays andalso the full moon every month and we offer lots of classes and movies and specials abotu Paganism. There are a few Msytical Christains and regular Christian but sense we are earthbased most of us are mysitcal so when you say Christian it just depends on what you mean by that, does that also include mystical beliefs too?

On the other hand we have had a few Christians come, and one lady came not long ago and shes a Pasters wife and wa smore of an evangelist, and I think a couple of my friends are Christians and keep it to themselves, this lady did have a few people complain to her about her Christianity Why am I defending them? theres a problem here, this lady came across as an Evangelical conservative, because theres so much predjudiced and were in East part of dallas where tehres alot of cosnervative Christians who are predjudiced including a few hate groups who have actually targeted my church,uh we have to be very careful so the thing of it is we have a reason to be a little nervous and afraid of Christians in our neighborhood.Weve had a few haters go to our church and start trouble. One guy I knew who went to my Moms AA meeting went in and threw a tempertantrum fit because he said sense we dont preaxch Jesus were biggots, but he wanted us to rpeach trhe old timey Gospel Jesus as the only way, we cant do that that would make us Christian and not UU its predjudiced to say Jesus is the only way is like anti UU so theres no way of course we dont teach Jesus as God. If we did other religions wouldnt be welcomed if we taught Jesus as the only way.But Christians are welcome to come to our church as long as they dont do stuff like he did get in the way of our church service and target us as haters or try to witness but weve had too much of that so yea we are a little paranoid.But like I said its to bhe expected in this side of town. But mystical Christains are very vocal and outspoken in my church so. I am a Christian Earthbased mix and not afraid to speak out at church about it so.
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3 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2011 - 9:37PM #4
micah68
Posts: 14

Hi Dot,


I'm really sorry it has taken me so long to get back around to responding. Other things have come up in my life over the last few months with my father getting cancer and my life has just now settled back down to sort of a dull roar.  


You sound somewhat like me, Bill, although I've become disillusioned once again with organized religion. Roundabout and roundabout I've always gone on that, so nothing new there.



I can relate. Though I attend my UMC church when I can and seem to spend more time at my wife's SBC, I'm a heretical liberal at heart. "Church" just doesn't do much for me any more. I go just to support my family's beliefs but feel like a fish out of water.

Sadly, the AUC seems pretty much defunct from what I've heard.



Yeah, it seems that way. It's too bad because much of what these "early liberals" had to say is still quite relevant today. But it doesn't seem that there is anyone willing to pick up the baton and run with it. And it doesn't help that the AUC and the UUA had its problems.

As you say, but for the happen-onto UU church here and there, many are not all that congenial for those of us who are strong theistic Unitarians. That's especially the case in the central U.S. in my experience. There are somewhat more theistically flavored UU churches in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, especially the historic Unitarian or Universalist churches that have retained their respective flavors since the merger in the early 1960's.



Whenever a church or organization states what they believe, they are going to be somewhat exclusionary. I don't think this is an entirely bad thing unless it turns into religious wars. But even in my own life, I waffle A LOT between strong theism, deism, and a more ambiguous "higher power" view. So it makes it difficult when I'm not even sure of my own definitions to know where I would fit in organized religion.


I still wish that more UU churches were as they claim to be in terms of genuinely valuing and respecting all beliefs.



Me, too. I've only been to two UU churches in my area, but, as I said, they didn't really seem to want to mention God or Jesus. I don't have to hear "God" and "Jesus" in every sermon, of course, but they are my native language so I'm not too comfortable when a church sort of says, "We don't speak that here."


I guess I'll have to be more like Payne and have my own mind be my church. Mighty lonely that way, though.


Regards,
Bill 



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3 years ago  ::  Aug 30, 2011 - 9:52PM #5
micah68
Posts: 14

Feb 8, 2011 -- 3:39AM, rideronthastorm wrote:

Well howdy! Im in Dallas Tx!...



Hi Rider.


It sounds like you go to a very interesting church. I know very well what you mean by the evangelical, conservative Christians and their effort to make everyone believe the same way that they do.


As you know and have said, Christianity has many different forms and beliefs. There is no such thing as "true Christianity" or "true Christians". It is and always has been a religion that changes over time. And this is, to a large extent, what the conservatives are reacting to. They don't like the changes happening in Christianity and want to "conserve" their "old time" ways which are only about 150 years old anyway.


But, for me as a Unitarian, I define being a Christian in this way: I believe in one God and I believe that Jesus' core message was that we should love God and love one another. That is my only "creed". I don't hold to the notions that Jesus is God or that he was born of a virgin or that his blood removes sin or that God will send us to heaven or hell. None of those things make sense to me and I find some of them to be immoral. So my kind of Christianity is, imo, quite open.


On the other hand, I have a lot of respect and resonance with Celtic Christianity which was somewhat earth-based. They felt that the earth and all of nature was divine, part of God's good creation and that we worshipped God by respecting and redeeming nature. Have you ever considered how many of Jesus' parables have to do with dirt, soil, flowers, fields, water, trees, etc. He was a very "down-to-earth" guy and went off to "nature" places to pray to God. This seemed to refresh him.


But my take on it, as the Bible does say in quite a few places, is that we love one another, we are doing what God or Ultimate Reality wants us to do. It is not the religion, it is the relationship. That's what I think Jesus tried to get us to consider. But I don't buy into all the baggage that the church has placed upon him or upon believing in him. I like to KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. Organized religions make it way too hard for me.


Regards,
Bill

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3 years ago  ::  Sep 07, 2011 - 3:38PM #6
DotNotInOz
Posts: 6,833

Aug 30, 2011 -- 9:52PM, micah68 wrote:


Feb 8, 2011 -- 3:39AM, rideronthastorm wrote:

Well howdy! Im in Dallas Tx!...



Hi Rider.


It sounds like you go to a very interesting church. I know very well what you mean by the evangelical, conservative Christians and their effort to make everyone believe the same way that they do.



Rider's UU church is fairly unusual in my experience, but then, most of my experience with UU churches was before Pagans began gravitating to UUism so as to enjoy the benefits of affiliation with an established church organization.


Myself, I'd rather that UU churches didn't focus as much as Rider has said her church does upon one particular body of beliefs for their service content. I'd rather see a UU church touch upon varied beliefs here and there, because you never know what might reflect a particular member's beliefs or inspire someone to investigate beliefs they didn't know much about.


That they did include a good variety in services was one thing I liked about the last UU church I attended a few years ago. I'd probably still be going there if I didn't feel so cooped up in churches as well as having developed a strong distaste for the UUA.


But, for me as a Unitarian, I define being a Christian in this way: I believe in one God and I believe that Jesus' core message was that we should love God and love one another. That is my only "creed". I don't hold to the notions that Jesus is God or that he was born of a virgin or that his blood removes sin or that God will send us to heaven or hell. None of those things make sense to me and I find some of them to be immoral. So my kind of Christianity is, imo, quite open.



Sounds like a pretty traditional UU Christian approach to me. William Ellery Channing would certainly agree. Ever read his famous sermon "Unitarian Christianity"?


Apologies as well from me for not getting back here sooner to respond.


Dot

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