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» Ship of Fools   » Ship's Locker   » Limbo   » 8D - Faithfree - Straws which broke the camel's back? (Page 2)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: 8D - Faithfree - Straws which broke the camel's back?
the famous rachel
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quote:
Originally posted by Jemima the 9th:


And whilst we're at it with the assumptions, what's with assuming that we'd want to worship this toddler God?
<awaits lightning strike [Devil] >


That's what it comes down to really: if the toddler God exists, he needs to be sat on the naughty step* not told he is worthy of all praise. Having decided I'm not going to worship the toddler God, I've tried and failed to find a new picture of God that makes better sense to me. I hope to start looking again at some point, but I've had my real toddler (now a preschooler) to contend with recently instead.

Best wishes,

Rachel.

* Actually, we don't do the naughty step thing in our house, but you know what I mean, hopefully!

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A shrivelled appendix to the body of Christ.

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agingjb
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Straws for me aren't anything recent, but memories of events at school and Sunday school which now, nearly 70 years later, I can see should have told me more about the various religious claims being made.

It doesn't affect my beliefs, so much as give me a continuing reluctance to belong.

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Refraction Villanelles

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Aravis
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Similar to what noprophet said, ie. realising that a God who allowed something random and destructive to happen to your child had to be cruel, impotent, or non-existent. Or be rather less personally involved in the lives of individual humans than I have always been led to believe.
A few months ago I said more or less this to God (more forcefully!) and have not attempted to communicate since as there is no answer and no point.
And no, the death of Jesus is not an answer and does not help.

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Belle Ringer
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I believe in God. I have ceased believing in institutional church.

The last straw was not a straw but an eye opener.

After years of happy God-aware church-less-ness, I thought I should "give church a try." Having a naive concept of church plus being unaware of the brutal politics, I made stupid mistakes. AND I annoyed people by tripping over unexplained ways of doing things you are suppose to know without being told. AND that church was so dysfunctional people from other churches kept warning me not to judge the denomination by that one church.

A few "important" people abused random targets for sport. I assumed leadership was ignorant, but the response to my protest was "we need them, they can do anything they want because if we criticize them they might leave."

For unrelated reasons I went to family crisis center, they handed me a list of abusive behaviors no one should put up with. 80% of the things on that list of abuses had been done to me in that church in two years, and the pace was increasing. Eye-opening.

After I left, I met several people who had left that church because of abuse. Six years later, a new pastor arrived and kicked out the "untouchable" abusers. He told me he has received phone calls, emails, even hand written snail mail letters from dozens of people saying they had left because of the "untouchable" abusers.

I will never again "commit to" or "trust" a church, not because of a few troublesome people but because of leadership (through several changes of lay and clergy leaders) endorsing the inappropriate to the point of sometimes illegal behavior.

I'll sing sometimes, show up for coffee to greet friends, do vacation Bible school music because I enjoy it, but not believe churches have any more to do with God than your local gardening club or poker club. I will not allow them any guidance role in my life or my relationship with God. God and I get along fine, church is somewhere between irrelevant and destructive. For me. YMMV.

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Thyme
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Belle Ringer, thank you. This is my story too. In fact I went through this experience in different degrees at several churches (same denomination) before I gave up. At first I thought it must be me as it seemed a bit too much of a coincidence.

At one of these churches I was advised by more than one 'oldtimer' to 'stay on the surface and don't get involved' as the recipe for peace of mind in the Church.

I think this is one of the reasons for the popularity of cathedrals. It is much easier to slip in and out and stay under the radar.

But my personality is such that I find it difficult to do this. Difficult to turn a blind eye to borderline criminal, certainly unethical activity, bullying, lying and cover ups.

Now I think that that whole diocese was rotten to the core. I live in a different diocese now but don't fancy doing any more research!

I spent sixteen years trying to be a member of this church. I left around five or six years ago and there are about three people I count as friends and keep in touch with.

I have met people, both lay and clergy, who seem to be able to manage the dysfunction and stay sane and keep their personal integrity. I don't know how they do this. Sadly they seem to be in the minority, or at least never powerful enough, and there is never enough critical mass of sanity to overcome the awfulness.

Thank you for sharing your story. I find it very comforting.

[ 30. December 2014, 14:22: Message edited by: Thyme ]

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The Church in its own bubble has become, at best the guardian of the value system of the nation’s grandparents, and at worst a den of religious anoraks defined by defensiveness, esoteric logic and discrimination. Bishop of Buckingham's blog

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Thyme:
Belle Ringer, thank you. This is my story too.

And lots of people, hearing your tale, insist the problem is you, right? [Smile]

Two things have helped me a lot. One is the book Sacred Pathways which says different personalities have contrasting ways to best (or worst) connect to God.

For example, some thrive on the deeply meaningful (to them) highly symbolic visual/sensual theater of liturgy, a perfect icon through which to "see" God; for others, liturgy is annoyingly rigid, lifeless, artificial and empty ritual, an anti-icon that blocks people from God. Both views are correct!

Intellectual vs experiential, large group vs two or three, structured vs spontaneous - it's rare for anyone to love both sides of any of these; Shipmates commonly scorn whichever side doesn't work for them.

No church can benefit more than half of the "spiritual types" the book describes.

The second thing, new to me, is the parasympathetic nervous system. The brain turns on the health producing system when you are doing things that fulfill you, and turns it off (turns on adrenaline instead) when confronting negative environments (or negative thoughts).

A stressful (for you) church turns off the parasympathetic system, destroying your body, mind and soul. You MUST leave. Others may thrive there, but it is literally killing you, cutting years off your life while prolonging colds and other illnesses. The struggle to "fit in" and to "contribute" (through grit teeth), is deadly wrong.

There can be life situations worth risking your health for, but church membership is not one of them.

Now the trick is to find the other church escapees: they, not church people, are your (and my) potential friends of shared spiritual language and behavior.

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Beenster
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I remember, I remember! As well as my disintegrating faith, there was some poor people experiences. I put in place some structures to make things work for me whilst I hope my faith returned and one of the structures was to go to a homegroup but not to go to church - I did some work at another church. I was really happy with this arrangement, as a chronic introvert (I know that now), I foudn the prospect of going to church too scary and so these two small groups felt ok.

However, the curate of the church went to my homegroup and I got an email from him saying he had never seen me at church and that the belief was that homegroup was a subgroup of mainsteam church. I didn't have the confidence to tell him of my neurosis and I can't remember what I said suffice to say I led him to believe I would try to go to church. Fast forward a few weeks - and another email saying he hadn't seen me in church and therefore I was no longer welcome at home group.

However, at the same time, he was moving to a new parish which happened to be just down the road to where I was moving to - in London. And so, I went to one last homegroup - it was the end of term. I mentioned this to said curate and he looked at me square on "i don't want my church to be another white middle class church in an inner city area" (it's hardly inner city but slightly deprived area - or it was). Now interpretation is --- as it is --- and i understood that to say "don't darken my door of my church."

Another friend of mine (a christian who has disappeared) got really stuck in at that church adn far more middle class than me.

I regret not having the guts to stand up to him, or tell my homegroup leaders of my dilemma who I am sure would have been supportive. I regret not having the confidence to say how much church panicked and scared me.

Anyways. I asked around and was pointed in the direction of a more liberal church - although was warned about the priest. I went a couple of times and then had a break and went again and this was awful. There had been a meeting during the week about volunteering in the community and it hadn't been well attended. Those that had gone to the meeting were called to the front. The rest of us were shouted at by the priest. I should have walked out at that point but I didnt have the guts. It was quite funny - the priest was jumping up and down saying "i want to be proud of you." I just shrunk into myself and realised that I had gone looking for a love and it was being denied me.

That was the last time i went to church. A struggling faith, social awkwardnesses and shitty people it all culminated to my freedom.

The really good thing, I have stopped looking and started working on my social awkwardness and so such situations are no longer threatening and how to say what I feel.

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Beenster:
I foudn the prospect of going to church too scary and so these two small groups felt ok...he hadn't seen me in church and therefore I was no longer welcome at home group...

...The rest of us were shouted at by the priest... I had gone looking for a love and it was being denied me.

That was the last time i went to church.

Not surprising you haven't tried again. Church leaders often seem to have a specific idea of what lay people must do, without regard for time constraints or personality differences.

One dropout friend has joined the nature group "Master Gardener" and found more friendly warmth and shared spirituality there than she ever found in church. Another refers to the art guild as her church. For me it's the community chorus, which always sings religious music; each rehearsal is church for some of us, a gathering with other believers around the person of God.

The mistake is allowing an institution to label itself "church" in an exclusive way. Church is wherever believers gather. There are millions of sacraments outside any church building, some far more meaningful and God-connecting for some of us than anything that goes on inside that building.

How are you building your awareness and appreciation of God now that you are free of the confines of the institution?

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by no prophet's flag is set so...:
quote:
Originally posted by Mark Wuntoo:
I was a minister and so I believed in GOD. [Smile]

Slowly, I came to believe that the church...was sometimes a nasty place and an irrelevance in today's society (I could qualify that, of course). But I stayed and tried my little bit to bring about change, particularly in styles of worship.

Then I retired and began to ask questions that I dare not face whilst 'in the pulpit'...

This is a story I've heard before. What exactly prevents people from saying the hard things to themselves and sorting it out while they're employed as church leaders?...
It's a story I'm familiar with in not-church situations.

In any all-consuming job you get so immersed in the job you don't have time or energy to step back and wonder "what am I doing here?"

Also as humans we want approval and doing a job as the bosses say to do it gets approval, if only in the regular pay check. The job surrounds you with co-workers and customers who reinforce the importance of the job.

You get a glimpse of some things are not as they should be (every job I've had there have been some moral issues crop up) but you figure mostly it's for the good and maybe your presence can help improve things.

And on the really bad days, you fear without this job how will you pay the bills? I've seen lots of men gut their way through the last 5 or ten years to retirement age in a job they had grown to hate because that's what you have to do to survive. You don't just go find another career at age 57.

Clergy who tell this story are probably not much different than anyone who stays with a job or career that is no longer a true fit for them.

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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I've been reading over this thread - I hope its OK to jump back a bit to something The Famous Rachel said:

quote:
Admitting that my toddler God picture is slightly a parody, nonetheless, if God is both loving and all-powerful and has made us as the pinnacle of his creation, I am definitely left with the question "Why didn't he do a better job?"

I don't know if this will be at all helpful - but for me the idea of 'better' is pretty much synonymous with the idea of 'God' - both require faith, and ultimately are resistant to reason. Therefore, if you are prepared to sacrifice a rational meaningless universe and hope for something 'better' [Smile] then perhaps


quote:


...I feel like God is either...
(a) so unlikely as to have a vanishingly small chance of existing
OR
(b) incompetent
OR
(c) mean.


...or is, (d) the One from whom originates the possibility of 'better'.

I think when we question like that in your first quote above, it's perhaps a symptom of our underlying (perhaps buried) faith in (d) - the extant, powerful, loving God. We find Him necessary, whether or not we 'find Him'.

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"We are punished by our sins, not for them" - Elbert Hubbard
(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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This thread has come back to life.

To clarify just a little, we haven't left church, but experienced a big shift in our understanding. (we also experienced a parish closure, but that is another issue.) We changed our understanding that people think prayer is about, worship is about, Jesus and all the rest, isn't quite, or isn't at all. We're not interested much in God's grace or forgiveness any more. Nor the theology of sacrificing his son. Interested in feeling okay with things and surviving as well as possible, and aspiring for something a little more than the mundane.

I understood that pre-reformation, one way of looking at communion was that it was a way of being in contact with the divine. Or maybe it still is? A looking for transcendence, just in a little, small way of internal feeling of something. Not being worthy or notable enough for an epiphany, an ecstatic or mystical experience. And probably having to reject anything like that as rather ignorant for God to grant something like that when what was/is really needed doesn't get granted.

It is probably another thread to ask 'where shall transcendence be found if not where it is on offer'?

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We must learn to live in harmony with nature. If we don't cease believing we can master and dominate it, life on Earth may be crippled or destroyed.
(formerly known more succinctly as "no prophet"), either way not be taken seriously. \_(ツ)_/

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Nicodemia
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Not sure why we need transcendence? Could you put it in simple terms for a struggling elderly sometime Christian??
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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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By transcedence I mean something more than myself and my poor little immediate world, and a sense of other-worldly connection. I apologise for not being very good at expressing this. An analogy for me is being moved by music.

--------------------
We must learn to live in harmony with nature. If we don't cease believing we can master and dominate it, life on Earth may be crippled or destroyed.
(formerly known more succinctly as "no prophet"), either way not be taken seriously. \_(ツ)_/

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pimple

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Coming at this cold, because it's an interesting question. To me. Why should it interest anybody else?

Why did I lose my faith? I didn't. I don't think of faith as something you possess. Some things sort of possess me, like an interest in the bible, and "good" music and literature. And music, for one, is not something I can lose. If I lost my already fragile hearing completely, I would still have the music. I frequently sing myself to sleep without making a sound. Sometimes the music is "mine", but usually it's someone else's - Mozart's, or Cranmer's.

As for the "final straw" this is an equally odd concept to me, as strange as "loss of faith".
I was never much use in the desert, and I could never spit very far. So I find it hard to imagine myself as a broken camel - or a broken anything.

What took me this far away from the church (in which I still have many good friends) was a slow-burning anger. I cannot remember a single occasion on which God or the church has hurt me personally. Most of my family have lived lives of reasonable length and comfort.

But I kept seeing more and more people whom, if I were God, I would save - not from smallpox (there are human experts around to do that) but from ignorance and fear, and from the results of that fear and ignorance. The victims of cruelty and
bigotry and hatred and stupidity and pride. And it seemed to me that there were as many perpetrators as victims in the churches and other religious institutions.

I'm not a broken camel who has lost his faith. I'm a sad old git who still enjoys remarkably good health and am immensely grateful for the world I was born in, and for the company of good Christians and good Atheists and the many brave people who do so much to alleviate the sufferings of others and spread the truth they see and believe - regardless of received dogma.

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by pimple:
...cruelty and bigotry and hatred and stupidity and pride. And it seemed to me that there were as many perpetrators as victims in the churches and other religious institutions.

This. Things are allowed to go on and continue repeatedly that no business would tolerate. But businesses know their mission, churches don't seem to, which makes it harder for them to draw the line. A mantra of "forgive" prevents overturning the tables when needed.

New preacher kicked out a couple who ruled the church abusively; some quit in protest - it was their last straw - but attendance went up because more returned to the church they had left because of the abuse.

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pimple

Ship's Irruption
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Oh goody. I do love blessings in disguise!

And there are plenty of them around. The church I walked away from (amicably) because of an increasingly narrowing churchmanship had a few people with more stamina than I, very marginalised individuals who were overwhelmed by the acceptance of the vicar at that time - a man who always seemed to say "yes" when a lot of other people were simply turning their backs.

And he himself was a dedicated evangelical.

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In other words, just because I made it all up, doesn't mean it isn't true (Reginald Hill)

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Komensky
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I was raised in a Christian family, primarily Methodist, but with a strong RC influence too. Until I was in my late 20s I was only vaguely Christian. I married an evangelical and, in those early years, just sort of put up with the differences with the feeling that it seemed to work OK. Anyway, the personal stuff is another story. I became increasingly involved in a prominent evo church in west London. The sermons were a cunning mixture of seemingly progressive ideas and fundamentalist right-wing claptrap. The 'straw', as it were, was that the more active I became the more overt manipulation and deception I observed. This ranges from Derren Brown-like tricks at 'Holy Spirit events' to forged or grossly exaggerated Alpha testimonials, among many other things. The event that made me say to myself 'I need a different path' was watching a friend of mine, a fantastic magician (now famous) do a show at a Christian retreat. Among other things he was extremely good and cold reading and audience 'fishing'. He invited a young woman from the audience, handed a sealed envelope to another volunteer in the audience (he didn't know either of them) and proceeded to get the first volunteer to describe a 'special day' in her life. It turned out to be her 16th birthday. She described the day and what happened and then the magician asked the other volunteer to open the envelope and read the contents. It described the same details. The young woman became visibly upset: 'how could you know that?' I realised then that I had witnessed the exact same trickery in the big worship tent as I had just seen in a magic show: at the core of it all was the manipulation of people. I had to decide: do I want to continue to take part, enable and encourage this kind of manipulation or speak out against it? Needless to say, every evangelical I ever spoke with defends their trickery—they believe that two kinds of magic are at work in the two examples; but science does not support that conclusion. I became overwhelmed by the amount of deception and manipulation that I saw in the church and I couldn't bear it any more. 'No institution is perfect', they said to me; but the difference is that in charismania you may not question the magic. I saw too much destruction masquerading as healing. I ran and never looked back.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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MrsBeaky
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Blimey, Komensky, that sounds horrendous- I hate manipulation and I too have heard the argument about different types/ sources of magic....
I am a bit confused by your story though so wonder if you would mind clarifying. I've seen clever cold reading type of stuff in church services (I've also seen some fall completely flat!) and I've even seen some stuff which though not my style seemed non-manipulative but how does the magic trick with the sealed letter work? Is it that the practitioner skilfully leads the person by questioning/ suggesting so that they describe what has already been put in the envelope? If so then sadly this technique is replicated in some Christian circles
Thanks

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"It is better to be kind than right."

http://davidandlizacooke.wordpress.com

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Komensky
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Mrs B, I'm no expert in cold reading, though I watch this friend in action (and there are many out there who are brilliant at it—Derren Brown does it most on the telly). People are very easily tricked and manipulated, but not everyone. In a magic show scenario the magician needs to do some selecting, though there is also some self-selecting. First, perform a few basic tricks that impress the audience and give your apparent 'powers' credulity—the audience, or at least most of it, needs to ask themselves 'how did he do that?'. You then need to have a few basic stories, rather than just one, you can drawn on. Once the magician is confident of his volunteer or more likely, the person he selects ('you there madam, in the red dress') he can can start with the fishing questions and simple suggestion. He then thinks, Ok, I can probably do the '16th birthday party thing with her', he then selects that envelope from his pocket and works to the script and responses of the audience member. As you've said, cold reading doesn't work 100% of the time, but in the hands of real pros it usually does. Of course these things work better in larger groups, so a mega-church or just large church gathering are perfect places to do it because almost the entire audience has self selected and admitted to believing in a kind of magic. That makes the 'Holy Spirit' type of magic (getting people to fall over, bark like dogs, run on the spot, etc.') very, very easy.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Komensky
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Here's an amusing and short way of seeing it.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
Here's an amusing and short way of seeing it.

Thank you! I saw the "you have a scar on your knee" trick once and have wondered ever since. This video explained it.
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Schroedinger's cat

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The Derren Brown stuff is creepy and quite scary. He is a master of utilising the means of manipulation that all sorts of people use to manipulate us (not just religious - all salesmen use it, to various degrees, for example).

The thing is, these techniques are just about how we communicate with each other. Some of these techniques are Interview Techniques, that most of us have used, or skills for getting on in a working environment. We all use some of them, with various degrees of skill and success.

The problem comes when these techniques are deliberately used to manipulate (in particular when claiming that this is divine inspiration) or when these are the techniques that are in play unwittingly, and seen to be divine gifts. This does not, to me, disprove that these gifts can be real. It means that they can be faked.

I remember the programme Brown did about religious conversion, where he showed that many of the outward signs of conversion could be induced by him. What this showed for me was that some of the outward signs of religious fervour can be "drummed up" by the appropriate environment - something that anyone who has been to the big events will know - but that this doesn't disprove or refute the reality of many conversions.

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Blog
My books for your enjoyment
Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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Komensky
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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
The Derren Brown stuff is creepy and quite scary. He is a master of utilising the means of manipulation that all sorts of people use to manipulate us (not just religious - all salesmen use it, to various degrees, for example).

The thing is, these techniques are just about how we communicate with each other. Some of these techniques are Interview Techniques, that most of us have used, or skills for getting on in a working environment. We all use some of them, with various degrees of skill and success.

The problem comes when these techniques are deliberately used to manipulate (in particular when claiming that this is divine inspiration) or when these are the techniques that are in play unwittingly, and seen to be divine gifts. This does not, to me, disprove that these gifts can be real. It means that they can be faked.

I remember the programme Brown did about religious conversion, where he showed that many of the outward signs of conversion could be induced by him. What this showed for me was that some of the outward signs of religious fervour can be "drummed up" by the appropriate environment - something that anyone who has been to the big events will know - but that this doesn't disprove or refute the reality of many conversions.

This is easy. Go ahead, prove the existing of a single 'spiritual gift'. They've all either been debunked long ago or have much more reasonable explanations. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary (or even ordinary) proof. It isn't there.

Also, 'converted' to what, exactly?

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Komensky:
Prove the existing of a single 'spiritual gift'. They've all either been debunked long ago or have much more reasonable explanations. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary (or even ordinary) proof. It isn't there.

A month or two ago I explained on the Ship in some detail why I decided not to spend $1000 to fly across the country plus hotel and rental car to hire the doc with the original records and x-rays examine me and verify that I had been instantly healed in a prayer meeting of a not-curable-by-doctors nor by passage-of-time problem.

The expense and time out of work wouldn't help me, I was enjoying dancing and hiking and didn't need a doc to tell me I was now able to. Nor would anyone else be convinced by any proof I brought back, because people believe what makes them comfortable. Many find the concept of an actively involved God uncomfortable.

Even in natural alternative healing, I have seen people look at before and after xrays and continue to insist "it's a scam, it can't work, so I won't try it."

I have a friend with neuropathy who rejects every treatment I find - "I smell a quack." The most recent "quack" (in his dismissive opinion, without looking past the title on the web page) is approved by FDA and covered by Medicare! But it's a "quack" because his doc says there is nothing to help, and a world in which the doc cannot be relied on is too scary.

Most people reject earthly testable healing methods even though they can personally track down and question any of thousands of individuals reporting success and not collecting any money from anyone, so of course most people reject reports of God healing anyone! Proof is not the issue or they would not be rejecting natural methods that work.

If it doesn't fit a person's existing world view, "it's a scam" because if it's real, the worldview has to change, and that's always unsettling.

There are fraudsters in the sacred and secular professions; and gullible people who believe the fraudsters. Fraud by some or many doesn't mean there is no *real* that the fraudster is pretending to imitate. But proof? People reject it when shown. So I no longer try to prove anything.

"If you want me to believe it you have to prove it to my satisfaction." What you choose to believe is not my responsibility! Neither do I have any obligation to doubt the reality I have experienced just because someone else (who wasn't there) insists -like my friend with neuropathy - anything he doesn't already believe in is "quackery."

I have solid experiential reason to believe in the real world effectiveness of a number of "spiritual gifts." I get mad at God for the infrequency! [Smile] No skin off me if anyone or everyone else chooses to disbelieve; I still enjoy the concrete fruits of those gifts.

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BR, I'm sorry, but you are going about this all the wrong way. I can see that what you perceive as God's magic powers are important to you and that your experiences, as experiences, are certainly real. Over history more and more aspects of Christian belief (or religious belief more generally) have become untenable. It's a long list: slavery, the flat earth, 7-day creationism, geocentricity, the rights of parents to sell their children, flames coming out of peoples heads as they pray, levitation, and on and on. It's never once gone the other way; where something once attributed to a natural process and/or with a scientific explanation has later been discarded in favour of God's magic as the only possible explanation. If any of the outrageous claims of Christian magic were true, it could be easily verified. I don't need to tell you that it hasn't happened. However, I do believe that as salvation goods, belief in Christian magic is now mandatory—therefore, the stakes are so high that increasingly elaborate hoaxes will continue to appear. That's another story, for another thread. What I, and millions of others, are being asked to believe are not just outrageous stories, but outrageous stories with no proof whatsoever. After literally millions of claims of miracles in the recent decades, not a single one has been proven—and the burden of proof is of the claimant. Moreover, Christianity, like most religions, claims that it, and only it, is true—and completely true. So what about all the other 'miracles' from non-Christians? No proof is offered their either and both sides have an army of apologists, almost none of which are willing to engage honestly in scientific testing of the claims. When rigorous science is employed, no miracle ever emerges. Christians will then employ what I can The Doctrine of Infinite Exceptions. What is absolutely essential, in, I grant, only some quarters of Christianity, is that you do not examine the claims of Christians. You must not examine the lies and exploitation, you must not examine the forgeries along the way, the massive list of narrative and factual errors and inconsistencies in the Bible. You must not—and that is the only response from deep within the bowels of Christian life.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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mr cheesy
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I suppose the question for me here is whether believing these things is so bad, Komensky. Even if they are just a form of confirmation bias, the placebo effect and so on.. maybe believing that it is possible to get better from these things actually leads to people getting better from these things.

Or to put it another way - does believing in a false myth have some practical benefits?

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Komensky
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Mr C, that's a good question! I certainly don't think that some obviously fictional beliefs are necessarily a bad thing. Considering the topic at hand; what is the harm of the culture of faith healing? Well, it is a culture that has not produced a single verifiable 'healing', but has produced hundreds of cases of illness and even death. In some cases those are people who rejected medicine altogether, also those who, in the first instance sought prayer rather than medicine—we also need to consider the broader effects within Christian culture (or other other faith/religious groups that claim a magical healing 'power') that encourages people to believe the demonstrable untrue. Let's say that some people think it is a harmless practice; what do you say about the deaths that result each year from faith healing? Is that part of the plan of a benevolent God? Or is it the product of a deluded and selfish group of people who refuse to face the hard facts of science? This latter group is a parallel to the geocentrics of centuries ago, who, despite all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth.

I don't think that this example (of the belief in faith healing) is enough to cause someone to lose their faith altogether; but it is an indictment of an aspect of a particular religious culture. These people were not killed because of too much critical thinking.

I was struck by Einstein's comment in his essay 'The Negro Question' (1946): ' I can escape the feeling of complicity in it only by speaking out'.

K.

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"The English are not very spiritual people, so they invented cricket to give them some idea of eternity." - George Bernard Shaw

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mr cheesy
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Well, I have a lot of sympathy on that point, but practical reality is that I cannot speak out on everything. I have many issues with various aspects of church life which I moan to my love-ones about, but focus on a very small number of issues to actually do something about.

Other than a very small number of 'faith-healers' who maybe should be resisted, I think the general belief in church that healing is possible is a pretty minor thing.

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Belle Ringer
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K - if it's any help to you, I have always rejected almost all of "church history" and most of "church teaching." So much of it is anti- love!

One frustration in discussing such things is being accused of believing 6 day creation and a whole lot of other stuff I never believed! But then, I get the same thing in alt med - I healed my diagnosed cancer with nutrition instead of chemo, and get accused of being a nut who believes in crystals and eye of newt.

If my praying for someone who was then instantly healed of severe carpel tunnel was "magic, not God" - that doesn't answer any questions, does it? Something happened that contradicts medicine and contradicts the experience of 99.999% of similar sufferers.

I don't think the word applied - magic or miracle - matters as much as learning how to do it reliably again and teach others too. [Smile]

Pretending such things never happen just because you don't personally sit in the doctor's office and review the records (which most skeptics then dismiss as "misdiagnosis" rather than admit unexplainable healing), does not negate the reality of the healing and the changed life.

It's the changes in behavior that convince me. When someone I've known a while is suddenly doing something they couldn't, I notice and ask. Not from what they said, from what they did differently, new ability, overnight. I ask. If when the answer is "I was prayed for" - am I suppose to say "no, that didn't happen and you don't have the new ability you are demonstrating, or you have been pretending all decade so you could pretend to a magic trick and call it God"?

A simple "wow" makes more sense than that analysis! "Wow, I don't understand, but I'm glad for you."

Yes there are scams, where there is desire for improvement there are scammers looking to make big bucks. The healing conferences I go to are free.

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Aravis
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The abdication of belief
Makes the behavior small
Better an ignis fatuus
Than no illume at all

(Emily Dickinson)

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Belle Ringer
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quote:
Originally posted by Aravis:
The abdication of belief
Makes the behavior small
Better an ignis fatuus
Than no illume at all

(Emily Dickinson)

I'm laughing because I'm the first generation that refused to take Latin. My parents were horrified but I insisted I'll never need it. Never have, until your post. Oh well.

(I sing Latin Masses in large choruses, haven't a clue what any of the songs are actually saying. Nice music, though.)

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Aravis
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The Latin might not have helped here! Literally, it's Latin for "foolish fire" but it's the official term for a will o'the wisp, or marsh gas, in other words a light that seems to lead you on to safety but probably won't.

(A more familiar analogy now would be the "Hello Squishy" lantern fish scene in "Finding Nemo".) [Biased]

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Luigi
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Final straws? For me - like Karl - I am more sure what I am not any more than exactly where I place myself on any spectrum.

Having said that, it alarmed me just how confident Christians I came across were that they couldn't be wrong - believing there is a God and an afterlife etc. I thought that everyone seriously considered/challenged that question for themselves. Even on the ship (and with some of those who I really admire) when Karl started a thread about where people were on a scale of 7 from Atheist to totally convinced believer (I think it was a Richard Dawkins' scale) many claimed they were more or less certain. That bothered me.

Being involved in churches that embraced the Toronto Blessing also bothered me because it taught me something about how easily humans (deeply involved in something) can fall for group delusional thinking.

Also most (all?) Christian apologetics just seemed a bit hopeless. I'd read some and thought well clearly that isn't very good there must be some out there who are a little more convincing and little less evasive. Then I realised that I was reading what are considered some of the best.

Luigi

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Thyme
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quote:
Originally posted by Luigi:
it alarmed me just how confident Christians I came across were that they couldn't be wrong - believing there is a God and an afterlife etc. I thought that everyone seriously considered/challenged that question for themselves. Even on the ship (and with some of those who I really admire) when Karl started a thread about where people were on a scale of 7 from Atheist to totally convinced believer (I think it was a Richard Dawkins' scale) many claimed they were more or less certain. That bothered me.

I am a bit puzzled as to why you are bothered/alarmed about others beliefs. Why shouldn't a Christian be confident about their belief? Maybe they have seriously considered the issues and come to a place of belief from that process. You may struggle to understand why they arrived at these conclusions and have that confidence, but that is your problem not theirs. If it is a problem, but it seems to be for you.

Do you mean they are trying to impose their belief on you?

If so I don't see the difference between that and you saying that they are wrong for having that confidence in their belief. [Confused]

I remember years ago being shouted at for some time by a couple of friends who wanted me to say that I could be wrong in my belief. They were very aggressive about it and quite frightening in the intensity of their need for me to profess a doubt I didn't and don't have.

They could not grasp the notion that my lack of doubt did not mean I was saying they were wrong in their doubts, just that I didn't share them and didn't see why I should pretend to just to make them feel better.

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The Church in its own bubble has become, at best the guardian of the value system of the nation’s grandparents, and at worst a den of religious anoraks defined by defensiveness, esoteric logic and discrimination. Bishop of Buckingham's blog

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Curiosity killed ...

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I don't have problems with other peoples' expressions of faith, particularly the sort of faith that shines out of a very few individuals I have encountered and comes as an expression of love, albeit tough love at moments. That is awe-inspiring and something I'd like to aspire to.

But ... there are some people who are so sure in their certainty and expression of God who are positively frightening. The sort of people who are certain that God is telling them to refuse to treat a baby of two lesbians, for a current example in Dead Horses. Or can tell others that their form of worship is the only way to God, as often happens on Ecclesiantics. Or that God has told them that they need something and that as they are doing God's will, this has to happen. And they thank God rather than the hands and feet on earth that make whatever happen ... One of my straws has been some Christians like this.

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SvitlanaV2
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But Christianity is a pluralistic religion with many competing claims from different quarters, so I'm not sure why other people's conviction about their own doctrines need drive us away from the faith altogether. We just need convictions of our own....

The problem, perhaps, is that other people's certainty will always seem louder and more dominant than our own more hesitant faith. Certainty wows onlookers and creates the public agenda on religion. Noone (apart from sociologists, perhaps) really cares about the beliefs of people who don't look entirely convinced, so I suppose it always seems as if the religious ball is in someone else's court. That can easily become a frustration that drives some people, I suppose.

[ 21. February 2015, 15:37: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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SvitlanaV2
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... Drives some people away, I mean.
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Luigi
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Thyme - did my post come across as aggressive? Yes of course people can believe whatever they like. It is still difficult for me to understand the whole 'I don't have any doubts, at all, ever.'

I'd always assumed - perhaps wrongly - that 'Lord I believe, help my unbelief' was to some degree how all people respond to the Christian faith. Indeed I cannot think of a single area of my life where I would happily say I believe something totally 100% without any doubts. (That is except for things that are so tangible and obvious that to claim you don't believe it would be absurd. e.g. That gravity will still be working tomorrow.)

So the whole 'I think this but I could be wrong' seems to me a logical position to adopt. Hope that makes sense.

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quetzalcoatl
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Luigi wrote:

Also most (all?) Christian apologetics just seemed a bit hopeless. I'd read some and thought well clearly that isn't very good there must be some out there who are a little more convincing and little less evasive. Then I realised that I was reading what are considered some of the best.

Yes. I was kind of weaned on people like Thomas Merton, and that seemed hopeful, but then turned to reading Lewis and others, and it was quite disappointing. There is some kind of gap which they seem to leap, but really, they sort of wriggle over it. Ah well.

I think some of it is over-cooked - better just to say that these are the ideas and symbols which move me, and have done with it, rather than mounting some kind of over-arching logical defence of them.

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cynic girl
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I don't know if there was a 'last straw' for me. There was more of a gaping emptiness that grew, and grew... until something else filled it better. I suppose it was growing disillusionment. About lots of things, but at the end, mostly about a lack of inclusion for Christians who are disabled or chronically ill. And other justice issues.

It was only later that there was a sense of betrayal that I'd been taught a religious system that made my pre-existing mental health-type-difficulties worse. (Particularly in particular types of churches, as a child and teen.)

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Currently recruiting for ethnographic research into the experiences of disabled Christians or those with health problems.

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