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Source: (consider it) Thread: Sure I can halt the process - can't I?
quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Christianity doesn't endorse one political or economic system above another, though it does and always has condemned unethical practices. As for capitalism and usury you can blame the Protestantism and the Enlightenment. Then you're left with two options: essentially forbidding Christians from making any financial transactions or employing some ekonomia.

Blame Protestantism and the Enlightenment! That's the trouble with human beings, they keep doing stuff that doesn't fit my picture of reality. Damn annoying really. Still, blaming is pretty enjoyable, I guess.

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South Coast Kevin
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
PSA? I don't believe in that. I wouldn't consider it orthodox anyway.

It's certainly not Orthodox, is it? Anyway, my point was a general one about the 'disharmony between mind and heart' which seems to me to be a much more significant factor in conservative Christian theology than in liberal.

Perhaps a better example would have been evolution / creationism, where you have kids being taught that creationism true and scientifically justifiable but then as they go through the teenage years they discover the opposite view is held by pretty much everyone else.

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My blog - wondering about Christianity in the 21st century, chess, music, politics and other bits and bobs.

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Cara
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Indeed, an interesting topic.

Thank you especially Eutychus for your post, above.

From my reading about Newman and the Oxford Movement etc, I seem to remember that "liberalism" for him and for so many in his time was the nightmare, and he expressed exactly the fear Chorister speaks of, that when people start letting go of this belief and then that, they move inexorably away from orthodoxy, slide through various shades of belief, often stopping for a while in Unitarianism, but then ending up believing in nothing. The sort of path illustrated in William Hale White's autobiographical novel, The Autobiography of Mark Rutherford.

So it's a long-standing concern, of course.
In diametric opposition to that slippery slope is the decision that Newman and so many other converts to (Roman) Catholicism took (and still take): that the Catholic church is the one true apostolic church. And once you have accepted this, you don't need to quibble about this or that bit of belief or practice. Not that you check your brain in at the door, as we see in countless writers like Newman, Chesterton, and our own IngoB; but there seems to be a sort of relaxation and paradoxically a freedom in the relinquishing the struggle to believe, when you just accept the church is right. You go along with all that you can, and if you have trouble with one particular bit of doctrine or practice, you accept that the fault is in you, and pray that God will help you.
Converts often call this finding of a home, and the ability to accept the church as God's true church, as "safe haven, " "solid ground."

And maybe converts to the Orthodox Church feel the same.

As is obvious, I rather envy those who have been able to do this.
Instead, I have gone the (very common) route of departing gradually from the very devout Catholicism of my upbringing and away from any sort of certitude.
I feel God is so much a mystery we cannot pin him/her down as churches have so often done. All have a bit of the truth, none has the whole truth.

So I still self-identify as Christian, Anglican more or less, but I'm trying to sort out what it all means to me now...

it will not let me go, I am still so drawn to it all.

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Albertus
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Christianity doesn't endorse one political or economic system above another, though it does and always has condemned unethical practices. As for capitalism and usury you can blame the Protestantism and the Enlightenment....

A common view, but 90 years ago Tawney suggested that it wasn't as simple as that, and even as a representation of Weber it's a bit of a caricature.
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Horseman Bree
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
When you're on the edge of apostasy for long enough, as if on a tightrope, you're bound to fall off sooner or later. It's just a matter of time, because you eventually become too tired to keep your balance. The disharmony between mind and heart becomes too hard to bear and you lose your feet.

Some of us get rather tired of being told that we're not REALLY Christian, and that we are looking for that handbasket, when it turns out that we are just thinking things through until they make sense for us.

Simply yelling at us is not helping.

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It's Not That Simple

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quetzalcoatl
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It's more like blaming, isn't it? I do think that blaming is under-rated; it's both enjoyable and purgative. No wonder some Christians rate it! Now hang on, am I blaming here?

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John Holding

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
As for capitalism and usury you can blame the Protestantism and the Enlightenment.

So all those 14th and 15th century Italian ("Lombard") moneylenders (like the de Medici) were really Protestants, not Roman Catholics? There's a whole lot of art in northern Italy that they paid for that surely looks a lot like contemporary Roman Catholic piety. Or is it the equivalent of the "No true Scotsman" thing -- if they were moneylenders, they weren't really ROman Catholic.

John

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
it will not let me go, I am still so drawn to it all.

It's this, to hang on to, that gives me underlying hope. Meanwhile, I think I'm happy to continue the journey slowly. Where's the rush, anyway?

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malik3000
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
it will not let me go, I am still so drawn to it all.

It's this, to hang on to, that gives me underlying hope. Meanwhile, I think I'm happy to continue the journey slowly. Where's the rush, anyway?
God bless you on your journey, Chorister. Don't pay any attention to anyone judgementally pontificating about teetering "on the brink of apostasy". As was said above, the opposite of faith is not doubt -- the opposite of faith is ironclad certitude.

It is those locked in a hard brittle certitude that have a tendency to fracture. It can be a sort of hard spiritual constipation. I know, from personal experience.

In Greek/Hebrew/Aramaic, the word "faith" has not the meaning of something dogmatic but more rather means simply "trust". And so "there are three things that last -- trust, hope and love -- and the greatest of these is love.

After all, the 2 greatest commandments (or 2 greatest Expectations that God has of us -- quoting Mousethief from the 1st Commandment thread), in both Judaism and Christianity, are
(1) that we love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and
(2) that we love each other as* we love ourselves.

*Note: "as" means that we are supposed to love ourselves too, not hate ourselves.

If, in your journey, you are moving to greater love of God, your fellow people, and yourself, that's what's most important -- or, so it seems to me, that's what Jesus was saying.

Joyful journeying, Chorister.

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God = love.
Otherwise, things are not just black or white.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Please don't be silly.

It is as I thought. You cannot answer my questions.

quote:
For different people it will be a different amount of time but if you're one the edge of apostasy long enough it's certainly inevitable.
This is a mere tautology. "Long enough" means "long enough to fall off," so what you are saying is, "If you stay on the edge until you fall off, you will fall off." You are saying NOTHING. It is a fact that some people fall off and some people come back. All you are saying is that the people who don't come back fall off. Which is saying nothing nobody already didn't know.

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Merchant Trader
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
quote:
Originally posted by Cara:
it will not let me go, I am still so drawn to it all.

It's this, to hang on to, that gives me underlying hope. Meanwhile, I think I'm happy to continue the journey slowly. Where's the rush, anyway?
Feels more like a journey as you say than balancing on a tight rope about to fall off. I am about to read "Leaving Church" by Barbara Taylor Brown as her interview in the Church Times spoke to me (short quote from the interview, not the book, below) and reminded me that what I should be hanging on to was to the living water (God) not the Well (Church) - but still persisting with church.
quote:
"......'doing religion' makes a lot more sense to me than 'believing religion'. In my view, religion and spirituality are made for each other. Religion is the deep well that connects me to the wisdom of the ages. Spirituality is the daily experience of hauling up living water, and carrying it into a dry world. .............."
"....... But all of those rich resources dry out pretty quickly if they are not refreshed by some direct experience of the divine, which is what spirituality exists to recognise and assist.
In my view, religion gets in the way of God when the well becomes more interesting than the water - protecting the well, funding the well, analysing the history of the well, restricting access to the well, selling picture postcards of the well - all the things we do instead of celebrating and sharing the water.
If my metaphor holds, then God is the living water that rises up in all life-giving wells. Religion gets in God's way when we think we have God surrounded, when we think that our well is the only one with God in it."
Barbara Brown Taylor, Church Times 16 Aug 2013



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... formerly of Muscovy, Lombardy & the Low Countries; travelling through diverse trading stations in the New and Olde Worlds

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malik3000
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quote:
Originally posted by Merchant Trader:
Religion gets in God's way when we think we have God surrounded, when we think that our well is the only one with God in it."
Barbara Brown Taylor, Church Times 16 Aug 2013

[/QUOTE]What a great quote!

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God = love.
Otherwise, things are not just black or white.

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LeRoc

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I'm not sure if liberalism is necessarily about letting go of beliefs. I believe things about God, although not necessarily the same things as orthodox Christians.

So, I don't have the idea that I'm close to any 'edge' (although the view is nice from here).

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Merchant Trader
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quote:
Originally posted by LeRoc:
I believe things about God, although not necessarily the same things as orthodox Christians.

I would not so easily hand the title orthodox to the conservatives. Liberal does not necessarily mean heretic.

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... formerly of Muscovy, Lombardy & the Low Countries; travelling through diverse trading stations in the New and Olde Worlds

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Please don't be silly.

It is as I thought. You cannot answer my questions.

quote:
For different people it will be a different amount of time but if you're one the edge of apostasy long enough it's certainly inevitable.
This is a mere tautology. "Long enough" means "long enough to fall off," so what you are saying is, "If you stay on the edge until you fall off, you will fall off." You are saying NOTHING. It is a fact that some people fall off and some people come back. All you are saying is that the people who don't come back fall off. Which is saying nothing nobody already didn't know.

Eh? It's like, if you go without food and water for long enough you'll die not, if you go without food and water long enough you'll die which means you'll die. Are you being deliberately dense? It's quite simple.
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Chorister

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I suppose if you are aware you're teetering on the edge, you might have time to attach a harness, or a bungee jump rope so that the fall might not be terminal?

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Please don't be silly.

It is as I thought. You cannot answer my questions.

quote:
For different people it will be a different amount of time but if you're one the edge of apostasy long enough it's certainly inevitable.
This is a mere tautology. "Long enough" means "long enough to fall off," so what you are saying is, "If you stay on the edge until you fall off, you will fall off." You are saying NOTHING. It is a fact that some people fall off and some people come back. All you are saying is that the people who don't come back fall off. Which is saying nothing nobody already didn't know.

Eh? It's like, if you go without food and water for long enough you'll die not, if you go without food and water long enough you'll die which means you'll die. Are you being deliberately dense? It's quite simple.
It's the "long enough" that is the issue, and you have not given any non-tautological definition of it, despite my having asked twice now. Third time's a charm. If you still can't answer it, I will consider you incapable.

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Ad Orientem
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How long is a piece of string?
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Horseman Bree
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usually about an inch too short for what you want to do with it.

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It's Not That Simple

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Boogie

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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
I suppose if you are aware you're teetering on the edge, you might have time to attach a harness, or a bungee jump rope so that the fall might not be terminal?

Yes, or someone may offer you a hand.

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Gamaliel
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Hmmm ...

I think I'm with Hawk on this one. I think it is possible to tip so far over the edge to become apostate - and Spong and co. may well have done so.

That said, I find the kind of position that Ad Orientem appears to hold to be equally and oppositely problematic.

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kankucho
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quote:
Originally posted by CL:
So he returned to church on his own terms rather than the Church's? Hardly a recipe for a healthy spiritual life.

Well, a liberalised (or liberated?) soul freely returning to the fold will almost certainly be a thorn in the side of practitioners who lack the courage to critically analyse their own institutionally packaged beliefs. But whose faith is at issue - the individual's or the institution's? No religion has a divine (!) right to dictate anyone's spiritual path. Not even the One True Ones.

quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
...I've seen it happen. The result is atheism or somekind of new ageism.

Am I just being touchy or am I right to sense a veiled pejorative in 'some kind of new ageism' and a horrified implication of 'that way lies madness' in both of those 'results'? We've heard further upthread from a happy atheist. My own faith structure is sometimes described as New Age, though rarely by those who practise it, and despite being rooted in an older age than that of Christianity. Many of my comrades have travelled the route out of Abrahamic religions outlined in the OP, reached a Point of No Return and been perfectly happy about that. The PoNR has been a neutral platform from which to make earnest investigations elsewhere, and to rebuild healthier spiritual lives as a result. The only people to whom that poses a problem, it seems, are certain members of the various One True Religions that they have left behind, who can't get over the idea that a healthy spiritual life could involve a different set of tenets to their own.

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
How long is a piece of string?

It is as I thought, then. You cannot argue your corner but must call people names. Game over. Don't play again.

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RuthW

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My near-decade-long apostasy was proceded by efforts to conform to a conservative evangelical form of Christianity, and my return was aided by the existence of a liberal form of Christianity wherein my faith has been nourished for more than 20 years, so I really don't buy the assumption that liberal Christianity is necessarily a way station on the road to complete loss of faith.

Spong is not an apostate; he is a heretic. So, in my opinion, are certain conservative Christians -- folks like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson .

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Cara
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quote:
Originally posted by malik3000:
quote:
Originally posted by Merchant Trader:
Religion gets in God's way when we think we have God surrounded, when we think that our well is the only one with God in it."
Barbara Brown Taylor, Church Times 16 Aug 2013


What a great quote! [/QUOTE]


Yes, wonderful quote from Barbara Brown Taylor, indeed the whole passage is important and thought-provoking.


Chorister, as you say, it does indeed feel like a journey. And the fact we are still drawn to "it" --by which i meant Jesus, spirituality, the Christian story, religion-- yes, this gives me hope too.


RuthW, that is very interesting, that for you the more liberal form of Christianity brought you back and has continued to nourish your faith...definitely the opposite of the trajectory described in the OP. And shared by many, perhaps....

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
My near-decade-long apostasy was proceded by efforts to conform to a conservative evangelical form of Christianity, and my return was aided by the existence of a liberal form of Christianity wherein my faith has been nourished for more than 20 years, so I really don't buy the assumption that liberal Christianity is necessarily a way station on the road to complete loss of faith.

Spong is not an apostate; he is a heretic. So, in my opinion, are certain conservative Christians -- folks like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson .

Top post. Yes, I don't see that liberal Christianity is an exit sign! Like you, it helped me back to my home.

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I can't talk to you today; I talked to two people yesterday.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
Something I've noticed with theologians, shipmates and people I've known in real life is that, once they have started down the road of becoming more liberal in their understanding of faith, the process often keeps right on going, without halting at any stage, so that they go right on through Christianity and out the other side, where they can end up with no faith at all.

I suppose it depends how narrow a definition of 'Christianity' we have. It is certainly possible to go through some definitions and out the other side. Alternatively, it is possible to broaden our understanding of how wide our faith can be, so that we can spend our whole life travelling, and never reach the end.

quote:

I am sometimes rather concerned that I'm on the same journey myself, but certainly don't want to travel the whole distance. But, once you start, is it possible to stop? And if so, how and where?

To me, the distance is not the issue. The companion on the journey is the issue. As long as the Lord walks beside me, I trust him not to let me fall over the edge.
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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
When you're on the edge of apostasy for long enough, as if on a tightrope, you're bound to fall off sooner or later.

I am not sure there is any reason to believe this. It is possible to fall off any cliff, but it is also more than possible to stroll happily along the edge, admiring the view, and then stroll equally happily home to tea.

It is a very strange world view that suggests that every cliff must inevitably lead to people falling off 'sooner or later'.

quote:

It's just a matter of time, because you eventually become too tired to keep your balance. The disharmony between mind and heart becomes too hard to bear and you lose your feet.

Apocalyptic. How marvellous.

... or else you admire the view for a while, and then stroll home for tea.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:

Spong is not an apostate; he is a heretic. So, in my opinion, are certain conservative Christians -- folks like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and James Dobson .

The status of 'heretic' is not determined by opinion.

There are very clear constraints on who can, and who cannot, be regarded as heretic. I very much doubt if any of the people you mention would qualify.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Galilit:
I think you stay more easily able to call yourself "Christian" ("still Christian"?) if you go higher up the the candle.

Concentrate on whatever passes for high church in your denom or neck of the woods.
If you are concentrating on liturgy "in church" you can "think" or "believe" what you like "out of church".

Wot? [Confused]

quote:

That should usually be the process anyway. And it means you are free to explore, develope and change as you read, mark and inwardly digest.

I don't see how any of that follows from moving up the candle.

[ 24. August 2013, 09:04: Message edited by: Anglo Catholic Relict ]

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
I suppose if you are aware you're teetering on the edge, you might have time to attach a harness, or a bungee jump rope so that the fall might not be terminal?

If a person is aware of teetering on some kind of edge in relation to faith, then there are all sorts of options open to them. They could pray, seek advice from a spiritual director, go on retreat, take a holiday, explore a more liberal or a more conservative expression of faith to see whether it resonates with them, or choose to step back from the edge. They could read the Dark Night of the Soul, or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. They could pray a Novena, or go out for a pizza, or indeed do both.

Falling off is by no means inevitable.

[ 24. August 2013, 09:11: Message edited by: Anglo Catholic Relict ]

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quetzalcoatl
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It's a bit of an odd discussion, in any case, as it seems to suggest that I am separate from the process. Is this the case?

I would be inclined to say that I am the process. If I am falling off the cliff of faith, or whatever metaphor is used, then indeed, I am falling off the cliff of faith.

I suppose we can detach ourselves from this maybe, and feel regret, panic, or even that we don't want to be involved in this process.

But in that case, the process has changed, and I am in the process of not wanting to fall off, or regretting ever having got here.

Can you stop being yourself?

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rolyn
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quote:
Originally posted by Boogie:
quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
I suppose if you are aware you're teetering on the edge, you might have time to attach a harness, or a bungee jump rope so that the fall might not be terminal?

Yes, or someone may offer you a hand.
Yes , like that which was offered Peter when he tried to walk on water and started to sink .

I suppose there is a problem when we come to feel our faith stands for absolutely nothing in terms of the established order where liberalism is concerned .
Thing is I'm not sure if me saying 'I don't give a flying fuck about what other people do or don't do' is necessarily the death knell for my faith . Believing that God Himself doesn't give a FF about what *I* do or don't do probably is .

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IngoB

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quote:
Originally posted by Chorister:
I am sometimes rather concerned that I'm on the same journey myself, but certainly don't want to travel the whole distance. But, once you start, is it possible to stop? And if so, how and where?

I would simply ask by what means you are travelling now. It is not the case that you can use these means to take you to some favourite spot and then let go of them. For if you knew what that favourite spot would have to be, then you could go to that spot right now - and why would you become more able to determine such an endpoint in future than you are now? You will always just choose your means, because they are what is concrete and they seem good. What will be the argument against using these means further then that would not apply to them now?

If you are worried about where you are travelling, then you are in truth worried about some of the means of travel that you are using. Take a good hard look at them. If they still seem OK, then there's nothing to worry about. If not, then change them, and travel to some other place in consequence.

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Martin60
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Now that, after the third time of reading, is most wise.

How should one judge ones means? By their fruits? Or should they seem good in themselves some other way? And how does one measure their concreteness?

Open, not rhetorical questions.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
It's a bit of an odd discussion, in any case, as it seems to suggest that I am separate from the process. Is this the case?

No, you are not separate from the process, but you are also not a puppet. You have choices, and those choices can determine what happens in your spiritual journey.

quote:


I would be inclined to say that I am the process. If I am falling off the cliff of faith, or whatever metaphor is used, then indeed, I am falling off the cliff of faith.

If you are falling, then you are indeed falling. But it may not be the cliff of faith that you are falling from; it may be the cliff of faith in an inadequate God, or of one particular expression of faith. Some cliffs don't lead anywhere at all, and the only choice we have is to scramble down them somehow, to find a better path.

[Smile]

quote:

I suppose we can detach ourselves from this maybe, and feel regret, panic, or even that we don't want to be involved in this process.

But in that case, the process has changed, and I am in the process of not wanting to fall off, or regretting ever having got here.

Can you stop being yourself?

In my case, yes, but that is another story.

All of us can only be who we are at this point. But we can make choices about where we would like to be, and how we are going to get there.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:

You still haven't provided any substantiation for your claim. What did you read? How are you measuring the vitality of faith? And how is it that "spiritual culture" setting in = increasing liberalism of faith?

quote:

My near-decade-long apostasy was preceded by efforts to conform to a conservative evangelical form of Christianity, and my return was aided by the existence of a liberal form of Christianity wherein my faith has been nourished for more than 20 years, so I really don’t buy the assumption that liberal Christianity is necessarily a way station on the road to complete loss

Re your second post, I agree that one of the remaining purposes of liberal-leaning churches is to receive people who’ve grown away from more conservative types of church. My ex-minister (Methodist) said practically the same thing. But despite having this role, liberal-leaning churches are more susceptible to decline than other types of church. This saddens me, because I believe in having a diversity of churches.

If you want substantiation and some stats for this then you’re basically asking about the various complex arguments within the sociology of religion, especially concerning secularisation. There are few definitive answers in sociology, but the stats alone send out a worrying message. I’m posting some links to relevant essays that I’ve found on line, (An off line list would take forever).

Laurence Iannaccone, ‘Why Strict Churches are Strong’, The American Journal of Sociology, 99:5, 1994:
http://majorsmatter.net/religion/Readings/RationalChoice.pdf

(For this essay ‘spiritual vitality’ might refer to members’ level of commitment to church life, willingness to adhere to values/ practices/ clothing/ lifestyles that may be in conflict with the wider culture, the degree of ‘free riding’ permitted, etc. It admits that there are benefits to a certain degree of liberalisation.)

Steve Bruce, ‘Secularization and Impotence of Individualized Religion’, The Hedgehog Review, Spring/Summer 2006: http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/archives/AfterSecularization/8.12EBruce.pdf

Mark Chaves, ‘Secularization as Declining Religious Authority’, Social Forces, 72:3, 1994.
http://majorsmatter.net/religion/Readings/Secularization.pdf

William Kay, ‘Effects of Modernity on Religion in Eighteenth and Ninteenth-Century Britain’. Paper contribution to the Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism in Britain Project, June 2008. http://www.eauk.org/_efb/downloads.html

Charles Edward White, ‘The Rise and Decline of the Class Meeting’, Methodist History, 40:4, 2002.
http://myweb.arbor.edu/cwhite/cm.pdf

There are many relevant books quoted in the bibliographies above. Callum Brown's, ‘The Death of Christian Britain’, 2002 is interesting on the impact of an increasingly lax religious approach for each generational cohort.

For a cautiously positive assessment there's this article: Harriet Harris, 'Podium: Does Liberal Christianity need Defending?' Modern Believing, 42:1, 2001.

One book I haven't read which looks good is: Eds. Martyn Percy and Ian Markham,'Why Liberal Churches are Growing' 2006.

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mousethief

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It could be that you fall off the cliff, and the Son of the Emperor-over-the-Sea rushes to the cliff's edge and blows you to safety.

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Jack o' the Green
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Not my experience I have to say, nor I suspect of a good many others.
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Chorister

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Martyn Percy is someone that gives me hope - of all the liberal authors I have read, he is the one who hasn't yet appeared to fall off the edge.

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SvitlanaV2
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Chorister

The only thing of Martyn Percy's I've read is 'Clergy: The Origin of Species'. From that book he appears to be liberal in the usual moderate mainstream way, but he's not on the far reaches of liberalism, is he? He's critical of the charismatic movement on the one hand, yet he also seems to think that Methodists are too 'liberal-minded' as a group, and that they need to add some grit to the mix by being more theologically diverse, CofE style!

This book isn't a theological study, though. Maybe he comes across as much more liberal when he's focused on that kind of writing.

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quetzalcoatl
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Anglo Catholic Relict

Thank you for your reply above, which I won't copy out.

You say, 'we have choices'. Yoiks, I have thought about this for about 20 years, and I still don't feel sure about this.

For example, I've never thought I had a choice about being attracted to Christianity. I've tried to fight against it, but as others have said, have been pulled back.

Oh well, I don't want to get into a free will debate, but I just don't know. Am I choosing not to know? I don't know.

There is something here about control as well, and as I've got older, that seems to disappear. Am I controlling anything, and is anything being controlled? Rather, at the best of times, there is just a fusion of self and other. Of course, this is marvelous.

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Curiosity killed ...

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Chorister, doesn't it depend on where you define the edge?

For me church is a huge barrier. The national church is doing so much for which I want to say "not in my name" and I don't have a great feeling of community in the local church (understatement) then that makes it even harder not to fall over the edge.

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Ad Orientem
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
How long is a piece of string?

It is as I thought, then. You cannot argue your corner but must call people names. Game over. Don't play again.
Look. If I've understood you correctly you're asking for a definite amount of time. Such is impossible to give as for some it will be longer and others shorter hence, how long is a piece of string?
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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Ad Orientem:
Look. If I've understood you correctly you're asking for a definite amount of time. Such is impossible to give as for some it will be longer and others shorter hence, how long is a piece of string?

Which should be enough to clue you into the fact that you're not understanding me correctly.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Anglo Catholic Relict

Thank you for your reply above, which I won't copy out.

You say, 'we have choices'. Yoiks, I have thought about this for about 20 years, and I still don't feel sure about this.

For example, I've never thought I had a choice about being attracted to Christianity. I've tried to fight against it, but as others have said, have been pulled back.

We may not have a choice about who or what we find attractive, but we certainly have a choice in how we respond to that attraction.

If we factor God into this, then he calls us and part of us finds that call irresistible. But another part may well resent it, doubt it or ourselves, or fight against it.

quote:
Oh well, I don't want to get into a free will debate, but I just don't know. Am I choosing not to know? I don't know.
Free will is a difficult one, I agree. But I think we have to at least act as if we believe we have free will. Otherwise we might become too fatalistic, and stop bothering to do anything. Or perhaps do too much, and decide nothing is our fault.

quote:

There is something here about control as well, and as I've got older, that seems to disappear. Am I controlling anything, and is anything being controlled? Rather, at the best of times, there is just a fusion of self and other. Of course, this is marvelous.

If the fusion of self and other involves an awareness of God as the other, then that is indeed marvellous. And if you are seeking his will rather than your own, then perhaps control is the wrong word.

I think I was only trying to reassure you that you could not fall off any cliff edge without consenting to that fall. I hope that is true; it seems to be true for me. I have spent many years on another kind of cliff edge, but it seems to call for a definite step over the edge from me. As long as I do not consent to that step, it seems I can stay on this edge pretty well indefinitely. Once in a while the edge moves away from me, but mostly it doesn't.

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Chorister

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quote:
Originally posted by RuthW:
My near-decade-long apostasy was proceded by efforts to conform to a conservative evangelical form of Christianity, and my return was aided by the existence of a liberal form of Christianity wherein my faith has been nourished for more than 20 years, so I really don't buy the assumption that liberal Christianity is necessarily a way station on the road to complete loss of faith.

This is what I hope that churches like my own are for people - it's very reassuring to hear that it worked in that way for you.

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quetzalcoatl
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Anglo Catholic Relict

Interesting stuff, which again I won't copy out.

Your point about seeking God is of great interest to me. Something that happened to me as I got older, and perhaps because I did a lot of Zen meditation, is that the seeking element began to fade.

This is quite well known in long-term meditation, I mean a retreat lasting a week or two weeks, or months, that the notion of 'meditation' itself begins to become very fuzzy. There is no boundary between having my breakfast, going to the loo, and my meditation.

Similarly, 'seeking God' became like those melting clocks of Dali's. Who is seeking whom? Where is the edge (boundary)?

I suppose in more normal English, that I stopped seeking, and found God, except that even 'found' is a kind of misnomer. God is just here, and I had been working myself into a kind of lather thinking that there was something to seek or find. The seeking had been the obstacle. However, I'm not going to generalize upon that. It's not a recipe.

Eastern religions have developed a sophisticated way of discussing this stuff, and I suppose Christianity has also, but hides it away. I suppose Simone Weil is the modern version of it, but there is masses of it available, e.g. de Caussade, 'The Cloud of Unknowing', blah blah blah.

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Anglo Catholic Relict
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quote:
Originally posted by quetzalcoatl:
Anglo Catholic Relict

Interesting stuff, which again I won't copy out.

Your point about seeking God is of great interest to me. Something that happened to me as I got older, and perhaps because I did a lot of Zen meditation, is that the seeking element began to fade.

This is quite well known in long-term meditation, I mean a retreat lasting a week or two weeks, or months, that the notion of 'meditation' itself begins to become very fuzzy. There is no boundary between having my breakfast, going to the loo, and my meditation.

Yes, I understand that. Imo in Christian terms it is summed up by St Benedict as 'Laborare est orare'; to work is to pray. In other words there is no divide; we do not pray and then stop and do something else. Prayer becomes part of us, and it never ceases.

We bring ourselves into God's presence, and we remain there, whatever else we do, and whoever else we encounter. Clearly this is an ideal; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But when it does, it is like being at home.

quote:

Similarly, 'seeking God' became like those melting clocks of Dali's. Who is seeking whom? Where is the edge (boundary)?

If we seek to know and follow the will of God, then we also seek to dissolve the boundaries of our own will, our own rebellious nature. We know full well that what we want would not be the same as what God wants, but we choose to follow his will. In that choosing, are we ourselves or are we part of God? Both, really.

quote:
I suppose in more normal English, that I stopped seeking, and found God, except that even 'found' is a kind of misnomer. God is just here, and I had been working myself into a kind of lather thinking that there was something to seek or find. The seeking had been the obstacle. However, I'm not going to generalize upon that. It's not a recipe.
I think I understand what you are saying. I remember talking to a Vicar years ago who was very keen on Iona, and on telling people to go there. I had a young daughter, an alcoholic husband, and was running my own company, and I was struggling to cope. The only suggestion he had for me was to tell me to go to Iona.

He might as well have told me to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

A more realistic A/C priest suggested that I might consider getting a divorce, which helped enormously. It took me several years, but it helped to know that it was an option.

Over the years I learned to find God here and now, and not postpone that finding until I was in the right place.

quote:

Eastern religions have developed a sophisticated way of discussing this stuff, and I suppose Christianity has also, but hides it away. I suppose Simone Weil is the modern version of it, but there is masses of it available, e.g. de Caussade, 'The Cloud of Unknowing', blah blah blah.

There is indeed. But it is like any language; until you understand what it means, it will be just so much noise.

You spoke of edges. Perhaps being on the edge is part of finding God; coming to the edge of resources of other kinds, whatever they may be, leads us to face God in a more personal way.

[Smile]

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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
... The national church is doing so much for which I want to say "not in my name" ...

Now that, if you don't mind my saying, is an unusual charge. Most people that grumble are complaining that it isn't doing enough, though they disagree hugely as to what it is they say it should be doing.

One can hardly even accuse it of 'in my name' refusing to consecrate women as bishops when the majority of its prominent representatives voted for it.

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