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post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Just curious what religion/faith you guys are of. I am having a hard time lately in trying to figure out where I fit in in the scheme of things. How did you come to realize the path you chose was the right one? What event happened that caused you to make your decision? I'm trying to get as many viewpoints as I can and am hoping it will help me in my quest to 'find myself' (sorry for the cliche, I couldn't think of any other way to put it ) Any insights?
post #2 of 22

Generically, my family and I are Christians, as we believe that Jesus died to save us from our sin. I was born & raised Roman Catholic, then dropped out of organized religion for about 15 years. Last year, my wife and I felt we owed it to our son to give him at least some exposure to religion. We joined the Lutheran Church, similar to Catholic, but different in some basic issues. Essentially, Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, Episcopalian, Fundamentalist are rooted in following Christ, which to me is the most important part.

My Lutheran faith in Christ teaches me that I am not deserving of God's grace, but receive it anyway. The only way to salvation is by faith in Christ's death being the ultimate victory over sin. This faith is also only by the grace of God, not by any deeds. God is always there waiting for us to turn to Him...he's never NOT there, but he still lets us exercise freedom of choice to accept the boundaries HE has set. No one can intercede with God on our behalf, except Jesus.

Anyway, without writing a book here, my wife and I "rediscovered" our faith and it has strengthened us, our marriage, our family.

I do recommend a book by Lee Strobel called "The Case for Faith." Mr. Strobel was formerly an agnostic who did his own research and ultimately "came to faith."

Hope that helps.

post #3 of 22
Well, I was brought up as a Catholic. I received communion, made my first confirmation, all that stuff. My parents never "practiced" though, we didn't go to church every Sunday or anything.
So, I still consider myself a Catholic, although I am not a devout one. My husband is Protestant, and we do not attend church. My children know about God, and we have a "children's bible" in the house.
I don't think I am a bad person because I am not a "religious" person. I feel comfortable with the choice I have made, and I think my children will understand faith with time and make their own choices as well.
I will say that part of the reason I am not a practicing Catholic is that some of the beliefs of my religion are just not what I would consider to be "correct". I have never converted to another religion but I dont follow all of the catholic beliefs either.
I am sure there will be a lot of people here who are much more into their faith than I am. I hope nobody is offended that I am not a "spiritual" person. This is just what works for me and my family.
post #4 of 22

I was raised Roman Catholic and I find alot of comfort in the church. I do, however disagree with some of the fundmental teaching that the church gives. The church doesn't discourage people from questioning our faith - it is a way to grow in faith. For many years I took part in active church life (young adult groups, choir, ministry) but now I find my joy in just being a church goer, not a church doer. My husband is not a religious person - he doen't believe in organized religion, but he does encourage me in my faith.
post #5 of 22
I come from a basically Christian background, but I'm searching too. I wasn't brought up attending church regularly, so I don't feel a connection to any particular church. My Dad was raised Catholic, but doesn't consider himself one anymore. My mom and I attended a Lutheran church for a year or so, and I had Sunday school for a short time. When I was in high school, Mom started going to a Pentecostal church. I went with for a while, but it wasn't the right fit for me.

One of my difficulties with organized religion, church, etc. is my social phobia. Being around people is so stressful that I close up emotionally, and I can't feel the presence of the deivine that way. I feel much closer to the life force/creative power of the universe when I'm alone out in nature, than I do in a building with other human beings.

I also have difficulty with the notion that God is describable (why is He a he?). I feel that there is a unifying force to the Universe, a positive, creative one. I think this force is too big, too complex for the human brain to comprehend, and goes beyond male, female, or any other label we can use. I think that the force is present in everyone and everything. I think that some people (and animals,too) are vessels for this force--Jesus, Buddha, Moses, angels, etc. This force acts in each one of us, too, if we are willing to listen to it. It comes as intuition, conscience, and love.

I feel that every religion has some piece of the puzzle, and whatever any one else believes is fine with me and just as valid as the next. I guess that's my other problem with most religions--they say that there's only one way to god--and they are it. I just can't agree with that. Every person is unique--so why can't their path to deeper understanding vary from one another?

Or I could be totally wrong.:goodbad:
post #6 of 22
God is only present in a church (building) "whenever two or three are gathered in His name." And even then, He is still everywhere. God works at a level we could never comprehend, nor should we try.

Michelle, I can understand...it doesn't take attending to be faithful, but I view it as more of a um, for lack of better wording, "support group". The particular congregation we joined was very warm, open & welcoming which made it significantly easier to open up.

Referring to God as "He, Him" is rooted in the teachings of Christ. Jesus specifically spoke of His Father, His Father's will, etc. thus,
God = He (at least from the Christian perspective)

post #7 of 22
My choir teacher in 7th grade took us to Melodyland Christian Center back in the late 60's to see a concert. David Wilkerson was there and Nicky Cruz was there, he wrote The Cross and the Switchblade. After he spoke, I felt the most incredible peace descend on me and joined the hundreds of others who came to the podium to receive Jesus into our hearts. I have tried to stay the course since then, but there have been periods of blackness where I felt lost even when I knew I wasn't. Then there have been periods where I am so sure of what I am doing and of His existence that nothing else mattered.

It is a personal path Mel, that all must walk and however you find the peace in your heart and your personal challenge, you know it is right when the confusion leaves you and you know what you want.

I grew up in a strictly athiest household so holding on to God as I did was always hard. But it has always seemed to be the right path for me. Good luck in your quest Mel.
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
Have you done any reading on Wicca? A lot of the stuff you are saying is a big part of the Wiccan belief system- a creator (God/Goddess)that is undefinable, love of nature and the fact that each person chooses their own individual path. A lot of people who decide upon Wicca realize that they believed the concepts it represents all along and never realized there was an actual name for it. I'm in the process of studying Wicca myself, I feel drawn to it, but am unsure whether it is for me or not yet.
post #9 of 22
I was raised Congregational, which is a version of Protestant. I gather that the name isn't so much about beliefs as about the method of church government, so they are kind of a generic Prot. denomination, more in the traditional way. As a teen, I went to the local Nazarene church, but I found some of the pactices questionable. As a young adult, I went to an independent / non-denominational church. Now I can't say this for all of them, but that particular one was a disaster. One of the problems of such a church is, they are inventing everything from the ground up. The value of some kind of institution is, if something goes wrong (pastor burn-out is a big one), there is already a support system in place to help deal with it. But not everyone has the bad experience I did.

What I found was, throughout all of it, there was Catholicism. My dad was a lapsed Cath though his family still practices, most of my Boston neighborhood was RC or Orthodox (or Jewish, but that's not part of my story), I attended parochial school for several years, and when I felt the need to touch God, I would go to Mass. As my non-denom. church was trying to replace the pastor, the new guy and I would meet now and then, and he kept telling me how I was too Catholic (he was very anti-Cath). I finally took the plunge and "came into full Communion" - "conversion" seems to involve the need for baptism, which most other Christians have done.

Now, RC is not perfect, but they can explain to me why they do what they do, even if I don't agree about all of it. And there was room for me to understand some things a little differently than the person sitting next to me. Not all Cath. theologians over the years agree on all points either, even though it's easy to think "The Church" is identical in all thought and tradition.

These days, I have found that my way of interacting with the world has more in common with people I know who consider themselves assorted versions of pagan. Also, the things I like best about RC practice tend to be the folk traditions, which are of course closest to old pagan ways. So I have been looking at some of that stuff, with a question in mind: What is the personal experience of God? How is it similar, how is it different? What part is universal, what part is cultural? What part is God calling us, what part is humanity trying to meet some internal drive? This is a big question and I have no answers, though I'm enjoying the search.

I don't see myself becoming pagan. First of all, I can't give up Jesus, which would be a problem. I like the pagan connection to nature, but the goddess thing makes me uncomfortable. Actually, a lot of god stuff makes me uncomfortable too. I feel like I have met the Divine, and that assigning either maleness or femaleness to this Being is limiting and inaccurate. And while I think women don't get enough respect in most of Christianity, I'm not willing for men to be removed from all positions of authority. Not to mention that while I believe God is somehow expressed by creation (very pagan, though I used Christian words), I also believe God is more or beyond just phycial reality (very Christian). But again, that's just my experience, it's different for everyone.

I am very sure, Melissa, that if you keep the lines of communication open and ask to be shown what will be most meaningful for you, you will get an answer. If you ask to meet the Divine, usually that happens. As far as what church you go to, try out a bunch. One will feel right. Not just "oh, I agree with everything here" but "this is good for me, it helps me grow and connect with God". You don't have to commit to something without trying it out. Ask friends for recommendations. Talk to the pastor. If it doesn't work for you, try something else. It's about your relationship to God, and you have to work that out with Him yourself. Everything else, is just signposts and directions.

Blessings on your search, may you find what you're seeking.
post #10 of 22
Boy, what a topic and one that I am having difficulty with myself. My mother is Church of Christ and my father WAS Catholic. I lived with my mother until I was 10; so until I was 10 I was brought up Church of Christ and new nothing of other religions. Well, my father left the Catholic Church and found his way to the Methodist church. So, when I was 11 (I started living with my dad when I was 10) I was introduced to the Methodist church and over time I grew to really love it. Currently I am not an active church member but if I were attending regularly I would go to a methodist church. What I like about the Methodist church is that it's all inclusive. I have never been to a service where another religion was "criticized" and everyone is welcome to communion.

Now my husband is Catholic but he really doesn't know much about the religion. When he was little he did his first communion and his family went to church regularly but as he got older they stopped and he didn't even go through confirmation. Well, he says he doesn't want to be Methodist, that he is a catholic and that's what he is going to be. I just don't understand how he can so strongly associate with being Catholic when he hardly knows diddly squat about the religion.

So, together we will be taking this journey of faith. He and I will both be learning about the Catholic faith to see if it's right for both of us or if we want to remain seperate in our faith (He Catholic and I Methodist). Good luck on your journey Melissa!
post #11 of 22
Melissa - It's great that you are searching. Keep your heart open, and God will speak to you.

Personally, I was raised in the Lutheran church, fell away when I was in college, and recently started attending a Southern Baptist church about 2 years ago. I was out of church for about 10 years, which is pretty scary looking back on it. I agree with what the Lutheran church teaches, but it was really lacking in showing me how to have a personal relationship with Christ. I was actually never encouraged to read my Bible!

Now that I've found our current church, I've grown in my faith in leaps and bounds (not saying that I don't have a lot of room for improvement). I believe that I was born a sinful person, and since there is no sin allowed in heaven, the only way I can get there is through the sacrifice of Christ. The great thing is, it's a gift and all I have to do is accept it. No works that I could do would get me in, but the simple act of relying on God will do it.

Anyway, I could go on and on about this, but I won't unless someone has a question. I know that God loves everyone, and it's his wish that everyone finds him. If you're searching, just listen and I bet you'll hear him.
post #12 of 22

Just a suggestion. Go to the Paws & reflect forum and read Cat's poem "Dwelling in the Darkness" I think it may hit a few salient points in this thread!
post #13 of 22

I was baptized Catholic. I made my first holy communion but never made it to my confirmation. My parents were kind of wishy-washy about the whole thing and when I was growing up, skipping from church to church. There was the Unitarian Church, Protestant Church, you name it, they went to it. Yet through it all, my grandmother, who was a devout catholic, took me to church every single Sunday. My Nanny was the most dedicated woman to the catholic religion.

As the years passed, I kind of fell out of "religion" until I got married. I was married in the Catholic Church and my daughter was baptized there too. Being divorced years later, I always thought that I could never go back. I was definitely wrong.

I have been going to church on Saturdays and find great comfort in it. Even when I'm feeling down and out, I always go there and have myself a good cry. When I leave, I feel cleansed. It's amazing how God works in mysterious ways.

So everyone has to make their own choice. Just as I did, I left that decision up to my daughter.

I wish you well in your decision, Mel.
post #14 of 22

Hi Melissa,
For me, there's a short poem on the Paws and Reflect page that kinda sums it up. I wound up becoming a born again Christian. I don't proclaim to be the best practicing Christian, I just try the best I can. When I'm not doing the right thing, I know it, but then again, God is all forgiving. As long as He knows that I know that I need to change and make an effort...things are good. Good luck to you in your quest (no, I didn't think that was a cliche thing to say).

Merry Christmas :angel2:
post #15 of 22
I am a devout catholic. I was born into the religion. My parents(mother and stepfather) are not relgious. They spend Sunday playing tennis or other things. My brother and sister went to catholic school and did all the sacraments. I am the only one who is faithful. I haven't gone to church because the dominant religion is the LDS church or Mormon. The catholic churches are spread out and I need a car to go. All my life I had struggles. I didn't have many friends in school. I knew about Jesus and Mary, but didn't express it because I had many Mormon peers. Then, when I was 19, I became involved in a church youth group who were also hispanic. They, together with a priest and a nun helped me to strengthen my religion. Even though I don't go to church(I will when I get a car), I read the bible often, pray the rosary, watch a catholic cable network on Tv, and try to do everything catholic. I do have questions but I never doubt my faith. I know Jesus is there for me and he will never let me down. Most of the mormons here think we worship Mary as another god. Not true. We catholics, view Mary as our Mother as well as Jesus. She pray for us. Same with the saints. The Church preaches forgiveness. So I made it a habit to forgive people. Yet, sometimes when I see something horrible like what the terrorists did, or when there is child abuse, I question myself, how can I forgive these monsters? But what I believe most is that no matter what happens, God loves us. That is why I never thought of suicide when I am depressed. I suffer from depression but I believe God is the answer, not Prozac. I love the Roman catholic church. I love the people, the priests, the sisters. And I don't know about the rest, but I sincerely love and respect the Pope. I can tell he is suffering. Because too many wars, too much hatred is this world. The devil is controlling the world right now, but he cannot win! God is the true winner in this war. He will conquer the hatred, heal the hearts, comfort those who suffer. And no matter what happens, I love and treasure Jesus with all my heart. He will be there for me when no one else is there.

I am sorry, but I get like this when I talk of the church and of Jesus. Watching the news, especially after 9/11 can do this to me. I hope I didn't offend anyone and if I did, I apologize. But I am speaking from the heart.
post #16 of 22
I am an atheist, so I'm not sure if my opinion is too helpful in this, but I'll say it anyway. I personally don't feel that a belief in a higher power is neccacary to leading a good life and feeling like you a have a place in the world. I feel our "place" in the world is simply to try and make life as good as we can for ourselves and those around us. We don't each have to be Mother Theresa, but just try to do what we can in our own lives, even if it's something small. I don't think we should need any god to be the reason behind our good behaviour..we should do it for it's own sake. And I'm not meaning to minimilize the importance of religion for other people. If it works for you, makes your life better, and doens't hurt other people, I say go for it. I just think sometimes people feel "unwhole" of they aren't religious, and I think this is sad. We can make our lives meaningful with or without belief in a god.
post #17 of 22
Dawn and Catarina, I think your posts pretty much summed up what I beleive as well.
Hissy... I have read the Cross and The Switchblade, and it is really cool that you got to hear David Wilkerson speak!! That would definately be something to remember!!!

I am a Christian....but as Catarina said, I am not always a perfect one (if there is such a thing)....luckily God doesn't expect us to be. That's why his son died on the cross for us, so that we would be covered under his blood, and our sins could be forgiven, if we only ask.

I too asked Jesus to come into my heart....and it is the best decision I ever made.
I talk to him daily, and have a personal relationship with him, and I am constantly asking guidance, and forgiveness, and feeling his love.

All you have to do is ask. He will help you.
post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well, its not as simple as that for me at this point, I'm afraid. Its not a matter of me wanting to get to know God and not knowing how to go about it. I'm weighing a few more options than that. I have Wiccan friends and am feeling very drawn to Paganism right now. I realize that isn't a popular opinion, but I'm very intrigued by it. I was throwing this out there to see if there were any Pagans in our midst as well as others who could offer me any advice. I do appreciate your input though
post #19 of 22
Melissa, whatever route you do decide, just remember YOU have to be happy. Don't worry about what others may think, you have to choose what is right for you and your family.

I hope you find what you are searching for.
post #20 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks Daniela, for your well wishes. I joined some forums at beliefnet.com and am learining a lot. Thanks to Sunlion who posted the link in another thread, you've inadvertantly helped me tremendously
post #21 of 22
Melissa, I'm glad you found a place to get your questions answered. If you are a pagan, so be it. I know this won't be a popular thing to say, but I think you are better off as a "good" pagan listening to your inner voice and doing your best, than to be a miserable Christian with a bad attitude about it.

I'm not a literalist about the Bible (some people are, and that's okay, but it doesn't work for me), so this might not be Biblical, but . . . I don't think God gives you only one chance. You go out and try things and listen to your heart, because that is one way God speaks to us. Instinct, knowing in your gut, intuition, hunches, all that stuff - we have those for a reason. God speaks to people in different ways, who am I to say how He'll speak to you? (I hope you know that I say "God" and "He" because those are the words I have for it, but I don't have an inner image of an old white guy with a long beard and robes, God in my experience is not that limited.)

Anyway, they are very wonderful and supportive over there at Beliefnet, the pagans in general more than the Christians in general in my experience, but perhaps that has to do with the kind of people who are attracted to that kind of site.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
The Pagans on Bnet seem to be a very gentle sort from what I've seen so far. I'm mostly lurking right now, trying to learn from their posts, and I can see an amazing sense of comraderie and tolerance. Its nice to know that there are more ways than one to be happy in this Universe. A wise lady on the Wiccan board said something to me I'll never forget, she said " OK. Let's start with God. God is Good, right? And God made 6 billion people -- all different. And then gave them one single path to walk? And damns anyone who doesn't? That makes no sense. ~smiles gently~ Really, Love, the Divine is not so narrow as some would have you believe." A very wise lady.
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