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The Lamp and the Mirror
Illuminating Personal Theology
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30th-Mar-2006 03:42 pm - introductory post
Brigid, warrior
Hello, I'm Liz.
I'm a highschoolteacher and semi-closeted not-really-actively-practicing pagan. *wry grin* The two facts are not unrelated.
This turned out to be a lot longer than I'd thought it would be...Collapse )
I'm enjoying reading everyone's spiritual biographies. Looking forward to future discussions.
30th-Mar-2006 01:20 pm(no subject)
Hello my name is Lee Branson

I have a diverse and complicated background. I have experienced time with protestant faith, eastern faiths and paganism. I can be associated most readily now with Gnosticism but only to the extent of the gospel of Thomas is considered Gnostic. I could also be considered a Non-organized Swedenborgian.

I spent my childhood on a commune outside of most contemporary influences. My father was a conspiracy theorist and artist, my mother was a social activist against the cold war, they split when I was very young. I lived with my mother on the commune, which had a strong new-age influence. When I visited my father he would put on movies like Excalibur, Legend, Star wars, the Dark Crystal and Willow. My maternal grandmother would do tarot readings for me and the other grandchildren. I was baptized in a Universalist ceremony by my grandmother when I was very young, my grandmother is universalist but still maintain strong ties to esoteric myths and legends, she believes that our family is meant to fill a role in society and that all members are drawn to that role, the role could best be described as stewardship, with family members become nurses, police officers, counselors, soldiers and undertakers.

When I was a young child, I went to a Baptist Sunday school with some of my cousins, my questions didn’t go over well and in the end lead me to be told that I was a cursed child and would go to hell if I wasn’t baptized in the church and given a proper church education.

In middle school, three things happened, I started going to a Methodist church and becoming active in the Methodist youth group, I starting going to a regular dojo for martial arts and I met Chip. Chip (old man goat) was well educated in the sciences and had been following a Dionysian path. For 5 years I spent several hours a week talking with Chip, his house was between school and home, along with being between my dojo and home. I would go to Chips house and he would ask me questions and tell me parables. Chip was an illusionist, and educated me first and foremost that things are never what they seem.

In my first stint in college I studied comparative religion and philosophy. Earning myself a useless piece of paper.

When I joined the military I lead bible study with a group of trainees during basic.

During my first overseas assignment I practiced asceticism, I ate only rice and drank only water, I shaved my head every day, I worked out and meditated or prayed more than I ever had in my life. I helped give last rights to dead soldiers and I assisted the chaplains.

After the military I have continued to develop my own personal beliefs and find my own path to God. My primary focus is in encouraging community through all faiths, and in men’s spirituality.

Most of my development has been through extensive reading and conversations with devout followers of every major and many minor faiths.
30th-Mar-2006 09:11 am - Introduction
Wow, everyone. Your stories are inspiring, diverse, and often very funny!

Short version of my own:
I'm a cradle (Roman) Catholic living in the Pacific Northwest. I was raised in a family of religious; mostly Benedictine, Providence, and Jesuit influenced.
I am first generation post Vatican II, and this has been no small struggle for my parents, who still show concern for my "leftist, pacifist, crazy ways". They are, however, relieved that I attend church!

I stopped practicing for many years, and began a personal search delving into other systems of belief and understanding, ending up almost right where I began, only more informed and aware. I love Elizabeth Johnson (above all), Feminist and Liberation theology, and people who learn and think differently than me.

I trust this Pope very little.
I have a calling to ordination.
My Jesus is a woman.
I often call God "Compassionate Irony".
I don't think there's A Right Way.
I believe in the Theology of the Village.
And nowadays I'm studying Celtic Christianity.

My prayer life is very important to me. My best prayer happens in the shower, when moving my body, and outside.

I look very forward to this journey with you all!
30th-Mar-2006 09:07 am - Some Kind of Introduction
Hello All --

It has been wonderful reading all about all of you. It reminds me, again, of the diversity of the lived experience of religion/sprituality.

I'm currently a seminary student in Berkeley, CA. I have just about seven weeks left of school and I'll graduate with an Master of Divinity and an MA in Biblical Languages. Seminary has been a great experience, but it is time to leave the nest.

I'm in the United Church of Christ and once I find a call (a job) I'll be ordained. Exactly what I am called to do is still up for a vote. I'm looking at doing a year as a hospital chaplain in a clinical residency program, but I have not yet committed.

I'm not sure what makes me Christian, though I know that I am. It is an intuitive knowing, not a write-out-the-qualifiations knowing. I do not relate to Jesus the man, but I am drawn to the mysticism and theologies that surround ideas and views of Christ.

I practice Zen meditation and find much comfort and peace in the teachings of Buddhism. Zen constantly challenges me to be more in the moment, challenges me to have faith, challenges me to know that I do not know.

These two, Buddhism and Christianity come together in the knowing that there is a Self that is behind/within/in/outside myself. It is the One that watches thoughts during meditation. It is the One that speaks against self-hate. It is the One that is all loving. It is the mentor, my mentor. I see that One, the One of interconnectedness, as Christ.

looking forward to discussions with all of you....

30th-Mar-2006 01:52 am - Introductory Post
ponce in a box
Mom came from a Lithuanian Roman Catholic family, of the kind that was very unhappy when her aunt brought home (god forbid!) and Italian Roman Catholic.

Dad came from a long line of Methodists; his grandfather was a Methodist minister who literally helped build a church.

Naturally, both families were appalled when, without consulting anyone but each other, my parents decided to elope. They were married on Dad's army base. They asked the Catholic chaplain to marry them first, but he said no, suspecting Mom was preggers (she wasn't, but they really did want to get married that next weekend). So they were married by the Protestant chaplain who, to Mom's family's utter horror, was a Baptist. Before the ceremony, Mom told the minister he might as well skip the "and obey" part, because she wasn't going to pledge to "obey" Dad, and the chaplain would just sound silly saying those words if she didn't repeat them.

And then the real fun started :)

(For the record, not only are my parents still married, they still really, really like each other.)

My christening was performed by my great-grandfather, the Methodist minister. (Apparently it was not okay to refer to this event as a "baptism," because the aforementioned Methodists and Catholics related to me were utterly offended that someone might hear that and think it was yet another Baptist ceremony in my family. Tee hee.) From there, I was raised Episcopalian, took first communion, went through confirmation. I was active in church choir (I later joined the Presbyterian choir when our high school choir disbanded), was the senior acolyte for years, participated in youth group, and took part in Happening (which is sort of like a non-Catholic version of Cursillo, except for teenagers). I'm not sure I'd say I was "devout," but I was very familiar with most of The Bible, as well as the entire Book of Common Prayer, both of which still sit on my shelf. Then I almost died in a big messy car accident. Both the Presbyterian minister and the Episcopalian priests came to visit me.

Fully illustrating the comedy of my entire life, when I was admitted to the hospital, my mother told the person filling out the forms that I was a "Presbyterian-Episcopalian" and the woman typed in "PE" under the "religion" section. Given that it was a Catholic hospital, a priest came to give communion to my roommate once, and when he looked at my chart he said--in a tone of such utter surprise that you know he didn't even think before it slipped out--"you're one of those??" As it turns out, "PE" was the hospital's code for "Pentecostal." When I found this out, both Mom and I laughed so hard we almost were rolling around on the floor.

Somewhere in there, my idea about religion and my personal relationship to god/God/the universe, as well as my experience, told me that I wasn't on the right path. Not that there was (or is) anything "wrong" about being a Presbyterian-Episcopalian mutt, and I still think quite highly of Jesus, and technically I suppose I still am on the rolls at St. John's Episcopal. I studied and read about and learned about other religions from school and from practitioners of those religions. I gained a whole new respect for diversity and the tolerance that was ingrained in my through my old church. I was raised in an area that had a large Jewish population, as well as a large Arabic-speaking population that included Syrian Orthodox and Muslim folks. My babysitter's wedding was a traditional Russian Orthodox ceremony (and afterwards Mom got into an argument with the priest because he was totally blowing off her questions--respectful, well-educated, well-read questions--about the church). Later, I started attending public pagan rituals and classes. I then worked with an ecclectic Wiccan coven, but that didn't work out. I spent some time practicing with a different coven, but then moved out of the area. I was active in pan-pagan organizations, and fortuante enough to be a welcome guest at various ceremonies and celebrations hosted by covens, working groups, hearths, and others.

Today, I consider myself a Magician and Witch whose primary practices are strongly rooted in classical yoga (all four forms, not just Raja yoga--of which "hatha yoga" or practicing postures is a small part). I study and practice witchcraft in the (Anderson) Feri tradition, am an active member of Ordo Templi Orientis and a novice priestess of the affiliated EGC (Gnostic Catholic Church), and serve on the planning board for one of the Reclaiming witchcamps. (This year, I get to teach at a witchcamp, too!)

I'm excited to get to hear what everyone has to say, though I'm a busy grad student with multiple jobs and might not post as often as I'd like. (I'm also quite happy to answer questions, and don't offend easily.)

Hi, everyone!!
30th-Mar-2006 12:21 am - I am the Gabe
Greetings all, my name is Gabe.

I was rasied in the Southern Baptist church and during my childhood and teens took to it voraciously. Then I went to college.

Yeah, I suppose for me it really was the scary secular place that so many of my fellow churchgoers were afraid of. It was there that I stopped just agreeing with what I heard at Sunday School and began my spiritual exporation in earnest. It was in taking an Introduction to the Bible class that my beliefs were shaken and my love of Christ reaffirmed. I credit Marcus Borg in keeping my faith alive in the early times of my academic study of religion. It was his book Meeting Jesus Again For The First Time that taught me that there were ways to have both faith and an academic skepticism (though I'm not sure that's the right word).

Since then I've been in a constant state of spiritual flux, holding on to the person of Christ while learning from both my own spiritual experience as well as from other religions. I suppose the short answer for "What religion are you" these days is Tao-flavored Esoteric Christian, Armchair Occultist and Aspiring Mystic.

I still hope for a spiritual home somewhere, but first I need to work on my own overly-judgmental nature. As long as that's not in check I won't be able to let down enough barriers to find that home.

Lately my big questions have revolved around finding a harmonious way to have my spirituality and my sexuality exist side-by-side, if not a way to integrate them.

Pleased to meet you all. I look forward to our learning together.
30th-Mar-2006 12:55 am - Intro
Who am I?? HMMM...HANG ON!!

I grew up a poor farm kid in rural Michigan, my father is a factory worker and Vietnam Veteran. My mother is the quintessential housewife, who has served on every board of the church I grew up in.
I am a poet that writes on issues of lesbian spirituality, mostly in my weblog at www.livejournal.com/ruahdms .
I am a seminarian in the Master of Divinity Program at Andover Newton Theological School. I am a student of Professor Carole R. Fontaine.
I have a learning disability, I was diagnosed with Adult ADD, which means that I have trouble focusing, especially in the areas of reading and writing, but through treatment I have surprised myself of my own cognitive capabilities.
I am a writer, not only poetry, but I have also been published on the whosoever website with an article on Reimaging God. You can find the article at: http://www.whosoever.org/v9i2/reimage.shtml .
I am a mother of two wonderful children, Jacob is seven and Olivia is four. They keep me busy for sure, but they are full of joy and inspiration as well.
I am an artist, mostly by accident. My seminary friends convinced me to buy a set of colored pencils and I haven’t been the same since. Mostly I’ve been exploring mandala art and mosaics, but have also begun to explore pen and ink drawings. A recent favorite mandala piece is called ‘Sinner’s Phoenix.’
I am a feminist, a womanist, and a lesbian. I have tried to focus my seminary studies in these areas, and hope to continue my studies further even though this is quite a specialization.
I am a member of the United Church of Christ. I have been spending my time exploring the ways to renew the church. I am convinced that the key to renewal lies in the church’s understanding of community and welcome. Only when we are able to see each individual in their wholeness will we be able to fully value that which is sacred among us.
My most recent passions have to do with studying the Transgender movement, following Virginia Mollenkott’s idea of an Omnigender paradigm and the deconstruction of the binary gender system, specifically looking at why prominent feminists-especially lesbian feminists- are not speaking out on the issue of Transgender.
I am on the council of the national organization known as Christian Lesbians Out (CLOUT).
My sheroes include: Rev. Irene Monroe, Dr. Mary Hunt, Rev. Carter Heyward, Virginia Mollenkott, and my friends Robin, Lise, Kim, Lavon, Ellie, Nadean, and Judith, all wonderful wild women in their own right.

I look forward to listening...
29th-Mar-2006 09:17 pm - Intro
I grew up as one of Jehovah's Witnesses. My parents' devoutness ebbed and flowed throughout my childhood. I took it seriously as a young adult and remain so today.

I enjoy learning about other religions and the different ways people worship. My religious education has included studying the Bible by topic and context through my congregation and reading the Bible on my own. I also read many books on religious topics by others of various religions. I'm very interested in the ways people view morality in their day to day lives.
29th-Mar-2006 05:09 pm - Thom's Introduction
Vashon ferry
Hello! I'd best give you folks the short version of the long and winding road. The long version is here.

My upbringing was utterly unchurched, though my father is an on-again off-again Catholic. Growing up in Chicago, my parents sent me to Catholic high school, where I had my first encounter with monks. These men, holy but wholly human, had a powerful impact on me.

I left for college seeking Truth, believing I would not find it in Christianity. There was just too much of it I couldn't swallow. Over the course of twenty years, I studied Confucianism, Taoism, and assorted flavours of Paganism, culminating in Kemetism (the religion of Ancient Egypt), which I was involved with for almost ten years.

Against all expectation, I found God one day in a Catholic church. I was baptised last Easter, and I'm now a novice oblate of the Order of St. Benedict (this is a "third order" for lay people).

My educational background in theology (both Kemetic and Catholic) is largely self-taught. I do read quite a lot, and I'm learning more every day.
29th-Mar-2006 02:29 pm - Sandy's Intro
I spent a very short time in the daycare at a typical suburban Presbytarian church, when my mother decided she was tired of the hypocricy around her and yanked me out of it, and my older siblings out of the Sunday School. My father, who was raised in the presbytarian church in the Midwest, slept in on Sunday mornings and didn't want to change this habit, did not take up the mantle of our spiritual education.

I'm sure you can imagine the various lessons learned. I remained outside of a spiritual community through all my growing-up years, but attended Jewish and Catholic holy days with friends. In my mid-20s I began looking into many Neo-Pagan traditions; now, while I do not follow the pagan tradition usually set for, I still use this term when describing my spiritual beliefs to others, as it is more in line with them than what people consider as Christian.

Last year, my family joined the United Church of Christ, a liberal, progressive Christian church - this is our spiritual community offline, and we all feel welcome there.

My studies have been primarily through books, and have had no particular rhyme or reason to them other than I've read what I have found interesting at the time.
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