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Church

Discussion in 'Spiritual Growth & Development' started by Celera, Sep 18, 2013.

  1. Celera

    Celera Active Member

    I've had an interesting journey through the world of religion.

    When I was little, we went to a Presbyterian church. It became quite liberal and political, though, and my parents were conservative and my mother said she could just read the paper and hear the same things she heard at church, so we stopped going. After a while we started going to evangelical and later Pentecostal or charismatic churches (with speaking in tongues and all that.)

    In adult life, I've been an Pentecostal, a Methodist, and mostly a heathen. I still believe in many things about Christianity, and many of the stories and rituals have meaning to me, even if it isn't quite the meaning they had when I was younger. I've done a fair amount of reading on Buddhism, and find a lot of value there as well.

    Reading and thinking about spirituality and faith are great, and I'm comfortable, but I also think that religion isn't working right if it's too comfortable. It should be challenging me to grow in some way, and to be of service in some way. For this reason, I have been missing being part of a spiritual community.

    So the last two weeks, I have been attending a local Quaker meeting. There are two kinds of Quakers these days, some are pretty much like any Protestant church, but the "liberal" Quakers follow an old tradition in their services, or meetings. They have no program, no minister, and no songs or sermons. The group sits in silence for an hour, waiting for the Spirit to speak to each of them. If someone feels led to do so, they stand up and say a few words or even sing a song. Often nobody says anything until the hour is up.

    I find I like this much better than "regular" church services of all kinds, and the people are very genuine and unpretentious, which is not easy to find here in Orange County, CA.

    So, that's my story so far. Is anyone else familiar with Quakerism? Or what other religious community belong to, or have belonged to in the past? How does that fit (or not) with your understanding of the Afterlife?
     
  2. mac

    mac senior member Staff Member

    I'm not a churchgoer but suggest that seekers investigate if it's right for them.

    Some years back I had difficulty finding local venues where we could hold our 'spooks' - Spiritualist - gatherings where evidential mediumship would routinely be included as part of the evenings activities. The nearby Quaker church offered their meeting place and at that time it seemed to me that their way was very much in line with our own (Spiritualist) persuasion.

    I was impressed by the unfussiness of the meeting place and although I didn't sit with their congregation, the 'old way' sounds like an ideal situation for anyone with spiritual/psychic sensitivity to sit in an undemanding atmosphere and maybe offer their impressions. I greatly admire that there is no minister, no service and no formal songs or hymns. A quiet place to sit and think or sit and switch off.
     
  3. bluebird

    bluebird Well-Known Member

    I haven't been to church in years. I grew up Catholic, though I had a wonderful experience with it as a child because the church and the priests there were great, very non-exclusionary. We moved when I got older, and the new church sucked. I stopped going as soon as I could. I became agnostic at some point, though I'm really not sure when. Sometime around college, though I don't recall any one event which caused it or anything.

    For years I considered myself a "hopeful agnostic" -- I wasn't sure if there was a god, but I hoped so, and I had my ideas as to what I thought god was all about if s/he did exist. Now that my husband has died, I am agnostic verging on atheist. I doubt if I will ever attend a church again.

    I do like the Quaker way of doing things, though -- it's very egalitarian. I also like that they are very liberal, and very involved in social causes. I like the Unitarian Universalists, too. With both of those faiths I have sort of the opposite view from Gandhi -- he said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.", whereas I like the Quakers and the Unitarians, but not god.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013
  4. Celera

    Celera Active Member

    The liberal Quakers do seem similar to the Unitarian/Universalists, in that there is no particular doctrine or statement of faith or anything. I'm not sure why I never found the UU very compelling, I agree with the concept that all religions have some part of the truth, and no religion has the whole truth.

    The Quakers have more of a sense of history to them, and a specific culture and principles. They don't seem to be judgmental about it, but they do have certain "testimonies" which seem like a values statement, sort of. Among these are non-violence, simplicity and truthfulness. And, I'm down with all that.

    In the US generally, and my neck of the woods particularly, finding people who value simplicity and plainness is not easy!
     
  5. bluebird

    bluebird Well-Known Member

    Celera,

    I think sometimes people don't find the UU compelling because, depending on the group/church, some of them don't have a strong belief in any sort of "god". In fact, it is my understanding that some of them don't believe in god at all, and don't hold that as a necessary prerequisite for joining their congregation. They are (or at least some/many of them are) much more about helping other people and social causes than they are about god or faith or spirituality or religion, and they are almost always very liberal (or at least that's been my experience). I used to work with a woman who was (still is) a UU minister (this was a few years ago). I really liked her, and attended one of her sermons. I also proofread and edited her doctoral thesis, which was on the subject of the church and its relation to kids/teens and their experience with sexuality (its responsibility to help them have healthy sexualities, in which they respected themselves and their partner(s), etc.). It was a fascinating subject and thesis.

    So the way the UU approaches things is fine by me, although I never joined it because in the past i never felt the need to belong to a church and now I wouldn't do so for any amount of money. but lots of people want a more spiritual experience of some sort, want to feel connected to god, etc. -- so for them, the UU is probably not a great fit, unless they find one of the groups that does tend to have a belief in god, more spiritual services, etc., as opposed to only the social justice component.

    The Quakers do have history, I agree. they are a lot like the UU, except that they do have that history and gravitas, and they do have a faith in god. And yeah, since your profile states that you are in southern CA, I would think that simplicity and plainness is not in great supply around there....
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2013

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