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

  1. 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 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 Major Contributor

    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. 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 Major Contributor


    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
  6. Pinkroses

    Pinkroses New Member

    Hi Celera and Bluebird,
    I was raised Catholic. I never had a problem with it, but it didn't seemed to fully explains things or answer my questions. When I met my husband, he was raised Methodist and was agnostic. He wanted nothing to do with the Catholic Church, so we got married in a Methodist church. Later in life, we decided we wanted to find a church that was right for us. We started visiting different churches. We kind of liked Lutheran churches because they seemed to be in between Methodist and Catholic. We also considered UU. I still want to go to a spiritualist church someday. Oddly, we ended up at a Catholic Church. I honestly don't know why. It sort of happened by accident. The good thing about this church is that it is more modern and the priest there is open-minded. It is probably the only Catholic Church I would feel comfortable at because my beliefs are actually a mixture of several religions.

    I like the feeling I get when going to church -- the candles, the songs and the sermons leave me feeling peaceful and uplifted. However, religion isn't where my understanding of the afterlife came. It actually came through my own experiences. In fact, a few years ago I started to wonder if there even was an afterlife at all. Then my ex-boyfriend died and strange things started happening. It was only then that I started reading, researching and trying to figure things out. I even participated in the self-guided afterlife connections program and received many answers and insights during my connections.

    I think each person's path is unique, and everyone chooses their own way depending on their life circumstances and what feels right. I also think it doesn't really matter which religion or belief system we choose. All paths lead to the same place. It's just a matter of preference.
  7. I sometimes find the atmosphere of a traditional church service to be inspiring too, and I know there are people of deep faith who find a lot of meaning in the liturgy. I can imagine being happy in a Catholic church with a traditional service and a more open-minded view of things. This is the way a lot of the big Protestant churches are now, too.

    There are some spiritualist churches in Northern California, but I couldn't find any near me, even in LA. Meetup.com has a number of groups around related topics, but none that seem devoted to the afterlife specifically, and I don't want to join any groups where one person says she's a wood nymph and another says the Archangel Gabriel is her boyfriend (I'm not making either of those things up.)
  8. Pinkroses

    Pinkroses New Member

    There are a couple of spiritualist churches here in Michigan, about 45 minutes away. One day I will check one out. I wouldn't want to join a group like the ones you mentioned either. And I know you're not making it up. I once came across someone who said she had a relationship with Lucifer. She said he was teaching her things and that they also had sex. Okay then.

    I've thought about going to a mediumship development meeting, but I guess I'm a bit afraid of what will happen. I'm not concerned I won't be able to do it. I just don't want everyone's dead friends and relatives contacting me! It's fine when it's someone I know personally, but to open up to anything and anyone would be overwhelming!
  9. I have the opposite fears about a mediumship development meeting. I think I'd love being like that Long Island Medium, going around with messages for people, I wouldn't mind that at all. Perhaps the actual experience would be different from what I imagine. I like knowing things, so being the one who knows something nobody else knows, appeals to my ego. Which is probably why I have not been entrusted that gift. :)

    But my fear of failure -- or at least public failure -- is pretty strong. Which is another advantage of the Quaker meeting format. It would be tough to fail at sitting quietly for an hour and thinking.
  10. Meh, I don't know about this. I was never a fan of Quaker oatmeal...

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