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Tug of War

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preacherman76

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For my first blog Im just kinda gonna think out loud about something's that have been on my mind.

Even as a child I have always gone against the grain. Id make it a point, to a fault, to make sure the things I was told were important weren't. At a young age, 20 or so, I found the church. I experienced what many Christians describe as a new love affair with my maker. But even in that I began to see things I didn't like, or understand. Mostly with the church its self, and the people who professed to love Christ. Now don't get me wrong, there was and is pleanty about me that isn't very Christ like. But some of the things seemed so obvious to me. Especially politically. The support of war, cause it was caused by the right side of the political coin. Indifference to the suffering of the innocents we destroyed during those wars. The support of the stripping of freedoms we once called divine, brought to us by the creator himself. Now tossed to the side in the name of patriotism. For a short time, for the first time, I tried to go with the grain on these issues. I mean these are the people who brought me to my creator. Certainly I must be wrong, and they must be right. Aside from my Mother, these are the first people who ever really cared about me at all. Finally one day I realized that I couldn't go with the grain. So for a time I tried to find the balance between what I knew was right, and what I was expected to believe. But to the Church, even someone who tried to find peace looking at both sides of any given issue, instantly became a deceiver. It has gotten to the point where I only speak about such things on line, just to avoid the frustrations. Fear of a lack in conformity has really taken over many of the minds that make up what we call the church. It took some time, but for the most part I have found peace in all this. I have been granted the wisdom to accept the things I can not change. My love for these same people has grown since Ive found this peace. These are people I break bread with. My children play with theirs. We gather as one in worship of the creator of all things. The bond is still strong. Though I often wonder what they would think of me if they really knew how I felt about certain things.

Which leads to the reason for this blog entry. For the last couple years now I have been exploring spiritual things not found in the church. I don't know if its the American Indian in me, or just another example of my nature to go against the grain. But things like astral projection, spiritual journeys, ect. I have confided with a couple people from the church, those I consider close friends, and their reactions have been fearful. But no more then if I had told them I didn't believe America was Gods righteous army I suppose. I knew they knew nothing about it, so it didn't really effect me to much. Or so I thought. Over the last week or so Ive found myself, for the first time, separating my Christian beliefs, with the new things Ive learned. New to me anyway. And I cant figure out why? Something in my brain is telling me I cant have both. Once again Im trying to find the balance. I don't want to give up on my relationship with Christ, nor do I want to stop exploring the great unknown. In fact Id like to find my self submerged in both completely. So that's where Im at. I guess that's the Burdon of anyone seeking the truth, while trying to shed preconceived notions. Anyhow God Bless folks, thanks for taking the time.

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Hello Preacherman76,

After reading your post here, I couldn't for the life of me remember whether our paths have crossed on the forums or not. I really think so, but even though I've been a longtime contributor and blogger on the forum, because I'm prone to such long absences in activity, forgive me if I'm just not altogether certain of that at the moment. If by some chance we haven't talked on here, I'm a Methodist Seminarian and I'm studying to be both a pastor and a theologian.

I felt compelled to comment on your blog. I really appreciated the honesty of your post and there are a few things I'd like to talk about. First of all, I completely agree with you about about the madness of Evangelicals and others who worship at the altar of militarism and the perpetual warfare of the United States. I just want you to know you are not by any means alone in this. I reject the Augustinian Just War theory and I think the marriage between the Neocon war-mongers and Evangelicals is utterly reprehensible. If you ask me, our leaders ever since the Vietnam war era are basically all war-criminals. Thus, these Evangelicals are supporting war criminals. It's funny, not too long ago I was talking with a fellow Seminarian whose views on war are similar to yours and my own. He was reading a book by some theologian whose name I cannot remember offhand, who argued that the pagan gods of old are not 'dead', but rather that we have simply given them 'new forms.' Mars, the God of War, is alive and well...and we worship the God of War in our own militaristic state.

As a sidenote to my forum detractors: my statements here do not mean that I don't "support the troops"; rather I think this Mars based chant is misplaced. If we TRULY supported our troops, we wouldn't be having them fight in perpetual and useless wars. The problem is not with you or I, Preacherman76, it's that more of us need to have the guts to take a stand on this issue. You should confront you Christian friends. They become so blind to the propaganda of the warfare state, they simply don't know any better...

For the last couple years now I have been exploring spiritual things not found in the church. I don't know if its the American Indian in me, or just another example of my nature to go against the grain. But things like astral projection, spiritual journeys, ect. I have confided with a couple people from the church, those I consider close friends, and their reactions have been fearful.

My friend, I don't see anything wrong with this at all. Look, it sounds to me as though you are part of a conservative Christian church or group, probably Evangelical. The thing is, people like this have been conditioned to think the culture outside of the church and the whole gamut of beliefs out there are all contrary to the Christian faith, and thus, must be opposed. In a nutshell, a lot of churches believe they are Noah's Ark. If you are on board the ship, you better not lean too far overboard to see what's beneath the waters....because if you fall overboard, you'll be lost in the flood of an 'evil', 'sinful', 'decadent' culture; and while not ALL of these things are altogether untrue, the problem is, this is the intellectual equivalent of burying one's head in the sand. This is a mistake.

Preacherman76, I am going to go out on a limb, and as a Christian, say that you should CONTINUE AND EVEN DEEPEN this spiritual search of yours. There has got to be a time when we step away from our inherited beliefs and discover faith for ourselves. Credo ut intelligam. "I believe in order that I might understand." Faith is the first step that should compel us to seek greater understanding, greater truth. Every Christian should be a theologian. And this doesn't mean you need to go out and get degrees; read, study, learn, pray. If your pastor says you're treading into dangerous waters, find out WHY; really press him or her. Push them to the brink of their own theology. Chances are, they may not even HAVE an answer. This is just a gut, knee-jerk reaction that they have....going outside their church for knowledge=bad.

Astral projection? Next time your Christian peers object to you studying that, show them 2 Corinthians 12, where Saint Paul himself writes of having an out of body experience. And let's not forget about John the Revelator. See, a lot of these things you're talking about preacherman76 aren't even outside the realm of the Christian faith or theology. It's just because it's coming from...gasp...outside the church.

I spent ten years studying comparative religion. I read the sacred texts of the world's great religions, I read their mystics and saints, I traveled the world and I went to numerous holy and sacred places. But it didn't make me walk away from my faith, in the end, it made me a BETTER Christian.

I believe, no matter what religion you practice, we all have to take this long spiritual journey to find true faith and belief. Your brain is telling you that you can't have both probably because you're so used to that conservative Christian culture that seems to want to forbid individual spiritual seeking. It's seeped into your own sub-consciousness. You most certainly DON'T have to give up your relationship with Christ, if anything this should enhance it. Just be sure to pray for discernment along the way, and pray for God to walk WITH YOU on this journey. You never have to be alone as long as you walk prayerfully. And keep going to church, or possibly even find a different one if they are intolerant of your seeking. We do need to be in community, it helps us in our walk, but there are different parts of the body, and at some point you may have to move to a different part.

BTW, just as a personal recommendation, I think you should read some of the mystics. I think they would resonate with you and where you're at in your journey. You should, for example, read Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila. You may want to look for a little book called the Cloud of Unknowing. Things like this will change your whole perspective of Christianity. One of the biggest problems with Protestantism in general, ever since the reformation, is that it has emphasized the communal and dogmatic aspects of Christianity at the expense of the personal, the ascetic and the mystical experience. Protestants and Evangelicals have lost a whole wealth of religious experience due to their rejection of things like monasticism. And this is coming to you FROM a Protestant.

I hope some of this helps you on your journey and I wish you Godspeed. If I can be of any help to you in the future, feel free to message me anytime. I don't have time to post very often, but I do regularly check my messages on here; I also have no problem giving out my personal email etc. to those who wish to stay in contact with me.

You can and should always seek to deepen your walk with God and your understanding. You most certainly can have both, despite what some may be telling you.

Have a Merry Christmas my friend,

MA

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Hello Preacherman76,

After reading your post here, I couldn't for the life of me remember whether our paths have crossed on the forums or not. I really think so, but even though I've been a longtime contributor and blogger on the forum, because I'm prone to such long absences in activity, forgive me if I'm just not altogether certain of that at the moment. If by some chance we haven't talked on here, I'm a Methodist Seminarian and I'm studying to be both a pastor and a theologian.

I felt compelled to comment on your blog. I really appreciated the honesty of your post and there are a few things I'd like to talk about. First of all, I completely agree with you about about the madness of Evangelicals and others who worship at the altar of militarism and the perpetual warfare of the United States. I just want you to know you are not by any means alone in this. I reject the Augustinian Just War theory and I think the marriage between the Neocon war-mongers and Evangelicals is utterly reprehensible. If you ask me, our leaders ever since the Vietnam war era are basically all war-criminals. Thus, these Evangelicals are supporting war criminals. It's funny, not too long ago I was talking with a fellow Seminarian whose views on war are similar to yours and my own. He was reading a book by some theologian whose name I cannot remember offhand, who argued that the pagan gods of old are not 'dead', but rather that we have simply given them 'new forms.' Mars, the God of War, is alive and well...and we worship the God of War in our own militaristic state.

As a sidenote to my forum detractors: my statements here do not mean that I don't "support the troops"; rather I think this Mars based chant is misplaced. If we TRULY supported our troops, we wouldn't be having them fight in perpetual and useless wars. The problem is not with you or I, Preacherman76, it's that more of us need to have the guts to take a stand on this issue. You should confront you Christian friends. They become so blind to the propaganda of the warfare state, they simply don't know any better...

Well thanks for saying so Marcus. Its a sad day when you realize that there are more warmongers among Gods people then there are folks like ourselves that think peace and diplomacy should take a front seat to lies and blood shed. Especially after the lies that have been exposed over the last 13 years. It blows my mind that people don't even take a second to consider if what they are being told to support is even true. Or in cases like Lybia were the overall results of our aggression led to the entire country falling into a extreme Islamic paradise. We don't even hear about that in main stream media at all. Lets not even get into how many of us Christians suddenly have no problem with things like torture. Its bad enough to see the average Joe support it, but people who profess a relationship with Christ? How can this be?

My friend, I don't see anything wrong with this at all. Look, it sounds to me as though you are part of a conservative Christian church or group, probably Evangelical. The thing is, people like this have been conditioned to think the culture outside of the church and the whole gamut of beliefs out there are all contrary to the Christian faith, and thus, must be opposed. In a nutshell, a lot of churches believe they are Noah's Ark. If you are on board the ship, you better not lean too far overboard to see what's beneath the waters....because if you fall overboard, you'll be lost in the flood of an 'evil', 'sinful', 'decadent' culture; and while not ALL of these things are altogether untrue, the problem is, this is the intellectual equivalent of burying one's head in the sand. This is a mistake.

Preacherman76, I am going to go out on a limb, and as a Christian, say that you should CONTINUE AND EVEN DEEPEN this spiritual search of yours. There has got to be a time when we step away from our inherited beliefs and discover faith for ourselves. Credo ut intelligam. "I believe in order that I might understand." Faith is the first step that should compel us to seek greater understanding, greater truth. Every Christian should be a theologian. And this doesn't mean you need to go out and get degrees; read, study, learn, pray. If your pastor says you're treading into dangerous waters, find out WHY; really press him or her. Push them to the brink of their own theology. Chances are, they may not even HAVE an answer. This is just a gut, knee-jerk reaction that they have....going outside their church for knowledge=bad.

Astral projection? Next time your Christian peers object to you studying that, show them 2 Corinthians 12, where Saint Paul himself writes of having an out of body experience. And let's not forget about John the Revelator. See, a lot of these things you're talking about preacherman76 aren't even outside the realm of the Christian faith or theology. It's just because it's coming from...gasp...outside the church.

I spent ten years studying comparative religion. I read the sacred texts of the world's great religions, I read their mystics and saints, I traveled the world and I went to numerous holy and sacred places. But it didn't make me walk away from my faith, in the end, it made me a BETTER Christian.

I believe, no matter what religion you practice, we all have to take this long spiritual journey to find true faith and belief. Your brain is telling you that you can't have both probably because you're so used to that conservative Christian culture that seems to want to forbid individual spiritual seeking. It's seeped into your own sub-consciousness. You most certainly DON'T have to give up your relationship with Christ, if anything this should enhance it. Just be sure to pray for discernment along the way, and pray for God to walk WITH YOU on this journey. You never have to be alone as long as you walk prayerfully. And keep going to church, or possibly even find a different one if they are intolerant of your seeking. We do need to be in community, it helps us in our walk, but there are different parts of the body, and at some point you may have to move to a different part.

BTW, just as a personal recommendation, I think you should read some of the mystics. I think they would resonate with you and where you're at in your journey. You should, for example, read Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila. You may want to look for a little book called the Cloud of Unknowing. Things like this will change your whole perspective of Christianity. One of the biggest problems with Protestantism in general, ever since the reformation, is that it has emphasized the communal and dogmatic aspects of Christianity at the expense of the personal, the ascetic and the mystical experience. Protestants and Evangelicals have lost a whole wealth of religious experience due to their rejection of things like monasticism. And this is coming to you FROM a Protestant.

I hope some of this helps you on your journey and I wish you Godspeed. If I can be of any help to you in the future, feel free to message me anytime. I don't have time to post very often, but I do regularly check my messages on here; I also have no problem giving out my personal email etc. to those who wish to stay in contact with me.

You can and should always seek to deepen your walk with God and your understanding. You most certainly can have both, despite what some may be telling you.

Have a Merry Christmas my friend,

MA

This part deserves more attention then I have time for right now. I'll hit you up with the rest of my response soon as I can

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