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PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2011 7:22 pm 
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Thank you, Voronwë!

I've fixed your link to make it clickable:

Sin and Forgiveness

And, again my apologies to Lali for osgiliating her thread!

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And you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong,
Just remember in the winter far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the sun's love, in the spring becomes The Rose.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:31 am 
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JewelSong wrote:
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Churches can be life-giving places of welcome where lonely people find purpose and joy in their discovery that nothing human is alien and no stranger is an outcast....Churches can also be places where bitter people play power games, build walls and shatter souls. If you go to a church, you'll soon know which sort it is.


Quite true. And churches can be in-between places, too. I think the key thing is to find a church that is a supportive and helpful community for YOU. And when you find it, you'll know it.

...

If your church is not feeding you...it may be time to seek another church family. Or to take a break from church until you are ready to seek. For me, nothing is as horrible as sitting in a place week after week where you SHOULD feel like you belong, but don't.


I feel for Lali in this. I've been lucky in my "church family"—we've been members for 25 years now. But as in biological families, there are ups and downs over than kind of time span. The pastor/minister/priest's personality and theology can have an awful lot to do with how good a fit a church is; and an individual member always has little influence on who is chosen to serve in that role, and may have none at all.

And yet, it's as hard to come to the realization that a church no longer works for you ("you" meant generally) as it often seems to be to realize that your marriage no longer works. Sometimes you hope that the rocky part is temporary, and often you're right. Leaving a church/congregation of which you've been a big part, and which has played a big part in your own life, is hard. Finding a new one in which you'll immediately feel welcome—that's tremendous good luck, when it happens. It often doesn't. :(

So we have stuck it out at our church, mostly quite happy, and are very happy now that we did. But it was never unhealthy, never made us feel bad.

(We found it when we moved up here from L.A. in 1986, and I asked my father, then pastor of a Lutheran church in a nearby town, which church in our town he'd recommend. He was absolutely right in his advice.)

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:57 am 
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Lali Beag Bídeach
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That is a blessing, Prim. Definitely!

As I'm reading further in the book, I'm finding a few clues that make me think Bonhoeffer actually struggled with feeling lonely. If so, then I can understand his saying in a moment of communal bliss that loneliness doesn't exist in the church (as defined by a people praying together). When you feel that sense of community and connection, it's a powerful thing.

And I have definitely felt that many times at my church. I've also felt it many times at other churches or at other events that involved other people of faith.

(To be honest, I've also felt it to a lesser degree at other group events, like the funeral procession for the fallen soldier.)

Truthfully, I'm just feeling pretty bad about bringing it up anyway. I'd be tempted to delete the post, but now we have this whole thread going. :blackeye:

Mostly, I am fine when I am in small groups with my church family. I am fine when I'm playing in the band. It's just a few other times in the whole church experience that can sometimes leave me feeling isolated or flat.

When I'm really fine is when I'm out hiking or sitting in my backyard. Or anywhere in nature, actually :)


To Nature

It may indeed be phantasy when I
Essay to draw from all created things
Deep, heartfelt, inward joy that closely clings;
And trace in leaves and flowers that round me lie
Lessons of love and earnest piety.
So let it be; and if the wide world rings
In mock of this belief, it brings
Nor fear, nor grief, nor vain perplexity.
So will I build my altar in the fields,
And the blue sky my fretted dome shall be,
And the sweet fragrance that the wild flower yields
Shall be the incense I will yield to Thee,
Thee only God! and thou shalt not despise
Even me, the priest of this poor sacrifice.

~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 1:25 am 
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Quote:
When I'm really fine is when I'm out hiking or sitting in my backyard. Or anywhere in nature, actually


Amen, sister. :)

Church is kind of a funny spot for me. I can look at Lali's and Prim's description of a church that works, and sit here and nod.. yes, yes that would be good. Communal bliss? That would be very good. But I've never really felt that, myself.

I like a lot of the people in the church. Some, I can't quite connect with. I REALLY like that I can talk about how I feel about God, and not feel judged or have people make assumptions as to why I feel like I do. I know that there are people in church who disapprove of some of my choices, and would tend to judge me for them. Those people I try to avoid.

I learn a lot at church, stuff about the bible and the writers of the bible and who they were writing to, and I love it. I like having a better idea of who Timothy was, and why he mattered to Paul. It is interesting. But I don't go to every service. I miss stuff. And that's okay.

So... I don't really feel a part of the church, as a whole, except that we are all there for God in some capacity, and that feels like such a blessing to me... to be able to relax, for a short period of time. To not be seen as weird for my primitive, backward, non-educated belief in a higher power.

I know I'm weird, and I know I can't prove anything I believe to be true. It's nice in church to not have to.

But I think I don't expect much more of church than that. I am proud of our little church for its charities and its efforts to help the community, and I happily support that. I have found some great friends in church, including Mr. Anth, but I have also found people whose views do not mirror my own. I'm okay with that, and I trust that they are, too.

But to spend time with God, without noise or distraction, I have always had to go outside. He dwells in a church, I am sure. He dwells wherever people pray to him. He dwells in my heart. But I really see him in the great outdoors. If I never went into a church again, I would lose many things that I like. But I would never lose God.

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"A cage," Éowyn said. "To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 4:57 am 
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Anth, you are not weird. You are one sort of person in one sort of church, and there are thousands and thousands of both. What are the odds of a perfect fit? I don't have it. Lali doesn't. I've never met anyone who did (or even said they did) outside of a cult, and ewwww.

God's waiting to meet us where we're ready to meet God. God isn't particular that way.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:31 am 
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Amen.

I had a wonderful worship experience tonight. One of my dearest friends is the rabbi of a small Jewish congregation that meets in a Baptist church. She has given me an open invitation to visit anytime, so I did tonight. It was joyful, warm, sacred, profound.

It reminded me that I really enjoyed my church more when it was smaller than it is now, before we had a building of our own, when the people there were all more interested in the journey than in having arrived.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:52 pm 
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. . . the people there were all more interested in the journey than in having arrived.


There is only one destination, isn't there? What counts is how you get there.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:56 pm 
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The translation is not ideal: the original quotation is in German and uses no article.

Where a people prays, is church... etc.

Usually in German you would use an article here and it changes the sense slightly: not there is THE church like an institution, but church, - it rather sounds like an emotion then, for then in German you would not have to use an article.

I ma clearly not a church goer, but I do admire Bonhoeffer.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:53 pm 
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Thank you, Nin. That's interesting.

I am understanding Bonhoeffer as referring to the church, as in the collection of believers, the people of faith as the body of Christ and not as the building or the institution of church. That seems to be what you're saying as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:59 pm 
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That makes sense, Nin. Thanks for pointing it out.

Church in its essence is the prayers of many coming together. It is not a building or institution or social club. Institutions breed loneliness. Prayer is a statement of and creator of unity, wholeness, togetherness.

A man of faith in prison would understand that -- and lean on it for comfort.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:10 pm 
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...the people of faith as the body of Christ...


I hesitate to ask, but what does this phrase mean? :scratch: Everything that comes to mind is incredibly creepy. :help:

Like the giant robot in "Endhiron" that is made up of lots of little robots clinging together:
Image

See? Little robots magnetized together to make a huge one.
Image

This image won't leave my mind while trying to understand the "body of Christ" reference. :bawling:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:14 pm 
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I look at it in two ways. Both are figurative in speech.

First, each person who has faith in Christ becomes His physical representative here on earth. Since He isn't here anymore, we should act on His behalf.

Second, each person who has faith in Christ is mystically bound to Christ and bound to other believers. This is not a creepy, Borg-type of thing. This is a cool community-type of thing. A family-type of thing. Thus, figuratively, we are the body of Christ, i.e., we are the community of believers connected to God through Christ with the Holy Spirit.

Does that make sense at all? It's a metaphor.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:26 pm 
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Does it have anything to do with the Catholic practice of calling those wafers they eat in church Christ's body? :suspicious:


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 09, 2011 8:54 pm 
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That's a different issue, Maria, and way complicated. Lali's explanation is good.

I would only add that the metaphor of the church (meaning all Christian believers) being "the body of Christ" is part of a larger metaphor about how we in the church are all different but have our own function within the whole, just as we have hands and eyes and minds and voices—all different but all essential to our health and functioning.

In other words, quite the opposite of a bunch of identical robots making one big robot. :P

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 3:23 pm 
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anthriel wrote:
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When I'm really fine is when I'm out hiking or sitting in my backyard. Or anywhere in nature, actually


Amen, sister. :)


Why am I not surprised that we feel the same on this issue? ;)


Quote:
Church is kind of a funny spot for me. I can look at Lali's and Prim's description of a church that works, and sit here and nod.. yes, yes that would be good. Communal bliss? That would be very good. But I've never really felt that, myself.

I like a lot of the people in the church. Some, I can't quite connect with. I REALLY like that I can talk about how I feel about God, and not feel judged or have people make assumptions as to why I feel like I do. I know that there are people in church who disapprove of some of my choices, and would tend to judge me for them. Those people I try to avoid.

I learn a lot at church, stuff about the bible and the writers of the bible and who they were writing to, and I love it. I like having a better idea of who Timothy was, and why he mattered to Paul. It is interesting. But I don't go to every service. I miss stuff. And that's okay.

So... I don't really feel a part of the church, as a whole, except that we are all there for God in some capacity, and that feels like such a blessing to me... to be able to relax, for a short period of time. To not be seen as weird for my primitive, backward, non-educated belief in a higher power.

I know I'm weird, and I know I can't prove anything I believe to be true. It's nice in church to not have to.

But I think I don't expect much more of church than that. I am proud of our little church for its charities and its efforts to help the community, and I happily support that. I have found some great friends in church, including Mr. Anth, but I have also found people whose views do not mirror my own. I'm okay with that, and I trust that they are, too.

But to spend time with God, without noise or distraction, I have always had to go outside. He dwells in a church, I am sure. He dwells wherever people pray to him. He dwells in my heart. But I really see him in the great outdoors. If I never went into a church again, I would lose many things that I like. But I would never lose God.


:hug:



I have more that I want to say, but I'm just not ready to say it yet.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:21 pm 
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Here is a passage from Paul's letter to the Corinthians where he speaks about the "body of Christ." (Maria, I've taken out the little numbers so it is easier for you to read!) This passage comes right before the famous "but have not Love" bit...as Paul leads into it by saying "I will show you a much better way" at the end of this segment.

The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God's Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit. Our bodies don't have just one part. They have many parts. Suppose a foot says, "I'm not a hand, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the foot still belong to the body? Or suppose an ear says, "I'm not an eye, and so I'm not part of the body." Wouldn't the ear still belong to the body? If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn't hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn't smell a thing. But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.

A body isn't really a body, unless there is more than one part. It takes many parts to make a single body. That's why the eyes cannot say they don't need the hands. That's also why the head cannot say it doesn't need the feet. In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts, but we don't have to be modest about other parts.

God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.

Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean. I want you to desire the best gifts. So I will show you a much better way.


(I Corinthians 12: 12 - 31, Contemporary English Version)

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:36 pm 
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Thank you for editing out the numbers! It's ever so much more readable that way!

It's interesting how people yearn to be part of a massive whole. Reading about that reminds me of singularitarianism- where people will eventually become a single massive consciousness through mechanical augmentation.

Here's a link to a song about it: I am the very model of a singularitarian which vastly amuses me simply because I loved it on "Babylon 5" when Marcus sang "I am the very model of a modern major general" just to annoy the doctor.... :love:

Anyway! It's interesting that people want that both way back in history and *now* in different modes. It's like the non-religious people have to aim that strange urge into an acceptable to themselves format. You know: I'll be part of a massive consciousness not by magical means but by SCIENCE! That'll be OK......

Although.... the way Lali described it reminds me of quantum entanglement. :) Or philotic twining, if you are an Ender's Game fan.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:23 pm 
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Maria, I think you're taking this too literally. :P You can be "part of a whole" without subsuming your consciousness into it—you've served in the military, you know this.

Certainly it's no part of Christian theology that we lose our selfhood. The idea is that we become more truly ourselves. The metaphor of a body underscores the importance of every individual part; even if all parts are working together on a single task, their individuality is utterly necessary. I wouldn't be a very functional body if every part of me suddenly turned into a spleen.

In fact, ewww. :D

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:18 am 
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Personally, I've often wondered who gets to be the naughty bits in the church body. :D I can definitely think of people who are the butt.

(And then I wonder what body part I am. :help: )

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 15, 2011 2:48 am 
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Lalaith wrote:
Personally, I've often wondered who gets to be the naughty bits in the church body. :D I can definitely think of people who are the butt.

(And then I wonder what body part I am. :help: )


Reminds me of an old Soviet joke.

"Rabinowitz, are you a member of the Communist Party?"

"No, I'm its brain."

:spin:

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