Freeing My Mind
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21-01-2017, 03:52 PM
Freeing My Mind
I'm never sure how to do these forum intros. I don't want to blather on and bore people. So in as much a nutshell as possible, I've sampled a pretty wide spectrum of religions. Born Lutheran, became Roman Catholic, became Eastern Orthodox, became Wiccan/UU/New Age, seriously looked into Buddhism... Yeah. My friend once said I change religions like socks. I would like to think that's not all bad, that I'm open minded enough to change my views rather than lock myself in a bubble. When it all comes down to it, I think whatever creed have you is just a concoction of primitive-minded humans trying to figure stuff out. And trying to control others.

I've very much come to appreciate that religion for many can be an addiction. I absolutely hate relinquishing any hope of a hereafter, and meeting Uncle Bob and my cat on a pink cloud when I croak. I'm guessing my OCD comes into play here, too, and would suspect that many of the more fanatical believers are strong OCD. But I'm not an expert by any means.

Recently, I had a death in my family, and you could say I had a weak moment, and actually met up with my old Greek Orthodox priest to discuss possibly returning, because I felt "empty." Why Orthodox again, you ask, and not those sweet Goddess worshipping Pagans? I love the liturgy, and appreciate its aesthetics. Even the Catholics don't do theater as well as the incense-waving, icon-smooching Byzantines. Of course, there were personal sentimental reasons as well. Very striking to my question about the violent parts of scripture was his response of, "It's not my job to vindicate God," or something to that effect. In other words, "I don't like your dirty logic, so I'm going to turn off my brain and shove my head in the sand and hide."

Oh, and if I was to be an Orthodox in good standing, I needed to give up all hope of a longterm romantic relationship and repress myself. Because dear old Paul and those old farts in the OT make it pretty clear that homosexual relations are naughty. I've been down that road before, and it led to 2 hospitalizations, among other things. To tell a human being they aren't allowed to experience the joy of love is so abusive and cruel--you could just as well tell them they must never see sunlight.

What began to bring me back around to sanity was research. It doesn't take a PhD to see the various national Orthodox churches are corrupt beyond belief. Patriarch Kirill and Putin, BFF's... (barf!). Add to that the weird stories of monks being beaten by their elders, and the Orthodox friend that went to confession at a monastery only to be asked a very specific question about her sex life... creepy stuff.

I'm tempted to beat myself up for going down that road again, when I knew the results would be the same. Am I masochistic? Do I suffer perhaps from Stockholm syndrome? Dobby syndrome, a little bit? The cognitive dissonance it takes to live as a gay Christian is mentally draining. I care too much about myself to waste my life. So I'm here--fighting for my emotional and mental autonomy, one day at a time.
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21-01-2017, 04:44 PM (This post was last modified: 21-01-2017 04:57 PM by jennybee.)
RE: Freeing My Mind
Welcome

I am sorry for your loss. I think it's common after the experience of the death of a loved one to have a longing to go back to the comforts of a religion which promises you a heaven in which you will see them again. Maybe give yourself some time to process grief and then make a decision on going back to a life of religion. All of this could just be emotionally based, so give yourself time to process everything and then reassess.

Additionally, I think religion can sometimes fulfill a sense of community, belonging, and spirituality. I'm an atheist, but I actually fall on the spiritual side of things because I live my life based on many yogic principles (none of them woo, mind you). I find much more "spiritual" peace with yoga than I ever did as an Irish Catholic, Wiccan (my godmother is a witch and so I got interested in that stuff in high school), or Lutheran. Yeah, I dabbled a bit in various religions myself Wink

But back to yoga--I enjoy reading about the yogic myths and learning about Hinduism. That said, I am not a Hindu and will never be a Hindu. I'm not Buddhist either, and again, no desire to follow that path. I do look at yoga as a time to connect with myself and in that, I find a sense of calmness and a sense of spirituality.

My point in mentioning all this is that maybe it would be helpful for you to find something that works for you in terms of spirituality without the woo. One idea would be a Unitarian Universalist church which is welcoming of everybody, regardless of who you love, what you do/don't believe. Another idea would be an atheist church. Or if you are interested in yoga, feel free to pm me.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
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21-01-2017, 05:00 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
Hello. Shy

We ain't got no impressive ceremonies, around here, but we got ears to listen with! Some of them even have working brains between them. Tongue

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21-01-2017, 05:10 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
G'day mate, and welcome to the forums. Smile

I appreciated reading your detailed introduction, and it certainly wasn't "blathering on" LOL. I hope that you can find answers here that address some of the questions you raised about your outlook and motivation, and I'll look forward to seeing you around.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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21-01-2017, 05:41 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
Hi and welcome!

You'll find a lot of great perspectives here and people who've been in similar situations to support you. Enjoy the forums!
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21-01-2017, 05:44 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
Hello! Big Grin
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21-01-2017, 07:24 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
Greetings! Stick around, we'll help you scrub that eastern orthodox stuff off. Even theBorg can help with that. Laugh out load
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21-01-2017, 07:38 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
I'm afraid we're going to have to judge you and tell you not to have sex or a relationship with another man because God Wills It... oh wait, there are no gods. Neato!

Welcome to a world of freedom and free thinking.

Lots of us grew up in that self-repressive environment, where the charlatans invent the disease and then sell you the cure for only 10% of your income (and a promise to go out like a salesman to bring in new suckers customers).

Welcome to TTA, JJ. Smile

"Theology made no provision for evolution. The biblical authors had missed the most important revelation of all! Could it be that they were not really privy to the thoughts of God?" - E. O. Wilson
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21-01-2017, 07:39 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
Welcome to the forum. That's an impressive intro.

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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21-01-2017, 10:17 PM
RE: Freeing My Mind
I appreciate that yours is the first post I read. I just joined this forum.

I grew up Eastern Orthodox (my parents converted). I'm the oldest child, so I always tried hard to impress the adults in my life. I, also, have a deep love for the Orthodox liturgy, candlelight, incense, chanting, choral music, iconography, and even the barefoot, counter-cultural monastics I've met. I also love the history and the direct connection to cultures from countries on the other side of the globe. It keeps me humble and aware that the cultural experience in the United States is unique.

With all this to love, I feel tempted to stick with it and go through the motions even with my dwindling belief that Anyone is there to listen when I pray. For years, I've been doing this pretty faithfully. Just waiting for one of those miracles in the Lives of the Saints to actually happen to me. So I can see the light.

But hypocrisy is everywhere in the church, as you pointed out very well. I have several friends who are male, homosexual, and Orthodox and they are all handling it in different ways (marriage to a woman, celibacy, and leaving the church). I do not envy you the struggle and can relate only because I've also had to painfully maintain celibacy to stay in good standing.

I'm trying to chart my next steps with this realization that I'm not the believer I've professed to be. I'm planning a move away from the community I've been a part of for 6 years, where there are people I truly love and a spiritual father like the one you describe. I'm moving to live closer to my family, so there will still be pressure to attend church. But I'm planning to become an observer and participate less. I want to experience the Orthodox services for the culture, music, and community, and also out of respect and love for my parents. Understanding their beliefs will help me, I think, when I stand by their side when they die.

Your bring up the afterlife and your description of the pink cloud made me laugh. I haven't been able to shake that image of heaven in the clouds no matter how hard I try! Why did the Bible give us so many fantastic, cinematic scenes but so little about what heaven looks like to fuel the imagination? As an atheist, I think I will still wonder about what happens after death and still hope that I will meet my loved ones in some form after crossing through that portal. I think Gandalf's speech to Pippin in the Return of the King movie is my ideal afterlife description (which doesn't sound too different from a beautiful day in nature on this planet, in this life). Thinking about it bravely makes me almost feel like I can't wait... Just to know, once and for all, what really happens when we die. (I think of T.S. Eliot's Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock "I am Lazarus, come from the dead/Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all."

Thank you for sharing your introduction and allowing me to make mine.
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