The First “First”

Losing a loved one sets up a year of firsts.  This will be the first Fathers Day without my dad here.

I still sense his presence in my life.  I still talk to him.  I believe he is with Jesus, wherever that is.  Is there a place called heaven, fixed at some far away location?  I have no idea.

My dad was very suspicious when I joined the Roman Catholic church eleven years ago.  Now that I have left it, I wonder if he is somehow communicating with God, guiding me? I am on a journey towards progressive Christianity.

Part of the reason I left Fundamentalism was its emphasis on condemnation and judgment.  Fear kept us in line.  Even though the particular church in which I was raised preached “once saved, always saved”, there was a constant drip drip drip of dire warnings if we lived a life that “quenched the Holy Spirit.”  Partaking of communion without the proper attitude could cause you to get sick, or even die.  The things of the world were put forth as spiritually deadly, leaving us bankrupt in our faith.  The church taught that if a person persisted in sinning, he could die.

Lots of threats of death.

I still have to get into the nuts and bolts that led me out of fundamentalism, and, now, the RCC.  But for now I will miss my dad on Fathers Day, regret that I didn’t have enough time to really communicate with him.  But I rest assured that my dad now knows way more than I do.  He gets it.  He’s with his loving creator.

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ELECTRICITY

When I was an adolescent, my mom bought this contraption which clipped onto the side of our ironing board.  One interesting feature of this thing was that the very bottom of it was a plug, attached to a long extension cord, which was then plugged into the wall.  One could plug and unplug the iron without having to bend over and try to reach the wall outlet.

One day I was not paying close attention when I plugged in the iron, and, when I was done, reached to unplug the iron without looking.  I had not, however, pushed the entire length of the plug into the extension cord.  My fingers came into  brief contact with metal which was still a bit exposed.

The jolt of electricity that suddenly and unexpectedly ran through my fingers and up into my wrist instantly got my attention.  I had never paid attention to the reality of the power lurking right at the edge of the plug, but I promise you that my encounter forever changed how I approached the simple procedure of plugging something in.  To this day, at age sixty, whenever I plug in anything, I make sure that it is fully plugged in.  An electric shock will do that to you.

I haven’t been on this blog site for quite some time because my father, whose views on fundamentalism I was beginning to critique, spent the last three years of his life battling one medical crisis after another.  He simply was worn out, at the age of 87, when he passed on.  His dying process was such a peaceful death, with a radiant smile on his face to the end, obvious (to me, anyway) that he was already communing with the other side. It had a profound effect on me.  Shortly after he died, I read Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.

My soul felt as if it had inadvertently touched some great source of power.  Everything I had been wrestling with, up to the day before my dad’s death, looked suddenly different. Scripture suddenly became more alive, lyrics to the songs in church meant more, and the Lord’s Prayer was more intensely sacred.

I experienced a spiritual shock, and I want to digest that here along with a continuation of my story.  I am not a good writer, but I am so transformed by what I discovered recently that I want to put it down into words.  I don’t know if it will help anyone or not, but it will be a record of what is an awakening.

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Good bye, Dad

My father passed away yesterday, which means at some point I will resume my writing here.  As his health declined, I experienced a wide range of emotions, and much confusion. Now it is all in the past and I believe I will be able to put things more into perspective.

RIP, Dad.  I love you.

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Gay marriage and the fall of American civilization?

sheila0405:

Excellent post on promoting the love of God.

Originally posted on lotharlorraine:

I recently stumbled across a short article of prominent Evangelical philosopher, theologian and apologist William Lane Craig where he laments the inexorable progression of same-sex marriage into the heart of America.

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http://commonsenseatheism.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/craig-smiling.pngSomething very significant happened over this past weekend that we need to be alert to. As you probably know, several weeks ago the Supreme Court refused to hear a case concerning a federal district court’s decision to strike down all of the pro-marriage laws that have been passed by various states – Idaho, Oklahoma, and others out west. These were regarded as unconstitutional because they declared marriage to be between a man and a woman, or in other words, they prohibited same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court refused to hear the decision, thereby in effect ratifying same-sex marriage in the United States by judicial fiat.

When this happened, I just felt as if I had been kicked in the…

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Christians understand your feelings better than you

Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:

Praying woman hands
[content note: fundie-speak about “conviction”]

As you all know, a little while ago I attended The Reformation Project’s conference, and it was an experience I appreciated and enjoyed. It wasn’t completely sunshine and roses for me, as Friday morning a couple protestors showed up outside the church. I ignored them every time I walked past until I was coming back from lunch and had an hour to kill, so I stopped to listen to a conversation one of the other conference attendees was having with the “leader” of the two.

I’m not sure how long I just listened, but eventually I got roped in and the other woman left after a few minutes. I stayed and continued to talk, mostly just asking questions because what he was arguing I found honestly confusing for a while. Eventually I figured out that he was saying “openly gay-and-in-a-relationship people can’t…

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The main root of religious evil

sheila0405:

My thoughts exactly, beautifully written…

Originally posted on lotharlorraine:

The problem of religious evil

The New Atheists keep saying that religious atrocities and bad behaviors directly spring out of the supernatural character of their beliefs.

I think they’re deadly wrong, because there are no more logical connections between the general belief “There is a supernatural creator” and evil actions than between the conviction “There is no supernatural world” and the atrocities committed by Russian communists in the past.

No, I think that the main cause of religious wickedness consists of the evil nature of the deities the believers in question are worshiping.

A recent post from liberal pastor David Hayward illustrates this truth very nicely. It concerns fundamentalist Pastor Mark Driscoll who has reached an impressive track record of abuses ever since he began preaching.

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"The Gospel of Abuse" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

Many people are calling for forgiveness for Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church so that he and the church can get back to preaching the gospel as effectively…

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addressing accusations that I’m a liar

Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:

I don’t know how to describe how I’m feeling right now. I’m shaken, and angry. Deeply disappointed, shocked … and horrified.

Someone who is claiming to have been “close” with me when I was at Pensacola Christian College is accusing me of being a liar and of ripping all of my stories off of her from the brief time when we were roommates in college.

Because this person is a part of the post-fundamentalist survivor community, and because she’s claiming to have known me well, I’m going to address her accusations and claims one by one.

True, we’ve “known” each other for years. We met, officially, when we were roommates for a little while when we were both taking extra courses after the semester had ended. Because there were so few people left on campus and my normal circle of friends were all at home, she took me under her…

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I Was Not Supposed to Happen

sheila0405:

There is no magic way to raise children.

Originally posted on Homeschoolers Anonymous:

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.27.47 AM

HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Darcy’s blog Darcy’s Heart-Stirrings. It was originally published on July 13, 2014.

My most popular post ever, the one on courtship and emotional purity, is making the rounds again, as it does every few months. And with it come the loads of ridiculous assumptions, explaining, excuses, and outright dismissal of everything from my character to my experience to my beliefs. This isn’t anything new. It’s been happening since I started telling my story. It happens to all of my friends from Homeschool Land who also tell their stories. It’s woefully predictable.

“She wasn’t really raised Biblically.”

“He isn’t a good example of proper homeschooling.”

She’s bitter.” (Because obviously being bitter means you’re making stuff up. Or something.)

“His parents obviously didn’t do it right.”

“She’s not indicative of all homeschoolers.”

“He obviously courted in a legalistic way…

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THE “HARD SELL”

I got a text from my sister on Sunday. She and her husband were on their way to say good-bye to his sister. She was quite literally on her deathbed, after a year long battle with cancer. My sister asked us to pray that the dying sister-in-law would sense the loving presence of the Lord in their visit.

Than, it hit. Another sister reminded them to get the poor dying woman to pray the “sinner’s prayer”. Her soul was at stake. This set me off, and a string of messages that either supported or opposed (my position) such an action.

I haven’t written for a time, because I am having some vision problems, but this example is one reason I left Fundamentalism. The “hard sell”. Get someone to pray that sinner’s prayer before they die, because eternity is at stake.

The thing is, my brother-in-law has consistently shared his love of Jesus around his dying sister. She knows the theology. To approach a vulnerable young woman who is dying way too soon with a “close the deal” mentality is, to me, monstrous. I bet this woman already knows how much she is loved by the Father. She knows who Jesus is. She doesn’t need a magical incantation to be certain of her destiny.

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Should an inerrant Bible be the very foundation of Christianity?

Originally posted on lotharlorraine:

Eric Reitan, a progressive Christian philosopher (having written an excellent book on the New Atheism and one defending universal salvation) gave several arguments against the central place of the Bible for our faith.

How Does God Reveal? Five Christian Reasons to Doubt Biblical Inerrancy

 
The Patheos website is currently hosting a multi-blog conversation about progressive Christianity and Scripture which has generated numerous engaging and thoughtful contributions–such as this one by James McGrath. Because the relationship between progressive Christian faith and the Bible is one of my enduring interests, the sudden flood of interesting essays on the topic has inspired me to take a few minutes to reflect on the issue myself. 

As a philosopher of religion, the way I approach this topic is in terms of a philosophical question: What theory of revelation fits best with the Christian view of God? Put another way, if there is…

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