I remember going to a church camp and one of the speakers' entire message was getting up and saying the Sermon on the Mount...completely from memory.
That's rather impressive.
I'm still trying to hash out what I believe when it comes to Christianity. I refuse to believe that Christian dogma has a monopoly of truth when it comes to the nature of the Divine, the human condition, and morality. I don't see myself ever again participating in organized religion on anything other than a nominal level. And yet, the glimpses into ultimate truth that Christianity does have (Sermon on the Mount being one, I Corinthians 13 being another) are compelling enough to keep me returning to its teachings.
It seems like we're in a very similar place.
I won't ever return to the Church. I don't like most of what it stands for and I don't need anything it has to offer- but the ethics propounded it its foundation documents represent a very great human achievement.
2007-05-03 02:56 pm (UTC)
I'm sort of with you there...
What I say is that I am a Christian... in the sense that I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I think, in my mind, that makes me a Christian. I have no compelling need to argue doctrine with anyone about it... but it has been years since I have been able to make that specific profession of faith that says, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the only son of the living God." I started out at about age 20 leaving out the word "only" and it has gradually crumbled from there. Because I had a whole career as a church employee it's been a little tricky. I hadn't noticed how much pressure I was feeling about that until after I retired and discovered how relieved I was.
2007-05-03 04:57 pm (UTC)
Re: I'm sort of with you there...
I think one of the problems with Christianity is that it has insisted on doctrinal conformity in a way no other religion does. In the mainstream churches they expect you to stand up every Sunday and say "I believe" in this whole collection of implausible things and it puts the church member- as you say- under a whole lot of pressure.
Well, I'm a pagan non-agnostic, and I believe that Christianity has some seriously good stuff in it. The Sermon on the Mount is part of that. I no longer accept (never did, actually) that the god of the Bible is the only god, or even necessarily the "best" god (certainly not the best for me), or that Christianity has universal validity and exclusive truth; but there's no need to throw out the whole thing. I've always used some of the old Biblical teachings as guidelines on how to live because I feel that THEY WORK. But, as I once told a Christo-pagan friend, Jesus isn't one of my patron deities.
I never liked Jesus very much- I mean as a personality (or personalities). And how does one explaim his self-sacrifice in human terms without it seeming a bit mad?
But there is a great deal I admire and love in the Christian tradition. It's the tradition I was born into and I'm not sure I could entirely cut it out of my life without causing myself damage.
*sits down with you and commiserates*
"By the waters of Babylon....."
can I join in....
I was once told I was to Christian to be a pagan and to Pagan to be a christian.
When I was a supposed 'practicing' Christian, I always felt I was reading a different book than the rest, especially when they were spouting doctrine.
Though I did like Jesus, I once made the mistake though of telling people I saw him as lover, rather than a husband...lol . I think that shocked them, as I was still married to my first husband at the time - who they were desperately trying to 'pray in'. In my experience, and at that time, lovers had always treated me much better than my husband had!
I have met and know some wonderful Christians, who would give you the coat of their back, who would feed you if you were starving, who would walk that extra mile with you. I have a great deal of respect for them. But I also, met and knew so many more who who rather walk across the street than be 'contaminated' and who lived and were rules by dogma and doctrine. Sadly they did tend to be the Church leaders, board members etc, who had more to loose.
Bitter moi?? lol. I could write a very long post on this, but life is too short.
I now see Jesus as one of many, like another commentator he is not part of my personal pantheon
Ailz and I sometimes got criticised by other Pagans for being too Christian.
The way I see it, we've had 2,000 years of Christianity, and our whole culture is steeped in it and we can't escape it. Sometimes I used to wish it was possible to entirely forget about our Christian heritage- go back- as it were- to 1 B.C. and pick up the thread from there- as if nothing had happened in the meantime. But it's impossible. Everything a modern Pagan does or thinks or says is conditioned by Christianity and we might as well be gracious and acknowledge it.
I do not consider myself Christian, I don't believe in God, and I don't believe that Jesus was the son of God.
That having been said, I really don't have a beef with anything Jesus taught. Obviously I don't buy into the stuff about worshipping God, but the things he taught (by word and by example) about how we should treat one another--you really can't argue with it. I think the world would be a better place if more people tried to behave the way he advocated.
And who knows...maybe back in Biblical times the only way to get anyone to take your teachings seriously was to claim divinity, or communication with the divine.
I don't know about claiming to be Divine. From my observation that's something only charlatans do. And it certainly wasn't acceptable in first century Judaism.
My belief is that the Jesus of the Gospels never really existed. He's a fictional character- based loosely on a real person (or persons). Christianity as we have it now is a Graeco-Judaic mystery religion invented by St Paul.