sent in by Steve
I've read many of the books by Peter Gomes and John Shelby Spong. Their terrific books and writings have been very helpful in appreciating the good things about Christianity. I highly recommend their writings.
I love Jesus the man, the human, the carpenter's son, for his ethical teachings of compassion, forgiveness, love and living life abundantly. His teaching are like Filet Mignon!
I enjoy some hymns and occasionally meditations and quiet times within a church setting. I appreciate ministers who are wonderful communicators and orators who convey the gospel of peace and love. I'm more of a social, liberal gospel person --- caring and helping the least among us, those who are hurt, sick, lonely, sad, hungry, homeless and suffering.
And the other versions of Christianity are often an anathema to my decorum! (think Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, Oral Roberts, Jim Bakker, charlatans, hypocrites and assorted kooks galore!, etc.) I can differentiate between the differences only because I spent a lot of time in various types of churches and with different Christian expressions/peoples. Scriptural literalism and rigidity within ALL religions, not just Christianity and Islam, are often scary, exclusive, dangerous and condemning --- and sadly, often hate-filled and tend to brainwash people.
I believe in "Golden Rule" spirituality, i.e. "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I believe in the Judaic (and universal) concept of 'Tikkun Olam:' individual and collective human participation in the healing, transforming, repairing of our broken, hurting, and often depraved world.
I consider myself a secular Jew whose Judaic identity is primarily cultural and intellectual, but not religious. I do not feel at home in a traditional congregation. I don't want to recite liturgy I don't believe. I don't know if I believe in God, which technically means I'm agnostic. I consider the Judeo-Christian Bible/Scriptures and Torah as metaphorical guides, life stories and myths, but not as literal and infallible. I step away from all religious dogmas, creeds and rigid absolutes. Now having explained my theology and cosmology, I believe in a free, independent and responsible search for truth and meaning. I celebrate the gift of reason, a free mind and the human heart's call to think -- to think for ourselves. I affirm humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit. Yes, I'm a 'doubting Thomas' and I tend to be a rational thinking person but I'm also open to life's mysteries and unexplained beauty.
I could also be wrong about what I believe or don't believe.
Thomas Jefferson said "reason and free inquiry are the only effectual agents against error" and "it is in our lives and not our words that our religion must be read." In short, deeds - not creeds.
How old were you when you became a christian? 30
How old were you when you ceased being a christian? 36
What churches or organizations or labels have applied to you? Presbyterian, Baptist, Jew for Jesus
What labels, if any, would you apply to yourself now? Secular and agnostic
Why did you become a christian? Liked the concept of being "born again" (as in a fresh start, a new beginning, and feeling empty inside)
Why did you de-convert? Increased reading, knowledge, biblical interpretation and being befriended by non-fundamentalist types of people
email: srz0567 at yahoo dot com
Online Reading List
- An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish by Bertrand Russell (1943)
- Bible Teaching and Religious Practice by Mark Twain
- God is Imaginary
- Is there an Artificial God? by Douglas Adams (1998)
- Skeptics Annotated Bible
- The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (1795)
- Which Way? by Robert Ingersoll (1884).
- Why I Am Not A Christian by Bertrand Russell (1927)