I am still a very spiritual person

Sent in by Larry M.

My goodness - am I ever glad to have found this site! I cannot say how much the comfort in reading others feelings/stories has helped me in my journey .. but first - some context:

I am from Canada - the Fraser Valley in B.C. to be exact. I was born in 1968 into a Christian family - Mennonite to be exact: If you aren't familiar with the Mennonite people, you might have a look at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mennonite for a quick synopsis. The Mennonite people are pretty pacifistic, and refuse to go to war for that reason. I think this led to a lot of confusion when I saw my American Christian neighbors forming what they called "God's Army" as a teen. Violence really didn't make much sense in my neck of the woods. Anyways, my parents became disillusioned in the 70's and stopped attending church altogether. I noticed that they were reading many psychological texts of the time - incl Carl Jung - and this led them finding an old church friend who was now a psychologist. Now this friend was also a "re-born again" Christian, and convinced my Dad to come back to church. As is custom in many Mennonite families, when big papa makes a change, so does everyone else!So my family started attending their old church, but found it "dead" for lack of a better term.

The time was the early 80's, and the big movement was "revival" - think of Hal Lindsey, Kenneth Copeland, Full Gospel Businessmens' Association etc. We started looking around for alternatives to the "Menno Morgue" and discovered the Pentecostal/Full gospel churches. Wohoo!! Word-Faith, Name it claim it, Glossolalia etc . .. all very exciting to a young teen in search of excitement. I was also forming my musician sensibilities at the time, and was attracted to the Christian music of Phil Keaggy, Roby Duke, Degarmo and Key, Rez Band (o ya - I am a guitar player .. can you tell?), Petra, Steve Taylor etc. I was also secretly admiring Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, and the metal rockers. This led to several interesting "Demonic deliverances", and the "laying on of hands" to deliver me from the powers of Darkness. My family also started to take in mentally ill people to help "save them" and probably to "imitate Christ" in the process. I often wonder if this is what contributed to a fear of mental illness I developed in my late teens ..

Anyways I graduated High school, worked a couple of years in odd jobs, and returned to College to study part-time. This was one of the best times of my life - there were so many options to me!I have a wise Aunt who at the time told me that I'd better do something musical, or I might miss the point of my life altogether .. I am so thankful for this (non-Christian) woman!I finished university with a Bachelor of Music, and became a teacher. I also married another Mennonite girl (which I vowed NEVER to do as a teen!), and had 2 beautiful daughters. I was attending church on and off again during these early years, but was becoming increasingly restless with my philosophical/mystical tendencies as a worship leader!

Then - something happened about 3 years ago: I heard Alan Watts.

Let me re-phrase that: I read, listened to, and watched videos of Alan Watts for the next 2 years. I had a 40 minute commute to work, so I would listen to his talks in my car every day. Something began to awaken in me that had always been there, but never allowed to express itself in quite this way. I also studied the works of people like Joseph Campbell and Ken Wilbur, as well as other Buddhists such as Jack Kornfield and Thich Nhat Hanh. I had NO idea of the ways of the East - to me they were always presented as poor and impoverished countries who were paying for their lack of belief in God. Now, they seemed far more insightful and wise than any Christian doctrine I had encountered before.

Well, these days my biggest struggle is that I am still a very spiritual person, but have no one I can talk to about these things. I have one friend who reads similar works (incl. Watts), but he comes from an abusive Christian background and quite hates anything to do with that world. I on the other hand, have a wife and family who are still quite devout, and find it really difficult to say anything without getting their backs up against the wall. I try to present thoughts/meaning in a non-threatening way (similar to how Alan convinced me - by playing on Christian terms and allowing me to follow through all the way on these absurd propositions), but it is very hard not to start a fight. Most of the time, the conversation ends with something like "Well, you're not going to convince me to lose my faith - as it appears you have .." Lose my "Faith" or "Belief"?

Anyways, I really hope that I will be able connect with someone (hopefully local) that can understand me. It gets quite lonely sometimes (esp. Sunday mornings) when my family has gone to church, and there is no one around. Perhaps a site like this can give us some hope that others feel the same way, and can spend some time supporting one another!

7 comments:

Lynn said...

Larry M.,
Have you ever listened to BTO...
beyondtheordinary.net ? They also have a lot of ex-christians who are still very spiritual.
I've read some very interesting things on there. You will find an incredible number of points of view which will give you much to contemplate.
Lynn

Jamie said...

Hi Larry,

I lived in the Fraser Valley for three years, and taught in a Christian school there. Although I'm from Ontario, BC became my home.

In spite of that, I moved back to Ontario (and have been an exhile ever since).

I grew up an Adventist, and we had the same "Rock Music Is Evil" upbringing...in fact, the worst, most satanic stuff I ever heard was the stuff that they made me listen to while proving it's evilness...I never would have heard it otherwise!

I, too, am glad to have found this site. It's a breath of fresh air for me. My wife is devout as well, and I can't deny that she gets a great deal out of church and out of her beliefs. I, on the other hand, finally left church a month ago so that I could stop faking my spirituality once and for all.

I also consider myself spiritual. Even though I think the atheists have all the best arguments, I still find that deep down I believe in God for some reason. I'm just not sure what, or who, God is and means right now.

Anonymous said...

Larry,

So you live in Mennonite country, huh? That place where I go every year to the Mennonite Sale (for the peroggies and borscht).

Can you contact me? lorenarod1@yahoo.com

Don't worry I ain't dangerous. I won't get you in trouble with your wife, because I am married too--and want to stay that way.

Have a look at my blog (click on my name). I was a mennonite for a while.

Talk to you soon!

john said...

Larry, you caused me to remember a wonderful time years ago when I first read Alan Watts' "Behold the Spirit". It was part of an awakening in me as well.

I suggest that you have no concern that your family finds comfort and satisfaction within a religious group. As long as the religion encourages a way of life that makes them feel good about themselves and life, what harm can it cause. It's the religions that send members out to kill others that we really have to be concerned about.

If it's just a case that we take a final dying sleep in the end, what difference will it make anyway?

I would also suggest that you may have no option other than taking a solitary path to question and discover for yourself.

Questioning and wondering, however, can be extremely bewildering, destroy any sense of hope or faith at all, or trigger mental illness. I would recommend the path of question to no one except those who find it necessary.

When it is necessary, there seems to be a compelling influence that will not be satisfied and offers some external assistance to the seeker.

Some abandon all belief in cause and effect entirely. Many, shackled by a religion, experience a refreshing release from fear and guilt as they break away from stifling beliefs.

Some discover a personal and intimate experience with something that begins to spill a new awareness into their being and begins to give a new understanding and sense of loving joy.

The important thing is to come to terms with our own individual being. When we find something that rings with truth we can take refuge there against the trials and tribulations of life and have shelter for our pleasures.

I found a site for mystics to be a great source of personal inspiration for me. While you are searching around check out www.mysticshaven.com. I think who ever put up the site must have had people like us in mind.

May you ultimately find a knowing that soothes your being.

john

TheCapeTonian said...

Jamie,

I grew-up as a Seventh-day Adventist as well. (Cape Town, South Africa). I went through the same indoctrination about the evils of rock music. The church youth leaders at the time exposed us to the book entitled "The Devil's Disciples" where it is shown that guys like van Halen, Ozzy Osborne are disciples of the devil. I recall also that I was exposed to music that I otherwise would not have listened to. What a joke.

I have a story to tell about me leaving the Adventist Church (Ellen G. White) and eventually denouncing Christianity as well. I love this site. This site has brought me comfort and support. Enjoy the reading.

Seekergirl said...

Hi Larry M,
I am a Mennonite girl who grew up in the Fraser Valley. I posted something today about my journey. What drew me to your posting was the fact that you still consider yourself a spiritual person. In some ways I think I will become more spiritual as I throw off the shackles of organized religion. This is scary territory for me. Because of how I have been raised I don't want to make a mistake. I especially don't want to take my kids down the wrong track. But I also want my children to know you need to think and search for truth. Wishing you and your family all that is good. Trudy

Fretbuzz said...

Thanks all for your kind words!

Please stop by http://fraservalleyexchristians.blogspot.com/

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