SA I have to admit my even participating on this thread is partially inspired by some of your comments dealing with religion, I don't know your upbringing but I suspect you were raised in a multigenerational religious family and accepted Christ into your life around the time you were learning the alphabet.
MY comments... I hope it was more of an intregument over annoyance- like Parrothead taking me up to the Challenge. Ha ha
Accually I was not really raised by a religious family . My dad & step Mom never attended Church, I had to pull their teeth to get them to come to 1 of my baby's dedications. But they were decent people , although rough on me. My mother (who left me when I was 9) was a lousy example of a Christian, loving & gentle but believed to the point of nauseum-
it never showed any power in her life to help her, or make her happy, she was more of a lost soul.
As a teen, a friends Parents used to pick me up & we went to Youth Group together .. much of my learning was there, plus I was a reader & a Questioner, I wanted the answers to Life itself. My best friends family was Catholic & I would have long talks with her mom about ethics, read some of their catholic digests, I was a rather serious teen compared to others ... I didn't like my lousy life with my step Mom, so I guess I tried to hang on to GOD to give me an escape...I had dreams & I looked to God to help me fullfill them - if that makes sense. It says to ask, knock & seek and you will be given. Prayers seemed to get answered, so I was encouraged.
But I ALWAYS had issues with scriptures & some intended meanings, I would take on guilt for this, like I was sinning constantly, so it was a warring against my mind - I never really felt "FREE" until I lost my religion. My oldest son tells me I was never saved then, he is a Worship Leader/Youth Leader, he does appear to be VERY happy -belief is working for him just fine ! though I would say it is his community, that closeness, fellowship he is wrapped into,take that away and I bet he will head down the same road as me - he does appreciate my mind- it challenges his faith.
...He has learned from MY experience (I guess) that religion is like a noose around your neck, he says he doesn't have religion, he has Jesus.
What can I do -he is a happy Soul, seems to be working for him, his experience is far different than mine, his seems to be a source of strength whereas mine was a fighting against the wind to feel I was good enough to be "saved'. I don't know .
Atleast this is how it was for me, it seemed none of us dare question the biblical lessons and ministry of the family patriarch. My cousins were all raised in exactly the same fundamentalist environment, and somehow in our 20's we all sort of refuted what we held so true. We were all re-reborn, and all carry a sense of spirituality that comes from biblical lessons yet all of us would probably consider ourselves more agnostic and on the verge of what we were told to believe what Christianity is.
I spent some time on ex fundamentalist forums, ex christians forums, it is a common theme for "THINKERS" to not fare well (after a time) of sitting in a strict Pentacostal environment or TOO evangelical, too black & white, it RAGES against our minds. Doesn't surprise me at all, what is hard for people is to admit these things outright, speak them out of our mouths. Once you start doing that, you better have some answers. I did my homework. Bring on the debate.
Christopher Hitchens was my favorite, sadly he died about a month ago. I love what he said one time...another asked him if he would want the world to be rid of the religious...and he answered "OH NO! ..then I wouldn't have anyone to argue with"....I so think like that man!
To me my pagan viewpoint actually brings me closer to what Christ is in my understanding, the essence of what the original authors of the new testament were writing for.
I am with you on this... There are a few Christian authors who look at this similar to you, although still call themselves Christians, but more in the liberal sense for sure... this is one such book , I have respect for it .. It doesn't war against my mind anyway.... Amazon.com: The Heart of Christianity: Rediscovering a Life of Faith (9780060730680): Marcus J. Borg: Books
I don't even believe there was a man named Jesus, atleast not the one in the bible, in my mind and heart I am more connected to history and the universe with jesus being a fictional character, or atleast not any more supernatural than any other human that walks the earth.
The Author of this book views this similar ... and he is a biblical scholar Amazon.com: Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? (9781591021216): Robert M. Price: Books
My family would call me a heathen if they read this and it would break my mothers heart, she cares a thousand times more about my soul (which is not even a real tangible or accessible thing to her) than she does my struggles in real life and ability to overcome them. Maybe its why I feel so alone in the world?
Isn't that the crazy thing about it... I've met others with this attitude, so concerned about the Soul, yet they are missing the here & now, how to tangibly help & uplift another -even if in some worldly ways, or just FUN ways.
I believe God wants us to enjoy ourselves down here, immeasurably, I just don't think he expects the perfection -that hard strict walking the purity line, that many christians feel we need to walk, I think he seeks us to be more Humble and Giving, more relatable, even more tolerant of others. I don't know, I'm still trying to figure it all out myself...