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A couple of years ago, I defended a dissertation in theology, and am struggling to establish a career as a professional theologian.  I am also an openly gay man.  Of course, many queer folk have vexed or even horrific experiences with religion.  And there’s no denying that the strongest voices in the pushback against our full participation in society are religiously motivated.  So, why in the world would someone gay bother with religion, much less choose to become a professional theologian?  Join me on the flip.

This diary is a reprint of a 2008 contribution to the WGLB TV series, a LGBT (predominantly "G") community forum back in the day.  I figure enough new people have joined since then to make it worth reposting.

Beginnings
I was raised by an atheist, so my journey’s an unlikely one in several respects.  Little did I know in third grade when I got in playground arguments about the non-existence of God and Santa Claus that I would devote the bulk of my adult life to thinking about God.

The first major change in direction came when I was seven or eight years old, when my mother took me to the Hessian Regional Museum in Darmstadt, Germany.  Some of the rooms in the museum were full of medieval altarpieces, and I was completely captivated by them.  My mother had dutifully kept me out of Sunday School, but I made up for it by asking my mother in detail about the stories behind the pictures.  The stories ended up being mostly from the Bible.  Apparently, I kept this up until a guard went and fetched a chair for my mother to sit on, and the next day I asked to go back and see the pictures again.  People sometimes say that one can choose one’s religion, whereas one cannot choose one’s sexual orientation.  But comparing the experiences of such strong reactions to a specific kind of religious art and to the beauties of male bodies leaves me with a sense that there’s more similarity than difference in that basic gravitational pull toward something.

When I was in fifth grade, a Jewish boarder moved in with us for a couple of years.  She would always welcome the Sabbath by lighting candles and singing a song.  I talked to her about Judaism and she took me to Passover dinner at her family, and once we went to an interfaith service where Jews, Christians, and Muslims had organized an evening of worship together.  While the pictures I saw in the museum were a matter of an aesthetic response, now I experienced first-hand for the first time the practice of religion as part of the fabric of daily life.  

In sixth grade, I became especially interested in my family’s Mennonite heritage.  My grandfather was a Mennonite, and my mother was raised in that tradition.  Once, when I asked my mother why she was a liberal, she answered that she got her values from Mennonite summer church camps.  She clearly understands her ethics as coming from that Christian background, though she finds belief kind of ridiculous.  This answer has always meant that at the core, the line between what is religion and what’s not religion is more porous for me than for many people.  And in none of the examples that formed my earliest experiences of religion was believing that an ancient text was literal and inerrant even close to the radar.  Undoing the nonsense of fundamentalism was never a task that slowed me down in exploring the world of religious faith.

Taking the leap
Thinking back on the events of this period has been strange, because I’ve decisively moved on from much of the basic perspective, yet in other respects these events remain foundational.

In adolescence, I became increasingly committed not just to exploring religious ideas as a matter of interest, but to going on my own spiritual quest.  I eagerly read Dante, Black Elk, the Tao Te Ching, C. G. Jung, and shamanic narratives.  Because of this initial comparative perspective, I’ve never been afflicted with the idea that one religion is "the right one."  Rather, the decision to follow a specific religious tradition felt more like the decision to play viola rather than bassoon in an orchestra; a commitment to playing one instrument well is a prerequisite to playing well with other musicians.

A parallel journey in the same period was coming to terms with the realization that I am gay, which hit me full force when hanging out with a shirtless classmate at a slumber party in sixth grade.  I had been around enough gay people as a kid for me to be able to sort out my attraction to my classmate as "Oh, I’m gay," immediately.  And yet, throughout my teenage years, I grew increasingly conflicted about what that meant, though the reasons for that inner conflict are somewhat fuzzy in retrospect.  It’s been long enough since I came out that reconstructing those anxieties would take more effort than I have time for now.

These two journeys coalesced when I read Augustine’s Confessions in high school.  Here was a book in which the desire for God soaked every page, and one in which sexual desires were clearly in competition with spiritual desires.  I had found, for the time being, a solution to my problem of homosexual panic: deny the body and nourish the soul.  I never had a desire to become straight, but pursuing a kind of asexual purity felt liberating at the time.  It was in part to follow this liberating feeling that I decided to actually commit to the Christian faith.  Augustine also made it clear that theology is largely a matter of making sense of personal experience, and not just making abstract, "objective" statements about the nature of the world or God.

The other major component of the decision to move from mostly "looking at" various religions to practicing one had to do with a desire to deepen my connection to my family heritage.  I wanted to continue the religious tradition that had been passed down to me in a broken form from my grandfather through my non-religious mother.  So, the first week I got to college, I looked up the local Mennonite church in the phone book and started attending regularly.  I found in weekly attendance a source of calm that affected the tone of my entire week – as I found out by noticing how much more disjointed the week felt if I skipped church.  I came to have a deep appreciation for the value of some kind of communal ritual or worship, and I’ve found very similar senses of deepening experience in worship or meditation in various traditions, including Jewish and Buddhist rituals.

Challenges
I was largely content with this state of spiritual quest to the exclusion of sexual expression for a while, but then by the end of my first year of college, I met with three major challenges that I had to deal with.

I came across the name Mary Daly in some writings, and her ideas sounded intriguing.  I went to the library a few times, but the only book of hers that wasn’t checked out was titled Pure Lust, which at the time rubbed me the wrong way.  Nevertheless, after returning to the library a number of times, that was still the only book that was available, so I went ahead and checked it out.  What I got was a radical lesbian-feminist text that I quickly figured out was thoroughly hostile to Christianity.  But I couldn’t put her down.  There was something that was just too compelling for words there.

Some time after I started reading Mary Daly, I went to church and during sharing a man came out to the congregation.  At that point, I felt a lightning bolt hit me.  This was my truth as well, and I couldn’t use the church to hide it, after all.  I felt a kind of safety zone vanish, and I knew there wasn’t any turning back.  Because church was a place that unequivocally denied me the one attempt I made to bury my sexual identity, I can’t say that "Christianity" as such does one thing or the other with regard to homosexuality.  

At the same time as all of this, I was starting to do solidarity work with Central American resistance movements.  I joined the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador and met many people who advocated armed struggle against oppression.  As a Mennonite, I was committed to pacifism as a moral absolute.  But I found myself unable to answer the arguments my new friends were making.  I struggled very hard with these conflicting moralities, and it was a painful struggle.  One night, I had a dream in which I was speaking to a pacifist, and we witnessed a massacre.  I asked if those people didn’t have the right to defend themselves, woke up, and realized I wasn’t a pacifist anymore.  

So, at this point I had a faith I found immensely satisfying, and three fundamental challenges to it:  Radical feminism, coming out, and revolutionary politics.

To my viola teacher’s chagrin, I threw myself into the library and read as much as I could get my hands on.  I had to figure out a way to get it all together.  And it’s that wrestling with questions for which I had to find answers that ultimately led me to the study of theology and to pursuing it as a vocation.

The clearest answer I found at the time was in the thought of Rosemary Radford Ruether, the crux of whose thought you can learn about by following the link.  I later took classes with her, she was a member of my dissertation committee, and I am now co-editing a collection of essays by her former students, Voices of Feminist Liberation.  

I also had the privilege of taking Bible classes with John Dominic Crossan, a prominent member of the controversial Jesus Seminar.  We approached the text critically and historically, and although I was somewhat familiar with some of the ideas we explored, he brought the Bible to life in a whole new way.  His insistence, on the first day of class, that the Bible is not a book but a library was especially freeing.  Similarly, coming to understand the Documentary Hypothesis and other aspects of the multiple sources of the Bible permanently changed my sense of what the Bible is – the multiple and conflicting perspectives I can now see there make the Bible a model not for blind submission to an external authority, but a model for democratic deliberation of differing views.

The answers and solutions I was looking for extended far beyond the questions of coming out and what that meant for a life of faith, which I ended up pursuing for the rest of college and seminary in the context of the United Methodist Church.  But, these questions pushed me into a deeper engagement with the Bible itself.  As I pursued more explicitly liberal views, I had to ask questions about where various ideas came from and whether they were intrinsic to Christianity.  There were two particular strands of thought with regard to "Christianity and homosexuality" that were important for sorting out the questions I had.

First, was an insistence by modern theologians and biblical scholars that the division of a person into a body and a soul is a distinctly unbiblical notion.  This insight exploded the link I had forged between the closet and spirituality.  The Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) is supremely unconcerned with life after death – the notion of a soul separate from a body is a fairly late development in the history of Israelite religion.  Even Paul’s distinction between flesh and spirit has nothing to do with modern concepts of body and soul.  Going back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, one can see a religious vision that sees acceptance of mortality as an inherent part of spiritual maturity.  (Of course, no one knows what happens after we die, but I’m betting on oblivion.)  Some texts that stand out as having helped me see a historical development over the course of ancient history from a holistic sense of personhood to the division into body and soul are Phyllis Trible’s God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality, James Nelson, Embodiment: An Approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology, and for a close look at what happened after the historical development toward body denial, Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity.

Second was a profound demand for justice at the heart of the biblical tradition, a justice that demanded standing with the oppressed, indeed finding spirituality primarily in the struggle against oppression.  And that quest for justice was a theme that applied to me as a gay man in a straight world, just as much as it did for widows and orphans in the past.  This was a perspective I learned more from Latin American liberation theologians than from thinking about queer issues directly.  Three books stand out as having been particularly helpful in sorting out what it meant to be an openly gay Christian:  John McNeil’s The Church and the Homosexual, Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott’s Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, and John Boswell’s Christianity, Homosexuality, and Social Tolerance: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century.  My absolute favorite book on the subject is Gary David Comstock's Gay Theology Without Apology, which is the starting point for my dissertation.

Confirmation
After thinking through all these issues, I had one experience that in retrospect I see as the seal on my theological vocation.  I’ve hesitated to speak about this experience for some time, because it is so highly personal, but I’ve started speaking about it more freely of late.  For one year, I sat next to a conservative evangelical in orchestra.  He would try to get on my case about how sinful homosexuality is, and I’d come back with various arguments to the contrary.  He also had strong views on the exclusiveness of salvation through Christ, with which I also had issues.  In the course of one of those conversations, I said I thought it was a mistake for the Gospel of John to have been included in the Bible.  (My impression of it after reading it from front to back the first time was "Oh shit, here’s the blueprint for Jonestown."  That initial impression still colors my view of it, though I’ve come to see many more positive aspects of that particular book.)  In any case, that got his attention.  

So, after orchestra, we proceeded to find a spot on a lawn to talk, and I explained what I’d learned from my teachers about the formation of the Bible, how there were other Christian communities whose texts hadn’t been included, how different books spoke with different theological and ideological agendas.  In short, he got the run-down of the historical-critical method, an approach to the Bible that leaves little room for fundamentalist understandings of scriptural inerrancy.  I’m not sure what he did with that information, but he listened without being defensive about it.

After that, I left to go home.  I was walking through a parking lot, when I glanced up at a lilac bush, and I felt a surge of energy burst from the bush and time stopped altogether.  I felt the most unconditional affirmation I’ve felt before or since.  In real time, that couldn’t have lasted for more than a couple of seconds, but the moment as such felt as if it contained the totality of the world.  One could search for many explanations of such a phenomenon, but the simplest way I know of to put it is in that moment I saw God.  Whether "God" is best explained as a supernatural being or an aspect of my unconscious or something else is fairly irrelevant to the impact of the experience itself.  It’s an experience that confirms my sense that writers like Isaiah or Mohammad spoke from a profound spiritual core, and not a desire to mystify the masses to consolidate power.  And it’s an experience I increasingly find myself turning to when I get bogged down in the minutiae of academic research to get a perspective on why I do what I do.

Originally posted to dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 08:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Anglican Kossacks, and Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Revisiting this was interesting (30+ / 0-)

    because it frames my journey into theology as a quest for answers, but more recently I wrote a diary about religion that asserted that religion is more about deeper questioning without hope of an answer.  Thinking about it, I can see both tendencies in myself going way back.

    If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

    by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 08:33:20 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing this. (8+ / 0-)

    Tipped and rec'd for adding your voice to the growing field of queer theology.

    I'm surprised you don't have Patrick Cheng's Radical Love on your list - was it one you didn't read or didn't care for? I"d be interested to know your thoughts. (Cheng got his PhD at Union Theological Seminary, where I'm currently pursuing my MDiv, so he feels a little like family. :) )

    "Do not believe in any thought that dehumanizes you." - James H. Cone

    by Word Alchemy on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 08:51:55 AM PDT

  •  I have many questions for you, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Lujane, Wee Mama

    I have to go to a meeting. Later
    Very thought-provoking.

  •  fascinating journey! (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you for sharing it.  As a "recovering" MK (missionary kid), I'm quite interested in different interpretations of Christianity than the very restrictive, conservative version that I grew up with.  It's difficult to reconcile one's yearning for the transcendent with the judgmental and small-minded religion that is so dominant.  I'm drawn to the Quakers and the Unitarian Universalists for their emphasis on justice, inclusion and faith-in-action.  I remember having the notion of "faith not works" pounded into me, with the take-away that the important thing was to "be saved" (aka pray the correct salvation prayer to get into the club) and then to "have a personal relationship with Jesus" which frankly was more about conforming to social norms (read bible, pray before meals, go to bible study, listen to Christian music, hate on gays, vote pro-life).  Not a lot about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and healing the sick.

    Anyways, I'm still not to the point where I am comfortable in a formal religious setting yet, having been burnt by my upbringing.  But maybe I'll get there someday. :)

    •  I worship in a Quaker meeting now - (10+ / 0-)

      It's what fits best at this point - the silence can go so deep.

      As much as the demise of mainstream Protestantism pains me, I am pretty loathe to make recommendations for other people with regard to religious affiliation.  That's something everyone works out for herself.  I think the key is that spirituality and community feed each other - the form that takes is very much secondary, and it doesn't need to be formally religious at all.

      If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 09:15:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yo Dirkster - (5+ / 0-)

        Check your DK messages.  Wild coincidences abound; too much common ground to cover in a comment here.  

        A couple of items briefly:

        Re. your experience via the lilac bush: you're probably familiar with the technical definition of mystical experience.  See also R.M. Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness.  Does the idea "at home in the universe at-large" ring any bells?  And in a cognitive science way, it also makes sense of another experience you mentioned in another diary.  

        That's where the journey started for me, also at an early age; at this point I'm working on composing all of it into a coherent structure.  More to be said when we get in touch.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 10:29:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  UUs (6+ / 0-)

      Depending on the congregation, you may find more or less Christianity than you'd like, or heck, even more or less spirituality than you'd like. But what's wonderful about a UU setting is that there is space to explore what works for you, in a faith community that holds to the same principles as you. While I grew up with Unitarian parents, I was an adult before I settled into a UU congregation. I started many years ago as a UU pagan, but the space to explore means I now identify as a theist with more than a passing interest in the teachings of Jesus. :)

      Also know that the majority of UUs came from other denominations, so we're pretty good at helping people heal the wounds of sometimes deleterious religious upbringings.

      Wherever you end up, I hope you find some comfort and answers.

      "Do not believe in any thought that dehumanizes you." - James H. Cone

      by Word Alchemy on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 10:09:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dirkster, you gave me a headache (5+ / 0-)

    in the very best way, of course.

    I have always had a very difficult time with theology as it is taught in semnary and books. I am a much more pragmatic theologian, give me some work out in the garden and I can think about god and devotion and things like that all day. Put a book in front of me and I usually either go to sleep or read a page or two and start going off in a different direction. When I was in seminary, I slept really well if I read 2 pages of Karl Barth before turning off the light.

    My first religious exerience was very different from yours and yet also similar. I was very young 4,5,6 or so and woke up in the middle of the night from either a nightmare or a storm. I remember being in bed and then deciding not to go find my mother, but to find God and started praying ... and I have been doing that without fail since then, even when I did not believe. The fascination and the reality of the experience of reaching "beyond" and making sense of life draws you into a different existence. "God", for want of a better name or to use the one I am comfortable with, has always been a living breathing presence that I do not have to justify or deny and inspires me to live a much fuller life that I would ordinarily. Besides, I have my very best fights with God. LOL

    As for a hear after, I don't worry about it. Being in the Presence in the here and now is much more important to me than wondering if there is a "later".

    Now I am going to take some aspirin and not think so hard. Thinking is such hard work. LOL  Thanks for this, really.

    "Life without liberty is like a body without spirit. Liberty without thought is like a disturbed spirit." Kahlil Gibran, 'The Vision'

    by CorinaR on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 10:05:50 AM PDT

    •  Barth as a cure for insomnia... (4+ / 0-)

      been there, done that!

      I like your story of deciding to find God!  And I like the point about praying when you don't believe.  Brings home the point I keep trying to make that "belief" isn't necessarily the core thing about religion.

      If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

      by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 10:11:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's a bit much after a blender (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Lorinda Pike, Wee Mama

    of strawberry daiquiris but a couple of things--

    But comparing the experiences of such strong reactions to a specific kind of religious art and to the beauties of male bodies leaves me with a sense that there’s more similarity than difference in that basic gravitational pull toward something.
    And there's nothing like Catholic art for borderline homoerotic images in my opinion. All those loin clothed saints and saviors...

    The energy from the lilac bush struck me as oddly Old Testament. Have you attached or perhaps found or even recognized some significance in energy coming from a lilac bush? Was there a previous reason for that particular sort of bush to be significant to you? I can attach lilacs to all sorts of important people and places in my life.

    Again, did my usual rec and republish thing on you. I'll be back later to toss in another comment or two after the rum wears off and my reading comprehension skills return...

  •  Thank you for the repost, dirkster... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Wee Mama, Brown Thrasher

    I always enjoy reading your work.

    As a precocious 12-year-old raised in a deep-dipped-fundie environment, I found Huston Smith's book, devoured it, became a seeker, and never looked back.

    I am currently a weird amalgam of the Tao, Zen, quantum physics, with a quirky bit of Native American Church thrown in.

    And my "lilac bush"? It was a vividly red, absolutely perfect cardinal, sitting on a branch, looking at me. It was like being hit with a cool blast of air.

    I do so want to have that experience again.

    Peace.

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 10:43:17 AM PDT

  •  Thanks very much. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Lorinda Pike

    I think these ineffable experiences go very deep but by their nature can't be used to form arguments or to persuade. I agree with you that they may be more common than many realize.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 11:31:13 AM PDT

    •  Experiences are common (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42, Wee Mama

      I've found those experiences to be common, regardless of religious/philosophical persuasion.

      •  Some commenters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama

        in the past in response to it have described similar experiences that made atheism non-negotiable for them.  It's one of the reasons I don't see my job as a theologian as defending or proving the existence of God.  Different routes, different angles, and hopefully we can all learn something from each other.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:20:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hrmn (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dirkster42

          It's my experience that many people (not here and not you) like to claim boundaries on experience. And perhaps it's just the persnickety pansexual in me, but those boundaries, once stated, often cut right across the glorious mess that's my life.  

          •  True enough - (0+ / 0-)

            I've seen it happen - especially the "I identified as bisexual before I came out as gay, so therefore bisexuals don't exist."  Heard that too many times.

            As I get older, I get more accepting of the fact that the dent I can make in things is pretty small, and I just keep trying to keep the dialogue open where I can.

            If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

            by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 03:21:42 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Interesting diary, thank you n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42
  •  Interesting diary! Tipped & recced. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    I'm reminded a bit of the history of my own reflections on such things. Once I acknowledged the essential humanist core of my morality & outlook that was already there — & found that the world didn't crumble into chaos — I soon found myself free to study theological concepts in their (IMHO proper) philosophical/historical/literary/grammatical context.

    Also, since this seems germane to the diary as well: Having had friends who identified as bisexual — & reported conflicts not only with "straight" haters, but with those gays among whom "bi" is a snarl word — I've long since accepted that human sexuality is vastly more complex than this country's politicians & interest groups would like to think, & I despise all attempts to drive political wedges between not only LGBT Americans & "straight" society, but between the several LGBT communities.

  •  This morning, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    I sat on the back patio at work smoking a cigarette thinking of a disagreement I had in another diary yesterday.

    The mountains in front of me were topped with clouds and I suddenly noticed shafts of sunlight streaming down and touching the mountains.

    The beauty of God.

    I was raised Catholic but when I finally admitted to myself I was gay, I couldn't reconcile what I was being taught with that. I had to leave or kill myself. So I left.

    I identified as a Deist for a while but came back to accepting the teachings of Christ. They weren't what I was taught in my Catholic youth. It wasn't fire and brimstone and eternal damnation because I was gay. It was love and forgiveness and tolerance.

    So today I call myself a christian, though I am loathe to enter any church.

    In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. Ben Franklin

    by nokkonwud on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 12:08:13 PM PDT

    •  I used to call myself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dirkster42

      a Jewish Deist, never an atheist.

      Dirk, my God would never make a saint of a man whose claim to fame seems to be having deserted his wife and children.  Perhaps that's the Jewish background talking - we are such a humanist bunch.  I read the Confessions in college, and still have my copy, with the cover almost unreadable from reading it while getting carried out of the Boston Federal Building in the rain (support for Selma).  Praying with one's feet and all that.

      But I can see where asceticism could be attractive to a gay adolescent.

      The historical hypothesis makes the Bible (or Tanakh) more accessible to me as well.  But again, Jewish religion is based on arguing and sometimes agreeing to differ. (And I am convinced that if there is a heaven, it will smell of lilacs, so your mystical experience makes sense to me.)

      I arrived here in the summer of 2008, and I'm not sure whether I ever read it before, but thanks to you the books you mention are more familiar to me.

      Old people are like old houses - lots of character, but the plumbing leaks.

      by ramara on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:09:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My relation to Augustine at this point (0+ / 0-)

        is that the shape is right, but the content is all wrong.

        I'm still basically an Augustinian in a lot of ways, but not in the way of thinking he got it right!  On the other hand, he was smarter than I'll ever hope to be, so perhaps there's a stern discussion with him waiting for me at the pearly gates.

        If religion means a way of life, and life's necessities are food, clothing, and shelter, then we should not separate religion from economics. - Malcolm X

        by dirkster42 on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 01:23:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Since you seem to like books (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    I think Underhill's Mysticism would be helpful.

  •  Hate to have to tell you this, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    "Of course, many queer folk have vexed or even horrific experiences with religion."
    --Being straight doesn't mean you won't have vexed or horrific experiences with religion, either. :)

    And I'm another from agnostic ---> "atheist" ---> evangelical Christian ---> neo-Pagan currently.

  •  Sir Humphrey Says... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42

    In an episode of Yes, Prime Minister, the character Sir Humphrey Appleby remarked that theology was invented as a way to allow atheists to remain in the Church.

    I always find your diaries thoughtful and interesting, Dirkster.  Thanks for your story.

    "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

    by quarkstomper on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 02:08:03 PM PDT

  •  A lot of people don't get (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dirkster42, Julie Gulden

    that if you ask someone about their religion because you're curious, they'll usually tell you. But it helps to come from a home  reasonably free from suspicion of other faiths, as you did.

    I  was chatting with a Sikh coworker, a woman, this was some years ago. She said, you can come to my church (she used the word church),  everyone is welcome.  In fact, she added, you can skip the service & just come afterward for the food.  I thought of that Sunday.

    Keep up the journey, friend.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Wed Aug 08, 2012 at 04:23:21 PM PDT

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