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Encouragement, resource sharing, discussion - a place for those who don't quite fit into the normal Christian box. (Icon Photo used with permission - by Rod Long on Unsplash)
  1. What's new in this club
  2. Thank you! I could never find a way to change this one - I think if you don't do it at the start, you can't change it. Grr. So thank you, will DM for invite!
  3. I think if I'm going to be wrong about something, it might as well be the Jesus story. And that we need to put a LOT less emphasis on what Jesus is and more on being like him.
  4. I love thinking and talking about all of this. I may not have a lot of time in the next week or two (we have lots of family visiting), but can join in from time to time. I dislike the term progressive Christianity for various reasons, but I suppose I'd be called a progressive Christian. I prefer the term Gospel-oriented Christianity, because I believe it's actually closer to what the Gospel message is, which is fairly straightforward: basically, love God and love your neighbor. I hold on to my faith for different reasons. First, what we learn about Jesus' life and times historically appears true to me. I'd recommend the book Lord or Legend by Greg Boyd, or if you want the more in-depth version: The Jesus Legend, for more information on that. Super fascinating. Also, what Jesus teaches is unique, really revolutionary. Love your enemy? And self-sacrificing love? That's tough stuff but it changes everything. Then, believing in a creator makes more sense to me logically than not believing in one. There's a lot I could say about that. Churches have really messed up even if they mean well. I think if rules and laws and judgment and thinking about self-rights take priority over love, then it's mixed up. God is love, the spirit of love who is also our creator. I believe He put rules in place in the Old Testament to help guide us into at least treating people fairly (and meeting us where we were at) until we learned how to love correctly. I think His love flows through everything and if we begin to understand that, then we're closer to God whether we recognize it or not. I don't think people are ever our enemy... we're in this together. I probably sound kind of new-age sometimes, when I talk about love being the bottom line and whether you know God or not doesn't always matter for now. I think it's more important that one understands this concept of love. It's more important to understand this revolutionary type of love than to say the words "I am a Christian," for example. But I absolutely do believe in a personal God who loves us very much, individually as well, who constantly draws us toward Him, and someday even those who don't know Him will have that chance. And I believe He came to us in the form of Jesus. I don't believe God was ever violent, only that He sadly allowed things to happen when we walked away. I think violence is impossible for someone who is the essence of love. (And if we understand God as violent in the OT, we're misinterpreting it.) At the end of the day, I think a lot of things that we (Christians) think are so important during this lifetime, are practically irrelevant. God knows that life can be hard and sometimes we'll make mistakes due to things out of our control and we'll make life-long decisions that are messed up and we have genetics we can't help, and He's not going to judge us on that. But if we can learn how to love then we're on the right track. Oh gosh, there's so much more I could say. Our pastor is known as a heretic by some, but he and our church teach the most beautiful message of Jesus that I've ever heard. I don't think of our church's teachings as being a reflection of what we want to hear, because it's often tough stuff to hear. Like, loving our enemy. And, how weird to to ever put ourselves above anyone. Everyone's trying to figure out this thing -- life, and if I were in anyone else's shoes I'd probably be doing the same stuff they're doing. I will say that my thinking on this went round and round for years, but it wasn't until I really dug in and began reading everything I could by smart and humble people who have also wondered about all of this that I began to see things differently. Reading about the history of the early church, oral history, etc., was especially helpful. I did walk away from Christianity for several years at one point before then. I'll also add that I'm generally quite skeptical about things, and I'm a very practical Christian, not someone who "feels" the Holy Spirit, believes in everyday miracles, etc. It's really just based on what makes logical sense to me. (I don't say miracles are entirely impossible. but it's all a mystery to me. I just don't know.) Well, I'll start with that!
  5. I'd love to have this conversation in a private forum. I'm not comfortable having it here.
  6. Hi, I'm not sure if this club is still active. I've been reading a lot about the history of the Bible and early Christianity and it's kind of rocking my world. I was never a fundamentalist or a triumphantist Christian so I don't know why it's affecting me like this. We've began attending an Episcopal church. It's nice to be around normal people. We're new so we don't know that many people yet but everyone seems nice and normal. But I've been thinking recently why we're attending a church at all. One reason is that I need to find a community. We lost our community when we left our church. I believe in God and I think that religion provides a way for people to think about right and wrong in a thoughtful way. I see benefit in ritual and liturgy. Progressive Christianity is much *nicer* than conservative Christianity. But what is its basis? We hear progressive Christians claim that Jesus loved everyone, etc. I sometimes feel like progressive Christians (and I would put myself in this class) have an attachment to the idea of Jesus so we're trying to fit him into our own ethical framework. The more I read about the history of the Bible and the Church, the more I begin to see that Jesus is a mirror. He's always reflected what people wanted him to reflect. Conservatives accuse liberals of twisting the faith to suit their agenda but everyone has always done that. Why do we progressive Christians believe in Jesus at all when we don't believe in all of the baggage in the Bible and church history? Why is the divinity of Jesus the part we keep? Is it because we want to keep that part because it's so hard to let it go? I'm going to admit that I'm a big heretic now. I think all of this religion stuff is man-made. The Bible, both Old and New Testament, was written by ordinary men who had no idea they were writing something that would be considered divinely inspired for 2000 years. I think Jesus existed but there isn't much evidence to support that people believed he was God in the early church. There probably wasn't an Exodus or Mt. Sinai. What do you guys think?
  7. So, y'all, I have NO IDEA how to make the club private. I only have a few options in settings. Maybe need to set up a different club and you can do it when first setting it up?
  8. I'm sorry that you are having a rough time. This season, this year, has been horrible in many ways, but I'm managing to find some peace and comfort through it all. I don't know your whole story, but I know you've been through some difficult times, and I'm sorry. I do pray for you, even though I don't know you. I realize there's a real person on the other end of this, and my heart hurts for you.
  9. Hello, I'm part of this group, but I think I'm not online consistently enough to see when things are being posted here. I would love to participate when I can! I agree that public vs private would bring a different type of conversation. (ETA: grammar correction 🙂)
  10. I am glad to see you @Tiberia I have had better days, today was rough. How about you?
  11. I was excited to see some activity, too! Maybe we'll just have to do it ourselves, BandH. How are things with you?
  12. I keep hoping this group will get active. I would love to have seen what you had to say.
  13. We run a lay Episcopal fellowship in our little community and we have had Zoom church every Sunday since March-- as well as another lay leader running a Saturday night vespers. It's actually been really nice! (methowepiscopal.com)
  14. The app is called "Time to Pray" and there's also a "Daily Prayer" app from The Church of England.
  15. Our church is very small, and we shut down in March and have been struggling to start up again. Our pastor did some YouTube sermons early on, and we've had a few meetings where people sit far apart. We don't do sacraments, so that's not an issue, but I like how your churches are being creative about communion. Right now, we're back to YouTube sermons. I think we're all learning that church is more about the community and relationships than about a weekly meeting. We're closer to some people than others, and have kept up on their lives and have helped each other out in this time. Our pastor has tried to touch base with every family through zoom calls and emails. We meet regularly for bible study with our next-door neighbors. It's all very unofficial, but it seems to keep us grounded. I have personally looked into some outside resources for my own walk of faith. We're in a completely non-liturgical church, but I've been enjoying a prayer app from the Church of England. It has daily morning and evening prayers and readings, with audio and text to read along.
  16. So, for parking lot church, you bring your own bread/ cracker and wine (or grape juice, I guess, would probably be fine). The whole parking lot is considered for purposes of consecration to be the altar. Then individuals or families consume the elements after the consecration. So you don't have to get within six feet of anyone else or touch anything someone else has touched.
  17. Our church is having parking lot services still, and we go sometimes, but honestly, usually when my husband is playing. I'm embarrassed to say we struggle with Sunday morning church. Our attendance has always been much more reliable at evening services, and those aren't being held in person. Usually I watch the streaming of our church's service after the fact. And I go to the Zoom services for a church that's on the other side of the country from me. Sometimes I also go to another Zoom church from a friend's church. I prefer Zoom church over live streams; it feels way more participatory. I miss the sacraments though. When we go to parking lot services, we have Communion, but it's bring your own elements, and that just doesn't feel right to me, with my high sacramental theology. I mean, it is covid safer. But still.
  18. Yesterday, 19 members of our family, from 4 generations and 5 households attended the vigil mass "together" 2020 style. After a few months of holding this service outside, they moved inside for daylight savings. Our church building is huge, and attendance is low, so it's very socially distanced, with mandatory masks and no group singing, but it's still outside all of our comfort level. Instead, our nuclear family attended from my DH's sister's house where we're visiting from the weekend. I opened a google meet, and shared the livestream with the rest of the family so we could attend together. We had 2 people watching from the couch, 2 lying on the floor coloring in a Catholic coloring book, while we watched the service on the Apple TV. My husband's great aunt, who is on strict lockdown with her grandson and his husband, also attended from home. One blessing of the pandemic is that online church means that she can attend with her brother, even if they're far apart. It's also nice that she can attend with her grandsons close, without forcing them into a church where they don't feel welcome. The rest of the family decided they wanted to receive communion, so they attended from 3 separate cars in the parking lot, using their cellphone hotspots to stream the service to their iPads, and then walking up to the church door to receive the sacrament there. Unfortunately, my 10 year old seems to have passed his inability to sit through a church service on to his younger cousins who left halfway through because they "needed to use the bathroom". My atheist/Jewish BIL, who my SIL drags to church for this very reason, was probably delighted at the excuse to leave. If you had told me last year that this is how church would look in 2020, I'm not sure I would have believed you, but it seems to work, and even had a few advantages. So, what does church look like for your family in 2020?
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