My autobiography: Part 1 Intro

This is funny. I came to my blog for the first time in a month–and I find this headline. But I didn’t write anything! So I am just going to say–I plan on writing my autobiography….and I will write just a little now. I was born in Lafayette, Indiana, in 1954. My father was an ROTC instructor at Purdue University. I feel very fortunate because I was the only one of my four sibling who got to have my daddy with me for the first three years of my life, which I understand are extremely important years for developing secure attachments. Having secure attachments helped me, I think, weather the many storms of life that I have encountered without going crazy. Okay, some may think I have gone crazy…but that is another story.

My parents had many good friends, and some of them we called “uncle” and “aunt” even though they weren’t blood relatives. So I remember Uncle Basel–but I d0n’t remember his wife’s name. Uncle Basel taught me two things when we moved back to Indiana when I was 8 years old. I am pretty sure I was between 8 and 10 years old when he shared these words which I so value.

  1.   If everyone likes you, something is wrong. You are probably trying to please people, and not be true to yourself.
  2. Whenever  you do something, ask yourself, “What would happen if everyone did this? Would it be good for the entire world?”

To think that I had a wise person in my life sharing these profound truths when I was pretty young seems amazing to me. This way of thinking was way before its time, yes? I mean, that was 54 years ago. And that I could actually let those words sink in, and still remember them. That is amazing to me as well.

So now, in conclusion, I want to remember that my words and ideas may have more impact than I will ever know on people. And I still need to remind myself of the words of wisdom that my Uncle Basel shared with me. It is always a temptation to try to please people and not be true to myself. I still do things that are not all that great for the planet. I want to be in prayer about living these two truths out to the best of my ability, and thus I can be more congruent, and thus have more personal power which I can use in order to help bring about the positive changes that are sorely needed in the world.

When I was 26 or so, I went to a career counselor who told me that the way I was going to be effective was to work with a team, because that is how I work best. I am looking for a team of people with complementary skills, and shared values which include following Jesus teachings of non-violence and enemy love, wise stewardship of the earth, and commitment to living simply with utmost integrity. I love the values of the Transition Town movement I want to work together with them in order to build an eco-village on my family’s 27 acres of land in Arkansas, which can expand into the larger property of Living Springs which has about 600 acres of available property to buy.

I hope and pray that my autobiography can end with my family and I living in our ecovillage and helping every living creature on the earth thrive. Maybe you will be a part of that vision! I can’t wait to find out:)

 

 

 

 

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Resources For Deconstructing Your Christian Faith

Or have you left it entirely?

When I left the Methodist Church when I was 16, I thought the only alternative to Christianity was to find another faith walk. So for the next 33 years, I was a seeker. I could never find a path that satisfied my longing for meaning.

When I reluctantly surrendered my life to Jesus 15 years ago at age 48, I had a thread of a hope that I could find the peace I was searching for all these years. 

I found peace, but I also found turmoil because almost immediately after I made my public profession of faith, I was expected by some of the congregation to believe certain things–like how the bible is inerrant.

Now that I am a Christian Vegan, I am finding that many Christians are leaving their faith because of the issues they experience with their church, and I want my Christian animal rights activists to have some hope.

I have found the following resources to be helpful as I deconstructed my faith. I just can’t leave Jesus in the dust.  And a growing number of people are finding their faith through losing their rigid, fear-based beliefs.

This blogger has inspired me with her story and her writing  about deconstructing her faith. http://kathyescobar.com

One of the most important resources I found in 2014, was this website https://christianuniversalist.org The following words struck a chord in my soul. Now, after many hours of studying scripture and authors who know scripture inside and out, I am convinced that this is the truth of what the Bible teaches.

“Are you looking for a faith community that boldly proclaims God’s unfailing love for all people?, that presents Jesus Christ as a Savior who shows us the true heart of the Creator, as a spiritual leader you can follow with joy and integrity — indeed a faith that does not use the fear of an endless burning “hell” to frighten people into being Christian?

Has your heart already told you that by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, in the end there will be no one left behind — and that through this blessed hope we can truly break down barriers and bring people together in a spirit of joy and “good tidings to all”?

There is such a faith and it is called Christian Universalism. This positive and victorious message of the Gospel is not something new but was in fact a prevailing belief of the Church for many years after Jesus lived and died.”

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Rob Bell wrote the controversial book, Love Wins, and in less than five minutes, he shares about evangelical Christianity in a way that is so inspiring and from the heart. 

I felt very disappointed in the many Christian leaders who blasted Rob Bell because they thought he was a Christian Universalist. I started researching Christian Universalism, and I realized–this is what I believe. Many Christians, including at least one fundamentalist, have looked deeply into the Bible and have embraced the idea that a loving God would not punish people because they didn’t believe a certain way. Thus, the idea of an eternal hell is obsolete.

Rob Bell understands that Jesus teachings indicate that we can make heaven and hell in the present moment. Notice how the person who posted this video wanted to try to discredit him with scriptures. But listen to Rob’s words. What a contrast! (less than ten minutes) 

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Science Mike grew up as an evangelical Christian who then decided he was an atheist and still attended church, hiding his unbelief. Then he came back to his faith in a new way. I liked the way he answered an atheist who attends a Christian church who wrote him a letter.

Science Mike has a great writing on dealing with doubt from a scientist’s point of view http://mikemchargue.com/blog/2014/10/16/walking-with-god-through-doubt

If you are willing to spend a bit more time, Science Mike gives one of the most inspiring and grounded testimonies I have ever heard from a Christian. You might get hooked on these podcasts http://www.theliturgists.com/podcast/2014/10/14/episode-6-lost-and-found-part-1

The Liturgists podcasts about GLBTQ was so powerful that after listening, I made my final decision that I wanted to be a part of a church that welcomes qualified people of all sexual orientations to be in leadership positions and not to be viewed as sinners.  http://www.theliturgists.com/podcast/2015/5/18/episode-20-lgbtq

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Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest, says, “Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We are often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid.”
Richard Rohr, Breathing Underwater: Spirituality and the 12 Steps

Here is a two minute video where Richard defines love 

You can find out more about him at this website

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Bruxy Cavey is the teaching pastor at The Meeting House, a mega church in Canada that shares the non-violent teachings of Jesus. I love Bruxy! Once I wrote several blog posts about him, and sent them to him. He and his family left a message on my phone saying my words were like spiritual multivitamins. Then his whole family said together, “we love you!.” He is the real deal! Listen to Bruxy share  in this video in less than five minutes about why there is evil in the world if God is so good.

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I appreciate Greg Boyd, a scholar, author, and pastor of Woodland Hills Church. He has a lot of great teachings.

 

 

Doreen Virtue, who you will learn about on this website, is a Christian vegan who lives in Hawaii with her husband. They have an animal sanctuary.  I am getting to know this delightful, loving and authentic person through online correspondence.  Her commitment to Jesus is not front and center on her website, but you can scroll down and find a wonderful testimonial and meditation about Jesus by Doreen.

I found her testimony to be very inspiring and the meditation very much in alignment with how I relate to Jesus.  She shares about angels, fairies, and clairvoyance–but all in a way that I perceive as being in alignment with Jesus.  Doreen calls Jesus an Ascended Master in the meditation, but in January 2017 she had an experience of Jesus that inspired her to surrender her life to him. She believes he is the son of God and a member of the Trinity. She was baptized, attends church and Bible studies. She is in the process of switching things around so she can focus on Jesus.

In this meditation, Doreen calls Jesus an Ascended Master. That is what she believed for decades after having a powerful vision of Jesus when she was in her late teens.  In January 2017 she had an experience of Jesus that inspired her to surrender her life to him. She believes he is the son of God and a member of the Trinity. She was baptized, attends church and Bible studies. She is in the process of switching things around so she can focus on Jesus.

An increasing number of Christians are realizing that trying to live according to their interpretation of the Bible causes a lot of division. But when we make our relationship with Jesus as our common bond, rather than doctrinal differences, we can more effectively cooperate and demonstrate the agape love that Jesus taught. This is what we want to do at Jesus Vegans Community. 

What I love about Doreen is her passionate commitment to her relationship with Jesus. I am going to share her work with people who have been turned off by traditional Christianity but who resonate with Jesus and the idea that God is love.

I hope you will browse my blog. You might find some other interesting resources. Let me know if this was helpful–I would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

For People Who Have Left Their Faith..and Who Are Open

If you are reading this post, I have some guesses about why you made this decision to leave your faith.

I am writing this to people of all ages who were raised in a Christian home and who have decided to leave the faith of your childhood. I hope I can support you in making an educated decision about what following Jesus really is. It’s not about have the perfect beliefs, or following rules. I hope that you might look at these resources which can describe what I believe that following Jesus is about.

I wish that I could have read a testimonial similar to what I am sharing because it might have helped me avoid 30 years of what seems now like wandering in the wilderness.  My hope is that these words I share will inspire you to at very least be willing to open to a new way of experiencing spirituality, and at most that it will help you to return to the faith of your childhood with fresh eyes and an open heart that will yield peace.

I need to make it clear right now that I am not encouraging you to go to church. Most churches do not demonstrate the kind of Jesus following spirituality that I want to share with you. In fact, I encourage you to stay far away from any church where people will pressure you into believing a certain way, or which is so open that Jesus teachings are actually discounted. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

If you want to learn about various resources that I wish I could have found when I first left the church, I invite you to go here. But if you want to hear my story, read on.

I can understand your decision to leave the church. It was one I made when I was 16, in 1970. I still remember clearly that I just could not put up with the hypocrisy and the teachings that just didn’t make sense to me. I told my parents and my pastor I was letting go of my membership in the First United Methodist Church in National City. I had been chairman of the Methodist Youth fellowship, a member of the choir, and my parents were active lay leaders. I still can’t figure out why no one tried to discourage me from leaving.  But when I was free, what a relief I felt. Yet the next thirty years of seeking for something that could satisfy my soul’s longing for meaning and peace was so full of pain and disappointment.

I am imagining that you may be feeling the way I did. I yearned for peace,  and peace escaped me.  I was never an atheist. But I called myself agnostic, then I decided I could follow a guru, and found that after 15 years this path was just as disappointing as my childhood religion and I left. I yearned to find a community where I could feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

I finally found the peace I was looking for when through a series of what I would call unlikely and miraculous situations, my family and I found a little house church in the middle of nowhere near Kingston, Arkansas. None of the people there were native Arkansans, but most had come from all parts of the country to buy land that was part of a 600 acre parcel that the owners envisioned would be Christian community.  We felt unconditionally loved by these folks, even though we were not Christian.  and shared many values. They did not push their faith on me, which gave me a chance to be more open. After about six months of being part of this fellowship, I reluctantly surrendered my life to Christ. I say reluctantly, because my words to Jesus were something like this, “I don’t know if surrendering my life to you is going to work–but I am so sick of my life, and not having peace, I am give you a try.  I want you to know that if you don’t come through, I will just give up.”

Since that time, I have had an increasing sense of peace in my life that I yearned for. But there were times when I once again wanted to leave this faith because some of the people who were part of the fellowship were elected into leadership positions and they transformed our informal, leaderless, egalitarian group which was like an extended family into a church where if people did not subscribe to some rigid beliefs, they could not be in leadership positions. I could not go backwards and say things like I believed the Bible was inerrant, or people are going to burn in hell for eternity if they don’t believe what these folks believed.  I had actually tried to believe such things for the past year, but now that we had official elders who demanded that we believe such thing, I knew I had to do something different. I needed to be honest with these people who had grown to be like family to me, and let the chips fall where they may.

I almost left again. I read all kinds of books about liberal theology which discounted Jesus claims of divinity, and the reliability of the Bible. I read books by atheists, free thinkers, and others who wanted to prove that God did not even exist.  But the more I read, the more I realized that there was something in my path of following Jesus that really was giving me peace, love and joy.  These folks who I was studying  didn’t seem to have that peace, love and joy.  Most of them seemed pretty angry, judgmental, self-righteous, and dogmatic–just the things I did not like about many Christians.

So for the past 13 years, after 1 year of trying out being more fundamentalist in outlook, I  have been searching for a way to embrace this beautiful Jesus path that gave me a foundation upon which to grow that I had not had before.  Even growing up, I only knew a religion comprised of do’s and don’ts–not what it was like to have a relationship with Jesus and to understand the value of his non-violent, enemy loving, yearning for justice for all-especially the poor, needy and defenseless-teachings. Even in the past two months or so, I have opened up to a view of Jesus that, because of continued need for security, I had a hard time looking at.

I now embrace the mystery that is inherent in my spiritual path of following Jesus. Embracing the mystery, instead of clinging to security, has inspired me to relate to Jesus in a more humble way than ever before. Being able to tell him in one breath, “I don’t really know you,” and then in the next breath, “I just want to give my all to you and be your hands and feet to those who you want me to help,” works for me. Even though I can’t see Jesus, or God, or the Holy Spirit,  being willing to focus on this path as a kind of container in which to pour my yearnings, sorrows, and dreams just keeps yielding peace and even revelations like no other path that I have ever followed has given me.

I have finally found a church where the teachings of Jesus are shared and practiced in a way that embraces people wherever they are at in their journey–from atheism to total commitment to following Jesus. Even though I have only been getting to know the folks at Good Shepherd Lutheran in Fayetteville, Arkansas for the past 3 weeks, I have thoroughly immersed myself in learning the history of this church and its denomination, Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America. I appreciate the fact that this church provides an environment where people can learn through both experience and study in a loving faith community where they can decide for themselves what they believe and how they interpret the Bible.

If you resonate with my story, I hope you will visit this post where I list a variety of mostly short podcasts, videos and reading which I hope you can relate to and which can give you hope that following Jesus is not an outdated, boring, dogmatic path. The amazing thing is that now, 2016 years after his death and resurrection, people are finding that his teachings were so far ahead of his time, and we need his teachings of non-violence and enemy love, justice for all, love combined with wisdom more than ever before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maria Montessori promoted peace through her philosphy

I have always resonated Maria Montessori, and the Montessori method. I did not realize she was an anthropologist and a Christian. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, I think you will find this very inspiring and insightful. Maria was also committed to figuring out ways to raise children so that they would be peaceful

Lost and Found: Stories of how Evangelical Christianity can be toxic but faith can be transformed

“What is it like to lose God? Is there a way back after unbelief? Michael Gungor and Science Mike share their stories on these podcasts.

Whatever your spiritual path (or lack of), I think that this story will be interesting to you.  The best thing about these guys is that they don’t think they have know everything for sure in order to have faith, and they don’t have a need to push their beliefs on anyone. Oh, and you can also be a scientist and still have faith. http://www.theliturgists.com/podcast/2014/10/14/episode-6-lost-and-found-part-1

Michael Gungor of the Michael Gungor Band shares his story of leaving his evangelical Christian faith, and then meeting Science Mike. This meeting inspired Michael to be able to once again follow Jesus but in a more holistic way.  This happens in part 2 of Lost and Found.

I would love to hear what you think about Science Mike and Michael’s stories.

Women Who Are Taking The Road Less Traveld

This book called 20 Beautiful Women: Stories that will heal your soul, ignite your passion and inspire your divine purpose sounds really great. I have not read it, but I am taking a chance on recommending it. I read the first chapter about a woman who had a late term abortion and suffered domestic abuse, and it was powerful.  Just the subtitle alone fits in with the things that you need to do to get unplugged from the Matrix.

Of course the Peace Pilgrim is an example of someone who totally unplugged from the Matrix. I will write more about her in another article, but you can get a free book about her here.  This describes her in a nutshell:

From 1953 to 1981 a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”

I would love to hear your story about how you are unplugging from the matrix.