collapse
2019 Donation Drive

It's time for our annual Server Donation Drive! We need to raise at least $650 (same as last year) to keep The Cauldron's server online for another year. Please help! Either hit that Paypal button to the right and make a one-time donation in any amount or set up a monthly Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor subscription. You can find more info in this message!

Donations as of 16 Sept 2019: $660 donated. $10 more our minimum goal! Let's beat last year's total of $99 more than the minimum!


Note: This total is updated manually, usually once a day


* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"  (Read 336 times)

Quill

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2019
  • Location: NC
  • Posts: 8
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Currently Soul-Searching
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« on: September 08, 2019, 12:37:34 pm »
Good morning! Not sure if this is in the right place - it seemed the best fit as it touches several subjects.

I stumbled upon this forum in the midst of my religious soul searching and it seems the best place to post what I'm feeling to get some feedback. My feelings are pretty all over the place. This is going to be long, so thank you for reading patiently.

I was raised southern Baptist. I wasn't initially allowed to read Harry Potter or watch the movies until my mom accidentally stumbled on the first movie on TV and fell in love with it herself. My extended family is deeply entwined with a particular church in the area as we have all been raised in that church. I'd say, outside of the younger generations, my mom and I were the only ones who didn't really hold the full beliefs of that church - honestly, my mom was the sweetest, most kind-hearted, open minded, and supportive person I've known. She was my best friend.

No one in my family had ever been diagnosed with cancer before, so it came as a shock when, at 65, Mom was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma - bile duct cancer, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. By the time it was caught, it had spread to her liver and lymph nodes. Because her liver was in such poor condition - multiple large tumors - she could not undergo chemo, and she passed less than two months after her diagnosis on December 5th, 2018. Her last two months came with much suffering in many different ways, a fact that angers me and confounds me to this day.

A couple of weeks before she passed, a kind man from the church came to visit her to give her comfort and peace of mind. I think she was so receptive to him above others because of his kind nature. While they were talking, she turned to him and asked, "Why is this happening to me? Am I being punished? Did I do something against God?" I think, in that moment, my belief began to crumble. If my mom, who was a woman truly representative of the heart and soul of Christianity, of the kindness and compassion and forgiveness that's supposed to be there, who never drank or married more than once or did anything that broke the "rules" of the church, felt like she had done something wrong to be punished for, then the world is doomed and my beliefs were shot.

I do feel a lot of fear about rejecting Christianity and finding a new spirituality. Not so much for myself - I worry for her, and for my husband. If I stop believing in God, what does that mean for Mom? Where is she if not in Heaven? I can't imagine another place for her. I can't bear the thought of there just being nothing after this and her being completely gone. The thought of never seeing her again, even in the afterlife, is soul-crushing. The same goes for my husband, who is alive and well, but no one lives forever. I can't imagine only being with him in this short life and never being with him again after death.

I've always been drawn to things that the church was blatantly against, and mostly used music to "scratch the itch," so to speak. I started with Marilyn Manson when I was growing up - I remember feeling guilty when I'd listen to "The Reflecting God" or "The Fight Song" because the lyrics were so blatantly anti-Christian. My current favorite band is Ghost, a band chock full of blatant (albeit satirical) Satanic imagery and lyrics. Music has always been such an extremely important part of my life, it's my way of expressing myself and feeling and healing. If something that's such a huge part of my life is the complete opposite of my belief system, then what does that mean for me?

While most of the music I listen to isn't specifically "pagan", I'm leaning toward paganism now. There are few "rules" to follow, it's much more fluid than a more rigid and strict religion. I have changed over time, my beliefs have changed over time, thus my spirituality should be able to change and adapt over time. I've also desired some sort of 'ritual' to follow - I always admired that about Catholicism.

For myself, I'm comfortable reading more and seeing where this path takes me. But I can't shake that fear, that "What if?" about the afterlife. It's holding me back and keeping me stuck in crisis. I do wonder how my husband will take it, but we have both been on the same page religiously for a while - disillusioned with church but still believing in God - but I don't see it being anything that will cause a rift in our marriage, it just might be concerning for him.

I'm sorry if my post was rambly; I tried to include any relevant information. I'm just not sure how to go forward at this point. Going back to the way things were would probably be easier, but I think it might be too late for that at this point.

EclecticWheel

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2013
  • Location: Texas
  • Posts: 632
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 145
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Re-evaluating/ Star & Marian Rites, Agnostic with faith
  • Preferred Pronouns: he/him/his
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 02:36:02 pm »
For myself, I'm comfortable reading more and seeing where this path takes me. But I can't shake that fear, that "What if?" about the afterlife. It's holding me back and keeping me stuck in crisis.

I am never certain about such matters as the afterlife.

Though I've got friends that strongly disagree, I'm just not sure we can really know from this side of things the "if" and "what's" about the afterlife or afterlives.

Based on what I've read over time on the forum and elsewhere, the particulars of beliefs are not as important in neo-pagan spirituality.  Practice is more prominent in some paths, allowing for a diversity of beliefs and perspectives.

That said, uncertainty in this matter may be understandably uncomfortable for you.  You might still try exploring some different afterlife beliefs for a while and suspend judgment on the matter regarding particulars.

I know that may be difficult, even painful, but it might be what you need in this transitional state to get to where you need to be.

After a while you may get to a place in which you can build a practice, such as honoring your dead, and focus more on the practicalities involved than minute beliefs.  That could possibly give you a stronger sense of connection to your beloved dead while giving room for your beliefs to follow suit, adjust, and/or evolve with time as is most conducive to your flourishing.

These are mysteries after all, and this may be one way of finding answers, insofar as we can, that will bring you meaning.

You may find that doing and acting, either based on intuition or after study or some combination, will comfort your mind.  You will be able to act more so than stress yourself with overthinking matters to which there may not be clear and knowable answers.

In my practice I regularly pray for the dead in general, and I honor my deceased grandmother in particular formally every year on the anniversary of her death and also in informal ways.  (I need to do more research on my ancestors in general, as there are lots of gaps, but that devotional endeavor is currently subsumed in a more general reverence for the dead.)

There are some ways that I acknowledge in my practice that my grandmother still lives.  For example, I still love her, and she lives on in the love she was a part of creating.  In other ways, the matter is not as clear, but the fact that I'm acting and doing leaves some possibilities open.

You may need to do some thinking to get to the acting, but once you can act, perhaps you can let the mind rest and simply focus on the meaningful connections you are building through practice.

The acting part can be as simple as putting out a cool drink, lighting incense, and saying, "I love you, Mom," or even more simple, as suits your needs, abilities, and circumstances.

I don't know where my grandmother is as regards an afterlife.  I do know that I love her, and I act based on that, and those actions bring me more comfort than simply believing what I'm told, whether by family, religious authority, or some other source.

I also wanted to add that I am sorry for the suffering your mother endured and the pain you feel.  My grandmother also suffered from cancer.

But one thing I keep in mind as to my grandmother is that I will not reduce the meaning of her life to just one moment or one time period.  There were so many other precious moments of love that I remember during a time when I couldn't find that love anywhere else.  That still nourishes me today.

This is my approach.

I hope that perspective is helpful to you, and I wish you all the best.

My personal moral code:

Love wisely, and do what thou wilt.

Jenett

  • Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: Boston, MA
  • Posts: 3079
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 635
    • View Profile
    • Seeking: First steps on a path
  • Religion: Initiatory religious witchcraft
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2019, 04:35:38 pm »
she passed less than two months after her diagnosis on December 5th, 2018. Her last two months came with much suffering in many different ways, a fact that angers me and confounds me to this day.

I'm so sorry for your loss.

The first thing I want to say is that modern society doesn't talk about grief much, and there are a lot of pressures to move on. But a lot of researchers who look at this (and people's lived experiences!) make it clear that for many people, the first year is a time where a lot of the questions you're having come up.

In other words, the kind of questioning you're going through is fairly normal (not everyone does it, but plenty of people do, even without the specific religious issues you talk about here) and it's also entirely normal if you don't have answers you're comfortable with for a while yet. Frustrating, maybe, but really normal.

If you haven't already considered it, doing some further work around grief specifically might be helpful for you. For some people that's a grief support group, or a therapist. Or there are online options, or some people find making time for reading and reflecting (or something similar) helps. But be gentle with yourself! That's a lot of change, very rapid and stressful change, even before you get to the grief parts.

As EclecticWheel says, Paganism doesn't have a single answer to what happens after we die (and neither do many specific paths within modern Paganism, though some do). Some people find this freeing, some find it difficult...

My tradition's practice includes honouring ancestors at every ritual (not just blood ancestors). My father died when I was 15 in 1990, and he's both someone I regularly invite in ritual, and I am quite sure he shows up. Among other things, he makes really bad puns in Attic Greek at times. I invite my grandmother (the only one of my grandparents still alive when I was born) and she shows up sometimes. (Both of them were devoted Catholics.) It's not like they're in the room, but the feel of them is, something distinct and not-me, and not my memories, but something beyond that.

I believe (and the above experiences incline me towards...) that the "us" who dies goes on in different directions. Some part of our core identity continues into an afterlife that I can't begin to understand, but I believe it's there. Some part of our selves, I think, reincarnates, and comes back to this physical world in some form (whether or not specific memories of a previous life come along is something I'm agnostic about.) Maybe other parts do other things - I'm not sure. And honestly, other than as an intellectual curiosity, I don't care about it. I want to live as a good a life as I can in this world, and if that isn't good enough for the next thing, well. That's not something I can fix from here.

I will say that shifting the locus of power from an external God to the self (as is key in some forms of Paganism) does mean that questions like your mother's ... cease to be the relevant question. By that, I don't mean that people are to blame for bad things that happen to them, but rather that we are  moving to understand that we have control over ourselves and our actions (or at least can exert some direction over them). At the same time, we're moving to understand that we live in a large interconnected cosmos, and often things are going to happen to us and around us that are not our fault, but that we still have to deal with somehow.

We do get a choice in how we face those things and how we choose to move forward (if we choose that), and we get to keep making those choices for as long as we live. (And quite possibly after that, but that is not an area I can be certain about!) Gods can help with that. Powers can help with that. Ancestors can help with that. Books and music and art and science and cooking can help with that. But in the end, we are the ones making choices for ourselves, and dealing with the consequences of those choices.

Quote
Music has always been such an extremely important part of my life, it's my way of expressing myself and feeling and healing. If something that's such a huge part of my life is the complete opposite of my belief system, then what does that mean for me?

I think it means that that's something worth looking at more. I find myself drawn toward particular things at particular times in my life (books and music, primarily, but sometimes other creative forms) and when I start seeing that pattern, I usually do some poking at myself to figure out what I'm angling for so hard and why, so I can do more of that deliberately, or sort out the underlying thing that's lacking in my life and making me crave that thing.

(I also have a whole thing about spending most of my time - not all of it, but certainly a majority - immersing myself in music and other art forms (TV, movies, etc.) that underline the values I want to have, rather than things I don't want to have in my life. So if I found myself being continually drawn to a thing that was counter to my values, I'd want to figure out why, fairly promptly.)
Seek Knowledge, Find Wisdom: Research help on esoteric and eclectic topics (consulting and other services)

Seeking: first steps on a Pagan path (advice for seekers and people new to Paganism)

ehbowen

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Location: Houston, Texas
  • Posts: 1147
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 199
  • A Ways Around the Bend...
    • View Profile
    • Streamliner Schedules
  • Religion: Southern Baptist
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2019, 11:32:28 pm »
Good morning! Not sure if this is in the right place - it seemed the best fit as it touches several subjects.

I stumbled upon this forum in the midst of my religious soul searching and it seems the best place to post what I'm feeling to get some feedback. My feelings are pretty all over the place. This is going to be long, so thank you for reading patiently.

I was raised southern Baptist. I wasn't initially allowed to read Harry Potter or watch the movies until my mom accidentally stumbled on the first movie on TV and fell in love with it herself. My extended family is deeply entwined with a particular church in the area as we have all been raised in that church. I'd say, outside of the younger generations, my mom and I were the only ones who didn't really hold the full beliefs of that church - honestly, my mom was the sweetest, most kind-hearted, open minded, and supportive person I've known. She was my best friend.

No one in my family had ever been diagnosed with cancer before, so it came as a shock when, at 65, Mom was diagnosed with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma - bile duct cancer, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. By the time it was caught, it had spread to her liver and lymph nodes. Because her liver was in such poor condition - multiple large tumors - she could not undergo chemo, and she passed less than two months after her diagnosis on December 5th, 2018. Her last two months came with much suffering in many different ways, a fact that angers me and confounds me to this day.

A couple of weeks before she passed, a kind man from the church came to visit her to give her comfort and peace of mind. I think she was so receptive to him above others because of his kind nature. While they were talking, she turned to him and asked, "Why is this happening to me? Am I being punished? Did I do something against God?" I think, in that moment, my belief began to crumble. If my mom, who was a woman truly representative of the heart and soul of Christianity, of the kindness and compassion and forgiveness that's supposed to be there, who never drank or married more than once or did anything that broke the "rules" of the church, felt like she had done something wrong to be punished for, then the world is doomed and my beliefs were shot.

I do feel a lot of fear about rejecting Christianity and finding a new spirituality. Not so much for myself - I worry for her, and for my husband. If I stop believing in God, what does that mean for Mom? Where is she if not in Heaven? I can't imagine another place for her. I can't bear the thought of there just being nothing after this and her being completely gone. The thought of never seeing her again, even in the afterlife, is soul-crushing. The same goes for my husband, who is alive and well, but no one lives forever. I can't imagine only being with him in this short life and never being with him again after death.

I've always been drawn to things that the church was blatantly against, and mostly used music to "scratch the itch," so to speak. I started with Marilyn Manson when I was growing up - I remember feeling guilty when I'd listen to "The Reflecting God" or "The Fight Song" because the lyrics were so blatantly anti-Christian. My current favorite band is Ghost, a band chock full of blatant (albeit satirical) Satanic imagery and lyrics. Music has always been such an extremely important part of my life, it's my way of expressing myself and feeling and healing. If something that's such a huge part of my life is the complete opposite of my belief system, then what does that mean for me?

While most of the music I listen to isn't specifically "pagan", I'm leaning toward paganism now. There are few "rules" to follow, it's much more fluid than a more rigid and strict religion. I have changed over time, my beliefs have changed over time, thus my spirituality should be able to change and adapt over time. I've also desired some sort of 'ritual' to follow - I always admired that about Catholicism.

For myself, I'm comfortable reading more and seeing where this path takes me. But I can't shake that fear, that "What if?" about the afterlife. It's holding me back and keeping me stuck in crisis. I do wonder how my husband will take it, but we have both been on the same page religiously for a while - disillusioned with church but still believing in God - but I don't see it being anything that will cause a rift in our marriage, it just might be concerning for him.

I'm sorry if my post was rambly; I tried to include any relevant information. I'm just not sure how to go forward at this point. Going back to the way things were would probably be easier, but I think it might be too late for that at this point.

I empathize with your loss. Although my parents are still with me, for which fact I am very grateful, and my grandfathers both passed before I could remember them, I had a very hard time letting go of my grandmothers through their final struggles with cancer (paternal) and dementia (maternal). I do believe that their departure was ultimately for the best...but it was hard saying goodbye.

I am an active member of a Southern Baptist congregation, and I personally tend towards the fundamental...as those on this forum who have dealt with me will testify. (I do also have some...oddities, you might say!) But a crisis of faith as one nears the end of life in this world is nothing new, nor is it anything to be ashamed of...remember Gethsemane? The biography of Southern Baptist missionary icon Lottie Moon records that she herself had a crisis of faith on her deathbed...which was resolved; the account goes on to record that she passed peacefully.

While fear does have some place in the religious sphere...as in other areas; imagine what would ensue if young children had no fear of a cliff or if those old enough to read and climb had no fear of a "DANGER - HIGH VOLTAGE" sign...ultimately, I'm utterly convinced that my God's love and compassion is as real as advertised and that, ideally, he wants our relationship with him to be based on that love and trust.

My view of God is not-quite-orthodox; I see omniscience/omnipotence/etc. not as something which is/was always and ever the same (although it appears that way from a distance, as God's "final" realization touches all of space and time...IMHO, of course), but as a Person (actually, Persons) who is growing and developing along with us...albeit at a rate and in a manner which we will never match; trying to "race" Him is an exercise in futility, but when you abandon the attempt to race then you can begin to explore...and there are an infinity of possibilities in which to do so.

What I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that while my God has not changed...he's still the same Person that Abraham and Moses knew, with the same feelings and emotions...I believe that His plan has developed. Specifically as regards the afterlife: I do believe that at one point in the plan God was willing to go after "us four, no more"...find as many souls as possible who could be identified and rescued, bring them to a place of safety, and then slam the door on the lifeboat, leaving those outside to face Satan on their own.

I believe that such is no longer the case. I believe that the inherent worth of every living soul demands that God relentlessly seek out and account for every individual out there...man, angel, demon, deity, animal, plant, insect...heck, even rock! For some this will mean rescue and liberation; for others it will mean judgment and accountability. But I believe that the design of that justice is for the ultimate benefit of those judged, and that once accounts have been settled there will be blessing there as well.

Please note that I am not in any way saying that all religions are ultimately the same or that our actions don't matter. I believe that it will be much more pleasant for those who seek and who willingly embrace the truth of the Scriptures than for those who have to be dragged before the bar of justice kicking and screaming...possibly multiple times. But I do believe...and this is just a gut feeling, but I trust it...that, eventually, everyone...I mean everyone...down to Old Scratch himself will say, "No mas!" And then the rebuilding can well and truly begin, and the words of the Apostle Paul will be fulfilled in truth:

Quote
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11; NKJV).
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

Uneryx

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Oct 2017
  • Posts: 199
  • Country: ca
  • Total likes: 128
    • View Profile
  • Religion: it's eclectic (woogie woogie woogie)
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2019, 02:46:37 am »

I'm sorry if my post was rambly; I tried to include any relevant information. I'm just not sure how to go forward at this point. Going back to the way things were would probably be easier, but I think it might be too late for that at this point.

No worries about rambling! A big shift in faith like that is a harrowing experience. Additionally, I'm very sorry for your loss and how it has impacted you.

My journey out of Christianity was a long one, and hit some of the same beats as yours. When my faith began to unravel, I first started by reading a lot of blogs on the Patheos Progressive Christianity channel, as I was searching for a Christianity that more embodied Christ's love without all the shame and blame and doom.

Then one thing led to another and suddenly astrology and tarot are a huge part of my life and I'm out in the woods leaving bread for faeries. Everyone goes on their own journey, and I wish you luck with yours!

As for the fear of rejecting Christianity and the thoughts of an after-life, I think you'll find in paganism that the attitudes about death are a lot more forgiving and open. As Jenett mentioned, ancestral work is something you can do to potentially see your mother again. For me , the various different perspectives on death are a source of comfort. I like not being certain that we'll live after we die, it makes this time we have here mean more to me. I *do* believe that the soul persists for a time. But as far as I can tell, there's no hell in Paganism and no eternal torture to worry about. Things will probably be ok.

With music, I say explore it further. Ghost is fantastic, and listening to their music has helped me peel away some of my fears about Satan. You might also give Faith and the Muse and Inkubus/Sukkubus a shot, if you like Manson and Ghost. Those bands are fairly gothy, and blatantly sing about pagan themes.

Quill

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2019
  • Location: NC
  • Posts: 8
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Currently Soul-Searching
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2019, 10:09:20 am »


That said, uncertainty in this matter may be understandably uncomfortable for you.  You might still try exploring some different afterlife beliefs for a while and suspend judgment on the matter regarding particulars.

I know that may be difficult, even painful, but it might be what you need in this transitional state to get to where you need to be.


I think more research may be the thing I need. I've been researching everything else but intentionally avoiding any afterlife type reading.

And thank you for the additional ideas. Once I come to the point that I have an altar and am more comfortable and confident in practice, I may have to put out some orange juice - she loved orange juice. Or a bagel from Panera. Today is her birthday actually; I wish I was at that point today, but I will wait until I am.

Thank you for your perspective, you've given me many things to consider.

Quill

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2019
  • Location: NC
  • Posts: 8
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Currently Soul-Searching
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2019, 01:34:01 pm »
I'm so sorry for your loss.

The first thing I want to say is that modern society doesn't talk about grief much, and there are a lot of pressures to move on. But a lot of researchers who look at this (and people's lived experiences!) make it clear that for many people, the first year is a time where a lot of the questions you're having come up.

In other words, the kind of questioning you're going through is fairly normal (not everyone does it, but plenty of people do, even without the specific religious issues you talk about here) and it's also entirely normal if you don't have answers you're comfortable with for a while yet. Frustrating, maybe, but really normal.

If you haven't already considered it, doing some further work around grief specifically might be helpful for you. For some people that's a grief support group, or a therapist. Or there are online options, or some people find making time for reading and reflecting (or something similar) helps. But be gentle with yourself! That's a lot of change, very rapid and stressful change, even before you get to the grief parts.

As EclecticWheel says, Paganism doesn't have a single answer to what happens after we die (and neither do many specific paths within modern Paganism, though some do). Some people find this freeing, some find it difficult...

My tradition's practice includes honouring ancestors at every ritual (not just blood ancestors). My father died when I was 15 in 1990, and he's both someone I regularly invite in ritual, and I am quite sure he shows up. Among other things, he makes really bad puns in Attic Greek at times. I invite my grandmother (the only one of my grandparents still alive when I was born) and she shows up sometimes. (Both of them were devoted Catholics.) It's not like they're in the room, but the feel of them is, something distinct and not-me, and not my memories, but something beyond that.

I believe (and the above experiences incline me towards...) that the "us" who dies goes on in different directions. Some part of our core identity continues into an afterlife that I can't begin to understand, but I believe it's there. Some part of our selves, I think, reincarnates, and comes back to this physical world in some form (whether or not specific memories of a previous life come along is something I'm agnostic about.) Maybe other parts do other things - I'm not sure. And honestly, other than as an intellectual curiosity, I don't care about it. I want to live as a good a life as I can in this world, and if that isn't good enough for the next thing, well. That's not something I can fix from here.

I will say that shifting the locus of power from an external God to the self (as is key in some forms of Paganism) does mean that questions like your mother's ... cease to be the relevant question. By that, I don't mean that people are to blame for bad things that happen to them, but rather that we are  moving to understand that we have control over ourselves and our actions (or at least can exert some direction over them). At the same time, we're moving to understand that we live in a large interconnected cosmos, and often things are going to happen to us and around us that are not our fault, but that we still have to deal with somehow.

We do get a choice in how we face those things and how we choose to move forward (if we choose that), and we get to keep making those choices for as long as we live. (And quite possibly after that, but that is not an area I can be certain about!) Gods can help with that. Powers can help with that. Ancestors can help with that. Books and music and art and science and cooking can help with that. But in the end, we are the ones making choices for ourselves, and dealing with the consequences of those choices.

I think it means that that's something worth looking at more. I find myself drawn toward particular things at particular times in my life (books and music, primarily, but sometimes other creative forms) and when I start seeing that pattern, I usually do some poking at myself to figure out what I'm angling for so hard and why, so I can do more of that deliberately, or sort out the underlying thing that's lacking in my life and making me crave that thing.

(I also have a whole thing about spending most of my time - not all of it, but certainly a majority - immersing myself in music and other art forms (TV, movies, etc.) that underline the values I want to have, rather than things I don't want to have in my life. So if I found myself being continually drawn to a thing that was counter to my values, I'd want to figure out why, fairly promptly.)

I'm a big fan of Caitlin Doughty and I've read her books and watched most of her channel(Ask A Mortician); thankfully I'd done so before Mom ever got sick, so I was already as prepared as I could be for the death and grief process. I'm well supported by my husband, but my work hasn't been quite as patient. I've had to go on anti-depressants as I had been told a couple of times that I was being too emotional. I was in the process of seeking therapy, but every therapist my insurance covers locally is a Christian-based practice - even before I really started looking at my faith, I didn't want to go to one because I didn't want to fear being shamed and judged during my therapy sessions. I'm hoping this transition to... whatever it is I land on, will bring me some peace.

I really like that about "different directions". It's a lovely way to think of it. Inexplicably, I've always been drawn to reincarnation and/or alternately being in your own version of "heaven" so to speak, so that theory really resonates with me.

Interestingly, the bit about music didn't even occur to me until I was writing up the original post. I never thought twice about it, but I've never really examined my belief systems, either; I've just went with the flow until now. At most, I considered it my personal little rebellion lol.


Quill

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2019
  • Location: NC
  • Posts: 8
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Currently Soul-Searching
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #7 on: September 09, 2019, 01:53:44 pm »
My view of God is not-quite-orthodox; I see omniscience/omnipotence/etc. not as something which is/was always and ever the same (although it appears that way from a distance, as God's "final" realization touches all of space and time...IMHO, of course), but as a Person (actually, Persons) who is growing and developing along with us...albeit at a rate and in a manner which we will never match; trying to "race" Him is an exercise in futility, but when you abandon the attempt to race then you can begin to explore...and there are an infinity of possibilities in which to do so.

What I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that while my God has not changed...he's still the same Person that Abraham and Moses knew, with the same feelings and emotions...I believe that His plan has developed. Specifically as regards the afterlife: I do believe that at one point in the plan God was willing to go after "us four, no more"...find as many souls as possible who could be identified and rescued, bring them to a place of safety, and then slam the door on the lifeboat, leaving those outside to face Satan on their own.

I believe that such is no longer the case. I believe that the inherent worth of every living soul demands that God relentlessly seek out and account for every individual out there...man, angel, demon, deity, animal, plant, insect...heck, even rock! For some this will mean rescue and liberation; for others it will mean judgment and accountability. But I believe that the design of that justice is for the ultimate benefit of those judged, and that once accounts have been settled there will be blessing there as well.

That is actually a really great way to look at it, and something I will ponder. We are, after all, "created in His image" which would mean that, if we can grow and change, so can He, right?

Quill

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2019
  • Location: NC
  • Posts: 8
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Currently Soul-Searching
  • Preferred Pronouns: she/her
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2019, 02:10:49 pm »
No worries about rambling! A big shift in faith like that is a harrowing experience. Additionally, I'm very sorry for your loss and how it has impacted you.

My journey out of Christianity was a long one, and hit some of the same beats as yours. When my faith began to unravel, I first started by reading a lot of blogs on the Patheos Progressive Christianity channel, as I was searching for a Christianity that more embodied Christ's love without all the shame and blame and doom.

Then one thing led to another and suddenly astrology and tarot are a huge part of my life and I'm out in the woods leaving bread for faeries. Everyone goes on their own journey, and I wish you luck with yours!

As for the fear of rejecting Christianity and the thoughts of an after-life, I think you'll find in paganism that the attitudes about death are a lot more forgiving and open. As Jenett mentioned, ancestral work is something you can do to potentially see your mother again. For me , the various different perspectives on death are a source of comfort. I like not being certain that we'll live after we die, it makes this time we have here mean more to me. I *do* believe that the soul persists for a time. But as far as I can tell, there's no hell in Paganism and no eternal torture to worry about. Things will probably be ok.

With music, I say explore it further. Ghost is fantastic, and listening to their music has helped me peel away some of my fears about Satan. You might also give Faith and the Muse and Inkubus/Sukkubus a shot, if you like Manson and Ghost. Those bands are fairly gothy, and blatantly sing about pagan themes.

I've always been interested in astrology and tarot and crystals and all sorts of things in the pagan realm, but I avoided them because I was taught they are not true or real (astrology and crystals, though I did have a massive crystal collection as a child that, as I look at pricing for new crystals, I now kick myself for getting rid of) or to fear (tarot). I don't know what elements will come into my practice, yet. Time will tell!

I've never truly feared hell. I think I've never really believed in it. I could see going through a judgement, as ehbowen spoke of in a previous post, but not hell. If people can and have interacted with their ancestors and loved ones after death(as evidenced by posts in this very thread), it makes me think there can't be nothing after death, which is comforting to me. I just hope whatever is after, if it is Heaven or something else, that it's a place I can give my mom a hug again.

I will definitely give those bands a listen. I've never feared Satan, either. I suppose it connects with not fearing/believing in hell.



Thank you to everyone who has responded! You've all been very helpful and given me some comfort, as well as many things to think over.

Sefiru

  • Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Nov 2013
  • Location: In the walls
  • Posts: 1712
  • Country: ca
  • Total likes: 348
    • View Profile
Re: Struggling - Religious "Crisis"
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2019, 06:36:23 pm »
Thank you to everyone who has responded! You've all been very helpful and given me some comfort, as well as many things to think over.

Others have said most of what I would have said, so I'll just add: if you're not already familiar with the Slacktivist blog, it's definitely something to check out. Its author is a progressive evangelical christian and one of the better writiers on theology that I've encountered.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
8 Replies
2947 Views
Last post January 03, 2015, 11:53:43 pm
by SunflowerP
11 Replies
1724 Views
Last post April 25, 2016, 04:13:43 pm
by Morag
1 Replies
611 Views
Last post February 18, 2017, 09:47:08 pm
by Jenett
39 Replies
3005 Views
Last post June 30, 2018, 08:01:19 pm
by Demophon
11 Replies
747 Views
Last post January 31, 2019, 11:45:01 pm
by EmberHearth

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 17
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 1
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Co-Hosts:
LyricFox & Randall

Senior Staff:
Darkhawk

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Sunflower

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Board Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, HarpingHawke, Jenett, Morag, rocquelaire, Sefiru

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Reserve Staff:
Aisling

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Cauldron Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]

Site Assistants
[Non-Staff Positions]
Webmaster:
Randall