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Author Topic: Fear and trembling  (Read 2538 times)

NanoRaven

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Fear and trembling
« on: November 04, 2012, 07:07:53 am »
I've been troubled over this issue for the past few weeks and wondering if anybody has any input? The comfort I once felt as a child in the religion of my mother and the explanations given by my father were obliterated once I got a bit older and found the Internet and started consuming non-censored news.

Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

Thank you very much in advance :)

mlr52

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 07:43:35 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
I've been troubled over this issue for the past few weeks and wondering if anybody has any input? The comfort I once felt as a child in the religion of my mother and the explanations given by my father were obliterated once I got a bit older and found the Internet and started consuming non-censored news.

Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

Thank you very much in advance :)

 
I was never comfortable with my birth religion, nor it's version of God.  

I would ask how your are defining faith?  

My understanding of what I call GOD, and/or God changes as my understanding and knowledge change.
Light Your Candle, In Love and Service, Blessed Be.
I am a Notary Public for The State of New York, - I do not charge for Notary Fee\'s, I Live in Brooklyn, N.Y.

NanoRaven

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2012, 08:12:16 am »
Quote from: mlr52;79628

I would ask how your are defining faith?  


 
I suppose faith would mean belief despite the lack of evidence, something that keeps you going and keeps you rooted in the belief.

Rhyshadow

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2012, 08:29:13 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79632
I suppose faith would mean belief despite the lack of evidence, something that keeps you going and keeps you rooted in the belief.

 
For me it's not lack of evidence, quite the contrary.  When I need things, I feel Brighid or Oghma there with me, either as comfort or that push I need to accomplish things.

So it's not a rooting based on belief, but a calmness based on personal evidence that defines my path as not Faith as you've defined it, but a spirituality.

Waldhexe

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2012, 08:31:59 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

I think those are pretty difficult questions.

There was a time in my teens when I called myself an atheist because the kind of catholic god image I grew up in my family just appalled me and I needed something harsh to establish a border between me and that, but I always had the feeling that there was something beyond the material realm. Before I had experiences with gods I believed that to be some sort of life energy I'm sensing or maybe some kind of nature spirits.

I was an animist when I encountered pagans on the internet. I read about wicca and hellenistic pagans and other stuff and some things just made click. When I did my first newbie-ish goddess-ritual part of my was still wondering if there are really deities, but someone answered to me in that ritual and gave me much more of a nudge than I had hoped for.

I don't think one does need a firm faith regardless of experience, but I think an initial openness towards the possibility of polytheism with ongoing research and practical experiences helps to build some faith.

I'm still somewhat skeptical and question my own perceptions.

There's also the matter that while I generally believe there are a vast variety of gods, there's the occassional skepticism about how real or unique which ones are. F.ex. I don't believe every pantheon is just the same with different costumes, but there might be a couple of deities who are the same and just appear differently to different people - though not all of them. But I really reject the belief that all gods are just aspects of one god or of a gender-dualistic couple (goddess + god).

Gilbride

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2012, 08:46:52 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life? I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist.


Some gods (like Brighid) are comforting. Some (like the Morrigan!) may not be. The bad things in life are not so much a problem for a polytheistic world view, because there are gods and other spiritual forces for the bad things that happen too. (In other words, when bad things happen it does not violate the natural order as my theology would see it.)

I would say that one of the purposes of polytheistic religion is to put yourself in a right relationship with the spiritual forces underlying reality- whether those forces are positive or negative from our limited perspective.

I would also say that "lack of evidence" is not so much a factor. I experience the presence of my gods in various ways, so questioning whether there is "evidence" of their existence would be as bizarre as questioning whether there is "evidence" of the existence of my mother-in-law or the guy who works at the cafe I go to.

NanoRaven

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2012, 11:08:35 am »
Quote from: Rhyshadow;79634

So it's not a rooting based on belief, but a calmness based on personal evidence that defines my path as not Faith as you've defined it, but a spirituality.


Thank you, putting it that way is starting to make sense to me. I think I will have to embark on a proper path to experience that.
 
Quote from: Waldhexe
I don't think one does need a firm faith regardless of experience, but I think an initial openness towards the possibility of polytheism with ongoing research and practical experiences helps to build some faith.


Quote from: Gilbride
I would say that one of the purposes of polytheistic religion is to put yourself in a right relationship with the spiritual forces underlying reality- whether those forces are positive or negative from our limited perspective.


That makes sense. I think part of my problem stems from some hang-ups over the religion of my mum, the one I was brought up with though tempered with my father's explanations about existence which were more of a Deist nature. It's not expected that the God would reply, it's what you have to do to avoid Hell. And bad things happen because of sin or some 'test' or because you belonged to the wrong religion.

Shine

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2012, 11:11:53 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

Thank you very much in advance :)

Not easy to answer.

I often find myself comforted because that's the nature of the relationship with m'lady, Bast. But not all the gods I worship are, in particular, comforting. Set kicks my ass continuously so I don't get complacent. He sometimes kicks a little too hard.

Faith is a sorta-non-issue for me. I see my gods in natural forces, and have experienced their presence in various ways, so, like Gilbride, I find this specific line of questioning is a bit bizarre. (And has gotten me in trouble when I've spoken with atheists in the past.) What I do have to have faith about is that the gods care enough about us humans to work directly in our lives, and that they won't leave us in times of need.

(Poly)theism feels like a natural state, so. . . here I am. I'm not saying anyone who's not a polytheist is unnatural, since there's more than one way to go "natural". ;) It's often a lot of fun to make offerings, communicate with the divine, etc. But sometimes it can be stressful, since I always feel like I'm slighting a god or goddess, and my path demands personal, spiritual, and emotional growth. Also, I'm kind of obligated in my practice to do certain things, whether I want to or not. That can get stressful, too.

I was an atheist for a short time, but had so many weird experiences with the unseen I started assuming someone(s) was out there. So, I morphed into an agnostic and about eight years later found Bast and the other Egyptian gods.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2012, 11:12:21 am by Shine »
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

Maps

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2012, 11:54:22 am »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
I've been troubled over this issue for the past few weeks and wondering if anybody has any input? The comfort I once felt as a child in the religion of my mother and the explanations given by my father were obliterated once I got a bit older and found the Internet and started consuming non-censored news.

Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

Thank you very much in advance :)

 
My falling out with Christianity happened over the subject of pain and suffering... namely, mine. My early teenage years were punctuated with angst that was not in the abstract at all; I was still reeling from living with an abusive drug addict of a step-father, and trying to reconcile his presence in my life with everything I'd been taught about the capital g God up until that point. So if there's anything about the subject of religion that I staunchly and actively do not believe, it's in the existence of an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient being. I cannot accept the premise of a transcendent creator being that plays an active and micro-managing role in our lives, and one that has a (very human) notion of an objective "good" that it demands us to aspire to. I just can't. Does not compute.

I do not take comfort in the idea of being special, or loved by higher powers, or being babysat and handheld in everything I do for no apparent reason. That's irreligious narcissism to me.

I do, however, find comfort in accepting that life isn't always exactly what I want, when I want it. I find comfort in knowing that the gods I so rely on for sustenance and order are also responsible for destruction and calamity, because blaming all ill on some force outside of everything I feel is counter-productive to acceptance. Because, let's face it... 99% of the world is out of our individual control, and making peace with that on some level is the goal. And ultimately, that's making peace with the inevitability of death.

I don't "believe" in gods, per se? But I see them and know them in the world. Personally, I worship a storm god (and honor many others, but I've never communicated with them) because I find him compelling, inspiring, and I also find him to be a good representation of everything I strive to accept and cannot, alone, change. Rain is suddenly more than the sum of its parts, and becomes rewarding in its own right. It's no longer an inconvenience, or a simple meteorological phenomenon, or a source of depression. It's now a reason to be happy, because when I look up at the clouds, or smell the scent of wet earth, there's someone there that I know.

Theism has provided me with a sense of grounding and interconnectedness that I felt was sorely missing in my years as a Deist/agnostic.

Rhyshadow

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2012, 12:47:52 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79656
Thank you, putting it that way is starting to make sense to me. I think I will have to embark on a proper path to experience that.

 
The beauty of Paganism is that there are so many paths to choose from, and you can even develop your own if that works better for you.

Quote from: NanoRaven;79656
And bad things happen because of sin or some 'test' or because you belonged to the wrong religion.

 
My Patrons and the others I work with don't 'test' me as much as challenge me to better myself in multiple ways; whether it's learning Gaeilge (Irish-Gaelic), actually working more on my story-writing or looking over my guitar-zither and going 'I should learn how to play that'.

I don't look at life as a test, more a journey; and the spiritual path you choose should be a help on that, not something that requires you to question yourself.

cigfran

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Fear and trembling
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2012, 03:10:18 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

No. I do not find any comfort nor do I seek it. My worldview and my practice are simultaneously natural to me and a subject of constant interrogation and work. For me there is no "despite." The struggle is the only constant, and the only alternative to death.

Annie Roonie

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2012, 05:52:58 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?

Thank you very much in advance :)


I was pretty militantly atheist for a while. But for me it was not a calm logical thing. Like many vocal atheists it was more about anger at gods and their followers for screwing things up so badly, impeding progress whenever possible and telling me what to do with my body. That's how I reacted and felt then. Later on closer examination of those feelings it wasn't atheism I believed in, but in all the gods. Why be angry at something that doesn't exist to me?

So I had to admit on some visceral level that I did believe. Then I had to examine my anger. I still do that because I still get angry at them, but with the admission I was able to open my mind a bit more into looking at things instead of immediately brushing them off. And an added benefit of doing this was a decrease in smugness and in intellectual bigotry that can be endemic of vocal atheist circles. It also helped me understand how to give compassion without condescending.

Faith did comfort me when I was little and only did so until someone told me I was believing wrongly. As the atheist as I thought I was, there was no such comfort and it allowed me to grow a thicker skin which has come in handy when reading about different paths. I think being open requires a bit of skin thickness, so I am glad for that period in my life. It was very useful.

Snowdrop

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2012, 06:47:51 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

 
I doubt that there are very many people who are instantly comforted simply by having faith --- look at it this way; if that were the case, surely all theists would be very obviously more happy than all atheists.  On the other hand, religion certainly can provide comfort . . . but I think it's something that does have to be thought over and worked at.  Then again, the philosophies one develops in order to cope may not be explicitly religious.  I personally tie my philosophies into my (still very nascent) religious beliefs in that I believe that, in spite of the sufferings inherent in life, the gods hope that we will behave as honorably as we can.  But one could remove the gods from that fairly easily and make it a purely secular philosophy.  

On the other hand, I think that sometimes there are instances where religion can almost make things worse.  For instance, some people might use their faith as a way to distract themselves from anything that happens to upset them.  Then they're not really addressing the problem, just ignoring it.  

So yes, I do think that religion can help, but I also think it's work.

crazyharry

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2012, 07:50:51 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79622
Do you find yourself comforted, in your devotion to the specific Gods or worldview and is this a natural by-product of believing and faith or do you have to continuously work at it? Despite all the bad news we encounter and the struggles of life?

 
I'm only three years out of the Christian church, so I still have to work at it sometimes. It's slowly becoming more natural to just not believe in hell, but sometimes I still worry and need to work through things in my head a little bit.

As far as bad news and struggles go, it really doesn't affect my faith. I'm a pantheist (though sometimes it borders on pandeism), so as far as I'm concerned, deity cares but doesn't care. I tend to agree with cigfran that struggling is just life and the only alternative to death. I just choose to believe that if you ask a deity for help they might just give you a hand.


Quote from: NanoRaven;79622

I guess, to put it simply, I'd just like you to explain what it's like to be a theist. And if you were a hard Atheist before, how did you come by to believe in Gods?


Comfort is really the only reason I have religion at all. I was happy as a Christian, and had a good relationship with their God, but became frustrated with the church, and rather than opting to become a heretic, I decided to just leave altogether. I spent two years as an agnostic (I can't be an atheist, because I can't bring myself to deny the possibility that there could be something beyond the physical), but I missed that relationship. I read up on several religions, and started to come to the conclusion that all religions relied very heavily upon the psychological hoopajoob that was the last straw for Christianity. Eventually I just decided that if it was all made up, why not make something up that suited me.

So I did. It isn't the same as the relationship I had with the Christian God, but even if I went back that relationship would never be the same. It's just kind of nice I guess. In the end it's almost more philosophy than religion, but I deify nature just so I can have that relationship, and I'm ok with the knowledge that I'm actively choosing to believe.

mlr52

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Re: Fear and trembling
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2012, 10:10:27 pm »
Quote from: NanoRaven;79632
I suppose faith would mean belief despite the lack of evidence, something that keeps you going and keeps you rooted in the belief.

 
Once I made the choice to trust that something was there (that was blind faith as you define it).  Since that time I have direct experience and knowledge, of that power which I call GOD, and no longer requires belief.
Light Your Candle, In Love and Service, Blessed Be.
I am a Notary Public for The State of New York, - I do not charge for Notary Fee\'s, I Live in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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