I strongly dislike labels

DonnieLD

New member
I'll post this here because I think it's where it applies most. In short, I hate labels. I actually dislike the term poly, and the many others that accompany it in our daily lives. Before you jump all over me though, I hate labels because they lead us into boxing everyone into groups, yes even in a site of open individuals. I'll explain my stance a little more, and you'll see why I put this in here.

I was raised by a mother who's parents were conservative Mennonite, then we became simply Mennonite, and then floated between Free-Evangelical and several others closely related in doctrine. The issue is that I always wondered why. I began referring to my own beliefs as simply Christian because to me if you were Christian, then it's all the same...or at least it should be. We humans have a hard time though with not arranging things with minor differences into their own little sectors of society...I'm not one of those for most everything, although you tell me a leaf is a pond and I'll probably disagree ;)

I attended a university, by distance as it's hard to be there in person when the military won't let you just go, and I studied religion because I wanted to learn more about my own religion and what made us all the same but different in Christianity. Little did I know that my view would almost completely change in those few years. I went from becoming a very strong Christian, to being...well to being nothing but a believer and myself.

I'll explain. You see, I started wondering why so many Christians believed such different things, and then I began wondering why our interpretations differed so much, and then why we haven't accepted that just maybe some additional books should be considered divinely inspired and included in our text. On top of those questions, which are only the few on Christianity itself, I began wondering why so many religions across the world, many with extremely good intentions, could be considered the wrong thing to do, I mean if a Buddhist monk doesn't hurt a single living thing on this planet, helps all he comes across and dies happy at a ripe old age, am I really to believe that God would begrudge him not accepting Christ even with his life only lived to better us all? I don't think so, and that's why I started looking for it.

I started looking for what I call the essence. I'm not looking for the perfect book of religion, in fact I detest the word religion. I'm looking for the essence of what God wants from us, as his creation and yes I still wholly believe in God. I have always had a hard time believing that God would scatter his people to the four corners of the globe and forget all but those who live in a small corner of it. I think he sent us to the four corners and intended we learn to follow the essence of what he wants from us.

I won't declare that I have the answer, I haven't studied near enough for that. I will say I think I have a main piece of it all though and it has made me into what I am today. I believe in God, that we have free will, and that love is the cornerstone on which we should build our lives. I say this because without love there is nothing but pain and suffering. With love in our hearts and minds we open the world to a new level of peace and goodness. This is partially why I became more 'poly' minded, although I just consider myself to be myself following what I should be following. I believe that we should love everyone, no not intimately in a close relationship, but because of this belief I see love as an infinite gift, given to us by a being who understands its power.

As an infinite resource, we can freely love our neighbors, our city, and the entire world with more than enough left over for the strongest love, that for our partner. Another event in my life that led me to see this more clearly was when I divorced my wife. I had lived for many years in a marriage which at first was great, although we had our struggles but then all couples do. Then as time went on I noticed that I seemed to not be as important to her as she was to me. I began feeling like I was simply there because I was that first experience, and I was 'serving my purpose' on her journey through life. I never liked that feeling because I started feeling less and less like a partner and more like a parent, or someone who wasn't that one sole love of her life. So, in order to help get myself to a healthier place I pushed for divorce. It was during my estrangement where I found my current love who has been amazing, and is every bit a part of my heart as I ever thought anyone could be, in fact I had only felt like this once before, but I had felt it before.

This made me think about the relationship side of love. If I could feel so head over heels in love with a second person, then why would this love only be contained to one person in my life? I've had many discussions with myself on the topic and it's why I came to the conclusion that this specific type of love is just that, specific, but only specific to our partner(s), note the 's'. I believe that God intended that we understand that we are able to love all that he created for us, and also that he would have no qualms with us loving more than one person in such a close and intimate relationship.

It might not be for everyone, I know it isn't something that my wife will consider and I'm fine with that, so long as she understands that I would never betray her, and that I believe in certain things in life. I do think that this is simply another part of having free-will and focusing on love in life. I don't think we were meant to go out and be crazy with these gifts, but I do think that we are far too boxed-in in today's society, even with as accepting as we say we are.

All the best,
D
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
Hi DonnieLD,

Thanks for sharing your story. You obviously have gone on a long journey, to get to where you are today. From Mennonite, to Christian, to just a believer. I guess my journey could be described as from Mormon, to Christian, to just an unbeliever.

I consider some labels to be useful as long as they are used sensibly and sparingly. It seems to me that no two people have exactly the same definition for any one label, or even for any one word, so formal usage can only go so far. The word poly (in particular) has been hotly debated with each contestant being confident that *they* understand the word better than anyone else. At that point, the word loses its usefulness.

I believe that love is an abundant resource; that is, humans are able to love (even be in love with) multiple persons. At some point there is a limit to how many intimate relationships one can sustain, as one's brain is not infinitely large, but the maximum number is surely greater than one. Not that we have to have multiple relationships, just that we can. I came to the conclusion, many years ago, that the only real kind of immorality out there is an act done without mutual consent. Given that one simple rule, the realm of good is much larger than the realm of evil. Evil acts are small, miserly, constrained, petty. Good acts are free, open, giving, expansive.

Society as it is today seeks to put many shackles on us. I look forward to much more live-and-let-live someday in the future. Alas, I will only live long enough to see a small amount of change, assuming that I'll see change for the better. One can only hope.

Thus and so are some of my thoughts.
Regards,
Kevin T.
 

DonnieLD

New member
Kevin,

I agree, I think that we need to focus more on the difference between what is good and not and live for creating a better world for us all and those to come. I do wish that we could see a big swing in thinking in our lifetimes but I also feel that we may only see a snippet, and even then it may not be toward the good.

--D
 

kdt26417

Official Greeter
I am optimistic that over time, humanity will progress in the upward direction. However, this will probably be a slow process, and will not happen in a straight line. There will be ups and downs. Overall I actually think we're going down at this time, but eventually the ups will overcome the downs. That is, as long as we don't destroy the planet in the meantime. :(
 

DonnieLD

New member
Couldn't agree more. You give a people free-will and there will always be those who abuse the gift. I wish that I could say we were either at level, or upward bound right now but I honestly believe as you said, overall we are on a downward trend.

All we can do is the best at doing our part.

--D
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
My take on "Christianity" and the proto-Judaism it sprang from: There's a bit about love in the beginning of the New Testament, much more about hate and xenophobia, misogyny and war war war, blood blood blood, rape rape rape.

The Bible isn't a book. It is a library, an anthology of books, very ancient. It's poetry. It's the personal passionate rantings and hallucinations of prophets. It's warnings and aphorisms. It's sex: sacred sex in the Song of Songs and the underlying myth of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, profane sex in the inter-tribal couplings and rape and pillage. It's myths of gods and demi-gods (Moses and Aaron, Seth and Cain, etc.). There's some history mixed in with legends. There are laws to live by (in Leviticus, for example: poop outside the camp since Yahweh walks amongst you in camp). There are fables (the animals in the ark, the talking donkey). There is romance (the Holy Family riding on a donkey to Bethlehem and to Egypt). There is vegetative magic (the grain god Jesus who is similar to the rising and falling and resurrecting Dionysus of the Greeks and many others). There are laws made to support and protect the Levitical noblity, robbing from the peasants to live in luxury. There is above all, the burgeoning patriarchy's god Yahweh taking over the reins, by force, from the goddesses Asherah and Astarte (and their lesser male consorts Baal and Tammuz), and thereby empowering all males and making them owners of all things and all peoples, especially minorities.

Sure, love is great. "Love" or compassion for your enemies, and constant never ending forgiveness, human and divine. But there's a heck of a lot more hate in the "Bible" than love.
 

Al99

Active member
On top of those questions, which are only the few on Christianity itself, I began wondering why so many religions across the world, many with extremely good intentions, could be considered the wrong thing to do, I mean if a Buddhist monk doesn't hurt a single living thing on this planet, helps all he comes across and dies happy at a ripe old age, am I really to believe that God would begrudge him not accepting Christ even with his life only lived to better us all? I don't think so, and that's why I started looking for it.

Exactly, and this is the issue that is the Achilles heel for evangelical fundamentalism (and to a lesser extent, Nicene Christianity as a whole) - who say one moment that "God is Love" (a proposition that I personally accept), and yet the next moment preach "hell fire and damnation" for all who have not had some emotional experience where they "accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior" - the paradox being "how does a loving God send anyone into 'everlasting fire and damnation" (whether figuratively or literally - and the fundamentalists as a group tend to view it as literal). This was the conundrum that shook me free of my indoctrination before I was out of my teens.

I personally do believe that there are inspired passages in both testaments. However, the Old Testament is essentially just a collection of histories, stories, mythologies, etc. The New Testament books were written with the express purpose of supporting the various theologies that had grown up around the person of Jesus - that very likely did not represent Jesus' actual teachings very well at all. As I understand from my studies, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, a collection of truth sayings attributed to Jesus, is generally regarded by most scholars to be the closest thing we have to what Jesus is likely to have actually taught.

Just a thought of two for the discussion. Al
 
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DonnieLD

New member
On your first thought, I think that many religions mis-construe this point. God doesn't send us anywhere. It's like the tree, he placed the tree in the garden and said don't eat but we had the free-will to do so. Not because he's toying with us or tempting us. He understands that unless there are options, there is no free will. If he had said here is a perfect garden and live forever, then no bad choices could have been made because there wouldn't have been any choices. I see him as more of a parent, we raise our kids to do the best we know how and we have to trust that they will make good decisions, but if they make bad ones we don't force them to go to jail for stealing, that was a consequence of a choice they made, knowing the result. We are hurt and saddened that they chose poorly but we always accept them back and try to do our best to continue teaching them good in life.

As for the teachings, I do believe that much of the scripture was divinely inspired, but I also think there are books that were included because they simply show the history of the religion, and I question why no books today could possibly be included if they meet the rules for canonicity, other than being from an apostle. I simply believe that nowadays we need to seek the inner truth, regardless of what religion it is held in. I mean there are Buddhist monks who have lived a far better life than many Christians, why would they not be considered good?
--D
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
On your first thought, I think that many religions mis-construe this point. God doesn't send us anywhere. It's like the tree, he placed the tree in the garden and said don't eat but we had the free-will to do so. Not because he's toying with us or tempting us. He understands that unless there are options, there is no free will. If he had said here is a perfect garden and live forever, then no bad choices could have been made because there wouldn't have been any choices. I see him as more of a parent, we raise our kids to do the best we know how and we have to trust that they will make good decisions, but if they make bad ones we don't force them to go to jail for stealing, that was a consequence of a choice they made, knowing the result. We are hurt and saddened that they chose poorly but we always accept them back and try to do our best to continue teaching them good in life.

This whole free will idea has been bandied about for some time...

I am not sure if you studied historical criticism in your school. I am self taught, but spent 7 years on Biblical history studies. Taking it from that pov: The tree represents the ancient goddess Asherah. Trees and snakes were very common goddess symbols at the time the Eden story was written. Asherah supported women in childbirth. Yahweh was battling for power with Asherah at the time, in the minds/hearts/souls of patriarchal male Hebrews. This is attested to in many of the OT books. Yahweh, a male god, in this story, usurps the female god's power to bring a healthy birth. He also puts Eve in her place, as lower than her husband, only desiring him alone, and meant to obey him.

I see you perceive the divine as male. You constantly call him he. Consider the gnostic idea that god is male/female. Jesus/Mary M are two sides of the yin yang concept of the Buddhists that you seem to respect.

The dove that descended from heaven to claim Jesus as her son at his baptism was a goddess... Sophia (Wisdom) to the gnostics. The 2 Marys in Jesus' life, his mother and his consort, were 2 aspects of Sophia as well, one present as the Womb that carried the god; the one present at his Tomb, was his wife, and the first apostle to recognise his divinity. Even Catholics recognise Mary M as the Apostle Apostolorum, the apostle to the apostles. Unfortunately, women's role in Christianity, rather strong at first, was soon once again usurped in short order.

Modern polyamory depends on the equality and strong voices of modern women. Most of us find traditional Christianity does not mesh well with polyamory, since the Bible (in many books) prohibits women having this kind of sexual freedom, and multiple male sexual partners.

As for the teachings, I do believe that much of the scripture was divinely inspired, but I also think there are books that were included because they simply show the history of the religion, and I question why no books today could possibly be included if they meet the rules for canonicity, other than being from an apostle. I simply believe that nowadays we need to seek the inner truth, regardless of what religion it is held in. I mean there are Buddhist monks who have lived a far better life than many Christians, why would they not be considered good?
--D

Many Buddhist monks, of course, are just as "good" as any Christian monk. And many are just as bad. Being Christian does not automatically make you good. You won't find any argument from me on this point.

The form of atonement is different. Christians seem to need atonement in the form of a god dying on a cross for them. Jews have their day of at-one-ment once a year. Buddhists do not worship a god in the usual sense. They simply recognise the divinity in all humanity and creation, and seek to respect it all.
 

DonnieLD

New member
Mags, In my school I learned a great many things from my own pov as well as that of the Baptist uni I attended and the various students with whom I was fortunate enough to hear different perspectives. I also learned much of the different Christian perspectives through my few years up to uni and have seen much good and bad and much more to question. I studied the Greeks and Egyptians in high school, which means I was self taught since I was home-schooled until my first college experience. I also studied a great many things in between simply because I'm curious and open to what was provided for us to wonder about in this universe.

I'm intrigued most however that someone who appears to be a staunch feminist is seeking such validation from a normal little ole' guy like me. Yes I refer to God as he many times, mostly because I hate confusing ppl by switching terms and I feel disrespectful to refer to God as an it, although that is perhaps the most appropriate term.

As far as religion goes, I really could care less about all the history. Yes there are highs and lows, some of the lows I think you have misconstrued, but all in all, it is all only what has brought us to our current point in time and not what makes us who we are. We are the sole authority on what choices we make in this universe. I was raised conservative Mennonite, then Free-Evangelical and yet I chose to seek a more satisfying truth as what I was being taught and shown had far too many holes in it for my taste.

I personally believe that the belief in a creator (non gender specific), free-will, and a deep understanding and acceptance of the many facets that make up the term love are the main principles that make up the foundation of what we are to follow in our life journeys.

For free-will, ppl can argue it, but honestly the only way you can ultimately say that no one has free will is to give up free will which in itself is a choice of your own making. For love, there are many pathways and understandings of the term and how it applies to our relationships with each other, our partner(s), families, nature, etc... My wife as an example, is very guarded of the term. In Dutch, the term for love is very specific and not something to just be thrown about. In Hebrew, there are 4 different meanings for love, and in English we use the same term in many different contexts to mean so much more than a single word can be defined into meaning. As for God, well I believe in one God, but I see no reason for that God to not appear in different forms, religions, and whatever else. The Bible says it most completely that God has always been and will always be, I believe that true not just because I was raised in a Christian household, but it explains one of the most incomprehensible beings in this universe. Something that has always been, will always be, is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere...try to honestly wrap your mind around that concept and you can see how so many religions have formed God into much more homo-sapien manageable chunks.

Anyway, that's just a minuscule snippet of what I think on those chunks of life.
-D
 

Magdlyn

Well-known member
As a "staunch feminist" or otherwise, I'm not seeking validation. Just a discussion.

I'm surprised you "could care less," by which you must mean, couldn't care less, about Biblical history, seeing as it's a 2000+ year old book, and must be read as the fumblings and insights of an ancient people (or peoples) to understand the divine. You can't really study the Bible seriously without being aware of the times in which it was written.

I agree "god" is the All. I think the Gnostic writing, the Trimorphic Protennoia, describes god, as you are speaking of him/her, well.

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/trimorph.html

Yes, understanding love as a many faceted concept is important in understanding Christian "love" as it sprang from the Greek. Eros, agape, caritas. I see you discard the Old Testament. I guess many Christians do. As it stands, it is rather embarrassing and xenophobic (with the exception of Song of Songs and a few other bits). Yet, there it is, half of your Bible.
 

DonnieLD

New member
About 1/3 of the way through and I lost interest in the Protennoia. I have fried my brain on computers at work far too much lately to decipher a writing I already have issues with as I'm confused why we as humans have to accept God as no less that three beings and call them one. God is something that very few people can comprehend and even fewer can put into words.

Thank you for the "n't." I must admit that my attention to detail is being wasted on maps lately, as for the validation, you say you seek discussion which I welcome, but if you seek discussion then why is it that you seem to always seek the negative in anything which could be used to "prove" the degrading treatment of women through history? Yes, I agree that women have been treated bad in many areas of history. The Bible teaches that the wife should submit to her husband, it also teaches that the husband must treat his wife with love and respect.

I will have to attempt to read the Protennoia at one point and maybe interpret it to a point where a sane person would not have to dissect every sentence to find it's meaning. I also intend to study more on religion throughout the world, but a human being can only handle so much brain frying at one time. As for disregarding the Old Testament, I take it at what it is meant to be. It is a history and representation of the first covenant between the Christian faith and God, yes I know that it wasn't Christianity back then, of course Christians are really just Jews who have accepted certain criterion have been met already.

I would love to stop and study all the religions of the world, even though I have no use for religion. I prefer to seek out the meaning to our life. I want to know that inner truth as to why we are here. I know that I will never find the true meaning, who knows maybe I'll come close. I do know if I don't seek answers and I remain rooted and negative in all of the aggression toward me throughout society that I will have a horrible life.

--D
 
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