During 2011 I did something on this blog that I have rarely done before: speak openly about my progressive religious views. Both of my parents came from families that were deeply religious in orthodox, literalist ways. My mother’s brother remained true to the conservative beliefs of his Baptist church until the day he died. Late in their lives my mother and her sister dared to ask themselves a few shocking questions, like, “Were Adam and Eve real people? Is Satan real? Are Eden and Hell real places?” but they too remained closely tied to their churches to the end.
My father’s parents were strict Baptists. To my knowledge, Daddy was not religious in their way, but he did attend church and sing in the choir. And I have no doubt whatsoever that his gnawing guilt over having blatantly broken the 7th Commandment had something to do with his death from a heart attack at the age of 43.
Being raised in this kind of environment naturally had an effect on me. Completely unaware of the negative side effects of my religion, I became deeply “religious” at the age of 17. But the unresolved issues of parents are always passed down to their children, and the more unconscious these issues are, the more powerfully they seek resolution in those who inherit them.
Thus, in retrospect I can see that my most pressing issues are all about trying to heal my parents and rectify their mistakes. The themes of my work are empowering femininity, (my mother aligned herself with the masculine values of “tunneling through the mountain” while repressing her feminine, feeling and nurturing, “river going around the mountain” side); and uniting masculinity and femininity (my parents divorced, after all) in my psyche, relationships, and God-image.
Anyway, back to this blog. When I finally found the courage to write openly and honestly, I discovered to my great surprise that my progressive thinking was not only accepted, but the posts from 2011 receiving the highest number of views were almost always about religion! In fact, my Dec. 14th post titled “How’s Your God-Image Working For You?” received an all-time high of 257 views in one day! Being surrounded by religious literalists for most of my life had pretty much convinced me that my views would be perceived as heretical by most people, yet every single comment in response to my religious posts has been overwhelmingly positive!
I can’t adequately express just how affirming, freeing and empowering this is. It has given me the confidence to recommend an extraordinary book I’ve just finished. I don’t do this often, but this one is simply a must-read for anyone questioning traditional religious beliefs. Written by N.M. Freeman it’s titled “The Story of Q” and is about the many ways in which people are effected by religion. It’s deceptively simple on the surface, but deeply profound, and although a fictional novel, it’s based on actual historical events. This book is truly mind-expanding and I suspect will be life-changing for many who read it. Why? Because in language anyone can understand, it blasts religious literalism right out of the water and reveals the true, historical, underlying meaning of the Bible and all religious scriptures, showing them not to be about “right belief,” but about opening to the soul’s journey through life.
If this sounds at all interesting to you, I hope you’ll give yourself a special gift this year and read “The Story of Q.” (I’ve already ordered six more copies for gifts.) And please let me know how it touches your soul. Happy New Year, dear friends, and thank you for your readership!
Mandorla Consciousness: Part II
There is a time for everything. The dualism that gave rise to our evolving ego and developing Christ potential has become our worst enemy: the anti- Christ. And as long as we repress unwanted parts of ourselves and project them onto others—whether these be our compulsive instincts, dangerous emotions, or frightening aspects of our masculine and feminine sides—we will struggle through the darkness of confusion and the world will be a dangerous place.
I do know what you mean.
I became(by choice rather than upbringing) a Christian aged 12, having thought deeply about it. I found myself over the next few years totally unprepared for the closed-mindedness of most so-called modern churches and soon realised my interest in esoteric matters was considered dangerous and possibly demonic, so I kept very quiet about my explorations. At university, I ended up trapped on a top bunk and forcibly exorcised by other slightly older students from the Christian Union while away on a Chaplaincy retreat. needless to say, it was all rubbish but it scarred me deeply. This in turn led to my decision to be more open about my less than orthodox beliefs while my husband was at theological college, which led to me being viewed as a kind of witch and being marginalised and then, when a tutor decided to wade in, we came close enough to being expelled to make me unwilling to ever be public about my beliefs again. We were saved by the wisdom and friendship of other more enlightened tutors and my husband was ordained as planned. I’ve had little to do with organised church faith for a long time, have taken a lot of flak for this, but have done my best to stay true to my original vision of faith.
Being open about questioning takes a lot of faith and courage so thank you for sharing this; it means a lot to me
Wow, Viv! You were much braver than I. I think my reticence had something to do with an unusual sensitivity toward the instinct for survival which probably came about as a result of my father’s death. There’s nothing like a good trauma at an impressionable age to shut down a soul and repress its voice. On the other hand, in my experience this same dynamic often leads to a stronger awareness of one’s inner disconnects, which, in turn, can eventually set one on the road to self-discovery, wholeness and healing. May it be so for you.
My very best to you,
The line, “But the unresolved issues of parents are always passed down to their children, and the more unconscious these issues are, the more powerfully they seek resolution in those who inherit them” speaks to me. It is something I am going to dig into regarding my life. In terms of religion my family was not religions, at least I don’t think so, I mean my mother went to church sometimes and took us kids, but she joined numerous different churches, all christian churches but different denominations. I was baptized twice and went to a catholic school for a while. But mostly I felt abandoned by the God I learned about due to my childhood situation. Not too long ago I came to realize that God did not abandon me but was there helping me with different psychological defense mechanisms. Ok, so like you doing something different by speaking of your progressive religious views, I am stepping out by being detail and personal with my comment.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity with your openness and “progressive religious views” which I embrace.
Way to go with the “stepping out” thing! As it has been said, “God is in the details.” I would add, “and the personal.” In my experience, this is utterly, absolutely true. Countless spirit persons from every religion, including Christianity, have said, “To know oneself is to know God.” The place to find God is not somewhere “out there” but “in here.” So by all means, keep honoring and extpressing the detailed and personal!! You are very welcome. Thank you back!
My very best,
This kind of awakening is something that everyone should be encouraged to do. I’ve been through it myself and have unbounded respect for anyone else who’s managed it. No matter where it leads, it’s infinitely healthier to believe or not because one has examined the nature of one’s belief and understands as well as accepts. Blind faith serves nothing and no one well.
I couldn’t have expressed it better! Thank you, Gideon, for these wise words.
My very best,
“..showing them not to be about “right belief,” but about opening to the soul’s journey through life.” Perfect.
I consider myself fortunate that my family–parents and grandparents–were not particularly religious. My maternal grandparents fell out with the Catholic Church when their seven-hour old baby was denied burial in a Catholic cemetery. And so, while their egregious action proscribed the baby’s fate, it opened my grandparents’ minds to the church’s narrow and misguided teachings. Thereafter, my grandparents steered clear of organized religion. Although I attended church as a child, my parents never pressed the issue, thus I never felt a strong obligation. Further, I never felt connected to the church as many of my friends did.
I, for one, am glad you have begun writing about your progressive religious ideas, Jeanie. It demonstrates to us that there is always room for growing and it motivates us to rethink what we’ve been taught or, might I add, how we’ve been brainwashed.
You were, indeed, lucky, Charlie. Interestingly, I suspect I could have come to the place where I find myself now from a perspective like yours as well, although I surely would have been spared most of the fear and angst that defined my path! A seeking mind is a seeking mind and will find a way through the fog regardless of how it’s been conditioned and brainwashed!
My best to you, my friend.
I always look forward to your blogs and the posts by your followers. It’s a reminder to me that though each spiritual quest is individual, we are never alone on our separate journeys.
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoy my posts and stimulating interactions with readers. It really is a wonderful feeling to know that no matter how different we may be, whether we realize it or not, we seekers are connected by a spiritual hunger and a compulsion to grow that is common to all humanity. I feel so fortunate to have found so many people via the internet who are aware of this connection and are using their knowledge to build bridges, not walls.
My best to you,