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So I survived the chem test (think I got an A...woo hoo!!), and I'm…

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So I survived the chem test (think I got an A...woo hoo!!), and I'm pretty caught up on homework, which is a good thing. Now I just have to do those 2 stupid term papers, and I don't want to do the formal report for Chemistry. Anyone have any tips as to how to go about doing it, especially since I only got 10% ASA recovery? (don't ask me how that happened, because I really don't know.) C4C and 7S are over, so I think things will be more relaxed for the next few weeks at church (which I think we're all relieved about, because in two weeks, we all have to be on official "Hailey watch." Hehehehe...)

So this is my thought, and I really do want some opinions. Many of you might be described as agnostic, that is, you don't know if there is a God. A few of you think that there is one, but couldn't care less. So I guess my questions, as a church leader, and as someone who quite possibly will spend the rest of her life helping to lead a church, what WOULD make you care?

- What questions do you have about God, Jesus, Church, Religion, Christianity?
- What sort of ways could the church answer your questions?

I have other questions, but I think the two I asked are enough for now. Please let me know honestly, because this is something I need to figure out in an honest way. I've been going to church all my life, and have always been told that Jesus is the real deal, that this is all there is. And even though I've experienced and questioned it many times, I don't know what it's like for someone "outside" Christianity. So leave a comment and let me know so that I can become a more effective leader. THANKS! :)
  • I got 45% recovery, and I really don't want to do that report either. But my sheet says 55% because I cheated. But most people got really low. Apparently if you're under thirty you'll probably be docked 1 mark for it.

    And now I'm going to answer your question, although I'm probably waaaay too atheist for my opinion to be really relevant.

    I've been to church about five times, Shouel (sp?) maybe fifteen. I couldn't understand what was going on with the Hebrew stuff, so I've never minded it. But honestly, going to United church with my friend scared the shit out of me each and every time. The Minister person said some very good things, yes, but she seemed to speak for them, as their buffer/filter to god. There was so little independent thought in that building, it terrifed me. I wasn't sure why people wouldn't want to communicate with god on their own, rather than through the narrowly fixed lens of someone else. Someone they're paying to decipher god's wishes for them... it didn't make much sense to me.

    My friends that are religious use the church as a support group. People, believing the same thing, coming together in the same place is always positive no matter the belief. But I think open, communal discussion where everyone tries to solve their life's problems from a religious standpoint would certainly be more beneficial than being preached at as a relatively meaningless member of a general mass.

    To be honest, I find god and religion extremely depressing. But that's just me.
    • What else is depressing about God and religion, besides the seemingly close-mindedness of all coming together to hear ONE person's opinion preached at you, and everyone in the building thinking that since this person is a preacher, they HAVE to be right? (I can see how that would be scary and depressing.)

      Hmm...so you felt as though the minister was a filter to God...that's interesting. I know that lots of churches think this way. I'm not going to pick on the Catholics too badly, but I know that they have certain beliefs about the pope being kind of an intermediary to God. In my opinion, I share your belief that everyone should have the ability to communicate directly to God, and not have to go through another person and just accept that other person's beliefs or opinions as the ones they themselves must practice.

      I can see the whole church-as-a-support-group theory. And that's pretty much exactly what it is - people who believe the same thing coming together to encourage each other and worship God together.
      At the worship service that I currently attend and help to lead (it's not exactly what some would call a church just yet) what we do for the "sermon" feature of our church is have the pastor preach about a 15-20 minute message, then get together into discussion groups to talk about it and discuss how we can incorperate what he is talking about into our lives. That way, it's not just him talking, and us listening, and "learning" a "new" lesson, but yet not knowing how to apply it to our own lives, which kind of defeats the purpose. What are you thoughts on this?
      • what depresses me about god... I can sense an upcoming LJ post on that topic =P. If I found out that god existed, for sure, I couldn't deny it, I'd probably kill myself. It would be terrible, terrible news.

        And I like the way you seem to be approaching things. Very modernist, very open-minded. Religion is something that was necessary for thousands of years to explain the world and to understand our place in it. It is no longer necessary in that manner, but now serves to explain the yet unexplainable... morality, life after death, meaning of life, giving a source of unconditional love... since the philosophical, logical determinations of these aren't generally particularly optimistic. So I can see the need for it, though not in the dimensions it once had.

        If organized religion was simply that... people with a common belief getting together to understand their lives... I truly believe that the negative aspects of segregation would not exist. But it's hard not to define boundaries around groups, it's very difficult. It's also very difficult from within a group to accept other points of view. I mean, according to the vast majority of religions in the world... you're going to hell. And from your point of view, the people that follow those are. Where can reconciliation be made?

        I think a lot of it needs to come from education, like Naomi was saying. And I don't mean bible interpretation, I mean a complete historical look at the history of religion, how these religions came to be and how belief has evolved over time. I think this would allow all the faithful to understand that they are believing the same thing and therefore do not have to fight over it, and the unfaithful to see the need for faith in many and to understand that we, too, believe in most of the same things... just use a different terminology.

        Anyway, I must go. I hope that helped you somewhat.
        • Interesting...interesting...

          I agree, it would be good for us to find out where exactly Christianity left off and where Muslim came into the picture...and all the other relgions that I can't even think of how and when they came on the scene.
          I don't think all people of other religions are going to hell...what I believe is that those who have a loving Saviour with the gift of salvation presented to them and they reject that gift, are the ones that are going to hell.

          I really don't see how you think God is so terrible, Alana...Maybe I'm just close-minded, and I don't think you're a bad person for this, but I really don't see how the idea of finding out that there is someone who created you, someone who loves you unconditionally, someone who is willing to forgive you no matter what...how can that be bad? I realize that the fighting over religions, and the persecution of religious groups, all that can be bad...but God himself being so bad? I don't know...I just don't understand, but that's okay.

          Thanks for your comments! And in response to an earlier thought, no, you are not too atheist for it to matter much. You're just the right ammount of atheist for me to learn things and see a perspective I never before saw.
  • I used to go to church (Protestant), up until grade five when I left for Holland. And every summer I'd go to Camp Arnes, too. My dad never came with us to church, and one time after I came back from Camp Arnes I told my dad that because he doesn't go to church he's going to go to hell. That was what my camp counsellor person had told me.

    I was very young at the time and it kind of worried my parents, so they tried to explain to me that just because he doesn't go to church that doesn't make him a bad person, and bad people are the ones that go to hell.

    A few years ago my good friend that I grew up with shot himself in the head, committing suicide. He was Catholic. As I'm sure you know, committing suicide is one of the most ultimate sins or something, and you go to hell for that... no matter what else you've done in life. My friend was an active member in the church and he was one of the most amazing people I ever knew. But the priest or reverand or whatever it is (I'm sorry, I always get them mixed up...) didn't say a word about it at the funeral, he just talked about what a good person my friend had been.

    For a while when I was little and more succeptible to accepting whatever I was told, I was very religious. And I very strongly believed that the world was divided into good people (people who go to church) and bad people (people who don't go to church). After a few years I came to resent the church for having made me think that way and I hated it. I don't hate it anymore, and I realize that I misinterpreted a lot of things. But I still remember what it taught me.

    I agree with Alana on the independent thought and discussion. The church is too rigid for me. I like the idea of religion and I'm pretty sure I believe in God or a God, but I can't bring myself to like the institution of church all that much. There are a lot of great people who attend church. But I think that there are a lot of awful people who go to church, too. It's the same with any group. In the end, everyone is still human.

    I sort of agree with Alana that it is depressing, particularly because of all of the wars that have started because of religion, and because of how it creates specific groups and eliminates other people which I just feel is a complete contradiction, but the fact remains that it DOES create specific groups, and that's what some people need. It does provide that support group. PEO is a good example of that, although I don't know quite how religious that is... I'm pretty sure it started from religion, at least... although I'm not entirely sure, so don't quote me on that one.

    I guess what I'm really saying is that all in all, church is like any other instituition. It helps and it hinders. I guess it just really matters what you're looking for. And for me, at least, it doesn't provide what I'm really looking for.
    • Care to share a bit more about what you're really looking for?

      Thanks for your opinions! They really made me think...I was intrigued by one of your major misconceptions - that the world was divided into two groups: The good people (those who go to church) and the bad people (those who don't). And this was confusing to you, because you weren't sure what catagory your dad would fall into, as well as your friend.

      I'm going to explain what I believe on the subject, and hopefully it will make sense, because everything I believe is based on what the Bible teaches, not necessairly what any church teaches. It's hard to "judge" everyone and put them into the two catagories - good or bad - based on their outward appearance. I believe that whether or not anyone goes to church has nothing to do with someone's salvation. Yes, most of the people who attend church have a relationship with Jesus, and going to church is important if you believe in God, but it doesn't guarentee that you will go to heaven. It's simply about what is in your heart - do you believe in God, and in Jesus, and do you accept the gift of salvation He gave? If you do, then you will be saved and go to heaven. If you don't, then you won't. It's pretty simple, and very easy when you think about it.

      Once you make that decision, you'll want to spend time with God, doing things that will help you get to know Him better, like reading the Bible, praying, and going to church. You'll want to try to stop doing things that you know are wrong. It won't always work - I've done my share of things that I know God didn't want me to do. It's a growing process, but the point of the matter is that God doesn't care about our sins - if we come to Him and are truly sorry when we mess up, He'll forgive us. So it doesn't matter if we go to church, or if we mess up by sinning, or whatever the case - as long as we can say that we believe Jesus and want His salvation, we don't have to worry about going to hell.

      The truth of the matter really is that there AREN'T any good people who go to church. (Not even me! ;) ) Everyone there is a sinner, who has messed up big time (some more than others, but even that doesn't matter to God). But we're all there together, trying to help each other figure out how to live lives that are pleasing to God, and we're working together to find ways to reach those who don't have the kind of relationship with God that we do.

      I just realize how preachy I sound, so I'll shut up for now. I guess the point I was trying to make was to let you know that there are some people (like your counsellor at camp, for example) that will simply judge people by whether they go to church, and not by trying to see what is in their hearts and what they truly believe. And as for your friend who committed suicide, I can't say that I completely agree with saying that that is a sin for which he can't be forgiven, because I don't know what he truly believed. If he came to a point where he did truly say that there wasn't a God, and he couldn't accept salvation any longer...than I hate to say it, but maybe he is going to go to hell...But it's not up to anyone on earth (pastors/reverends/ministers/priests included) to be able to say that he can't recieve forgiveness for what he did. I wish I could give you a better answer, more hope than I did. But all I can say is that I don't believe any of us will know whether he is going to heaven or hell...only God can judge him, and know the answer.

      Hope what I said made sense...and sorry if I sounded too preachy! Didn't mean to... :)
      • I'm looking for more awareness, and truth. I think that church could help the first one in making me more aware about the church and religion and such, but I think that for me at least it would not help much with the second.

        But I still have a problem with the going to hell thing. See, my dad doesn't believe in God. But, he's a police officer trying to save peoples lives, and he has helped oppressed people in Namibia, Bosnia, Ukraine, and Haiti to uncover the truth and help these people receive justice. And my problem was that when I believed in God and heaven and hell (again, I'm shaky on what I believe now), I couldn't conceive of a heaven without my father... the thought of him burning in hell. That's a pretty cruel portrait- what about murderers and child molesters who all believe in God, does that mean they get to go to heaven? And I've really, REALLY never understood the concept of confession in the Catholic church... the idea that you can do just about anything, and as long as you confess, God will forgive you and it doesn't matter what you did anymore. That just seems ridiculous to me.

        Also, my friend who killed himself did believe very strongly in God. And he was the type of person who always helped the people that were teased at school... the people that no one else would be friends with. I guess I just don't understand how the church can say that he would go to hell after living a life like that.

        Something else is kind of interesting, which I think is a bit of an issue... this guy I know came from a very religious family, but his parents had their marriage annulled years after he was born. So, in the churchs eyes, he doesn't even exist.

        I really like the idea of God, and heaven... I know that I believe that the people I love who have died are now angels or spirits or something similar... it's just that church has really caused me to turn away from religion. And I also don't understand how a religion with a loving, forgiving God could possibly WANT his people to carry out crusades, and kill people in an effort to convert them.

        Sorry if I offend, just voicing my thoughts my dear.
        • I know what you mean about the hell thing...it's really hard to think of spending forever without people you care about. I think hell is a very complicated subject that I won't dive into now.

          There's a difference between believing in God and accepting God. I mean, Satan obviously believes that there is a God, but I don't think he's going to be in heaven, as he's obviously rejected God, even though he knows that there IS one. As for the whole confession thing, I don't get it either. (I'm not a huge fan of the Catholic Church's teachings...some of them are a bit too hard to explain and a bit too questionable.) Although I think that if we come to God and confess our sins, He'll forgive us if we are truly sorry. It's not a get-out-of-jail free card, though, and we can't keep doing it over and over again, doing whatever we want and apologizing later, because obviously God is going to figure out that our hearts aren't truly set on Him, and we don't have that special relationship with Him.

          Again, I still don't know everything that there is to know about your friend, and I can't judge him and say whether he's going to heaven or hell, but from all indications, he sounds like a great guy, and he sounds like...well, like the type of person who would be in heaven. I don't agree with the teaching that suicide is some unpardonable sin. For example, let's look in the Old Testement: Samson. He was one of Israel's greatest judges, yet in the end, he wound up killing himself (and hundred of other enemies of God's chosen people, the Israelites.) Yet I can't believe that he would go to hell, despite the fact that he committed suicide. I have to say that I don't believe that your friend is going to hell, and I think that my pastor/church would agree with me to an extent as well. Oh, and I don't believe in annulment either. Maybe in the Catholic church's eyes, your friend didn't exist, but I think he exists in the eyes of most churches.

          And don't worry, I'm not offended! :) I am greatly enjoying learning your thoughts on this. Helps expand my mind (always a good thing...I think...)

  • I think too many people would take my opinion the wrong way, which is not what i want, but i'll email you my response if you don't take offense to it, it's not a person attack at all but simply my opinion.
    • Sure, I would love to hear what you think. (And I'll try my best not to take it personally, as long as you forgive any attempts by myself to convince you otherwise...)
      • ok deal, jsut no trying to convert me...so won't work doll:)
        • The only reason I would try to convert you is because I care, if that makes any sense. But I'll still love ya, no matter what.
  • i went to the united church for the majority of my life, and it deffinately was a not so bad church, as far as churches go anyways.
    personally i think my problem is not with god himself (not that i choose to believe in him though), but its organized religion. the bible is constantly interperetted wrongly (some people just don't get the whole idea of a metaphore...), and i really dislike how everyone thinks that their religion is "the one". its just way to close minded for me, and it pits people against each other. also, they leave out things all the time, i didn't know that jesus was a jew until i was probably 14 or something crazy like that, i didn't even know that the old testiment isn't christian. i don't know, i think its to sneaky.
    relious support groups are fine, they are a little close minded as well, but some people just need their support that way, so i'm not going to try to stop them. but think that the muslims really have it down when it comes to that.
    • I've always had a problem with churches thinking they are "the one" too. Mine always said that we're the remnent, and all I could think was, "How can you know for sure?" That's why I like the idea of non-denomentational churches, like the Springs of Living Water Church, except even they have doctrines that I can't agree with.

      I guess I agree with you that it's not cool that we have so many offshoot religions from the major two divisions: Catholic and Protestant. I think the problem started when people and churches thought that they had the authority to change what was written in the Bible, or add to it. Like the Mormons with the Book of Mormon or the Catholics with the Apocrapha (might be spelled wrong...). If every church just went by what the Bible said and made it their goal to make that their sole source of information - not what other churches do, but what they think the Bible says, then we wouldn't have the many different churches all pitted against each other.
      • well, unfortunately, the bible itself is highly edited. The bible has undergone four major revisions, becoming drastically different each time. In Religious Studies we got to compare newer forms of the texts with the originals as recently discovered by archaeologists... they were completely different, which scares me. Fortunately, most of the core ideas seemed to remain the same. Different parts of the bible were written at different times. There are also many biblical stories not included in the bible, since the ones that the editors didn't like were tossed as they went along, and new ones added as they emerged in the religion's mainstream consciousness.

        Just an interesting side note on Luke, Matthew, and Mark, which are really core ideas and are, unlike the Old Testament, only found in Christianity and not Judaism or Islam.

        Luke, Matthew, and Mark share some material world for word, and have some unique material. They theory is that they all derived from a source known as 'Q', which was a collected sayings of Jesus. It should be noted that they did their writing over fifty years after Jesus died, and John's was even later, so the idea is that these are different spin-off of a single tale re-told orally, with each writer adding their personal inflection.

        This stuff is going to sound very weird, I know. But there's a ton of stuff historical investigation has dug up, plus archaeological evidence, that really raises an eyebrow. By and large, looking at the facts and the origins of which I've only touched the tip of the iceberg on here, the Bible was written by man. However, the writings were based on ideas passed down through generations of stories which seem to have remained mostly unchanged, stemming back to an original source; men that communed with their god.

        Some of the stories are incredibly misleading, though, although they all have a good moral. An interesting example is the Book of Daniel. It is written as if it is about the exile, however, the story was first recorded during the Revolt of the Maccabees, where the Jews overthrew their Greek overlords, as celebrated today by Hannukah. It prophesizes that a messiah well come, which many take to be Jesus. However, a lot of evidence, especially historical context and specific descriptions point to that messiah being Judas Maccabias... who led the revolution against the Greeks. This story was written to recount this exploit in an indirect way, since if it was done directly, it certainly would've led to the execution of the author and his readers.

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