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Author Topic: I don't want to be an atheist anymore  (Read 6716 times) Average Rating: 0
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lovesupreme
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Out of This World


« on: May 18, 2012, 01:22:29 AM »

An Open Letter to Orthodox Christians

Hello,

I've been posting on these forums for a little over a month now, and I've enjoyed conversing with its members. I'd like to make my formal introduction.

--- PART I: BACKGROUND ---

I was born to a Jewish mother and a gentile father (who was raised Presbyterian but stopped practicing once he reached adulthood). This, according to all Jewish authorities, makes me a Jew. Before two years ago, this did not matter to me; I lived a secular life with Christmas trees and Menorahs sitting in the same living room. By adolesence I was privy to bouts of depression, and I did not believe in God. After graduating college, I tried to make it in the big city with art, but I was soon swept by a sea of melancholy. I no longer felt there was any purpose in life, and though I did not contemplate suicide, I felt both lethargic towards my own actions and embittered towards everyone else's. What was right? What wasn't? Why is nothing working out for me?

Then, I went on a free trip to Israel as part of the Birthright program. For 10 days, I breathed in the sights and sounds of the holy land. Although I did not think it holy back then). We were chaperoned by two young rabbis from an Orthodox Jewish outreach organization.1 They tried clumsily to capture our hearts with ideas about God and the Jewish people, but no one bit -- no one, except for me.

In the Jerusalem hotel, the rabbi lent me a book to read that talked about how it's possible to live life without every knowing God, and why one should strive to know him and serve him. Suddenly, I wasn't an agnostic anymore; no, I realized that God could be explained differently than how I saw him portrayed in secular media. He was this indefinable power, master of all reality yet infinitely beyond it, controlling the world through a perfect system that I once called mere nature. He was not, as I had been led to believe, a grey-bearded man in the clouds with a suffering son who was also somehow the same person.

As the plane touched down in the states, I was changed. I began to seriously consider a god (who seemed to answer all the questions I had before), and I wanted to pursue things further. Just as I was about to claim membership at a reform synagogue, a friend stopped me and pointed me to Orthodoxy. His father was Jewish and his mother was a gentile, which meant he had to convert to earn the recognition of Orthodox authorities. Before beginning Orthodox conversion, he went through Reform and Conservative phases, until deciding that if he was going to be Jewish, he better do it all the way. And I agreed with that sentiment, so I followed him to a community for a weekend Shabbat getaway.

I was blown away by the experience. Here was a whole neighborhood turning off the electronics to eat meals together, spend time with one another, pray, and read about the awesomeness of God. I longed for that sense of community, that sense of trust that everyone seemed to have for one another. I knew I had to experience another Shabbat next Friday, but I was unable to go downtown; that's when a Jewish co-worker of mine told me about Chabad Lubavitch, another Orthodox outreach group that was in town.

I showed up twenty minutes before candle-lighting, the (not just symbolic) beginning of Shabbat. As I approached the Chabad house, I saw two young men in full beards, black coats, and fedoras. They spoke fluent English and introduced themselves. I was welcomed inside and had a wonderful time, sharing with them my stories. I felt a tinge of guilt when I left for the night in my car (a forbidden act on the Sabbath), but I came back in the morning to attend the service and learn with the rabbis.

I kept returning on Friday nights, and it wasn't long before I was sleeping over and spending the whole day at the house with the other religious Jews. I caught on quickly to the externals, and began dressing the part. I covered my head, I didn't shave, I grew out my sidelocks. In retrospect, these should be have been goals secondary to the main goal: a better understanding of God and Judaism. But I didn't want depth, I wanted a quick but total transformation. I was sick of my old, secular, relativist lifestyle. I craved order, ritual, rules, structure, discipline. I figured that the "fake it til you make it approach" would work the best; immerse yourself in the culture and it will become natural. While I did eventually develop beliefs in God and got a formal Torah education, my foundation was rocky from the start -- I wanted the routine, not the religion.

After some harrowing experiences in a religious school and the heart of the Chabad movement's Messianic members,2 I began losing my faith, although it did not happen over night. I distanced myself from the more radical Chabad and tried to live a more modern, sensible, albeit still very Orthodox life. But the curtain had been pulled; I began to see ugliness everywhere around me -- Jews hating gentiles, Jews hating other Jews, judgmental eyes, cruel teasing, slandering, self-righteousness, intellectual haughtiness. I wanted to be a simple God-fearing Jew, but I had no models to follow.

This caused my depression to act up, so much that I had to begin treatment. After a few months of medication and therapy, what I kept denying would happen happened: I became a non-believer again. It struck me one night, as I lay in bed, ill from the fever and exhausted, that I was using religion as a coping mechanism for my own inability to deal with the complexity and seeming absurdity of the world. I was diagnosed with severe OCD, so I determined that all my craving for ritual and order was a result of my disease and not my religious longing. And I was not worshipping God, but some fake God who I had created in my head, who judged me harshly and forced me to destroy myself for the sake of become a holy person.

I was pretty perturbed by the sudden shift, and I was angry for a good long while. I've been doing a lot better recently, but there's one thing I can't deny: my longing for belief.

Try as I might to accept an absurd, incomprehensible world with no answers and death at the end of everything, I cannot keep these ideas grounded. The relativism, the insistence of proofs that will never exist -- it all torments me to know end. Not because I can't accept a world like this, but because I know that there's another possibility: that God does exist, that he did create the world, that he does enter the world, and that maybe, just maybe, two thousand years ago, he became a man and died for me.

--- PART II: BELIEF? ---

I am at a crossroads: believe in a secular, uncaring universe where death is final, or believe in a God who created the universe and who will judge me after I die. I have just recently been able to accept that no definitive proof exists for either scenario, but I still cannot choose which path to go.

But here's the thing: I don't want to live in an uncaring universe. I want to believe in God who has set absolute guidelines by which to live, especially one who changed for humanity and will accept me for the flawed person I am, and not expect me to follow 613 commandments (and countless rabbinical laws and customs) in order to be "saved." I can relate to the universal message of Christianity, that we are all saved in Christ, Jews and gentiles alike. And there seems to be much more room for reconcilation with philosophy and science.3

But I also fear that wrathful beast that I once knew, who expects me to deny basic biological desires, who detests homosexuality and fornication, who is always watching and judging. Who always expects more of me and who will make me feel guilty to no end for taking it easy on myself. I don't want to go back to that, and I feel as if that fear is one of the main barriers from recovering my belief.

I'm conflicted. And so I've taken it upon myself to clear things up a bit by starting from the top, something I should have done before. I'm reading books that introduce me again, to the idea of God, this time a Christian one, and books that attempt to reconcile my moral, intellectual, and scientific objections to the Bible. I'm attending Orthodox Christian services and talking to congregants and priests (but also keeping somewhat of a distance, not wanting to be indoctrinated at an unstable state and end up not believing again later). There's a wealth of resources out there, and it's all pretty overwhelming, so I guess what I'm saying is: I need you, Orthodox Christians, and your guidance.

Now, I don't know what will come from all of this. I may decide that I can safely remain a non-believer. I may become a Christian, but not an Orthodox Christian. I may become a Muslim, or maybe even some pantheistic or nontheistic faith. I'm trying not to align myself to any one path out of the gate, and weigh the options as equally as I can, although, admittedly, since I'm posting an on Orthodox Christian forum and reading books that argue God's existence, I suppose I'm drawn to what appeals to me the most: a loving creator with an afterlife and absolute truths, and one different than the one I knew when I was Jewish.

--- PART III: QUESTIONS? ---

I would appreciate any guidance you can provide; please do not hesitate to speak what you believe is true, as I have. If you have any questions that can aid this dialogue, ask away.

---

With love,
A Love Supreme

1 Back then, I did not know there were different "levels" of Judaism--the three main ones, in order from most liberal to most fundamental, being Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox).
2 Who believe that their deceased rabbi is the one and only Messiah, and will raise from the dead to bring the Jewish people back to Israel. They would chant out, "Long live our master, our teacher, our rabbi, King Messiah, forever and ever!" during services. As a strict monotheist, this frightened me to no end and I prayed that God would forgive me for associating with such blasphemy. Of course, they have their own justifications, for which I care not anymore.
3 It was pounded into my head that I should stay away from philosophy and secular works because they'll only "confuse" me. Torah was the only thing you should spend time on
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 01:24:06 AM by lovesupreme » Logged
witega
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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 02:44:26 AM »

--- PART III: QUESTIONS? ---

I would appreciate any guidance you can provide; please do not hesitate to speak what you believe is true, as I have. If you have any questions that can aid this dialogue, ask away.

Lord have mercy.

"Lord I believe, help my unbelief." (Mark 9:24)

A lot to digest there, much of it of a very personal nature that, as a stranger on the internet, I don't think it's my place to comment on. It sounds like you have thought deeply about how you want to handle the next few steps and it sounds like a sound plan to me. But a couple of thoughts I had as I read:

First, it sounds like you are already beginning to grasp this, but always keep in mind that in a Christian context 'belief' is not an intellectual exercise but a form of relationship. Yes, we have the creed and the other pronouncements of the ecumenical councils and the teachings of the Fathers and these things are important and something you will be dealing with on your journey, but these things are statements about the Faith, they are not the Faith itself, which is nothing more nor less than the Person of Jesus Christ.

As relationship, rather than logic, there is a significant element of choice, of will, in belief. In any long-term relationship, there comes a point (often multiple points) where you have to look at the other person and make a choice--do I believe them, or do I not; she says she loves me, is that true or is she fooling herself; he says he's looking out for me, is that true or does he have an ulterior motive. In making that choice, you can (and should) look at evidence, at past behavior, etc. But however much evidence you compile, there is always a final gap that is only crossed by choice, by the willful decision that you are going to trust this person. And the same applies with God. At some point, after you have studied and thought and contemplated, there is a point at which you simply have to decide, I will believe in this Person--or I will not.

Second, silence is not absence. The difference between human relationships and the one with God is obviously that you can see and hear and touch other people while you receive no sensory confirmation of God. There are exceptions--the writers of the New Testament, obviously, actually knew Jesus in the same way we know other human beings. And throughout the history of the Church we recognize those who have received the gift of the explicit experience of God through the Uncreated Light or other such experiences. Hopefully someday you will be one of those granted this more explicit vision. But just because you cannot hear His voice does not mean it is not there. Think of a time when you have sat with a close friend or a family member and you're not talking, perhaps you're not even looking at each other, yet you *know* they are there and presence is enough. Even if you do not hear the voice of God or see His Uncreated Light, this experience of simply being with Him in silence is available to all for God is always everywhere present, quietly watching over you and waiting for the time when you are ready to hear His voice.

Finally, jumping ahead a few steps, you are right to be cautious that your desire for structure and order does not dictate your religious inquiry. There is certainly opportunity with Orthodox Christianity to be just as rigid and rule-bound as any Orthodox Jew. To mistake the sign-posts on the way for the Way and create an idea of God that becomes an idol in place of a real relationship with the real God. One thing you can be sure about a God who is truly transcendant, "indefinable power, master of all reality yet infinitely beyond it" is that He will not do or be what you want or expect. Take guidance first and foremost from those who have known Him longer than you have--hopefully this will be people you meet and know through your visits to a nearby church, but even more so look into the writings and lives of the saints, those that the Church celebrates for the depth of their friendship with God.

Hope any of that helps and I look forward to continued conversation.
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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 03:16:22 AM »

Praise God. It is wonderful to read of your sincere struggle to find God. I think it is one that more than a few of us here can relate to on at least some level, and of course so can many more who have come before us whom we now recognize as saints.

People who know me know I post this in every thread I can find, but there's just nothing better that I could ever hope to write or say: Come back to God (A sermon from HH Pope Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Nov. 14 1971 - March 17 2012)

With that out of the way...

I cannot write about a choice between the secular universe and a religious universe. I am a Christian today not because I have become convinced of something that I would not otherwise have believed based on the evidence or lack thereof, but because this is the life of someone who is, for everything else I also am, a creation of God, and is beloved by Him. Not because of anything so great about me, of course, but almost in the sense that the child of a bear will be a bear, the child of a jellyfish will be a jellyfish, etc. I am a Christian because I am made in the image of God, same as every other person. So for me, being Christian is just me trying to live as God would have me live, as guided by His holy church. It has nothing to do with what is rational to people or the laws of science. It is about my response to the call of Christ my God, the lover of my soul. If I acknowledge that I have been formed this way, then is it not right that I should follow the One who created me? And so I believe in the One God -- Father, Son, and Spirit -- Who has formed man in incorruption, has come down from heaven and saved our souls from the sin and death that entered into the world through the guile of the serpent, and Who is with us forever, guiding us to truth and everlasting life with Him as we struggle to endure until the end and so win the heavenly reward.

Yet I was not born a Christian. I was raised one, sure, but everything is by conversion. We are not counted because of our mothers (or I suppose I would still be a Presbyterian), blessings though they are.  Smiley

I wish I could give you a 'St. Paul on the road to Damascus' kind of story, but such things are very rare. Truth be told it is a lot of little actions, imperceptible and quite boring to read about, that make the difference for me. After all, I'm not trying to build some sort of fortress out of my high and mighty epistemological knowledge that will keep out any and all doubt. It is strange, now that I think about it: I live with more doubt now than I ever did when I was an agnostic (for a period of about a decade or so after my mother passed away). Maybe it's like military men have said: "It's not the fear, it's what you do with it". Well, I know what I do with my doubt now (see sermon, above Smiley), but for those who do something else it makes sense to me that they would also therefore believe in something else. What you believe and what you do are not necessarily two different things, after all (or so has been my limited experience of Orthodox Christianity, which does not separate the two for the sake of building elaborate philosophies about how to be Christian separate from the actual being part). I don't think there are any easy answers to be had (faith is much more of a mystery than losing it is), but the path to what answers there are is clear, at least as far as Christianity is concerned.

Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!
Many are they who rise up against me.
Many are they who say of me,
“There is no help for him in God.”

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.

I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people
Who have set themselves against me all around.

Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people.
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 04:31:30 AM »

Woah this is a really long post. I do not have time to read this whole thing right now since it is 1:40AM right now, but I'll read it in the morning. I will tell you though that maybe you should talk to 'The Mathematician' I think that he used to be a resident atheist on the site but converted to Orthodoxy.
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You're really on to something here. Tattoo to keep you from masturbating, chew to keep you from fornicating... it's a whole new world where you outsource your crosses. You're like a Christian entrepreneur or something.
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 05:27:58 AM »

I'm conflicted. And so I've taken it upon myself to clear things up a bit by starting from the top, something I should have done before. I'm reading books that introduce me again, to the idea of God, this time a Christian one, and books that attempt to reconcile my moral, intellectual, and scientific objections to the Bible. I'm attending Orthodox Christian services and talking to congregants and priests (but also keeping somewhat of a distance, not wanting to be indoctrinated at an unstable state and end up not believing again later). There's a wealth of resources out there, and it's all pretty overwhelming, so I guess what I'm saying is: I need you, Orthodox Christians, and your guidance.

LS - I am not Orthodox and speak as a Catechumen.

My initial comment after reading your post is that you are being logical and rational.  Sorry - this just won't work.  You need God - you need to experience God.  Intellectualizing the process won't get you to God.  

So here's the deal - buy the Orthodox Study Bible and start reading from the back - the bit by Bishop Kallistos Ware about 'how' to read the Bible.  Then there are the morning and evening prayers and a lectionary for the daily readings.  Just go with doing that and allow God to break in to your thinking.  If you are attending an Orthodox church continue with that practice and ask the local Father what to do - what to read.  You need spiritual direction and that is his job.  

It has taken me 18 months to get to the point when I have been accepted as a Catechumen.  So don't expect things to happen in a hurry.  Becoming Orthodox is a long path.

Lord have Mercy.    
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 05:28:51 AM by wayseer » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2012, 01:16:26 PM »

hi, lovesupreme, and thanks for sharing.
i think that in view of yr previous problems, taking things slowly and logically is the best way.
although i agree that the orthodox study Bible is a great resource. it has all the books of the Bible and explains the orthodox church very well.

i also started to follow God because of simple logic. when i was a small child, my world was full of chaos and shouting. then my parents because Christians and i became aware that something was missing - the nastiness. i asked my mum why this was, why they weren't being 'nasty' and she explained that God's love for them overflowed onto other people and meant that they were more loving.
this suited me, and i spent a long time as a protestant Christian until i found more depth and peace in orthodox Christianity.

the sermon 'turn back to God' by the coptic orthodox patriarch pope shenouda 3rd (recommended by dzheremi) is brilliant and i strongly recommend it. in fact anything written by pope shenouda (who left us recently to pray for everyone from heaven) is easy to understand and explains the Christian faith really well.
u can see, when reading his booklets and books, that he lived with God, he did not just know about God. he is someone who was loved by people of all faiths for his love and care for all people and for the wisom that God gave him.

i recommend u continue your conversations with orthodox Christians and churches u know and use the internet as a secondary resource only, as anyone can post here, and some people don't take it too seriously. so real people u can see and hear are better guides.
i pray God will give u great peace on this spiritual journey.
 Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2012, 02:23:11 PM »

I am pretty agnostical myself.. But as I am living I am discovering more and more of Christ in me, i constientise his life through my life and him in my heart like he is always there even when i want to deny him, like he grew up with me and like he is a part of me... In my agnosticism , skepticism and offence I feel more like Christ..
« Last Edit: May 18, 2012, 02:24:53 PM by Azul » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2012, 07:42:52 PM »

Thank you all, for your response. I have a litany of replies to you...

---

First, it sounds like you are already beginning to grasp this, but always keep in mind that in a Christian context 'belief' is not an intellectual exercise but a form of relationship. Yes, we have the creed and the other pronouncements of the ecumenical councils and the teachings of the Fathers and these things are important and something you will be dealing with on your journey, but these things are statements about the Faith, they are not the Faith itself, which is nothing more nor less than the Person of Jesus Christ.

I am familar with this relationship. During my religious phase, I regularly practiced hitbotdedut meditation, in which I spoke to God (or what I perceived as God) for a sustained hour in nature. I was fully on the side of faith, but my faith was all to insubtantial to keep me locked into that prison of a life. I know I won't be able to reach

God, if he exists, through pure intellect (for none have yet sofar and what makes me so special?), but if I do approach the issue from belief, it has to be a completely different kind of belief than the one I'm accustomed to, one grounded in rationality and mature enough to allow for genuine skepticism and doubt. I suppose I'm hoping that my "intellectual studies" will help me make the gap between faith and reason smaller, not bridge it entirely.

At some point, after you have studied and thought and contemplated, there is a point at which you simply have to decide, I will believe in this Person--or I will not.
This is what I most fear and doubt. I'm convinced I was wrong before; I do not believe that the God I worshipped was real. So what's to stop me from worshipping another fake God? Maybe there isn't a God and we're all worshipping fake Gods. I can't trust myself to make those leaps of faith anymore, to actually stake a claim. And I don't think I ever have to decide, though it would be nice if I would someday. Right now, I can't really picture myself at a point where I would even be approaching decision.

Second, silence is not absence ... just because you cannot hear His voice does not mean it is not there

I can agree with this; I am against the commonly touted atheist argument that because God has not explicitly made himself known, that he does not exist, period. To do would be to know the nature of this so-called God, who would be infinitely more complex than our minds can fathom. I do not let silence push me in any one direction or the other. If I decide not to believe, then I will be an agnostic (which, I suppose, I have become in the past few days).

Finally, jumping ahead a few steps, you are right to be cautious that your desire for structure and order does not dictate your religious inquiry. There is certainly opportunity with Orthodox Christianity to be just as rigid and rule-bound as any Orthodox Jew. To mistake the sign-posts on the way for the Way and create an idea of God that becomes an idol in place of a real relationship with the real God. One thing you can be sure about a God who is truly transcendant, "indefinable power, master of all reality yet infinitely beyond it" is that He will not do or be what you want or expect. Take guidance first and foremost from those who have known Him longer than you have--hopefully this will be people you meet and know through your visits to a nearby church, but even more so look into the writings and lives of the saints, those that the Church celebrates for the depth of their friendship with God.

Are there texts of rules and regulations that all Orthodox Christians have to follow? Proper techniques for everything from prostrating to icons to tying one's shoes?

I hated that feeling, that I needed to be hyper conscious of each and every action. But I feel like I'll naturally fall into it if I start believing there's someone who cares and is judging me for it.

If the Orthodox Christian religious texts are anything similar to the Orthodox Jewish ones, then I am wary to read them, at least now. I can remember supposed "holy men" damning me for not doing certain things properly, and explaining the extremes to which one must go in order to be considered just a "middle man" -- neither a sinner nor a saint. Even if they're not being prescriptive, I still tend to unfairly compare my level of practice with holy men and mentally flagellate myself for not giving it my all to reach that level.

---

People who know me know I post this in every thread I can find, but there's just nothing better that I could ever hope to write or say: Come back to God (A sermon from HH Pope Shenouda III, Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Nov. 14 1971 - March 17 2012)

Thank you. I will post my comments when I'm finished watching it.

If I acknowledge that I have been formed this way, then is it not right that I should follow the One who created me? And so I believe in the One God -- Father, Son, and Spirit -- Who has formed man in incorruption, has come down from heaven and saved our souls from the sin and death that entered into the world through the guile of the serpent, and Who is with us forever, guiding us to truth and everlasting life with Him as we struggle to endure until the end and so win the heavenly
reward.

I don't think you misinterpreted me, but to clarify: I'm struggling with reason for believing in God, not reason for obeying Him had I already believed in Him.

It is strange, now that I think about it: I live with more doubt now than I ever did when I was an agnostic (for a period of about a decade or so after my mother passed away). Maybe it's like military men have said: "It's not the fear, it's what you do with it". Well, I know what I do with my doubt now (see sermon, above Smiley)

Having not seen the sermon, I don't want to comment too much, but I have heard sermons that deal with the idea that "doubt can become holy if it pushes you to greater belief." I suppose if there is a God to believe in, this is great and I welcome that. But what if it's all just futility, trying in vain to come at terms with something that has never been? That, of course, is itself a doubt. But it seems like to start down this path of back and forth, you have to hope that you will eventually come to terms with your doubts, and believe in God as fully as you can. That is, you can feel that there is a real goal, but there are many factors that keep you from realizing it. I'm doubtful if there even is a goal.

I don't think there are any easy

answers to be had (faith is much more of a mystery than losing it is), but the path to what answers there are is

clear, at least as far as Christianity is concerned.

Interesting perspective. I had always considered religion to be "the truth," not "the true path to truth." I suppose I could be eased by the idea that I will never know some things if I knew I was going down the right path. But then, how do I know Christianity, or religion in general, is the right path? Is that something that I can only decide on myself based on how I feel intuitively about the various roads ahead of me?


Quote
Lord, how they have increased who trouble me!

I'm very familiar with the psalm; I recited it almost every day. Which leads me to another issue, having to return to the Old Testament texts. I associate them with the darkness I experienced. Even with a new pair of eyes, I know it's talking about the same God.

---

LS - I am not Orthodox and speak as a Catechumen.

Please, speak freely. I didn't intend to be exclusive in my request; I guess I just addressed my audience as Orthodox Christians is because they're associated with this forum.

My initial comment after reading your post is that you are being logical and rational.  Sorry - this just won't work.  You need God - you need to experience God.  Intellectualizing the process won't get you to God.

I am grateful for your advice, but I think it is entirely wrong for my situation. I adopted this approach when I became an Orthodox Jew. I was convinced early on that I would never be able approach things rationally, so why bother? Just listen to the religious authorities and nod at everything they tell you. I acknowledge that that rationality and logic will never be able to explicitly prove God, but why can't they be used to point me in the right direction, to a high enough probability where the gap to faith is small enough for me to take that jump?

To be honest, I think you might be falling into the same trap as I did. When you say "Sorry - this just won't work," I hear my past self trying to convince others (but really trying and failing to convince myself). Do you really believe logic and rationality don't work, or is that something you were told when you began? Please excuse me if I'm being brash, but I don't want you to go through the same thing as I did. It may be that the approach you have adopted works best for you.

So here's the deal - buy the Orthodox Study Bible and start reading from the back - the bit by Bishop Kallistos Ware about 'how' to read the Bible.  Then there are the morning and evening prayers and a lectionary for the daily readings.  Just go with doing that and allow God to break in to your thinking.  If you are attending an Orthodox church continue with that practice and ask the local Father what to do - what to read.  You need spiritual direction and that is his job.

I have developed a huge distrust for clergymen. In my experience, clergymen who have no idea what it's like to be a convert give pretty bad advice. There are struggles that they can't even imagine, which is not to say that their lives are rosy. Even the old-timers who had seen it all were repressing their angst to "fit in" to the proper community (which looks down on converts).

I witnessed too much corruption and other "less than holy" behavior to just blindly go to a priest and ask him for spiritual direction.

I know I can't do this alone; I do need the support of those who have been there. I will have to work on getting over this aversion, but for now, the thought of talking to a group I absolutely do not trust is repulsive to me.

It has taken me 18 months to get to the point when I have been accepted as a Catechumen.  So don't expect things to happen in a hurry.  Becoming Orthodox is a long path.

I'm willing to spend a lifetime on that path, but first I need to feel as if its a path worth taking.

---

i think that in view of yr previous problems, taking things slowly and logically is the best way.
although i agree that the orthodox study Bible is a great resource. it has all the books of the Bible and explains the orthodox church very well.

It's probably just because I love being validated, but thank you for the vote of confidence. Smiley I am interested in the Orthodox Study Bible, perhaps now as detached learning tool and then perhaps later as a spiritual guide.

i recommend u continue your conversations with orthodox Christians and churches u know and use the internet as a secondary resource only, as anyone can post here, and some people don't take it too seriously. so real people u can see and hear are better guides.
i pray God will give u great peace on this spiritual journey.

Thank you. For now, the anonymity of the internet is the only place in which I feel comfortable talking about these things.

---

I am pretty agnostical myself.. But as I am living I am discovering more and more of Christ in me, i constientise his life through my life and him in my heart like he is always there even when i want to deny him, like he grew up with me and like he is a part of me... In my agnosticism , skepticism and offence I feel more like Christ..

This is an interesting approach, to live as an agnostic yearning to be a believer. It certainly takes off the anxiety of having to make a decision.
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2012, 08:58:47 PM »

I have developed a huge distrust for clergymen.

That is a potential stumbling block.

In my experience, clergymen who have no idea what it's like to be a convert give pretty bad advice.

There are convert Orthodox clergy.  If trust is an issue, perhaps it may help to find one who's been in your shoes.

There are struggles that they can't even imagine, which is not to say that their lives are rosy. Even the old-timers who had seen it all were repressing their angst to "fit in" to the proper community (which looks down on converts).

Not every Priest looks down on converts.

I witnessed too much corruption and other "less than holy" behavior to just blindly go to a priest and ask him for spiritual direction.

You have "less than holy" behavior as well (so do I); it's not fair to judge someone for something that we do not judge ourselves.
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2012, 10:47:51 PM »

I was referring to my own experience with certain Jewish clergymen and communities that did look down on converts. Of course, even that was a very subjective experience and shouldn't be taken as a slight against the whole; although because it was so personally traumatizing, it has created a negative association in my mind.

You're being presumptuous. You're accusing me of not judging myself when all you have to go on are a few hastily typed forum messages? I admittedly should have chosen my words more carefully, but please don't take me for some judgmental hypocrite. I'm haughty and angry and bigoted (not to mention paranoid with a persecution complex) and the first among sinners (but then, aren't we all?). I'm talking about, again, a personally negative experience that has created bad associations. It is more than a potential stumbling block, it is THE stumbling block.

I judged myself harshly, I still do, only I'm not acting through an imaginary God in my head. I suppose you could call that the ultimate pride, that I'm so good because I deem myself bad. Well then, I'm guilty of that too.

All that said, I appreciate your response. I have no reason to believe any Christians look down on converts, and I'm certain I could find either a cradle or convert priest who can help me. But it's hard to do that, in the hell I made for myself.

I'm sorry if I'm coming off as defensive, but I don't like being taken for something that I'm not. And maybe that's just the nerves acting up and you didn't mean anything by it...

Can you tell this whole topic is a little bit stressful for me? Who wants popsicles? laugh
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2012, 11:15:22 PM »

Who wants popsicles? laugh

I could use one.   Smiley

Anyway, there are no rabbis on this board (at least to my knowledge).  If you're going to move forward with the Orthodox faith, you will have to trust someone.

You're being presumptuous. You're accusing me of not judging myself when all you have to go on are a few hastily typed forum messages? I admittedly should have chosen my words more carefully, but please don't take me for some judgmental hypocrite. I'm haughty and angry and bigoted (not to mention paranoid with a persecution complex) and the first among sinners (but then, aren't we all?). I'm talking about, again, a personally negative experience that has created bad associations. It is more than a potential stumbling block, it is THE stumbling block.

OK, you have a lot of self-work to do, to heal, to prepare yourself.  I apologize if I offended.   angel

I judged myself harshly, I still do, only I'm not acting through an imaginary God in my head. I suppose you could call that the ultimate pride, that I'm so good because I deem myself bad. Well then, I'm guilty of that too.

All that said, I appreciate your response. I have no reason to believe any Christians look down on converts, and I'm certain I could find either a cradle or convert priest who can help me. But it's hard to do that, in the hell I made for myself.

You have to find a way out of that hell.  Prayer; reading the Bible; understanding the New Testament from the Old Testament; all these require work.

I'm sorry if I'm coming off as defensive, but I don't like being taken for something that I'm not. And maybe that's just the nerves acting up and you didn't mean anything by it...

Can you tell this whole topic is a little bit stressful for me?

Yes.  I'm going to look for a popsicle.   Smiley
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« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2012, 12:05:34 AM »

Hi lovesupreme-

I have been thinking of what to say in reply to this post ever since I saw it earlier. I am not Orthodox (I'm also here as a seeker, but I am a Christian who can confess the Creed and mean it), so I will tread lightly here because I don't want to over-step. I do want to say something though, because there is a lot in your post that I felt I could relate to although we come from wildly different backgrounds.

I relate to the world-shattering experience of abandoning a belief system that you had previously sincerely bought into. One of the best pieces of advice that I've come across is: "Explore your doubts, but do so in peace." I don't think doubts are something that should be shied away from, or something that should be shamed or feared. Truth has nothing to fear, after all. The second part of that is really important, though. The baggage we carry with us on our journey (previous hurts, betrayal, anger, cynicism, etc.) can cloud our ability to seek with an open mind and heart. They influence where we're willing to look for truth, and how we hear and filter it. So perhaps a good first step for you is to figure out how you can explore your doubts in peace.

Sometimes the search is frustrating, and there have been times that I've wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say "Forget it! There must be nothing." What stops me though, is that I really, truly believe in Love- as more than just chemical reactions in my brain that have an evolutionary benefit, as something transcendent, and ultimately: as Someone (1 John 4:8 ).

Please take all of that with a grain of salt. If it's not helpful, then disregard.  Smiley You will be in my prayers!
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« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2012, 01:53:10 AM »

Are there texts of rules and regulations that all Orthodox Christians have to follow? Proper techniques for everything from prostrating to icons to tying one's shoes?

I hated that feeling, that I needed to be hyper conscious of each and every action.

 The laws were given as a means to salvation.  But keeping all the laws proved daunting and down right impossible.  This is one of the reasons that God sent His son- no longer are we under the law.  Long ago, I converted to Islam and believed/practiced it for almost ten years.  But the laws and rules, just as in Judaisim, are myriad and impossible to keep.  Now, Muslims and Jews are wonderful folks, that's not what I'm saying here.

 But, along with all the laws, I didn't like the way I felt inside.  Everything was too legalistic.  I sure felt judged, but not once did I feel loved.  I remember that that was something that was never brought up/discussed no matter what country the person was from- Arabia, Indonesia, Syria, Sudan etc...  It was all about following the hadith of Muhammad.  Anyway, the absence of love, knowing that I mattered, really began to bother me.  Fast forward a few years- I dabbled in atheism, agnosticism, Hinduism and Buddhism.  I did not want to be Christian.  But I soon began to see that Jesus was pulling me towards Him and that He allowed me to go down all those different paths in order to show me how much I needed Him. 

 You know, in my atheistic phase, I realized that although these folks denied God, they built statues and painted giant murals of their leaders.  That told me that man has an innate need to look up to something.  Blaise Pascal summed it up wonderfully when he said something to the effect that man has a God-shaped hole in their hearts. 

 All religions have some truth to them, and all are beautiful in their own unique way.  But only Jesus loves you and is constantly thinking of you.  You are the Prodigal Son and He is longing for your return. 

 Feel free to PM me if you'd like.




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« Reply #13 on: May 19, 2012, 02:57:36 AM »

Quote
I don't think you misinterpreted me, but to clarify: I'm struggling with reason for believing in God, not reason for obeying Him had I already believed in Him.

I wrote what I did earlier in this thread with the dichotomy you presented in mind: Believe in a secular, pointless, Godless universe, or a universe created by God who both loves and judges you. In light of the fact that this is how you approach it, I responded with my own understanding (possibly wrong or unhelpful, but it's what I've got to work with until someone tells me otherwise) of why we believe as we do which is, oddly enough, not explicitly tied to God's creation of the universe. Of course, we believe that He created heaven and earth (it's in the Nicene Creed), but that's a given by this point in the development of Christian thought, so I think of things in terms of the interplay of God and man, as that is what is found all throughout salvation history (in the lives of the Apostles, the Disciples, and the other saints, in both old and new testaments, and in our lives today), rather than a sort of one time "aha!" proof that will ensure that my faith will never be shaken.

Quote
Having not seen the sermon, I don't want to comment too much, but I have heard sermons that deal with the idea that "doubt can become holy if it pushes you to greater belief." I suppose if there is a God to believe in, this is great and I welcome that.


The sermon does not deal with doubt in a direct way, but teaches us how to come back to God through prayer, because this is what prayer really is, and what it really does. In fact, since you seem to like the word, it might help to point out that this is what religion really is -- to reconnect (ultimately from Lat. re- + ligare 'tie, bind', cf. ligament).

Quote
But what if it's all just futility, trying in vain to come at terms with something that has never been? That, of course, is itself a doubt.


Why would it be futility if it causes you to earnestly search for peace in your soul? You wouldn't be asking these questions if you weren't willing to put yourself out there a bit, would you? You cannot be afraid to have gone down a wrong path at some point, or else you would still be a Jew, right? The greatest of our saints were not necessarily the most certain and strong, but they were the most tenacious and willing to undergo endless trials in their pursuit of God. He who endures will be saved.

Quote
But it seems like to start down this path of back and forth, you have to hope that you will eventually come to terms with your doubts, and believe in God as fully as you can. That is, you can feel that there is a real goal, but there are many factors that keep you from realizing it. I'm doubtful if there even is a goal.

Well, yes and no, right? We do hope and believe in God, and pray that God help our unbelief, but I'm not so sure that is in itself the goal. Rather, that is the beginning of our journey (and we relive it all the time, because doubts don't leave just because you've become convinced of X, Y, Z). The goal is union with God. Again, it is a struggle until the last breath, as the Desert Fathers tell us (I couldn't remember off the top of my head which said that, but it's in there somewhere).

Quote
Interesting perspective. I had always considered religion to be "the truth," not "the true path to truth."


I'm not sure I could separate the two even if I wanted to. For Christians, Christ is the truth, and also our means of reconnection to the Father, as we have been damaged by sin, and He has freed us from its power and the death entailed by it.

Quote
I suppose I could be eased by the idea that I will never know some things if I knew I was going down the right path.


Why do you need this epistemological certainty?

Quote
But then, how do I know Christianity, or religion in general, is the right path? Is that something that I can only decide on myself based on how I feel intuitively about the various roads ahead of me?

I really don't know. I don't think anyone here could. None of us have lived your spiritual life. I am tempted to quote the Bible on how no one can say that Christ is Lord but by the Holy Spirit, but I have a feeling that this might seem like a non-answer at this stage in your exploration of religion. So, that IS true (that verse), but I cannot tell you how to realize that without reference to that same Holy Spirit. It's a catch-22, you see...like telling you that you can be cured of illness without heading to the doctor who would diagnose you in the first place. I know this is terribly circular, but as this is far beyond my spiritual level, I am hesitant to say anything more. I hope someone else has some wisdom to shed on these particular questions.

Quote
I'm very familiar with the psalm; I recited it almost every day. Which leads me to another issue, having to return to the Old Testament texts. I associate them with the darkness I experienced. Even with a new pair of eyes, I know it's talking about the same God.

This, on the other hand...! Grin I have found myself making probably the least likely transition in the ecclesiastical world as we know it, from Roman Catholicism to Coptic Orthodoxy, and facing many such questions along the way. I have understood passage X or concept Y in such a way up until now, and now what do I do when the Coptic Church understands said passage or concept in a completely different way, or even worse, nobody can help me with my questions because they have no clue what I am even talking about? (In the case of those concepts that had never developed in the Alexandrian tradition, for instance.)

I have taken solace in the Alexandrian tradition of Biblical interpretation, which tends toward the metaphorical (I'm resisting writing "mystical", because that seems cheesy and unfair to those of the Antiochian tradition, which while not being any less mystical as far as I can tell is quite different). In fact, I posted that Psalm without even thinking of your very reasonable likely reaction because I have under the influence of my church found it to resonate very deeply in my own struggles against my own enemies, which are the demons and the doubts that plague me. I can pray David's words therefore as my own, because the very same God who saved him from danger saves me from danger now. So, yes, it is the same God (we are not Marcionites), but we are not restricted to an interpretation wherein a man is always a man, and a tree is always a tree, and a house is always a house, etc. I hope it is clear what I mean (and what I don't mean, as we are likewise not gnostic dualists). If you are worried that once again approaching the Old Testament might bring about darkness, then Orthodoxy, wherein it is read within the light of Christ, is not just "new eyes" -- it is true light.
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« Reply #14 on: May 19, 2012, 03:47:47 AM »



This is an interesting approach, to live as an agnostic yearning to be a believer. It certainly takes off the anxiety of having to make a decision.

Well I am more than an agnostic , I sometimes mess with bible faiths and speak of God as the bad man.. Anyway where i am today,now, I am a sack of depression and despair.. I feel like the sky over my head is bronze and like the land beneath my faith is iron .. I feel like God is my enemy... I feel helpless, hopeless, the only little spark of hope I have is still in Jesus Christ, but I have been talking badly of him and God lately..

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« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2012, 03:51:06 AM »

I am familar with this relationship. During my religious phase, I regularly practiced hitbotdedut meditation, in which I spoke to God (or what I perceived as God) for a sustained hour in nature.

This is actually *not* what I was talking about. Such practices certainly exist in Orthodoxy but it's generally not recommended that you pursue this level without an experienced mentor who can help you sort through all the stuff your own mind is going to throw up in such a situation (Jah777 recently posted some very good excerpts from Elder Sophrony on this subject, and if I get a chance I'll try to find them again to point you towards them). To return to the analog of normal human relationships, there are certainly times in any important/strong relationship where you spend an hour or hours in deep conversation about deep things. But that is not what makes up the bulk of a marriage, good friendship, etc. What makes up the bulk of such a relationship is time spent simply being together - perhaps doing something together, perhaps doing different things but aware of each other's presence, and conversations where the fact of the conversation is more important than the actual subject.

In other words, an hour a day of concentrated meditation can be a good and important part of your spiritual life. But more important than such concentrated meditation is the continual awareness of being in the presence of God. Rather than setting aside one hour a day for specific meditation, I'm suggesting taking just a moment, many times a day to think "God is here". Perhaps utter a short prayer like the Jesus Prayer or the 'help my unbelief' one I quoted in my first response (One reason, Orthodoxy encourages the use of these short, formalized prayers is that they function *specifically* as a way to pray, to communicate with God, without leaving scope for your mind to start building its own preconceptions about who or what you are praying to).

(I may be skipping a step or two ahead in terms of what you are ready for, but if *want* to believe, the above is my best suggestion for how to go about doing so).

Quote
I know I won't be able to reach God, if he exists, through pure intellect (for none have yet sofar and what makes me so special?), but if I do approach the issue from belief, it has to be a completely different kind of belief than the one I'm accustomed to, one grounded in rationality and mature enough to allow for genuine skepticism and doubt. I suppose I'm hoping that my "intellectual studies" will help me make the gap between faith and reason smaller, not bridge it entirely.

I think we are in full agreement here. Pure logic and rationality will never take you across that final step--there will always be the proverbial 'leap of faith' to cross the gap. But rationality has a very important role in deciding *which* cliff to leap off of. And once you've leaped, it continues to have a relevant role in following the path of faith. Indeed, one of the most important roles of rationality for the Christian is for the intellect to recognize it's own limits. That is, it is the intellect, properly used, which is the best check against building a God of our conceptions by continually returning to the fundamental idea that "God is transcendent; God is beyond anything I can understand".

Quote
Are there texts of rules and regulations that all Orthodox Christians have to follow? Proper techniques for everything from prostrating to icons to tying one's shoes?

I hated that feeling, that I needed to be hyper conscious of each and every action. But I feel like I'll naturally fall into it if I start believing there's someone who cares and is judging me for it.

If the Orthodox Christian religious texts are anything similar to the Orthodox Jewish ones, then I am wary to read them, at least now.

Hmm. Yes and no. Orthodox Christianity certainly does not go down to the level of 'how to correctly tie your shoes'. If you look hard enough you can find books (and more so people) which will tell you that 'thus-and-such' is the proper way to venerate an icon, this is when you cross yourself and this is when you bow and ... etc. But that's not what you will find in our actual religious texts. The difference between Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Christianity *should* be that for Judaism, these rules are a matter of *Law*, whereas for Christianity they are a matter of 'good council'--behaviors that centuries of pastoral care have demonstrated are effective tools for spiritual growth. "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor." (1 Cor 10: 23-24) But it is a temptation for some (and it sounds like you see that it would be such for you) to take what should be guidelines and try to make them into laws.

Or let me try to put it this way: as I understand, Judaism celebrates (or at least respects) the man who keeps all the rules. Christianity may respect the man who keeps all the rules (if we even know it, one of Christ's teachings was that as much as possible you should keep your keeping of 'the rules' a secret so as not to be praised for it). But if he does not love, does not have humility, then his keeping of the rules is meaningless. And it is these two things--love and humility--which Christianity celebrates. No one was ever glorified as a saint because he kept all the fasts perfectly; while on the other hand, there are saints who deliberately violated the fasting rules for something higher (hospitality at the most common, at least one saint publicly ate meat during the fast just to demonstrate it didn't matter if one kept the fast while hating his brother).

A last note here, have you read the New Testament yet? If you have not, given your background, I would strongly suggest reading St. Paul's epistle to the Romans (at the least) as it addresses the fundamental Christian understanding of our 'Freedom in Christ'.

Quote
I can remember supposed "holy men" damning me for not doing certain things properly, and explaining the extremes to which one must go in order to be considered just a "middle man" -- neither a sinner nor a saint. Even if they're not being prescriptive, I still tend to unfairly compare my level of practice with holy men and mentally flagellate myself for not giving it my all to reach that level.

This is a definite difference between Orthodox Christianity and where you are coming from. We don't worry about getting to the 'middle man'. Indeed, at our best we don't worry about being saints. We simply accept that we are sinners who want to do better, who try to do better--and trust that God will make up our lack.
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« Reply #16 on: May 19, 2012, 04:26:18 AM »

I don`t think agnosticism is healthy.. I think the healthiest approach is to believe.. to believe in a lovesupreme.. you asked a lot of questions who are interconnected with each other and the answer to them lies in this two quotes :

"'The heart has its reasons which reason knows not." Blaise Pascal

"The real intelligence is of the heart. It is not intellectual, it is emotional. It is not like thinking, it is like feeling. It is not logic, it is love." Osho

So you see the heart has its own reasons and the higher reason and intelligence of them all is a feeling,is love.. This feeling of the heart is the highest reasoning..

Ok.. I know I said two quotes but i cannot help it..

"Life is of the heart. Life can only grow through the heart. It is the soil of the heart where love grows, life grows, spirit grows. All that is beautiful, all that is really valuable, all that is meaningful, significant, comes through the heart. The heart is your very center, the head is just your periphery. To live in the head is to live on the circumference without ever becoming aware of the beauties and the treasures of the center. To live on the periphery is stupidity." Osho


The Osho quotes are from Osho , The Poetry of the Heart  , http://www.creationsmagazine.com/articles/C101/Osho.html





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« Reply #17 on: May 19, 2012, 04:37:21 AM »

I guess what I`m saying is that the filter for religion should be love.. And this seek wisely.. try to see how love fits in religions... look at them through the perspective of love and see who has that lovesupreme.
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« Reply #18 on: May 19, 2012, 04:57:01 AM »

I thank every one for their continued involvement in my issues of faith.

So much has changed in the past few hours, and yet, the work has yet to begin.

I had begun reading Timothy Keller's The Reason for God at the beginning of the week, expecting at most to be able to better articulate the beliefs that I denied. After all, while I had heard many arguments for God before, I had not heard the arguments for God's Son.

And now it is a 2AM and I am drowsy but still affected, by the realization that yes, I do believe in God, and I do not think that belief ever fully left me. But I was angry at God after leaving Judaism, and I was trying to find away from God by turning to humanist endeavours... but, as Keller so brilliantly pointed, that was replacing one idolatry for another. A God that ultimately served my needs for approval for all the good deeds I performed for a cold universe full of fallible, temporary beings who struggle vainly, I believe now, to find truth outside of He who created Truth.

And I resonated so strongly with the Christian view, that I was a sinner saved not by my merits but by the sacrifice of Christ. And I was truly a Pharisee before, one who valued the law over the love and believed in a unitarian God who could not touch humanity, and who practiced religion, a set of rules and beliefs that set me apart from others, instead of gospel, which I've come to see as an expression of genuine gratitude and release of control over my life, a control I've struggled with and wanted so badly to remove all these years...

And suddenly I understood the Trinity in a cosmic way. And I could almost see it in my mind's eye. The interplay between God and Son and Holy Spirit... a "dance" as Keller describes it. An eternal interplay that creates the ultimate love.

And I've decided that this is what I want to spend my life seeking, and I am prepared, as prepared as I will ever be, to face those doubts head on.

(The melatanonin is kicking in, so I'll reserve more thoughts for the morrow.)

Glory be to God in the Highest.

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« Reply #19 on: May 19, 2012, 09:40:56 AM »

May God bless you on your journey, lovesupreme.

Kyrie Eleison,

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« Reply #20 on: May 19, 2012, 10:04:43 AM »

there are a lot of interesting and good points from everyone.
azul hit the nail on the head when he / she said 'the filter for religion should be love'.
i believe that if there is a God who made this world (which there is) then He would certainly be love, as only a loving God could create so many beautiful interdependant species and scuplt the stairs and spread the rainbows.

i know rainbows are made with drops of water and sunlight, but who gave water this property, that under certain conditions it would light up the sky with such beauty.
i would go so far as to say that you should not decide who to trust until you have seen this love. it is so easy to be hurt, and i certainly recommend to anyone who is disillusioned and hurting that he / she should continue to tread carefully until he / she has met someone who acts towards others in love.
it was my questioning mind that attracted me to orthodox Christianity, but it was love that made me decide to join the church myself. just as my parents showed me love by changing their behaviour so i could see (when they turned to faith when i was as a small child) that God loved us, it was the deep love of my God parents for their church, community and for me personally that won me over to orthodoxy.

so i really think, lovesupreme, that u are on the right path, and i hope and pray that azul can join u as well on a similar journey to the truth.
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« Reply #21 on: May 19, 2012, 01:27:11 PM »

That is great news, lovesupreme. Thank you for sharing.

By the way, being angry with God (whether it's for being Who He is, and not who we want Him to be; or because His silence feels difficult; or for any other reason) is just another form of being in relationship with Him. It's not where you want to be and is not terribly productive, but just as the occasional argument is inevitable in any long-term relationship we have with each other, it is almost inevitable at some point in our relationship with God. The thing to remember is that in His infinite patience and love, God is able take that anger and simply keep waiting until the rage burns out and we are ready to listen again.
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« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2012, 04:47:39 PM »

just wanted to say i know the feeling and i've been there.
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« Reply #23 on: May 19, 2012, 04:52:32 PM »

Now, I don't know what will come from all of this. I may decide that I can safely remain a non-believer. I may become a Christian, but not an Orthodox Christian.

By this do you mean that Orthodoxy is not an option or do you mean that it isn't the only denomination of Christianity you're looking at?

Also, out of curiosity, why have you been going to Orthodox services rather than say, Baptist ones? Not that I'm complaining or anything, just curious as to where your exposure to orthodoxy comes from.
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« Reply #24 on: May 19, 2012, 11:24:03 PM »

Now, I don't know what will come from all of this. I may decide that I can safely remain a non-believer. I may become a Christian, but not an Orthodox Christian.

By this do you mean that Orthodoxy is not an option or do you mean that it isn't the only denomination of Christianity you're looking at?

Also, out of curiosity, why have you been going to Orthodox services rather than say, Baptist ones? Not that I'm complaining or anything, just curious as to where your exposure to orthodoxy comes from.

I suppose I am pursuing Orthodoxy primarily, but I will also want to clear things up with other faiths as best I can. For instance, if I pursue Orthodoxy, I will want a better understanding of the claims of Rome and why the Orthodox think they're invalid (this means reading arguments for both sides). Being that I could not predict that I would become an Orthodox Jew, much less an Orthodox Jew and then an atheist and now a Christian inquirer, I can't say I know where I'll end up. I guess I just don't want to feel as if I'm jumping in without considering that maybe I'm just doing so out of a need to cling on to the first thing I can.

I had originally heard about Orthodox Christianity when I was an Orthodox Jew. I was doing google searches with "Orthodox" in the title and stumbled on some Orthodox Christian websites. To be honest, I think I was a little bit frightened that I had become interested in learning about another religion, so I tried to forget about it. Then, when I stopped being religious, I started going to churches as a form of exposure therapy; to show me that Christians weren't out to guilt me into conversion, and that religious people were not the frightening beings that I had viewed them as. I started with an Episcopalian church but then went to Catholics, which was too modern for me.

Then I realized that the closest I would get to the traditional style of Judaism (where priests face away from ) without actually going to a synagogue was Orthodox Christianity. So I started alternating between an Antioch and Greek congregation (who are all very friendly with each other). It reminded of something I thought I had lost, and that was comforting, even for a nonbeliever.

Plus, I'm pretty attracted, aesthetically, to iconography.
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« Reply #25 on: May 20, 2012, 01:04:16 AM »

I have been following the thread, but I just don't know what to say. All I can think of for now is, I appreciate your sincerity, and don't think you can go wrong if you keep that...
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« Reply #26 on: May 20, 2012, 08:55:35 AM »


I suppose I am pursuing Orthodoxy primarily, but I will also want to clear things up with other faiths as best I can. For instance, if I pursue Orthodoxy, I will want a better understanding of the claims of Rome and why the Orthodox think they're invalid (this means reading arguments for both sides).

... and that means you have to undertake a course in theology - and one that focuses on the patristic fathers.  Much of it has to do with 'accidents of history'.  

Besides - does it really matter?  If you are looking for philosophy join the Roman Catholics.  If your looking for the mystical experience of God go with the Orthodox.


Quote
Being that I could not predict that I would become an Orthodox Jew, much less an Orthodox Jew and then an atheist and now a Christian inquirer, I can't say I know where I'll end up.

Join the club.  When you throw in with God things just happen.

Quote
Plus, I'm pretty attracted, aesthetically, to iconography.

Hey - problem solved.  For me - it's the chanting.
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« Reply #27 on: May 22, 2012, 04:17:03 PM »

I think you should read "The Orthodox Way" by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. He describes the Orthodox perception of God and the universe in an amazingly spiritual and beautifully profound manner. Your distrust for clergymen should not be an issue here, as it can be assured that Met. Kallistos has no condescending attitudes towards converts, as he was himself a convert to Orthodoxy I believe.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Orthodox-Way-Kallistos-Ware/dp/0913836583

It's a great book that should be read by all Christians and all people who are interested in Christianity.

I also have nothing but good things to say about NT Wright. He isn't Orthodox, but many Orthodox enjoy reading him and I think he is a brilliant man. This book would be a good starting place for him.

http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Christian-Christianity-Makes-Sense/dp/0061920622/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337718114&sr=1-6

I would also recommend CS Lewis' works.
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« Reply #28 on: May 22, 2012, 04:29:09 PM »

Glory be to God in the Highest.

Melatonin contributing or not, I think this is what it all boils down to.  When I get overwhelmed (or underwhelmed) by all of the questions and doubts, I try to come back to this.

By the way, I've similarly appreciated your candor, approach, and contributions to the forum. 
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« Reply #29 on: May 29, 2012, 01:05:55 AM »

Thank you all for your warm responses.

I think you should read "The Orthodox Way" by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. He describes the Orthodox perception of God and the universe in an amazingly spiritual and beautifully profound manner. Your distrust for clergymen should not be an issue here, as it can be assured that Met. Kallistos has no condescending attitudes towards converts, as he was himself a convert to Orthodoxy I believe.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Orthodox-Way-Kallistos-Ware/dp/0913836583

It's a great book that should be read by all Christians and all people who are interested in Christianity.

I also have nothing but good things to say about NT Wright. He isn't Orthodox, but many Orthodox enjoy reading him and I think he is a brilliant man. This book would be a good starting place for him.

http://www.amazon.com/Simply-Christian-Christianity-Makes-Sense/dp/0061920622/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337718114&sr=1-6

I read the Orthodox Way right after I quit Judaism; I was curious to see what other "Orthodox" faiths were like. I think I saw that Wright book at the library; I'll check it out.

... and that means you have to undertake a course in theology - and one that focuses on the patristic fathers.  Much of it has to do with 'accidents of history'. 

Yes, but wouldn't that be a course with an Orthodox bias? I'm not shopping around for "the true faith" (my beliefs are not firm enough to even begin questioning such nuances), but I do intend to do my own independent research about Catholicism, which includes reading and speaking to Catholics, if anything for my own intellectual curiosity (knowing very little about it). You might think this is a mistake that will only lead to confusion (and if you do not I apologize for suggesting so), but that is the course that I have deemed suitable, and I will not defend it further.


As I expected, the initial charge of insight has faded and I am still very much questioning the existence of the divine.

But I am an atheist no more, of that much I am certain.
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« Reply #30 on: May 29, 2012, 03:14:56 AM »

Dear Lovesupreme,

May God make your search and your journey fruitful. I don't think I have much useful in the way of why to believe in God. Perhaps such things fall under the purview of honey-tasteing…how does one communicate to another the taste of honey by words. It can't be done. Honey is known in the tasting. So how do you get a spoonful of this particular honey to taste? That's a conundrum.

I am suspicious of rational proofs of God whether or not they exist…and perhaps some do. This is because such knowledge seems empty as a category with respect for God.  Let's say one encounters such a proof…what then, now you know beyond all reasonable doubt that He exists. What is to be done with that factoid. He exists. Now what? Such knowledge is external. It is an object to be handled. It is something one can pick up, put down, display is a glass case, build an app to demonstrate…just one more thing among many other things one "knows" to be so or not so.

So if one desires something more than an abstract proof of divinity, if one desires a taste of honey, then where can it be found.  You've got to find a honey pot or else seize a comb in the hive…one way is a lot less painful than the other. Both are possible, after all the "violent bear it [the Kingdom] away" This brings us back to the bearers of the honey pots…those who got the honey right from the comb, who braved the bees to get the honey.

There is a maxim I encountered early on in my pursuit of becoming Orthodox. It said the proof of the Church is her saints. It was also said that the saints did not just know God, they communicated him…the way fire communicates out of a bit of red hot iron from the furnace. They are infused with fire and those who touch them touch what fills them.

When I came to Orthodoxy I was very intrigued by its history, theology, and practice. It was all so new and different from any sort of Christianity I had heretofore encountered. It made much more sense to me than the Christianity I had been raised in. It was very intriguing. Yet, for all that, it was not all the theological newness that convinced me this was the path I should follow. It was just the last "interesting" read I had found. I could handle it or not as I saw fit.  What convinced me was a person.  I read the life of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and in him saw an authentic witness of the life I did not know was even possible anymore. In him I saw the fruition of…the incarnation of theological ontology.  I saw the Church reproducing itself in kind. This was a man who had lived a couple of hundred years ago, not 2000, nor was he alone, there were many others like him throughout the history of the Church.  I saw in him the type of Christian I wanted to be…though could probably never become…yet the probability would be certain if did not follow him as he lived and believe as he believed.  His way worked. In him one could see a man changed, divinized, a man who could not be if there were no God.

It was with some distress…regret, that I learned in the late 90s not long after being received into the Church, that a number of such holy men had reposed over the last 20 or so years, men I could have perhaps visited, learned from, been prayed for by had I known then what I had come to learn. Holy ones like Elder Sophrony, Elder Porphyrios, Elder Paisios, Elder Cleopas, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Mother Gavriella… I missed them all. All that's left to us now (conventionally speaking) are the accounts of their lives and the memories of their disciples who are still with us…and there are more than a few who are still with us. To read their lives and accounts were/are such a joy…to see such beautiful, holy miraculous lives…lives who existence makes the heart long after God.  They had become all fire…not just knowing God but communicating Him…Their lives were His utterance, His proclamation, His affirmation that He is and He dwells among men.  And there are others like them to this day.

They are the place to start to find faith…to taste honey…to touch fire. The only word of warning I would offer in the reading of Orthodox saints, and holy elders is to be prepared to be crushed…devastated even, just don't despair because the heights they achieved seem so unobtainable to us. I found it such joy to discover such lives have continued to exist from Biblical times to the present…that such profound wisdom and holiness are not accounts locked within the pages of the scriptures…God is alive, His Church is alive, and it's vine has borne rich fruit in every generation since. Some read their lives and think…I can't do that, it's too hard, and so they fall idle or turn back. Others see that it is too hard, that they cannot do as these other's have done, yet love compels them to follow, to try even if they fail and make fools of themselves in the bargain.  

The thing is, even in our darkest hour we do not struggle alone. These holy lives, these joyful souls are not absent from our struggle; they are part of it with us. Early on, in becoming Orthodox I was taught that we do not choose our icons so much as they choose us.  That is to say, icons of saints we are drawn to, are drawing us precisely because the saints depicted has taken an interest in us. I cannot tell you how many times my eyes have overflowed with tears to look upon the faces of the saints of my home altar, on my walls, or even just in my possession. I think "what have I to do with you St. Seraphim, or St. Nektarios, or St. john or St. Herman…who am I that you have loved me, and speak to me of God, that you pray for me and are careful for my soul when I am so careless?" Then I think how much God must love me, least of those who call upon His name to bless and allow such a glorious company of His chiefest friends and servants to include me in their prayers and watch care. It is like that I suspect with their lives…we are drawn to the lives of certain ones. They resonate with us, they both wound and heal our hearts at the same time. They make us sigh after God.

With respect to the sorrow and doubt you sometimes feel, one of them near to our own time, St. John of Kronstadt had this to say, "When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means."

Good journey.
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« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2012, 08:34:10 AM »

Dear Lovesupreme,

May God make your search and your journey fruitful. I don't think I have much useful in the way of why to believe in God. Perhaps such things fall under the purview of honey-tasteing…how does one communicate to another the taste of honey by words. It can't be done. Honey is known in the tasting. So how do you get a spoonful of this particular honey to taste? That's a conundrum.

I am suspicious of rational proofs of God whether or not they exist…and perhaps some do. This is because such knowledge seems empty as a category with respect for God.  Let's say one encounters such a proof…what then, now you know beyond all reasonable doubt that He exists. What is to be done with that factoid. He exists. Now what? Such knowledge is external. It is an object to be handled. It is something one can pick up, put down, display is a glass case, build an app to demonstrate…just one more thing among many other things one "knows" to be so or not so.

So if one desires something more than an abstract proof of divinity, if one desires a taste of honey, then where can it be found.  You've got to find a honey pot or else seize a comb in the hive…one way is a lot less painful than the other. Both are possible, after all the "violent bear it [the Kingdom] away" This brings us back to the bearers of the honey pots…those who got the honey right from the comb, who braved the bees to get the honey.

There is a maxim I encountered early on in my pursuit of becoming Orthodox. It said the proof of the Church is her saints. It was also said that the saints did not just know God, they communicated him…the way fire communicates out of a bit of red hot iron from the furnace. They are infused with fire and those who touch them touch what fills them.

When I came to Orthodoxy I was very intrigued by its history, theology, and practice. It was all so new and different from any sort of Christianity I had heretofore encountered. It made much more sense to me than the Christianity I had been raised in. It was very intriguing. Yet, for all that, it was not all the theological newness that convinced me this was the path I should follow. It was just the last "interesting" read I had found. I could handle it or not as I saw fit.  What convinced me was a person.  I read the life of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and in him saw an authentic witness of the life I did not know was even possible anymore. In him I saw the fruition of…the incarnation of theological ontology.  I saw the Church reproducing itself in kind. This was a man who had lived a couple of hundred years ago, not 2000, nor was he alone, there were many others like him throughout the history of the Church.  I saw in him the type of Christian I wanted to be…though could probably never become…yet the probability would be certain if did not follow him as he lived and believe as he believed.  His way worked. In him one could see a man changed, divinized, a man who could not be if there were no God.

It was with some distress…regret, that I learned in the late 90s not long after being received into the Church, that a number of such holy men had reposed over the last 20 or so years, men I could have perhaps visited, learned from, been prayed for by had I known then what I had come to learn. Holy ones like Elder Sophrony, Elder Porphyrios, Elder Paisios, Elder Cleopas, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Mother Gavriella… I missed them all. All that's left to us now (conventionally speaking) are the accounts of their lives and the memories of their disciples who are still with us…and there are more than a few who are still with us. To read their lives and accounts were/are such a joy…to see such beautiful, holy miraculous lives…lives who existence makes the heart long after God.  They had become all fire…not just knowing God but communicating Him…Their lives were His utterance, His proclamation, His affirmation that He is and He dwells among men.  And there are others like them to this day.

They are the place to start to find faith…to taste honey…to touch fire. The only word of warning I would offer in the reading of Orthodox saints, and holy elders is to be prepared to be crushed…devastated even, just don't despair because the heights they achieved seem so unobtainable to us. I found it such joy to discover such lives have continued to exist from Biblical times to the present…that such profound wisdom and holiness are not accounts locked within the pages of the scriptures…God is alive, His Church is alive, and it's vine has borne rich fruit in every generation since. Some read their lives and think…I can't do that, it's too hard, and so they fall idle or turn back. Others see that it is too hard, that they cannot do as these other's have done, yet love compels them to follow, to try even if they fail and make fools of themselves in the bargain.  

The thing is, even in our darkest hour we do not struggle alone. These holy lives, these joyful souls are not absent from our struggle; they are part of it with us. Early on, in becoming Orthodox I was taught that we do not choose our icons so much as they choose us.  That is to say, icons of saints we are drawn to, are drawing us precisely because the saints depicted has taken an interest in us. I cannot tell you how many times my eyes have overflowed with tears to look upon the faces of the saints of my home altar, on my walls, or even just in my possession. I think "what have I to do with you St. Seraphim, or St. Nektarios, or St. john or St. Herman…who am I that you have loved me, and speak to me of God, that you pray for me and are careful for my soul when I am so careless?" Then I think how much God must love me, least of those who call upon His name to bless and allow such a glorious company of His chiefest friends and servants to include me in their prayers and watch care. It is like that I suspect with their lives…we are drawn to the lives of certain ones. They resonate with us, they both wound and heal our hearts at the same time. They make us sigh after God.

With respect to the sorrow and doubt you sometimes feel, one of them near to our own time, St. John of Kronstadt had this to say, "When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means."

Good journey.

Now THIS is a good post. I will copy it and read it again myself when I struggle with doubt and/or despair. While addressed to Lovesupreme, thanks from me.
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« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2012, 10:01:09 AM »

Dear Lovesupreme,

May God make your search and your journey fruitful. I don't think I have much useful in the way of why to believe in God. Perhaps such things fall under the purview of honey-tasteing…how does one communicate to another the taste of honey by words. It can't be done. Honey is known in the tasting. So how do you get a spoonful of this particular honey to taste? That's a conundrum.

I am suspicious of rational proofs of God whether or not they exist…and perhaps some do. This is because such knowledge seems empty as a category with respect for God.  Let's say one encounters such a proof…what then, now you know beyond all reasonable doubt that He exists. What is to be done with that factoid. He exists. Now what? Such knowledge is external. It is an object to be handled. It is something one can pick up, put down, display is a glass case, build an app to demonstrate…just one more thing among many other things one "knows" to be so or not so.

So if one desires something more than an abstract proof of divinity, if one desires a taste of honey, then where can it be found.  You've got to find a honey pot or else seize a comb in the hive…one way is a lot less painful than the other. Both are possible, after all the "violent bear it [the Kingdom] away" This brings us back to the bearers of the honey pots…those who got the honey right from the comb, who braved the bees to get the honey.

There is a maxim I encountered early on in my pursuit of becoming Orthodox. It said the proof of the Church is her saints. It was also said that the saints did not just know God, they communicated him…the way fire communicates out of a bit of red hot iron from the furnace. They are infused with fire and those who touch them touch what fills them.

When I came to Orthodoxy I was very intrigued by its history, theology, and practice. It was all so new and different from any sort of Christianity I had heretofore encountered. It made much more sense to me than the Christianity I had been raised in. It was very intriguing. Yet, for all that, it was not all the theological newness that convinced me this was the path I should follow. It was just the last "interesting" read I had found. I could handle it or not as I saw fit.  What convinced me was a person.  I read the life of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and in him saw an authentic witness of the life I did not know was even possible anymore. In him I saw the fruition of…the incarnation of theological ontology.  I saw the Church reproducing itself in kind. This was a man who had lived a couple of hundred years ago, not 2000, nor was he alone, there were many others like him throughout the history of the Church.  I saw in him the type of Christian I wanted to be…though could probably never become…yet the probability would be certain if did not follow him as he lived and believe as he believed.  His way worked. In him one could see a man changed, divinized, a man who could not be if there were no God.

It was with some distress…regret, that I learned in the late 90s not long after being received into the Church, that a number of such holy men had reposed over the last 20 or so years, men I could have perhaps visited, learned from, been prayed for by had I known then what I had come to learn. Holy ones like Elder Sophrony, Elder Porphyrios, Elder Paisios, Elder Cleopas, Fr. Seraphim Rose, Mother Gavriella… I missed them all. All that's left to us now (conventionally speaking) are the accounts of their lives and the memories of their disciples who are still with us…and there are more than a few who are still with us. To read their lives and accounts were/are such a joy…to see such beautiful, holy miraculous lives…lives who existence makes the heart long after God.  They had become all fire…not just knowing God but communicating Him…Their lives were His utterance, His proclamation, His affirmation that He is and He dwells among men.  And there are others like them to this day.

They are the place to start to find faith…to taste honey…to touch fire. The only word of warning I would offer in the reading of Orthodox saints, and holy elders is to be prepared to be crushed…devastated even, just don't despair because the heights they achieved seem so unobtainable to us. I found it such joy to discover such lives have continued to exist from Biblical times to the present…that such profound wisdom and holiness are not accounts locked within the pages of the scriptures…God is alive, His Church is alive, and it's vine has borne rich fruit in every generation since. Some read their lives and think…I can't do that, it's too hard, and so they fall idle or turn back. Others see that it is too hard, that they cannot do as these other's have done, yet love compels them to follow, to try even if they fail and make fools of themselves in the bargain.  

The thing is, even in our darkest hour we do not struggle alone. These holy lives, these joyful souls are not absent from our struggle; they are part of it with us. Early on, in becoming Orthodox I was taught that we do not choose our icons so much as they choose us.  That is to say, icons of saints we are drawn to, are drawing us precisely because the saints depicted has taken an interest in us. I cannot tell you how many times my eyes have overflowed with tears to look upon the faces of the saints of my home altar, on my walls, or even just in my possession. I think "what have I to do with you St. Seraphim, or St. Nektarios, or St. john or St. Herman…who am I that you have loved me, and speak to me of God, that you pray for me and are careful for my soul when I am so careless?" Then I think how much God must love me, least of those who call upon His name to bless and allow such a glorious company of His chiefest friends and servants to include me in their prayers and watch care. It is like that I suspect with their lives…we are drawn to the lives of certain ones. They resonate with us, they both wound and heal our hearts at the same time. They make us sigh after God.

With respect to the sorrow and doubt you sometimes feel, one of them near to our own time, St. John of Kronstadt had this to say, "When you are praying alone, and your spirit is dejected, and you are wearied and oppressed by your loneliness, remember then, as always, that God the Trinity looks upon you with eyes brighter than the sun; also all the angels, your own Guardian Angel, and all the Saints of God. Truly they do; for they are all one in God, and where God is, there are they also. Where the sun is, thither also are directed all its rays. Try to understand what this means."

Good journey.

Now THIS is a good post. I will copy it and read it again myself when I struggle with doubt and/or despair. While addressed to Lovesupreme, thanks from me.

And thanks from me too!
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« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2012, 09:50:06 PM »

I'm kind of looking for someone to talk to. Anyone with AIM, if you are willing and able, can reach me at lovesupreme88.
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« Reply #34 on: May 29, 2012, 10:05:12 PM »

Are you only looking to talk to Eastern Orthodox? I am on AIM at the moment if needed, same name as on here. I used to be Roman Catholic, by the way, so I do have some experience with that if you're still interested in it.
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« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2012, 12:00:22 AM »

Hello all,

I wanted to give you guys an update on my spiritual journey. I have enrolled in adult catechism classes at my local Antochian Orthodox church, and I've found a good priest (thank God) who has gratefully offered me his spiritual services. I've been meeting with him regularly to discuss my progress -- it's good to have open communication with a spiritual guide; I never had that when I was an Orthodox Jew.

Overall, I'm still kind of weary about going overboard like before. My priest is helping me pace myself, but I've shown a proclivity for "hyperdoxy," so I need to be extra careful. I've made sure not to change too much about my daily life (I still listen to rock music, watch movies, etc.).

I've had a few "encounters" that have really renewed my faith and confidence in this process. God has really cleansed me of my spiritual past and has helped me get over a lot of those hangups. I've noticed that with sincere prayer, God is actually granting me the help I need. My beliefs had been rocky when I started this thread; I would oscillate between believer and atheism multiple times a day. I don't have those doubts anymore; I've felt God and I'm happy to be on this journey, though I've only just begun to take the first steps...

Thank you all for your support, and God be with you all.

In Christ,

lovesupreme
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« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2012, 12:02:11 AM »

Hello all,

I wanted to give you guys an update on my spiritual journey. I have enrolled in adult catechism classes at my local Antochian Orthodox church, and I've found a good priest (thank God) who has gratefully offered me his spiritual services. I've been meeting with him regularly to discuss my progress -- it's good to have open communication with a spiritual guide; I never had that when I was an Orthodox Jew.

Overall, I'm still kind of weary about going overboard like before. My priest is helping me pace myself, but I've shown a proclivity for "hyperdoxy," so I need to be extra careful. I've made sure not to change too much about my daily life (I still listen to rock music, watch movies, etc.).

I've had a few "encounters" that have really renewed my faith and confidence in this process. God has really cleansed me of my spiritual past and has helped me get over a lot of those hangups. I've noticed that with sincere prayer, God is actually granting me the help I need. My beliefs had been rocky when I started this thread; I would oscillate between believer and atheism multiple times a day. I don't have those doubts anymore; I've felt God and I'm happy to be on this journey, though I've only just begun to take the first steps...

Thank you all for your support, and God be with you all.

In Christ,

lovesupreme

This is wonderful and inspiring to those of us on the same journey to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2012, 12:07:39 AM »

So glad for the update! I was wondering about you the other day actually, so I'm excited to see this! You remain in my prayers.  Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2012, 12:14:47 AM »

Very good to know this. May God continue to guide you.
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« Reply #39 on: October 31, 2012, 01:05:06 AM »

Thanks very much for the update. I'm glad you've found a good priest to help guide you through this.  Best wishes, and I'm happy to read the progress. 
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« Reply #40 on: October 31, 2012, 02:30:13 AM »

May God keep you always! Please post more about your journey.

Btw fantastic album...
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« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2012, 07:40:20 AM »

Smiley Smiley Smiley Thank You for the update - : ) God never gives up on us, even when we give up on him (speaking from experience). I pray that the Lord will strengthen you in your journey.

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« Reply #42 on: October 31, 2012, 10:54:42 AM »

What a wonderful thread of discussion and even more wonderful update! Smiley Praying for you as you continue the journey!
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« Reply #43 on: November 07, 2012, 01:12:36 AM »

Thank you all for your support.

Please keep me in your prayers. I am going through a rough bout of depression right now that is making spiritual progress difficult (but thank God I'm holding on). I had to stop taking medication and the withdrawal is not doing good things to my mind or soul. Sad

In Christ,

lovesupreme
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« Reply #44 on: November 07, 2012, 02:31:06 AM »

I can CERTAINLY understand that, LoveSupreme... depression is ROUGH and very difficult indeed.  Depression is an old 'friend' of mine that likes to pop up and linger uninvited at the worst of times .... so I do know what you mean!  Hang in there... just take things a moment at a time... a breath at a time if you have to, and keep pushing forward, no matter how slowly it may feel sometimes.  

It is hard to pray when depressed...yet the rhythm of the prayers, the scripture-soaked words of the prayers... they form an oasis of some comfort in an otherwise dry and dreary place... when we have not the words to say or even the desire to say anything... the sheer habit of saying the prayers is a deeply meaningful help....

I have found that these most soul-wrenchingly difficult times ultimately produce the deepest and strongest fruit...if we allow God to work even in the midst of them.  May not be able to see it right now...but down the road, we will be able to....

Wishing you peace and blessings... hang in there.  Lord, have mercy.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2012, 02:32:27 AM by CatherineBrigid » Logged

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May the road rise up to meet you.
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and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of his han
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