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Progressive or Liberal Christianity

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Liberal or Progressive Christianity

I was brought up in a what I prefer to describe as a free thinking, caring Baptist Church. I was baptized at the approximate age of 13. I believe I was approximately 20 when I concluded that I did not believe in a personal god who intervened on my behalf. For several years later I continued to belong to a church and find meaning in Church activities and enjoy Church relationships. I was never sure how I should answer the question "Was I a Christian?" At my mother's funeral I found out that she had been somewhat tortured by the same question. Subsequent in life I discovered that there are many definitions of "Christian" that people use when they ask the question and hence the answer might vary according to the definition. What is the difference between an atheist and a liberal or progressive Christian. That depends upon your definition. I am quite content to use either term.

Connecting (Prayer for Believers)

I remember once reading a book in which the author amusingly suggested that "Sometime I sit and think and sometimes I merely sit". As early as Grade one from time to time I would steal away and lie or sit and think or rather let my mind meld over some subject. Sometimes I would consciously plant the subject of what I wanted to think about and sometimes I wouldn't. Sometimes I would attempt to control the line of progression of my though and sometimes my mind would simply wander. Afterwards I would generally feel refreshed.

Starting about 13 years I began to think of such sessions as akin to prayer although when erotic content would enter such sessions I thought of them as more human preoccupations than a relationship with the divine. In the early years of attending Older Boys and Tuxis Parliaments the sessions were ritually scheduled at 9.30 Sunday nights. In my 3rd year of University at UBC under the influence of Buddhism I thought of them as meditation sessions. But as I aged I reverted to my earliest stage of unsophisticated connecting with my thoughts without passing judgement on their worthiness or value. When I would be asked to lead in prayer (spontaneously - in the sense of not having a prepared prayer) my mind would again lead me except in communal prayer I would consciously apply the Golden Rule - attending to the needs of the one who ask me to pray for or with them. I did not see myself as praying to God as much as communicating with the other or others present in the room.

When I picked up Gretta Vosper's book and read the chapter entitled (Prayer) Naturally", I though. "I have been doing that all my life and just though of it as 'Sitting and thinking' . Aren't I smart.

Passage from the chapter that resonated with me included,

talk to yourself about your life, about what you've done and what you've failed to do, and about who you are and who you you wished you were and who the people you love are and the pep le you don't love. Talk to yourself about what matters most to you...page 209

[bring the best of [my] mind, emotion, will, choice, body, behaviour, wishes, dreams and more. Fully engaged in life as natural, with ourselves and others as natural, we fire off in all dimensions. We think, critique, assess, challenge, and affirm. We feel joy, sadness, fear, compassion, anger and more. We decide, choose, commit,persevere, and change. We act, we don't act; we do well, we stumble; we blow it, we start again, we live... Engage with all that life is. Engage and never stop...Engage wth out ceasing...page 116

[When we think about curious things about the world and profound subjects] we are often overwhelmed by the immensity of it. We can be utterly lost in wonder, awe, and amazement at what [I] tough, see, measure, question, peer into and peel back. The beauty, diversity, intricacy, immensity, variety, majesty, fragility and adaptability of the natural world is stunning...We are humbled and amazed for the innumerable human acts of courage, compassion, creativity, ability, perseverance, endurance, generosity, kindness, helpfulness, patience, loyalty and justice...Embracing ourselves as the sole agents for change, we gain a heightened sene of the vast need and opportunity for doing good...page 217

 

 

 

Reference

Dillenberger, John and Claude Welch (1988) Protestant Christianity, Interpreted Through its Development, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company
Harper, Tom (2004) The Pagan Christ, Recovering the Lost Light Toronto: Thomas Allen Publishers
Rev Scotty McLennan (1999) Finding Your Own Religion, New York: Harper Collins Publishers
Rev Scotty McLennan (2009) Jesus was a Liberal, Reclaiming Christianity for All, New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Vosper, Gretta (2008) With or Without God, Why the Way we Live is More Important than What we Believe, New York: HarperCollinsPublishers

Vosper, Gretta (2012) What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief, Toronto: HarperCollinsPublishers
Wright, Robert (2009) The Evolution of God, New York: Little Brown and Company