Jesus vs. Bible?
December 7, 2010 5:54 PM   Subscribe

Found Jesus. But the Bible pushes me away from Him. Now what?

I've been on a spiritual quest for most of my life. Started out as a hardcore logical atheist/science guy. And it is beautiful, scientific knowledge. It is still intact in me. But a pain inside kept me looking further, into a different, complementary knowledge beyond logic (without negating my scientific background), into a different realm. So my path has led me through Jung, the unconscious, dreams, meditation, Buddhism, Zen, Taoism, shamanism, drugs, trance states, fasting, dancing, prayers, Santería, martial arts, psychoanalysis (15+ years). I've read the Bible, the Koran, Buddhist sutras, the Bhagavad Gita. The journey has been fruitful, I've changed. Much of the pain is gone. I had one transcendent vision of God. And now, years later, somehow I connected with Jesus, and i feel that again something has fundamentally changed.

He is great. I feel Him as a presence, serene, protective, friendly, good, non-judgemental, forgiving, accepting. I feel Him watching my back. For the first time I do not feel the need to control everything. I feel that yes, everything is going to be all right.

So naturally I turned to the Bible. Now I don't need literalism, my faith doesn't depend on the fact that the world was created literally in seven days or that gays are an abomination. I am capable of seeing God in evolution, in the beauty of DNA recombining itself. I am comfortable operating on a symbolic level.

But here's the problem: Even on a symbolic level, I have trouble accepting the Bible in my heart. There's hatred, literal hatred there. JHVH seems petty, vengeful. There's war and killing of neighbors and it's OK by JHVH. I see the Middle East and it disgusts me, the same tribal bullshit going on for thousands of years. The Bible doesn't soothe my pain. It's always about the enemies, the unjust and how they will be smitten. I don't have enemies, I don't care about the unjust, my pain is internal.

So, questions:

How do I further cultivate the presence of Jesus in my life?

Can there be Jesus beyond the Bible?

How to deal with different feelings toward Jesus and JHVH?

Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Religion & Philosophy (55 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
The only part of the Bible you really have to accept are the four Gospels. (And maybe the book of "Acts".)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:00 PM on December 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


One other point: if you can't even accept the Gospels, then are you really sure it's Jesus you've found?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2010


I am not a Christian or otherwise religious, so maybe I am completely missing something here, but why can't you just take Jesus' ministries, teachings and sermons and chuck the rest? Some different Christian flavours leave out one book or another, there are different Bible translations, why can't you just focus on the word of Jesus?
posted by kellyblah at 6:04 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a really interesting question. I think people experience Jesus beyond the Bible all the time. Every time you talk about Jesus in a way that's not talking about the literal text, you've moved beyond the Bible: "Thank you, Jesus, for this food before us, and we pray that Grandma pulls through. Amen." That's not Biblical, is it?

I Am Not Yor Pastor, but...if you're talking about symbols and metaphor, then is the Bible itself some kind of metaphor for what it is you're feeling (your spiritual state)? Does that make sense?

And, yeah, about Old Testament God. Not a friendly fellow. I don't know what to do with that other than say I don't believe there's an angry old man who lives in the sky and shoots children full of cancer and drops forklifts on people. and if there is, fuck him.
posted by Buffaload at 6:07 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reject the mainstream interpretations of the Bible and go with what you believe. The Bible is horribly flawed in myriad ways and biblical interpretation is, by and large, even more ridiculous than the text's own inherent problems. Studying biblical scolarship- real scholarship- is a great idea, as well, as it will help you to understand why reading an English version of the Bible and taking it at face value is ridiculous.

Bottom line: follow your own path and approach everything with a combination of diligent study, analysis, and seeking inspiration.

And yes, there can totally be Jesus beyond the Bible. Feel free to email me if you want.
posted by The World Famous at 6:09 PM on December 7, 2010


from an anthropological standpoint, the bible is fascinating. most of it is about health/addiction and politics and family. those things tend to be ugly and fraught. if you can find a way to look at it as a history of people (and, furthermore, a history of those who edited/rewrote/chose the books they did) and not so much of a "this is how you live your life," you'll find a lot less to hate, i think.

take the four gospels, study jesus's life and teachings. the rest, treat like the evangelical preachers on sunday public access. they were mostly talking to their audience, not all of human kind. at least, that's my opinion on it. there's certainly some good - stuff about the golden rule, most of the 10 commandments - but there's no reason to subject yourself to it if it causes distress.

people have a lot of rules about christianity - what a real christian is and all that - and it's all semantics. jesus was pretty clear, take him as your lord and savior and you're golden. anyone who tells you differently is just stating their opinion.
posted by nadawi at 6:13 PM on December 7, 2010


Do what pretty much any xian denomination does, cherry pick the bits that appeal to you.
posted by sammyo at 6:14 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


If He makes you feel good, then just stick with the parts of Him that make you feel good. Disregard the rest. That's kinda what every believer does, either individually, or as part of an organized religion.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2010


Do you believe that Jesus is divine, or do you just find him inspirational? There are lots of people that find value in Jesus the person, in a strictly human sense. Jesus as a historical figure - as a strict mortal, and not divine/son of god/etc. Even if you do believe in Jesus as divine, there's nothing that says you can't take/leave out certain parts of the bible as you see relevant to your personal truths. I mean, the bible as we have it today is already an amalgamation of forms of picking and choosing, so it isn't such a crazy idea that some feel it ok to choose their own relevant pieces of text - from within the canonized bible, and apocryphal ones as well.
posted by raztaj at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2010


Maybe look into the apocrypha?
posted by milarepa at 6:16 PM on December 7, 2010


I strongly encourage you to read Louis Evely's That Man is You.

You might want to try Bruce Barton's The Man Nobody Knows.
posted by jgirl at 6:16 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


You might want to read the works of Martin Luther (available in a number of anthologies, or online if you search). You'd probably find much to like about his considerate brand of spirituality. The Gospels is his main focus as well.

You also might want to look at some Biblical history...that is, the history of how the Bible was put together. You'll get a better understanding of how the human hand influenced Scripture, which might alleviate some of your concerns.
posted by hiteleven at 6:17 PM on December 7, 2010


While I don't 100% agree with everything he teaches, it sounds like you might learn a lot from Rob Bell. I'd specifically recommend Velvet Elvis and Everything is Spiritual.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 6:18 PM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I feel like I could have written your post myself, down to the list of spiritual paths I've explored starting with hardcore atheism. I am exactly where you are with the Bible. I started reading it a couple of years ago and was appalled. Experientially, I've never felt the smiting Yahweh bully-god of the OT and I don't want to. I'm still in a very exploratory phase and giving it time. I don't have the answers, but I would love for you to send me MeFiMail if you'd like to discuss the questions. (Or you could have the mods post a throwaway gmail account for you or set up a sock puppet).
posted by xenophile at 6:18 PM on December 7, 2010


I view the old testament as a (barbaric, at times) history lesson and the new testament as a series of guidelines, but all of it was written down and translated over the centuries by human beings who most certainly were not and are not inerrant. It's an important text - don't get me wrong - but don't let that be your only resource. It's confusing as all hell, and there are some pretty insane interpretations by people with selfish agendas. All I can add to the great advice above is to try to get to the heart of Jesus' teachings. Keep your heart and mind open. Jesus isn't a book. His message isn't restricted to those pages.
posted by katillathehun at 6:21 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Bible was written by many different people living in many different times, with a wide variety of beliefs and cultural norms among them. A lot of it was based on oral history, written centuries after the events described. For a long time there wasn't even a single document, just a lot of miscellaneous pieces that didn't always fit together. Whole committees had to sit around and decided which stories were "real" and which were "fake" just to bring some order to the mess (and meet certain agendas). In short, whether or not you believe the Bible is the written word of God, it's clear he didn't have very good stenographers.

Just take what you like and leave the rest. The writers of the Bible were human, whether divinely inspired or not. And basically all practicing Christians, literalists included, pick and choose the parts of the Bible they feel are important versus those that were just artifacts of the time period. I mean, how many Christians do you know refuse to eat shellfish because God says they're an abomination?
posted by dephlogisticated at 6:23 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it's Jesus you've found, all you "need" are the Gospels and maybe Acts.

The OT is world building for the world that Jesus changed; anything after Acts is Paul making up the church as he goes along. JHVH is a very different god for a very different world than Jesus (iirc, there's about 500 years between the last book of the OT and the first book of the NT) . There really is no way to reconcile them.

The Jefferson Bible (here, here) may be of some help as well.
posted by jlkr at 6:25 PM on December 7, 2010


There was a series that Bill Moyers did on PBS which took an interesting critical approach to the Bible -- or, more specifically, just the beginning stories from the Book of Genesis. It was a series wherein each episode they featured a different "Bible story", but a panel of six theologians -- from Christianity, Judaism and Islam -- all deconstructed that story for an hour, weighing with each of their perspectives; personal, scholarly, and theological. There was also a companion volume with transcripts of all the episodes.

I realize that this is Old Testament and you're looking at the New right now, but this may give you an idea how different people incorporate ancient text into modern thought. What struck me when I read it is that someone proposed, during one episode, that if you read between the lines in the Old Testament, you can also see God is trying to figure all this out as He goes along as well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:34 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus is who God is in a form humans can grok.

That stuff in the OT?

You have to realize that God sees life, death, living in general, time, space and everything else in a totally different way than we humans do. To Him physical death is not the end, and everything that has happened, is happening, or ever will happen is a big fat woven tapestry that He already knows every detail of.


Do read the Gospels. That is the real Jesus. I have experienced Him (in the form of the Holy Spirit) pretty much as how you describe Him but He is way more than that. There is an awesome holiness about Him along with the total peace, overwhelming love, etc. Bear in mind that if you cannot deal with the Jesus you see in the Gospels that that presence you are dealing with....might be an impostor.

As to the smiting parts....that is part and parcel of who God Almighty is. Sin is really THAT bad that a holy awesome loving God has to deal with it. It's.....complicated.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:35 PM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, and one other thing. The Bible (in the gospels-the gospel of John, I think, first chapter-) calls Jesus the Word of God.

That deserves meditating on.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2010


The LDS Church believes in additional scripture in modern days and modern prophets and apostles. Personally, I believe wholeheartedly in each of these, and much more, and they have helped me be close to Jesus my whole life, in exactly the way you are describing. There's a link to a missionary request on the first link, on the top right-- I recommend it, since I've been a missionary for the church in the past. Good luck with everything!
posted by dubadubowbow at 6:40 PM on December 7, 2010


Also, you're welcome to Memail me if you're interested but have more questions or anything.
posted by dubadubowbow at 6:43 PM on December 7, 2010


The Gospels, perhaps without The Book of Acts.
posted by ovvl at 6:49 PM on December 7, 2010


In a way you've arrived at Gnosticism all over again. The Gnostics liked what they saw in Jesus, disliked what they saw in YHWH, and had similar problems trying to reconcile the two. Here are some of the problems you might encounter:

1) The Bible is really the only source we have for the existence of Jesus, as well as for the content of his words and deeds.

2) The New Testament justifies itself on the basis of Old Testament prophecy. It's hard to keep one without the other.

3) Those who considered the New Testament texts to be authoritative and canonized them, also considered the OT texts authoritative.

4) Jesus (as far as we know of him from the Bible), believed in YHWH and quoted the Old Testament in his ministry, including verses about Noah's Ark (Lk 17:27 "People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.")

5) The audience for Jesus' message were mostly believers in the wrath of YHWH and the historical truth of the Old Testament.

So where might that leave you? Some of the Gnostics declared YHWH to be a false god, an evil god, from whom Christ, the manifestation of the true God, came to save us. Unfortunately, this belief, in my view, undermines the entire foundation of Christianity. It becomes a religion which Jesus and his followers probably would not have recognized. In that case, why even venerate Jesus anymore, if you don't love the God he loved?

And for that matter how do you choose which Jesus is the "true" Jesus? "Gentle Jesus, meek & mild?" Or the one who said that he brought not peace, but a sword? The Jesus who allowed himself to be humiliated and killed by his enemies, or the Jesus who destroyed a fig tree for not bearing fruit?

Finally, if the Jesus of your heart is not the same one you find in the Bible, not he who is "one with YHWH," then where does he come from?
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:50 PM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


For me, it helped to read, in this order, The Age of Reason, by Thomas Paine, "The Divinity School Address" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and "Three Versions of Judas" by Jorge Luis Borges. But I am an exceedingly strange person. Stories are stories. The truth in your experience, if you've found it, is what you need to focus on.
posted by LucretiusJones at 6:58 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


"... He is great. I feel Him as a presence, serene, protective, friendly, good, non-judgemental, forgiving, accepting. I feel Him watching my back. For the first time I do not feel the need to control everything. I feel that yes, everything is going to be all right. ..."
posted by anonymous to religion & philosophy

Dietrich Bonhoeffer would argue that you've been sidetracked in your spiritual quest by cheap grace. Jesus is not your personal emotional salve, nor your exclusive bulwark against pain in a confusing, limited world/universe, that may well be largely indifferent, or even opposed to your personal welfare. Your faith, if it's only about your own comfort, is nearly meaningless, and your angst as to whether or not you "accept" JHVH won't survive your next metaphysical interests, on its own inherent self centered focus.

Christian faith, argues Bonhoeffer (as I understand him), in word and deed, is worthless unless it transcends self, and carries forward, by example, the miracle of belief itself. In other words, when you really come to know Jesus, you know it isn't about you anymore, it's about carrying forward His message.
posted by paulsc at 7:05 PM on December 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can there be Jesus beyond the Bible?

The Gnostic Gospels make for interesting, more metaphysical/"Eastern" reading.
posted by muirne81 at 7:14 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a Christian but...I have met some very cool, interesting Christians who seem to be much more into doing God's work than studying God's word, if that makes sense. I'm sure they read their bibles, of course they must, but for them being a Christian is carrying out what they see is Christ's work. Instead of theoretical, meditative Christianity, maybe it would help to try some applied Christianity. So maybe it would help to find religious mentors who work out in the trenches of humanity. Volunteer, go on a mission trip, teach Sunday school. We learn best by doing.

I think if you're new to a faith, any faith, you feel bound to the text. That's normal. And the text is a vital component. But I think faith is more than just belief in the text--it's action and commitment and understanding on a holistic level. Reading the Bible is like learning English--incredibly hard to do well at first, and it takes a lot of practice and a lot of conversations to become comfortable with it.

Again, I'm not a Christian, but for the friends I have who've gone on this journey, this seems to be what's worked best for them.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:27 PM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The early part of "Acts" is pretty much required because it documents the Resurrection, which is the central dogma of Christianity. The rest of that book, not so much.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:58 PM on December 7, 2010


How do I further cultivate the presence of Jesus in my life?

I've benefited a lot from a morning and evening prayer routine. If you've never tried liturgical, set prayers you might discover a benefit to them. I use The Divine Hours, but Shane Claiborne's new Common Prayer looks like it has potential, too.

I've also enjoyed reading some of the classic Christian mystics, although I'm not much of a mystic myself. Brother Lawrence's Practicing the Presence of God is an important work, but more recent and maybe more accessible is another favorite: Thomas Kelly's A Testament of Devotion. Oh, and a modern English edition of Thomas a Kempis' The Imitation of Christ was very important to my own development at one point.

Can there be Jesus beyond the Bible?

Sure. Most Christ followers for most of history had no access or only very limited access to the scriptures. I've spent a lot of time in the Bible, and I went through a long period where I felt a lot like you. I liked Jesus, but I didn't really know what to do with a lot of the scriptures. So I left them alone for awhile. Millions of Jesus people have lived their lives meeting Jesus in ritual, community and prayer far more than in the Bible. If it's hurting more than helping, set it aside, at least for now.

But I'll tell you how I read the Bible now. As you know, a lot of it is epic myth and poetry that was never intended to be read literally. So you are already past the hurdle of trying to make Adam and Eve fit in with modern biology. But it's also important to notice that the Bible wrestles with itself a lot, and the good ideas tend to win out in the end. The prophets continually say that the core of the faith is how we care for the poor, outcast and oppressed. In the NT, the gospel of John claims that Jesus makes God known to us. I think it's fair to say that the Bible itself claims that Jesus is a more reliable guide to who God is than the scriptures are. If I read something in the Bible about God that I can't line up with what I know of Jesus, then I set that passage aside and trust in Jesus.

I did a little blogging once about my assumptions regarding the Bible, and some of that might be helpful to you.

How to deal with different feelings toward Jesus and JHVH?

Other than what I said above, I guess I'd recommend just focusing on Jesus for now. Since he reveals God to us, it's not like you're missing out--you're going straight to the heart of God. Just stay close to him and see if the rest comes later.

There's a lot more that I could say if you want to take this further, or have more specific questions. I'd be happy to interact with you via email at any time.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:32 PM on December 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. - 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

Take the Bible with a huge grain of salt. It was written by men. Fallen, flawed men. The contents of what we know today as "the Christian Bible" were decided by committee, and we can't even agree between flavors of Christendom which books are canon and which are not.

Christianity is about your relationship with God, however much or little you wish to make of it. That's it. The Bible, church, devotions, study courses, that's all seasoning that you can take or leave as you please. Paul himself, revered with near-fanaticism by some Christians, is saying "Look, it's not about me or anyone else. It's God that matters here, that's it."

I do not consider myself to be a Christian, but I do call myself a follower of Christ. Perhaps a minor distinction to some, but as a very jaded gay man thrown out of his church, it is an important one to me. Christianity (as a whole) has rightly received a rather negative reputation lately for the senseless crusades against being gay, being pro-choice, or even being a Democrat, or whoever they've decided they need to persecute today. It's stupid.

Somewhere along the way, a whole bunch of Christians forgot a critical part of Jesus' ministry: Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' - Matthew 22:37-39

Screw worrying about which translation of the Bible is better than the others, forget about which books by Famous Christian Authors you need to read. Jesus already told you what Christianity is all about. Love God, and love your neighbor. Do these, and all the rest will fall into place naturally.
posted by xedrik at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Trying to understand the nature of God through a simple, surface reading of the "Old Testament" is terribly misleading. Even Jews who believe that the Torah ("5 Books of Moses") is the literal truth, believe that you have to understand that truth through the lens of thousands of years of rabbinic study and interpretation. Furthermore, since YHVH is unknowable, rather than reading the Bible and asking "Who is God", it more useful to ask "What does God want us to learn from these teachings?"
posted by metahawk at 8:51 PM on December 7, 2010


God and the Bible have almost nothing to do with each other. One is a benevolent entity and the other is a book which has been edited and altered and messed with throughout history.

Be at peace - something you've already done, which is fantastic - and look inside yourself. There you'll find the answers you feel are missing now.

What you're describing isn't Jesus, but love; a benevolent creator of the Universe. That is the part you want to listen to.

Best of luck.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2010


For some excellent perspective on the Bible, I recommend Jack Miles's God: A Biography. It's a reading of the Old Testament which tries to avoid back-projections from later theology, and indeed from later in the book. He treats God as having to learn about humanity at the same time humans learn about him.

I'd also recomment C.S. Lewis's books for an introduction to Christian theology without literalism, especially Mere Christiantiy, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

What both authors have in common is that they take the OT seriously while also recognizing its unattractive or outmoded aspects.

I'm also fond of Dorothy L. Sayers's The Mind of the Maker for an explanation of the Trinity which will particularly appeal to creative types.
posted by zompist at 9:44 PM on December 7, 2010


How do I further cultivate the presence of Jesus in my life?

Find and connect with a Bible-believing Church which can explain and address many of your concerns with the "angry God" of the Bible.

Can there be Jesus beyond the Bible?

Of course, but it is a good and significant place to start.

How to deal with different feelings toward Jesus and JHVH?

You must find a Church. That is what churches are there for - to teach and clarify. To ask anything to the masses, especially the masses that is the internet, will get you MANY, MANY varied responses - and it will be difficult for you to decipher which are educated answers and which are not. This is hard even within a church so be selective. But these are people who live their lives following Jesus. If you want to know more about Him, I suggest you ask them first.
posted by pinksoftsoap at 9:57 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your journey sounds beautiful. I'm envious.

I don't know if I'm a Christian, or even if I believe in a God. Right now, I tend to lean towards there being a benevolent God, although I'm not sure of his omnipotence, and I think that most of the teachings that Jesus Christ is recorded as saying in the Bible are pretty great, but also pretty radical, pretty socialist (not a bad thing), and pretty much ignored by the vast majority of Christians nowadays. (The "rich man through the eye of a needle" is ignored in favor of this wacko "prosperity gospel" concept, the Tea Party and GOP pretend the 'Sheep and the Goats' teaching doesn't exist, and so on.) I've never seen this dichotomy illustrated better than in this comparison. (Of course, I'm not claiming to be reaching those standards either.)

My take on this is that if we were to assume as a given that Christ was the Son of God and the Bible was divinely inspired, it nonetheless has been far too heavily influenced by the historical conditions in which it was written (all of the various books that are essentially health code regulations) and then further heavily modified by political forces throughout repeated actions throughout the ages (the Catholic Church, King James, etc.) during the production of various editions — until what we have today may have gems scattered in places, but is also a ...

Well, in my opinion, if we were to assume that it did start out as God's Actual Word to the ancient Jews and Christians, well, since then, the Bible's been like "the Word of God met Wikipedia" -- a religious text anybody (well, anyone powerful enough, and that's perhaps worse) can edit -- and I don't know as it's possible to work backwards to remove those influences from the text we have available and come up with a ur-Bible that hasn't been influenced -- even were you able to directly read the Dead Sea Scrolls in their language, you'd still be dealing with how those early-day Christians interpreted God's message in the context of their daily lives. Maybe that's a partial solution: get as faithful a Dead Sea Scroll translation as you can. But I don't really think that's a solution for you, honestly.

So what do you do?

Well, honestly, I think you're completely right to be so horrified by some of the stuff in the Bible. And I think that's okay. Again, operating on the premise that I myself am unsure of, that there is a God and that Christ was His divine son -- well, there's stuff there that's inherently wrong and immoral and yet sanctioned by the character of God who is depicted in those stories. Bears tearing children apart for mocking an old man. A woman transformed into salt merely because she looked backward at a site of destruction. A man offering up his daughters to rapists. And about 1,196 other utter atrocities.

Well, personally, I think that if God exists and is that presence within you, then He would want you to be utterly disgusted by such atrocities. Because I don't think such atrocities have any resemblance to the actual Word of God. I don't think -- either literally OR symbolically -- that a loving spirit would be able to instruct those things.

I think that those early Biblical authors and their leaders and communities decided to justify feelings of hatred and acts of atrocities by saying, "God is on our side." The only difference between those actions and the very same actions and explanations that we see today is that at that time, the Bible wasn't a fixed single book yet.

If I were fortunate enough to have a "serene, protective, friendly, good, non-judgmental, forgiving, accepting presence" assuring me that "everything is going to be all right" -- then I'd trust in that. I wonder if you realize how utterly rare that sort of feeling is, and how much people would like to have that reassurance? Reading your comment makes me think of a section in Diane Duane's Spock's World where we learn that (in her version of the Trek universe) Vulcans are directly aware of God:
He folded his hands and steepled his fingers. "There is no context in your translation because it is probably the one concept in the language that must be continually re-experienced to be valid. You cannot freeze it into one form, any more than you would want to repeat the same breath over and over all your life. One must experience a'Tha differently every second. But that is not a tradition or a stricture imposed by people - merely a function of the structure of the universe. Your position in space-time constantly changes: a'Tha must change as well."

Jim shook his head. "I'm missing something."

"I think not," Spock said. "I think most human languages would render the concept as 'immanence.' or something similar. a'Tha is the direct experience of the being or force responsible for the creation and maintenance of the Universe."

"God," Jim said, incredulous.

"Vulcans experience that presence directly and constantly. Always have, to varying degrees. The word is one of the oldest known, one of the first ever found written, and is the same in almost all of the ancient languages."

McCoy looked at Spock curiously. "You're telling me," he said, "that the piece of information that most species spend most of their time searching for and complaining about and having wars over - and can never achieve certainty about - is the one piece of information you just happen to have. All of you?"

"Yes," Spock said, "that is an accurate summation."
(Courtesy of here.)

There's a saying I remember from somewhere -- Heinlein? Twain? Franklin? -- that individual people on their own are intelligent, but when we start to act en masse with groupthink, we become idiots.

I wouldn't let the "intelligence" of the remarkable individual relationship you say you have with God be overridden by the "groupthink" of the Bible.

Anyway, that's my take on your question. And given that I need to wake up in a little under five hours, I best wrap it up. Hope this helps.
posted by WCityMike at 10:08 PM on December 7, 2010


Try going to a church. A liberal church like the UCC. Other people have the same problems you do, talk to them.
posted by plonkee at 12:47 AM on December 8, 2010


Its interesting isn't it. You found Jesus. Sounds beautiful. Where? How? Do you expect to tell others that you have found the one true god by employing the one true way? Or was it a personal discovery that you don't expect will need to be forced on others?

Maybe the answer to those questions will help you decide if someone or some book has to tell you what to believe about Jesus.

Something else comes to mind -- think of all the people described in the Gospels that "found" Jesus and had their lives changed. I'm pretty sure there wasn't any bible for them to read, but they still managed to get the good news. Hmmmm.
posted by buzzv at 12:53 AM on December 8, 2010


Are you baptized? Find a church--protestant or catholic and get baptized.

Just pray and ask Jesus to lead you to the right pastor.

This is key to belonging to the body of Christ. Once you are baptized the Holy Spirit will lead you in the right direction.
posted by AuntieRuth at 4:09 AM on December 8, 2010


I strongly encourage you to read the books of John Shelby Spong, particularly "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism."
posted by jbickers at 5:15 AM on December 8, 2010


How do I further cultivate the presence of Jesus in my life?

I've benefited a lot from a morning and evening prayer routine. If you've never tried liturgical, set prayers you might discover a benefit to them. I use The Divine Hours, but Shane Claiborne's new Common Prayer looks like it has potential, too.


I could not possibly agree more. I makes such an incredible difference! And Advent is the perfect time to do this; the readings are so wonderful. I love Advent -- a true Advent, hard to stick to in secular culture.
posted by jgirl at 5:43 AM on December 8, 2010


Seconding the suggestions above to find a church. Christianity is a faith best lived in a body of other believers. Most churches will have Bible study groups you can get hooked up with who would love to discuss these things with you. Larger churches often have "foundation" courses where you can learn things like the history of the Bible, an overview of Christian theology, and the like.

While the OT does contain commandments, the OT is a primarily historical work and not every statement is to be taken as a command. That is, in many cases it records things that are not necessarily an example to be followed, nor approved of by God. One such example is brought out above -- Lot, considered to be a righteous man, did something very un-righteous in offering his daughters to the men outside his home. Reading the context, you find that God did not permit Lot to go through with it: Genesis 19:10 -- the men visiting Lot (who he did not know to be angels) pulled Lot back in the house and temporarily blinded the mob outside "so they could not find the door".

God takes sin (disobedience to His commands) very, very seriously. He is also patient. These two things are not contradictory. Another example often brought up is that of God commanding Israel to eradicate the Amalekites. This seems excessively cruel until you realize that for centuries Amalek had been raiding the Israelite camp, carrying away women and children, and preying on weaker groups of Israelites. The nation of Amalek was warlike, bullying, and cruel. God gave them ample opportunity (roughly 400 years!) to turn from their evil behavior; when they did not, He brought a just judgment on them. This commentary (especially point 1) is more detailed than I can be here.

I second the recommendation of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis as a defense and philosophical justification of Christianity. Many Christ-followers have found it very helpful. The Problem of Pain is underrated. If you've ever wondered (and Christians wonder this too!) why God allows painful and even evil things to happen -- Lewis knocks this one out of the park. I highly recommend reading both -- they're both under 200 average-sized pages and move pretty quickly.

Feel free to message me directly if you'd like to talk further.
posted by jdwhite at 6:12 AM on December 8, 2010


The numinous experience that you are calling Jesus is most likely unrelated to the Jesus of Christianity. But down the Bible, and follow your inner source.
posted by hworth at 6:14 AM on December 8, 2010


I think the core of what Jeshua of Nazareth (Jesus' native Aramaic name) was teaching is this:

1) Love your neighbor.
2) The 'Kingdom of God' is within you.
3) Respond to malice with love.

Whenever he was asked about contradicting scripture, he didn't really seem bothered by it.

He was trying to bring an enlightened worldview to a people steeped in ancient superstition--a still relevant mission if you ask me.

Ignore Paul.
posted by General Tonic at 6:48 AM on December 8, 2010


But here's the problem: Even on a symbolic level, I have trouble accepting the Bible in my heart. There's hatred, literal hatred there. JHVH seems petty, vengeful. There's war and killing of neighbors and it's OK by JHVH. I see the Middle East and it disgusts me, the same tribal bullshit going on for thousands of years. The Bible doesn't soothe my pain. It's always about the enemies, the unjust and how they will be smitten. I don't have enemies, I don't care about the unjust, my pain is internal.

You might be interested in the peace churches — which are, as the name suggests, a group of Christian movements with a long history of pacifism. If you're looking for people who share your feelings about Jesus and your disgust at war and tribalism, that's where I'd start.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:09 AM on December 8, 2010


Hi anonymous,

Don't really want to add much to the diverse and conflicting advice you've received so far, but I do want to say -- welcome to the family, brother. I trust wholeheartedly that you're on a journey that will continue to bring you closer and closer to the truth in Christ.

This was written to the exiled Jewish people back in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, but I think it speaks to us today too:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."
posted by BurntHombre at 8:24 AM on December 8, 2010


Hi, OP here. Wonderful, wonderful answers. Many thanks. I wish I could mark every answer as the best.

Thanks for all the reading suggestions, also churches and groups to check out.

The suggestion of concentrating on the Gospels is awasome in its obviousness. I hadn't thought of that.

Here are some more thoughts:

>if you can't even accept the Gospels, then are you really sure it's Jesus you've found?
>posted by Chocolate Pickle

I look at it from a glass half full perspective: There are beautiful parts in the Gospels (like the story forgiving the prostitute at the stoning) that lead me towards Him, so I guess at least I'm moving in the right direction?


>Do you believe that Jesus is divine, or do you just find him inspirational? There are lots of people that find value in Jesus the person, in a strictly human sense.
>posted by raztaj

I am looking for the Divine, yeah. Sure, Human Jesus is a cool example and all that, but in the end I would still be stuck in rationality, I am trying to go beyond.


>Maybe look into the apocrypha?
>posted by milarepa

MAJOR APOCRYPHA QUESTION! In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell mentions a passage where it is implied that the Kingdom of God is in the "here and now", it is very aligned to the Buddhist notion that Eternity is actually transversal to time, it is infinite but also Right Now. I've never found this bit, where is it from?

>And for that matter how do you choose which Jesus is the "true" Jesus? "Gentle Jesus, meek & mild?" Or the one who said that he brought not peace, but a sword? The Jesus who allowed himself to be humiliated and killed by his enemies, or the Jesus who destroyed a fig tree for not bearing fruit?

Well the Jesus I see is gentle, meek & mild, yeah. He brings a sword, as I see it is the sword of love. An interesting parallel is Aikido, a martial art which is based on and includes sword training. Its core philosophy is the transformation of the sword from an implement of death to one of love. These insights are Shinto inspired though, are they misleading? The story of the destruction of the tree is a difficult one for me to grok too.

>Finally, if the Jesus of your heart is not the same one you find in the Bible, not he who is "one with YHWH," then where does he come from?
>posted by overeducated_alligator

That is an excellent question, it is exactly what I am trying to wrap my head around. What happens if I see what I feel to be the one God, infinitely loving and merciful, more in Jesus than in YHVH? Am I following a false Jesus?

>Dietrich Bonhoeffer would argue that you've been sidetracked in your spiritual quest by cheap grace. Jesus is not your personal emotional salve, nor your exclusive bulwark against pain in a confusing, limited world/universe, that may well be largely indifferent, or even opposed to your personal welfare. Your faith, if it's only about your own comfort, is nearly meaningless, and your angst as to whether or not you "accept" JHVH won't survive your next metaphysical interests, on its own inherent self centered focus.
>posted by paulsc

That is very interesting, I've never heard of him, thanks! The part that says "it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: 'ye were bought with a price', and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us" is difficult for me, because of the guilt implied. Much of the pain that paralyzes me is guilt. Am I being selfish to want release from that? Freedom from pain makes it much easier, or even possible, to be loving and compassionate in the world, to accept other people as they are, in a sense to forgive them and thus be a vehicle for at least a tiny bit of Jesus in the world. A catch-22 between selfish and altruistic?

Also Bonhoeffer's life is very interesting, Wikipedia says that at the end of his life he was martyred by joining a conspiration to assassinate Hitler. Interestingly he had had an opportunity to study nonviolent resistance with Gandhi, which he passed on. Would Jesus forgive Hitler? I think yes.

>Instead of theoretical, meditative Christianity, maybe it would help to try some applied Christianity. So maybe it would help to find religious mentors who work out in the trenches of humanity. Volunteer, go on a mission trip, teach Sunday school. We learn best by doing.
>posted by thinkingwoman

Yes, that is an excellent suggestion. I think about that a lot. I am a bit wary of organized groups though.

>I've benefited a lot from a morning and evening prayer routine. If you've never tried liturgical, set prayers you might discover a benefit to them.
>posted by Pater Aletheias

Strictly technically speaking: I have tried Buddhist mantras before, specifically from Nichiren buddhism, and physically I could feel a resonation in my chest, but the words were empty to me. It was just that, technique, and felt cold. Later, I tried the Lord's prayer almost like if it was a mantra, but it is confusing to me, in the Gospels it is written that Jesus said "this is how you should pray", but at the same time there is an exhortation not to pray through empty repetition. When I pray, I sometimes just say the name of Jesus, sometimes I tell Him about my pain, sometimes I go just "Hello Jesus, thanks for dying on the cross for me, please come in my heart and direct my life, help me be a vehicle for Your presence in the world"

>a very jaded gay man thrown out of his church
>posted by xedrik

Wow, that is horrible. What a way of going 180º against the fundamental message of Jesus. I mean, a church that THROWS OUT people?!?!?!?

>Your journey sounds beautiful. I'm envious.
>posted by WCityMike

Yeah and that comment makes me proud. In a sense it's exactly the self-centeredness of faith I am being warned about. Tricky.

>Its interesting isn't it. You found Jesus. Sounds beautiful. Where? How?

Many years ago, as an atheist teenager I was visiting a famous touristic church on a trip. I was suffering. There was a small notice taped to the wall, directed at atheists, saying something like: even if you don't believe, if you're hurting try this prayer: "Oh God, whom they call Love, if you exist, please enlighten me". I tried it. I don't remember what happened later, but that was the starting point of the search. I've tried praying to Jesus since, but somehow my heart wasn't in it. A few months ago, on my way to work I was suffering. I entered an unremarkable Catholic church. There was an image of Jesus carrying a cross, with the dove of the Holy Spirit over Him. Underneath there was this message: "Son, have faith. Tell me your suffering, and I will relieve you." So I spoke about it. I also invited Him into my heart. Nothing much happened, but later that day I began to feel a sneaking suspicion that everything was going to be all right. There was a sense of a protecting entity, someone Good and powerful on my side. I've been trying to work with this feeling since.

>Do you expect to tell others that you have found the one true god by employing the one true way?

That's a major question for me. I can't bring myself to think that all the Muslims, Buddhists and Atheists, all the animist indigenous people and everyone else will burn in Hell. I just try to think that Jesus is the one true way *for me* and try not to judge the ways of others.

>Or was it a personal discovery that you don't expect will need to be forced on others?

Yeah, that's a difficult one. I believe in Matthew 6:6, prayer and faith are very intimate for me. That's why I'm asking anonymously btw. Also I hate proselytizing, so I dunno.

>Maybe the answer to those questions will help you decide if someone or some book has to tell you what to believe about Jesus.

>Something else comes to mind -- think of all the people described in the Gospels that "found" Jesus and had their lives changed. I'm pretty sure there wasn't any bible for them to read, but they still managed to get the good news. Hmmmm.

That's an excellent insight!


>Are you baptized? Find a church--protestant or catholic and get baptized.

>Just pray and ask Jesus to lead you to the right pastor.

>This is key to belonging to the body of Christ. Once you are baptized the Holy Spirit will lead you in the right direction.

I'm extremely wary of mentors, gurus, groups and groupthink. Excellent prayer suggestion though.


>Another example often brought up is that of God commanding Israel to eradicate the Amalekites. This seems excessively cruel until you realize that for centuries Amalek had been raiding the Israelite camp, carrying away women and children, and preying on weaker groups of Israelites. The nation of Amalek was warlike, bullying, and cruel. God gave them ample opportunity (roughly 400 years!) to turn from their evil behavior; when they did not, He brought a just judgment on them.
>posted by jdwhite

That is really, really, really difficult for me to accept. It is at the core of my questioning. This is where I see IEDs and Hellfire (oh the irony) missiles tearing people apart. Not God. I see Him in Thou shalt not kill.

>I think the core of what Jeshua of Nazareth (Jesus' native Aramaic name) was teaching is this:

>1) Love your neighbor.
>2) The 'Kingdom of God' is within you.
>3) Respond to malice with love.

>Whenever he was asked about contradicting scripture, he didn't really seem bothered by it.

>He was trying to bring an enlightened worldview to a people steeped in ancient superstition--a still relevant mission if you ask me.

>Ignore Paul.
>posted by General Tonic

Yes, excellent! Paul has always had the tinge of memetics to me, "spread the word"

Again, thanks a million everyone, please keep the ideas coming, this is rich.
posted by anonymous sockpuppet for Jesus at 11:48 AM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Scriptural fundamentalism, particularly as practiced in the United States, is largely without precedent in the rest of the world or throughout the history of religion. Most faiths engage in active discourse about the meaning of their religious texts, and few take that meaning to be just what is written on the page. I'll add to the reading recommendations The Kings and Their Gods (a book by pacifist Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan which helps contextualize the violence in 1 and 2 Kings) and The First Paul (on the disputed authorship of many of the epistles).

I would also suggest deep dives into the work of modern theologians of all stripes, many of which are recommended up thread, but which may also include Bonhoffer, Paul Tillich, Thomas Merton, Niebuhr and the like. They'll point to primary sources which you might also respond to. You might also want to explore the pre-Constantinan Christian period, commonly referred to as the Jesus Movement, as well as modern attempts to revitalize this style of interdenominational pacifist Christianity centered on the poor like the aforementioned Shane Claiborne's The Simple Way, the Catholic Worker movement, etc.

Not only is every denomination different, but in practice every church is different. You can, with enough searching, find a place that lines up both with your doctrinal beliefs and your preferred worship style.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:32 PM on December 8, 2010


Questions about God's nature in the OT are not new and something Christians have wrested with for millennia. It is an essential question that every scholars, leaders or proponent of Christianity must address. You are not alone in asking it. Volumes have been written from all perspectives that explain much better than I could post here. But here are a few thoughts that have helped me.

I begin with the understanding that many of the "tough" Bible questions are not found through cursory reading of the Bible, since there are countless layers of historical and cultural context to penetrate. In addition, I am limited by my human perspective on how the world should work, which may in fact be different than what God sees.

For example, it helps me to see God in the OT as a parent of young children. He would do whatever it takes to protect his children from enemies and to teach them right and wrong. For young children, a parent's behavior may seem cruel and unfair, but when they mature, they understand things from a broader perspective. Why are there so many rules? Why can't I do whatever I want? Why do I have to listen to you all the time? Children don't realize that they need boundaries and rules while they are young to help them develop into mature, independent adults. Its kind of like how people don't appreciate their parents until they become parents themselves. Then things make sense. In contrast, the NT seems more like God as a parent of older teens who are able to understand the complexities of life and act accordingly (more freedom, grace, mercy rather than strict and authoritarian).

With regards to the violence, I must understand that the OT happened in times before the Renaissance, before democracy, before modern diplomacy, before most of the assumptions that we place on modern civilization. People understood their world through war and might, not through the enlightened views of modern culture. In fact in comparison to the other cultures of the day, the Israelite were far more advanced in their view of justice, and society. For example, the idea of "eye for and eye" idea was given actually as a restriction on violence, not as a promotion of it. It kept people from retaliating drastically to injustice (say, wiping out someone else's family) by limiting the amount of retribution. It in fact shows God's fairness rather than his cruelty. While God exists outside of time and culture, he always revealed his nature through the cultural context at that time. It would be unfair to expect God to teach the Israelites to follow the societal perspective of people thousands of years later (today) as much as it would for him to put those expectations on us of cultures thousands of years from now (whatever that is).

My suggestion for you is to take time to deeply understand the Bible before discounting it at face value. I have been studying the Bible for over 20 years and am still learning new things about it than I would have immediately written off as ridiculous, but make much more sense after it being explained from a fuller perspective and context. None of us starts out with all the answers. That's one of the things that makes studying the Bible rewarding as it is an an endless well of insight and understanding into God's plan and purpose for this world that rewards those who humbly, earnestly and diligently seek the truth.
posted by roaring beast at 1:20 PM on December 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe looking into some of the pacifist Christian groups might help with that part. Quakers, Mennonites, Amish, I'm sure there are others?
posted by sepviva at 4:42 PM on December 8, 2010


MAJOR APOCRYPHA QUESTION! In The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell mentions a passage where it is implied that the Kingdom of God is in the "here and now", it is very aligned to the Buddhist notion that Eternity is actually transversal to time, it is infinite but also Right Now. I've never found this bit, where is it from?

I''m not sure it's from one of the apocrypha. See here. From the way he speaks of it, he seems to be referring to his own interpretation of the Ascension, as opposed to apocrypha.
posted by WCityMike at 7:03 PM on December 8, 2010


Much of the pain that paralyzes me is guilt. Am I being selfish to want release from that?

No, but there's guilt and there's guilt. Guilt that moves you to transformation is a divine gift (sidetrack: one of the purposes of the Old Testament in my life has been to confer that gift on me). Guilt that gets stuck on your errors, or that proposes to remedy them itself, is guilt setting itself up as an idol. (Sidetrack: I think this is at least part of what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 7:10.)

Am I being selfish to want release from the terrible frailty of mortal mind and memory, or the bondage of having only one attentional focus, or the terrible pressure to work while life endures? No. I firmly believe that God will grant that release in eternity. But it serves a purpose here in life: Every moment I must choose, choose, choose relentlessly what is most important to me, and in that choosing I come to know myself. Knowing my strengths, my weaknesses, my desires, I can know how God excels them, give them all to God, and be remade. (Sidetrack: Goes straight back to Eden. "You will surely die [...] your eyes will be opened.")

Moving to the broader question: I join with roaring beast about taking your time. The Kingdom of God is like a seed, growing you know not how, but in course of days yielding for the harvest (see Mark 4:26-29); but what springs up too swiftly may fail all too readily (Mark 4:5-6). Invest the time, though, and as you come to grips with one or another problem (be it textual, doctrinal, or practical) you will have to draw closer to God. It is incredibly rewarding. (Friend of mine said this summer, "The Scriptures are not meant to give us answers so much as questions." Tastes like wisdom to me.)

Okay. So, in practical terms, how do you do that? Four suggestions, two of which kind of contradict each other. The first is, spend time by spending time. Make a project of it; form a habit. Don't decide every day whether you're going to look into the Bible that day, and don't spend half your study time deciding whether you've done enough; decide once that you're going to spend half an hour daily (or whatever), and then do it. (Sidetrack: It takes about 15 minutes to establish the state of mind called flow, so do spend at least that long. Worth the investment.)

Second, spend some ink. You may find it culturally acceptable to highlight your Bible and write marginal notes and questions, or you may insist on a separate notebook, but write your thoughts somewhere. If you're at a loss for what to think about or how to approach the text, here are some approaches. (Sidetrack: I'm currently typing all of my marginal notes into a text file so they're easier to search/edit/cross-link. Constantly amazed by both the insightful disciple and the weirdo who have been leaving me notes in my handwriting.)

Third, hit the good bits hard. Pick a passage that's important to you, that helps you feel closer to Jesus, and read it often. Memorize it. Most people have more capacity to memorize than they think they do. Try breaking up 1 Corinthians 13 into short segments and tackling those one at a time. For a real head-trip, take any selection(s) from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and read it/them daily (perhaps in a rotation) until they start showing up unexpectedly to challenge your thinking in other contexts. That Sermon will kick your spiritual and moral butt. (Sidetracks: One, different people memorize differently. I have to kick-start the process by reading aloud so I can hear the words back. Other people work silently from the start. Others write out words or initials, sometimes using them to cue recitation. Experiment with it. Two, commercials are designed to monopolize your memory capacity. I got a lot better at memorizing stuff I had chosen when I dropped out of TV-watching.)

Fourth, and somewhat contradictorily, don't hit the good bits too hard. If you read any short section often enough, or intensively enough, you'll run out of thoughts to think about it. Read around and cross-pollinate; when you come back, it may have more to say. (Sidetrack: I speak from experience here, too, though it was the Book of Mormon and not the Bible. An excellent book that I love dearly, but when I was a brand-new missionary my mission president decided (in one of his very rare forays into rulemaking) that all of us should read it again before we resumed studying our other scriptures (including the Bible). I had read it four or five times in the last year, partly on similar well-meaning advice for newly-called missionaries, partly while taking six semester-hours of coursework on it, and partly while teaching an adult Sunday School class, and I do not recall a single shred of profit to my faith or practice from this fifth reading. For me at that time it was mined out. Since then I have established my own, steadier, slower pace, with cross-pollination from all the wonderful scriptures my faith embraces, and that "mined-out" book gets better and deeper all the time. I've had similar phenomena with the Gospels and with Genesis, less dramatic only because I have never crammed them as hard.) It's difficult to leave the text alone like this—especially when it is a difficult part of the text, such as the vengeful-YHWH stuff. We want sense made, and we want it soon. I submit that both letting the text rest and coming back to it are applications of faith. And I submit that such faith is rewarded in time.
posted by eritain at 7:28 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hasten to add: Corollary to my fourth point, don't let the Bible get between you and Jesus. Whatever it is that got you to him, whether contemplation, nature walks, hymn-singing, or whatever, make time for that too, and don't let my advice on Bible study monopolize your spirit.
posted by eritain at 7:48 PM on December 8, 2010


Hi, OP again. Thanks everyone for your rich MeMail suggestions too. I feel myself pointed in the right direction.

1. focus on the Gospels.
1a. question: what about the apocryphal Gospels? Would it be misleading to read them now? Who decided what's canon and what's not? How can I trust that decision?

2. after Gospels, the rest of the NT
3. leave the OT for later
4. look around for a group and/or mentor
5. practical action with the poor

Also, I'd like to invite everyone to tell a bit of your story, how did you find Jesus? What was the biggest hurdle?

What's the toughest passage of the Bible for you to understand/accept?

Thanks!
posted by anonymous sockpuppet for Jesus at 6:01 AM on December 9, 2010


This is coming in late, so sorry about that, but I've been reading and thinking. If you happen to be near Portland, Maine (not likely) I have an awesome church group that loves talking these things out. Same thing in Boulder, CO. You should also look up Jesus with Dirty Feet by Don Everts, who's a friend of mine. It's a short, easy read that puts prose to the dirty, smelly, desert-y life of Jesus. Don's in St. Louis, and I'm sure would be happy to get together and talk. There are also the "new monastics", one figurehead of which is Shane Claiborne, who wrote Irresistible Revolution and a number of other books, but he leans a little political for me. Still, there are groups like his around the country, (he's in Philadelphia). No matter what, though, you should really find a group of people working through the same things. Not all churches are the same, and you don't have to go Unitarian to find people who think differently than what most imagine is mainstream. Still, there's very little in the life of Jesus that has anything to do with being alone or making faith this personal, individual thing we've turned it into.
posted by monkeymadness at 7:08 AM on December 9, 2010


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