Beyond agnosticism

I have for several years been practicing a rather threadbare, in some ways malnourished religion—more by necessity than choice, though the choices are obvious to me.

I wrote that first sentence on Wednesday, March 31st of this year, shortly after I received confirmation that I could move my mother from hospital, where she had come through the crisis of a major systemic infection, into a new skilled nursing facility (SNF), where staff were better equipped than in her old one

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Weeds (Part II)

Part I: The parable of the weeds in the field
Part II: Religion or belief
Part III: Wilderness and cultivation

Religion or belief

In Part I, I laid out a problem—really a faith challenge—presented to me by the parable of the weeds in the wheat field, as told and interpreted in the book of Matthew (13:24-30, 36-43). The significance of this parable for me is that it sets up an

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Faith as a way of paying attention

The inside blurb to Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons begins, “Frederick Buechner has long been a kindred spirit to those who find elements of doubt as constant companions on their journey of faith.”

The book was a birthday gift from my mother two years ago, and I’ve been slowly making my way through its gentle, surprising sermons ever since Christmas of that year.

This past weekend, just as the newest post for Walhydra’s Porch

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Am I a nontheist…? (Part III)

Part I: Languages of belief
Part II: Survival faith and practice
Part III: “Someone should start laughing”

“Someone should start laughing”

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

How are you?

I have a thousand brilliant lies
For the question:

What is God?

If you think that Truth can be known
From words,

If you think that the Sun and the Ocean

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Uplift

Yesterday I quoted from and linked to two of my favorite bloggers on my other blog, Walhydra’s Porch. Both spoke so well to my present condition that I wanted to acknowledge and share their offerings with readers of this blog.

Sara Sutterfield Winn shared a powerful poem by the 15th century Indian poet Kabir on her Pagan Godspell site:

The Time Before Death

Friend, hope for the Guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you

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“Pray for Others”

Each year on my birthday, I look forward to reading the meditation for August 29th in Daily Word, the devotional magazine of Unity Church.

The message has always tended to be something I could welcome as a motto for the new year, something which affirmed my sense of self and reassured me that I was on the so-called “spiritual path.”

This year, however, I stumbled mentally. The day’s topic was “Pray for Others,” and the opening affirmation was:

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On waiting and squirming

Being of melancholic temperament, my Quaker practice is occasionally reduced to long periods of inner struggle between faith and circumstance.

These are not periods of doubting God or of doubting that I can rely upon God.

Rather, they are periods during which I have difficulty finding God’s reassuring silence in the midst of my own emotional noise. Or, sometimes, in the midst of a kind of emotional shut-downness, when prolonged distress has dulled itself into exhaustion.

As

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But not alone

In my previous post, I mentioned my wariness of both orthodoxies and gnosticisms, and I affirmed the primacy of an individual’s immediate experience of Divine Presence in daily faith and practice. A number of challenges complicate the effort to live by such an affirmation.

Over the past three decades, I have taken refuge in the paradoxical religious life of a solitaire.

My faith and practice are rooted in the Christ-centeredness of my Lutheran upbringing and

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Where to start

On Easter of 2006, I began making my way, chapter by chapter, through The Complete Gospels: Annotated Scholars Version, that 1994 publication of the Jesus Seminar which gathers together new translations of the canonical gospels, the reconstructed Signs Gospel and Sayings Gospel Q, the Gospel of Thomas, and fourteen others from the first three centuries of the Common Era.

It was as I began reading the second century gnostic Christian Secret Book of James, just this past week,

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