The Road to Wartburg: Why I Am Now a Contented Lutheran After Leaving the Post-Evangelical Wilderness

Hubble Revisits the Veil Nebula-NASA

“If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write. Martin Luther
“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” Martin Luther


I have been asked to write about why I have chosen to become a Lutheran. Recently, I heard a sermon by a 9Marks pastor who denigrated those of us who follow a church calendar. Lord willing, I will write about this on Wednesday, followed by Todd who had the misfortune of being a member of that 9Marks pastor’s church.

I chose the name of my blog long before I considered becoming a Lutheran. I have always had a love of church history and taught some adult Sunday school classes on the subject. I have long been a fan of Martin Luther. I especially loved his pursuit of the truth of his faith, causing him to stand firm in front of the pope because he could do no other. The pope was not amused and pursued Luther to Germany but his actions came too late. Some German princes hid Luther in Wartburg Castle. There he finished his translation of the New Testament into the language of his people. When he emerged from hiding, many of his works were published by the Gutenberg Press which had just been invented. You might find this article by the Washington Post of interest. The power of Luther’s printing press.

Today we have the internet which is our Gutenberg Press. It allows the average person to weigh in on subjects of interest. My experience with the molestations of a number of teens at my former Reformed SBC Baptist church was what drove me to this medium even though I am not technically proficient (which is an understatement if ever there was one.)

History

Let’s back up for a minute. I grew up in a non-religious home although my dad was nonpracticing Russian Orthodox and my mom a nonpracticing “Protestant” who drove my brother and me to attend a weekly Sunday school class in a somewhat dead Methodist church. It was there, as a teen, that I first heard the Good News when some students from Gordon Conwell did outreach into our church in Salem, Ma. This church is now quite lively and I’m sorry I wasn’t around to see the transition. As I went to college, I began my journey. For a couple of years, I attended a Lutheran church but transitioned to a nondenominational church. I also attended a Catholic prayer and praise meeting on occasion. When I returned to Boston, I became a member of Park Street Church, a well-known historical, Congregation church in downtown Boston. I loved my time there.!

I met my husband there and we got married and began our long jaunts around the country as he received medical training. We were members of a number of nondenominational churches. For our two years on the Navajo Reservation, we were members of a Christian Reformed Church that had an attendance of quite a few Navajos. I loved it there. When we moved to Durham for my husband’s training at Duke, we became members of Chapel Hill Bible Church. This was a most intellectually challenging church and I learned much during our years there. Then we went off to Dallas. We spent a couple of years in Ed Young Jr’s church since it was close by and our daughter was very sick. This was one of the most difficult churches that I attended. We left an intellectually rich church and landed in Bible Lite. As my daughter stabilized, we moved to Plano and began attending Bent Tree Church. We were very happy here. Pete Briscoe encouraged me to use my love of history to teach classes.

Postevangelical wilderness

We finally moved back to Raleigh and started attending a Reformed Baptist SBC Church. I’ve spoken enough of the awful pedophile situation there. Then the pedophile situation at the Anglican Church. I think I would have liked it there if I hadn’t been confronted with one more pedophile situation. Trust me. I wasn’t looking. Here began our wanderings.

The wonderful Michael Spencer (Internet Monk) who sadly passed away, coined the phrase *the post-evangelical wilderness. We went back to Chapel Hill Bible Church, driving a long distance. This wonderful, intellectually stimulating church was taken over by a John Piper spouting Calvinista who signed up for The Gospel Coalition and 9Marks. Obviously, this blogger would not be welcomed by the new *lead pastor* and we got the heck out of there. We went to another *Bible Lite* church but didn’t last long. We then attended another covert SBC church that didn’t have a membership program when we were there.

We were frustrated. We are in the Bible belt and we couldn’t find a church. My husband asked me to look online for a different church that wasn’t a mega and offered Saturday evening services. Saturday services work best for him when he is on call. I told him I found a Lutheran church that was actually nearby. So one cold winter evening, the two of us dropped exhausted into a pew in a beautiful stone church with twinkling candles and contemporary stained glass. A small praise group regaled us with music and the pastor preached a short and relevant sermon. When it was over, I looked at Bill and said, “Ummm, that was good.” He agreed.  We stopped looking for another church and just kept coming.

Why we love out Lutheran church

This is going to be a list of things.

  • They left us alone while we healed. They would be friendly and say hello but didn’t pester us.
  • I hear three Scriptures each Sunday. Old Testament, the Epistles, and the Gospel. Surprisingly we hear more Scripture in a service there than we did in our Baptist church.
  • We repeat one of the Creeds (Apostles, Nicene) each week. A vicar (a third-year seminary student who spends the year at a church) encouraged us to repeat the Creed each morning when we wake up. I did it for a month. Oddly, it centered me for the day.
  • We have a prayer of confession each week followed by our pastor’s reminder that ALL of our sins have been forgiven.
  • The sermon is short (the service is 60 minutes long) and is focused on one of the three Scripture readings. I actually remember it during the week.
  • The time of prayer for the church is meaningful. They will actually mention the names of people who have requested prayer and we pray for them. These prayers are all-encompassing, remembering to pray for the leaders and the local police and EMTs.
  • Communion is different. For those of you who think it is weird that Jesus is present in the communion, let me ask you a question. You have no problem with the Holy Spirit living in every Christian’s life. Why wouldn’t you think Jesus is present in the communion? And for those of you who play Bible gotcha, there are a number of verses that back up this belief. Read them. I did and became convinced. I find communion far more meaningful now. The rather flip way of practicing communion by a couple of my former churches was something that used to bother me.
  • In pre-Covid times, they had weekly dinners which were cooked and served, not by the women, but by the men.
  • They don’t have a hangup on alcohol. They even sold beer glasses engraved with the name of the church.
  • Each year, during the service they remember all who have passed away in the previous year in a moving time as they read the names.
  • At another time, they do the same with the babies and others who were baptized.
  • We are reminded of important times in the Christian calendar. We celebrate Palm Sunday with actual palms as we are reminded of Jesus who entered Jerusalem on His way to the Cross. One time, in my Baptist church, I bought palms for my Sunday school class. I was mobbed by people in the church, asking me for one of the palms. I don’t think the sermon that day even mentioned this important occasion. Baptists don’t do Palm Sunday and couldn’t care less about the church calendar. We’ll get back to this on Wednesday, Lord willing.
  • Our pastors joyfully celebrate Holy Week. One time I asked one of them if he was tired. He said that he loved this week and all the services-Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. (This year services went from 6:30-2 PM to accommodate everyone.) One time I asked my Baptist Pastor if a group of us could do a Good Friday service. He wouldn’t hear of it because he was just so tired and he would have to be present.
  • I wish all kids could go through the two-year Confirmation course. I am in awe of the thoughtfulness that goes into teaching them about the Apostle’s Creed, communion, etc. They memorize portions of Luther’s Small Catechism. When they have their first communion (usually at the end of 6th grade) I know that they know what they are doing and what they believe.
  • There are no membership *covenants.* When we finally decided to join, we went to the new members’ class. They asked us why it took us so long to join the church. I said, “I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Everyone laughed but I was serious. During this time, I mentioned that I did some writing on abuse but didn’t say more since it is rather difficult to describe what I do.
  • Seminary students at Concordia do not have tuition fees.
  • I like the yearly change out of the vicars. Each of them has been wonderful, learning to preach and serve. I am sad to see them go and glad to see the next one.
  • I have grown intellectually in this church. The pastors are involved in teaching about a number of things. I was helping with the students and missed the Wednesday class on the Book of Concord so I bought my own and am learning many things I hadn’t heard about before. Remember, I was always involved in my previous churches.
  • The pastor often calls me by name as he serves me communion. He knows me. I’m not some unknown person coming in and out. However, as I have said, they left us alone for a time and gave us time to heal but made it clear they wanted to know us.
  • I sometimes wonder whether God was giving me a broad hint when I chose the name of this blog.

Proof of their care and love.

Folks, I’m a bit of a handful due to this work that I do. It isn’t easy to explain that I tell stories of abuse in the church. So, fearing that I would be rejected, once again, I kept my work on the down-low. But the church would get notification of my work in a difficult way. I wrote about it: How a Letter Meant to Hurt Dee in Her Church and Community Gave Her a Precious Gift Instead This stupid letter was sent to a bunch of people at my church and to some of our community groups and my husband’s employer at Duke.

Both my husband and I were worried we would be *disciplined* or get kicked out of the church! But that didn’t happen. One of the first things they said to me in a phone call was “Are you alright?” Throughout the conversation, they kept reiterating their concern for my safety. They asked why I hadn’t said anything about the blog. I reminded them I did hint at it in the new members’ class and they didn’t take me up on it. They remembered. One pastor made me laugh when he exclaimed “We’ve never had a blogger before!”

During this time, another Lutheran pastor went to bat for me. He doesn’t want me to use his name but he contacted a bunch of people in the Lutheran synod to let them know I was one of the good guys. The weird letter writer also sent his poorly written tome to those in charge. And they also supported me. I remember sitting down and crying after the call. I realized how good my pastors and the church are.

They’ve left me alone since that time, never once attempting to interfere in what I was writing. I even got a hug when the Washington Post article came out. One time, I lost my cell phone and one of them got down on his stomach, looking under the pews. My husband and I love these pastors (and my anonymous friend.) My husband even announced that he wants to be buried at the church!

I know that some of you may have questions about my finding a home in the Lutheran church. If you could ask a question in the comments so I can easily see it, I will do my best. I’d imagine you might have questions about infant baptism (which I now support), communion, and the beauty of the liturgy. I often tell my husband that I feel I walk through my Christian life in the 60 minutes of church. I will do my best to get to your questions in the next day or so.

Prediction:

As more and more people are fleeing the evangelical wars in the post-evangelical wilderness, I believe you will see more people heading to liturgical churches. Liturgy-hungry young Christians trade altar calls for Communion rails

An example of a confession in a Lutheran church.

Let me leave you with a typical prayer of confession and the absolution given by the pastor. 

The pastor then says:


Comments

The Road to Wartburg: Why I Am Now a Contented Lutheran After Leaving the Post-Evangelical Wilderness — 181 Comments

  1. 1st?

    Thanks for telling your story Dee. It is so encouraging to hear of genuine care and love by a local church.

    I grew up Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) in the 1960s and 70s. They’ve been through many changes over the years with most congregations staying pretty conservative. By high school, I walked away. In college I had a rather dramatic conversion and started down the path of evangelicalism. 40 years later, studying church history, coupled with some bad experiences of leaders protecting sex abusers, I’ve started wondering what’s next. But thinking about the LCMS, the picture I’m left with is people going through the motions, droning liturgy, a lifeless faith, and compromising in certain areas. Help me to see it differently if I should.

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  2. Isaac,

    I wished you could see my pastors and the people at my church. It is not at all like you described. I think the changes in the last few decades have brought changes to many churches. Having left a typical SBC almost mega church, I would say that this church beats them out hands down in the love department.

    Picture me, a typical evangelical finding more love and grace in the LCMS church. This group nails it in the Law and Gospel department-something that the typical evangelical church doesn’t well describe.

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  3. Dee, thanks for sharing your journey and about your lovely church. Inspirational and encouraging.

    With baptism, I imagine the Lutherans “counted” your earlier baptism.

    We went the other direction on our journey (from liturgical to non-denom and back again, etc.) for awhile. Some churches require their form of baptism (sprinkling versus dipping, and various age requirements). In the end, we’re probably good-to-go all around, since whatever was needed, we usually did. Probably sounds wishy-washy, like we couldn’t make up our minds. Hopefully, God understands.

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  4. At our very non-liturgical American Baptist we had a PC-USA seminarian for a year. Our pastor gave her much leeway to introduce Presbyterian liturgy. It left some crusty Baptists scratching their heads, but most saw it as a refreshing short term change. I can appreciate how you have enjoyed a different way to worship.

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  5. Thank you Dee. It was nice to read this account of a somewhat difficult journey that has a good ending. I found it encouraging.

    Completely off-topic. I have followed Time Fall off and on for quite a while. Not long ago his blog just sort of shut down. I hope things are OK.

    I don’t want to fish for information that shouldn’t be made available to the general public, but it would be nice if anyone had news that can be shared.

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  6. Just a reminder there are several non-SBC liturgical Baptist churches in the area. They range from the liberal end like Pullen Baptist in Raleigh, Watts Street in Durham, to Binkley Baptist in Chapel Hill. Also First Baptist, Millbrook, Greystone in Raleigh to Woodhaven in Cary/Apex. For many years, Tabernacle fit this category too. I’m sure there are several in Durham and Chapel Hill – I just don’t live there. These churches practice believers’ baptism rather than infant (although some accept any baptism tradition), Frequently they practice communion by intinction (walk to front) rather than the “offering plate” style I grew up around. Most have women as ministers and some even female senior pastors.

    This isn’t to say your Lutheran church is wrong, just that many of us who have grown up in Baptist churches don’t have to leave that tradition while accepting equality of women in leadership, LGBTQ, and others who have been rejected by SBC churches. Our biggest struggle has been living in an area at distance from these churches. What is absolutely necessary, what are we willing to give up?

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  7. Afterburne,

    Apparently he’s fine, just needed time away from the internet. A lot of people were concerned.

    And Dee, I feel very similar about the Anglican Church I’ve been going to. It doesn’t pretend to be anything it’s not, & that’s partly due to the depth of its roots & cultivation of a quiet life of faith. It can be a bit Vicar of Dibley at times which makes me laugh, especially as we have a woman Vicar. She describes the church as a big loving family of broken people.

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  8. I think it’s really weird that a group so obsessed with John Calvin and the Reformation is so down on so many aspects of church beliefs at that time. They want the soteriology, but not the theology of the church calendar. They want church order, but not sacraments. They want to return to a time when they control everyone around them and can enforce discipline, but they don’t talk about the fact that the man burned at the stake for “resisting” church discipline believed in adult baptism like them.

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  9. As for needing a break from the Internet, I pretty much swore off viewing Facebook and news after the 2016 elections for a long time.

    I still stay away from Facebook – it is just so incredibly toxic. I take my news in measured amounts these days. I find it consumes not only time, but emotional energy on things I really can’t do diddly about – emotional availability which should be reserved for those around me.

    That and so much of news reporting is biased. I don’t have the time or resources to fact check things. Besides, I no longer know what news source to trust any more anyway.

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  10. I’ve been to Park Street Church! Very friendly people, as I recall. Talk about a small world! I used to work near that church, too, at a now-defunct division of Little, Brown (College Textbook Division) on Tremont Street. I still remember Park Street Church’s electronic chimes playing hymns at 5 p.m. as we were all heading to the subway. Memories!

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  11. I have to get a medical test this AM and will resume answering questions after lunch.

    I will add two items to my list
    1. They believe babies are saved.
    2. Lutheran churches get together and plan for the placement of the next church. There is no competition in this scenario. The church is in the shadows of SEBTS and we are tripping over all the startup Baptist churches.

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  12. Dee,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, and the wonders of a denomination that is stamped in my very DNA. On my father’s side, he and my uncle, and now my brother and his wife, are Nos. 38, 39, 40, and 41 in my family tree, going all the way back to the early 1800’s in Germany. We are in the ELCA (formerly LCA), which I joke to myself is the “anything goes” Lutherans. We ordain women and gays, and the world hasn’t come to an end. But the liturgy we share with the LCMS, and the grace and peace that comes with it, is the same. The parents of the ELCA’s Bishop are my brother’s godparents. If there are any other ELCA people reading this who remember the Green Hymnal that was published in 1972, my mom was on the national Worship Committee that created that hymnal. My father’s ministry was grounded in “Love one another.” Growing up a pastor’s kid has it’s own set of unique challenges, and for me it did create a bit of a cynicism that has only deepened in the last 30 years as the word “Christian” has come to mean something completely different from what I grew up with in the 60’s and 70’s. I haven’t had a regular church in decades, but since my father passed away in 2011, I go with my mom to her church every so often. Today I don’t consider myself a Christian, but I will always be a Lutheran. I feel like the church I know and love gives me the freedom to live in that contradiction.

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  13. Dee,

    I always am happy when someone finds a church they loves and loves them back, as long as the church is orthodox in their beliefs. Of course I, as a born and bred Baptist, know that only Baptists are right! (sarc.)

    Speaking of Baptists, I want to congratulate the basketball team for, as Jerry Clower once called it, “that great Baptist University”, Baylor University, for their victory over a small Jesuit college in Washington state for the NCAA Basketball Championship Monday night. The final score was 86-70. This is Baylor’s first men’s championship.

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  14. The journeys of faith we take through the 501C3 minefield is an interesting subject. Each is unique. God shows up in the worst places and sometimes is glaringly absent in places that we like so much. It made me think of my own journey, which I might be tempted to share again. But mine is so unique and this place honestly tends so much towards the bitter, cynical side, unfortunately. It is a shame that I have been here so long and I have the same mountain to die on as Dee, yet I hardly have experienced what I would consider to be full respect. It is not so much my views that appear to be the problem, but my actual experience.

    Yet any of us can become quite the jerk at times. But do we actually look in the mirror and ask the Spirit what the truth is? I try to, though I would not confess to always seeing an accurate reflection in the mirror of myself. Maybe we are all less righteous than we would like to think that we are?

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  15. Dee–from one Lutheran to another, love your post! I would add to your list that regarding Communion and the Real Presence, the cinch for me was “is.” As in the Bible says this “is” the Body and Blood. Not reminds us of, or substitutes for, but is.

    Similar experience including time in a rather dead Methodist church as a kid.

    Happily Lutheran now.

    To any who think dead and droning: it can happen. Not often from perspective. Usually we are just so very tickled pink with salvation that those are not droned words, but heartfelt ones. They often move me to tears. Some congregations are more lively. Our second Lutheran congregation would take the elements to the handicapped and aged in their pews after the rest had received. One visitor did not know this, and was so downright hungry for the Lord this double amputee hopped off the pew onto the floor and crawled up to the altar rail to receive. Not a dry eye in the building. Or the day a gal who had lets just say wandered far out into sin practically shouted her confession, then did shout amen at absolution, and ran to the altar to receive when it was her turn, tears streaming and cries of thanks to our Lord. She lay prostrate before the altar and the rest of us got downright almost pentecostal singing Lamb of God with tears and laughing and hugging and so much joy.

    But here is the real reason I am Lutheran: the Lutheran Jesus. He is not mad at us all the time, loves us dearly, is always looking out for us and waiting to welcome us with arms wide open. Yes, our sin cost Him his very life and a great deal of pain, but He would do it all over again in a heartbeat to restore one sinner to relationship with Him.

    I cannot see myself ever going back to an angry, vindictive, down right mean God. Not now that I have really met Jesus.

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  16. elastigirl: what happens if someone is not baptized? (on the spiritual, God-plane)

    Some Christian groups, such as the Quakers, do not have sacraments. They do have simple ceremonies, but don’t believe that rituals are necessary to put them in touch with God. This is connected to Quakers’ belief in affirming instead of taking oaths: all days, moments, words, and actions should be equally holy. One should be just as honest in court as at home or at the store. One should be just as holy on Thursday as on Sunday… er, on Fifth Day as on First Day.

    So any Christian who believes that baptism is necessary for salvation, or the only way, is essentially saying that Quakers and some others will not be in Heaven. (Quaker belief in the afterlife falls outside the scope of this discussion, LOL.)

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  17. After leaving the SBC wilderness (the first 60 years were OK, the last 10 were hell fighting the NeoCal movement), I’m a “Done” now and will remain done with all flavors of the organized church, but not done with Jesus. I’ve been talking to Him lately about the best way to emerge from the wilderness; in the meantime I’m contented being done with the teachings and traditions of men.

    Church (the real one) is refreshing; church (little “c”) is exhausting. It just doesn’t make sense to do church without God. Most of the stuff that goes on in the average church doesn’t need the Holy Spirit to accomplish it; so He doesn’t get involved. The current wilderness I’m in actually feels pretty good … He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own. After his conversion, the Apostle Paul spent 3 years in the Arabian desert to get his spiritual head screwed on straight. There’s something to be said about wilderness-time.

    Dee & others, there was a reason you journeyed through the Christianity Lite evangelical wilderness … to get a close look at it so you could help others out who are still in it.

    P.S. I suppose I have a touch of PTSD inflicted by the new reformation and find it therapeutic to vent on TWW. I realize I get a little “Christianese” every once in awhile, but I just speak from my personal experience. Thanks for putting up with the ole guy. Oh, and I’m too old to learn how to be a good Lutheran.

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  18. elastigirl: bet there’s a story, there.

    Yeah, there is, and I wish I felt free to share it right now. 🙂

    The Friends never took issue with me or my boots or skirts. For awhile I did attend a meeting near a military installation. Active duty military members sometimes came by, and were as welcome as anyone else. A couple of lifelong Quakers were married to active duty folks, and were quietly grappling with issues of conscience. It was also somewhat common to see military retirees at that meeting.

    Never once did I experience coercion, abuse, or brainwashing at any of the four Friends meetings I attended in two different countries. Quakers somehow manage to express themselves without oppressing others.

    I just checked, and all four of my old Quaker meetings are currently gathering by Zoom. There’s something rather Dadaist about that… I might need to check it out!

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  19. elastigirl: so, a question.

    what happens if someone is not baptized? (on the spiritual, God-plane)

    Dunno what happens or doesn’t happen (minus baptism), and I’m not gonna’ fret myself over it
    But I’ll stand on Romans Chap. 2:

    14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:

    15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)

    16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

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  20. elastigirl,

    This brings up a number of issues. Are they Christians? If so, why ignore the clear command to be baptized? Were they abused?

    Then there is the issue of the the on the Cross with Jesus. Ater his affirmation of the goodness of Jesus, Jesus said “Today you will be with me in paradise.” The thief was not baptized yet is in paradise

    In the end, though, I leave salvation in the hands of the One with the higher pay grade.He knows what He’s doing. I, on the other hand, need to be ready to stand before Him and am glad that Jesus is on my side when I do so.

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  21. RZ: If there are any other ELCA people reading this who remember the Green Hymnal that was published in 1972, my mom was on the national Worship Committee that created that hymnal.

    I attend an ELCA congregation in my town.

    RZ: Today I don’t consider myself a Christian, but I will always be a Lutheran. I feel like the church I know and love gives me the freedom to live in that contradiction.

    I hold to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed as non-negotiable parameters and on that basis I call myself a Christian. The stuff beyond those tenets? I pick and choose as I see fit.

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  22. Max: The current wilderness I’m in actually feels pretty good … He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own. After his conversion, the Apostle Paul spent 3 years in the Arabian desert to get his spiritual head screwed on straight. There’s something to be said about wilderness-time.

    As usual, max, your thoughts are wonderful. What an interesting thought about the wilderness wandering.

    Max: I suppose I have a touch of PTSD inflicted by the new reformation and find it therapeutic to vent on TWW. I realize I get a little “Christianese” every once in awhile, but I just speak from my personal experience. Thanks for putting up with the ole guy. Oh, and I’m too old to learn how to be a good Lutheran.

    There are no good Lutherans. They are all a mixture of saint and sinner. We are not putting up with you. You are amazing and I’m sorry you went through a bad experience.

    There is no question that my husband and I have a touch of PTSD. When we realized that our church probably got the infamous letter, Bill told me to ask them if we could attend as nonmembers if they felt like they needed to throw us out. What a relief that we found the good guys.

    As I have said before, I am a bit of a handful.

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  23. Afterburne: the sheer openess of their practice feels like not quite enough structure even for me.

    Silent meetings have a structure. It’s just not well known, and it varies somewhat.

    A typical silent meeting opens with a time of quiet. When someone feels moved to speak, they rise and say what they have to say. A few minutes of silence typically follow. Then someone else speaks. The words are believed to be inspired by the Inner Light (that of God in every person), and a theme should form. At many meetings, particularly if disparate themes have emerged, a more experienced Friend will speak near the end of the meeting and draw the threads together.

    Some meetings have children in the room at the beginning (before First Day school), even though children are not necessarily quiet. Some meetings start First Day school at the same time as the meeting, and invite children to join the meeting near the end, so that they can hear the developed messages.

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  24. Friend,

    “I just checked, and all four of my old Quaker meetings are currently gathering by Zoom. There’s something rather Dadaist about that”
    ++++++++++++++

    looking up ‘dadaist’…
    .
    .
    “…an art movement of the European avant-garde in the early 20th century, with early centres in Zürich, Switzerland, at the Cabaret Voltaire…”
    .
    .
    …i’m going to need remedial dadaist tutoring, friend.

    (gotta be able to show of when dadaism comes up at the Thanksgiving table)

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  25. dee: wilderness wandering

    I used to wonder about the wandering of the Israelites for 40 years, until I came across this verse:

    “You shall remember always all the ways which the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart and mind, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

    The wilderness experiences in our lives are designed to humble us, test us, until we know what is really in our hearts. So when we wander away from “church”, we may not be off-track at all – we may be on a journey with Him.

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  26. elastigirl: remedial dadaist tutoring

    YouTube has a Dadaist masterpiece of 1929 called “Ghosts Before Breakfast.” It bears no resemblance to a Friends meeting. I’d post the link, but my understanding is that some good soul on TWW would have to watch the whole movie to make sure it is not unsuitable. Dee signed up for a lot, but maybe not a 9-minute Dada movie.

    Anyway, I’m not good enough at silence to do silent Zoom. Kudos to all who are.

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  27. dee,

    “This brings up a number of issues. Are they Christians? If so, why ignore the clear command to be baptized? Were they abused?”
    ++++++++++++++

    ayeesh — which brings up more issues…

    (this is like one of those paperfolding fortune telling things that keeps unfolding and unfolding…. i think in 3rd grade i was supposed be marrying Steve at morning recess, and then Kevin at lunch recess…)

    -what is a Christian (with a capital C)?

    -is baptism a command, let alone a clear one?

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  28. Max: we may be on a journey with Him

    Lovely thought, Max, and it happened in biblical history:
    Noah took his family on a sailing adventure.
    Abraham left to set out on his own.
    Joseph went to Egypt.
    Moses left civilization, and raised his family, tended herds.
    Elijah was in the wilderness.
    David spent a lot of time out with the sheep, in his early years.
    Joseph & Mary took baby Jesus to Egypt.
    John the Baptist: people went to see him in the desert.
    Jesus, 40 days/nights in the wilderness, just before his brief ministry.
    Paul had tutoring or mentoring, apart from the groups.
    John was on an island when he received a great revelation, on our behalf.

    God definitely has a way of taking us places while being present for us in myriad circumstances and creative ways. May we each dwell in His presence & in peace.

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  29. Dee,
    Thank you for your story of finding a church where you felt loved and valued. I have been in my current church for 20 years. Our new pastor who came four years ago is very much against “woke” and “left.” As I lean slightly to the left in several areas, because I didn’t support the last administration, I am getting more and more uncomfortable. However, we are masking and requiring sign-ups for church (we can be officially open now) per the local guidelines, and we’ve added another service. That means the pastor preaches 3 times on Sunday (45 minute sermons). My respect for him has grown as he didn’t take the MacArthur route, and he is Master’s grad. I continue to pray…my roots there are deep, and the thought of leaving scares me. But, if if comes down to adopting a certain political belief system, I will probably be gone. Your story gives me hope that there will be something new waiting for me, too, if and when the time comes.

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  30. RZ–my only complaint about my current synod is that we do not use the green book, setting 2. We are Lutheran but no longer ELCA. That setting will always be the “right” liturgy and “right” tunes to it to me, lol. Gives me fits trying to sing with the same words or very similar but very different music.

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  31. Ken P.: I always am happy when someone finds a church they loves and loves them back, as long as the church is orthodox in their beliefs.

    Well stated. Thx. The plumb line.

    “Amos pleaded with God to relent his judgment and, in their place, God places a plumb line. A plumb line is a weight suspended from a string used as a vertical reference line to ensure a structure is centered.”

    (Nothing to do with love-bombing, which is NOT love, but manipulation.)

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  32. This is a timely post, thank you.

    I grew up in evangelical churches but left in college and was “saved” by a Lutheran and an Anglican in my 20s. Returned to evangelical churches and have been burned multiple times now by the Calvinista takeover.

    We’ll be looking for a new church once things open up sufficiently. My husband wants to give evangelicalism one more shot; I’m ready to try mainline. So, we’ll see.

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  33. Jeffrey Chalmers: NOO.. you have to do it the “correct way”, OUR way…

    Good point. I believe it was “Ishy” and “HUG” who posted red flag lists for cults in their comments on recent previous posts, and the “my way or the highway” leader is a cult leader red flag indicator.

    OTOH, if leaders like White in the last post would actually just uphold the law (Rule of Law) and seek the Common Good, bottom line, that would be a good thing.

    The “my way or the highway” of the cult leaders has nothing to do with ethics, unfortunately. Quite the opposite, it seems. Entrapment, not ethics. Night & day difference.

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  34. I grew up in Anglican and Lutheran conservative churches. My father read the Bible to us each evening and we had family prayers. The people in our church were very faithful Christians and it was a center of our lives. As a teen, I went with a friend to her church where a young couple from Wheaton College told us about their faith. I was so excited to hear from someone who sounded like they were from our cburch.
    I later decided that I wanted to transfer to Wheaton and that’s when I discovered the Evangelical world. Unfortunately my first room mate was living a pretty secular life but I soon met many other wonderful Christians and grew in faith though. However, I always felt that other students would think I came from some strange liturgical background. And some might even accuse me of not being a Christian because I did not come to my faith in their prescribed way. When our family went to church, we were entering the Lord’s house and would say a prayer by ourselves before the service. From my perspective, mega churches seem like auditoriums with concerts and motivational speakers. There is no humility or confession to accept Christ’s forgiveness of our sins. Some of the prayers passed down to Liturgical services from the past are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. I just wanted to write this from my perspective as someone who was not brought up in an Evangelical church.

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  35. Friend,

    Friend,

    He has pretty much said that Christians should only vote for the R party (for all the reasons you always here). He is the first pastor, of the four we have had in my time, who has said that. But, he has backed off a bit recently, so I’m hopeful. I have come to the conclusion that this whole pandemic situation has polarized people on the right or the left. I make people I know on both sides angry when they realize I’m not “consistent” in my beliefs-example, I’m pro-life, but i’m also appalled when kids are separated from their parents at the border. We have lost both nuance and centrism in the past few years.

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  36. We left the Calvary and Vineyard circuit thirty years ago for a smaller Methodist church and have had no regrets. When first married we rented a duplex from a retired Lutheran pastor whose wife had a deep dark secret, she hated lutefisk, and had to hide her distaste every year at the annual lutefisk dinner. In the Seattle area that is a big deal! They were a wonderful couple and ultra intense Uno players.

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  37. Muff Potter: So who believes babies are not ‘saved’?

    If the question is: so who believes not all babies are saved…
    I’d submit that Calvinists believe not all babies are saved. The WCF says “Elect infants, dying in infancy, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who worketh when, and where, and how he pleaseth.” Would follow then that nonelect babies are not saved.

    Also having come across grandparents very concerned with regard to their unbaptized grandchildren, it seems at least some Catholics believe that unbaptized babies are not saved, although I don’t know that the church actually teaches that they have no hope of salvation.

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  38. Cynthia W.:
    “I don’t know that the [Catholic] church actually teaches that they have no hope of salvation.”

    It does not teach that.The Catholic Church teaches that the souls of all are in the hands of the almighty and most merciful God.

    But the thing about “unbaptized babies” is a folk belief, the remnant of some serious Theological speculation in the Middle Ages that resulted in a “Salvation by Baptism Alone” obsession. Like Baptism was the Altar Call/Sinners Prayer of its day. Platonic Body/Soul Dualism (Spiritual Good, Physical Baaaaaad) was probably a factor.

    (Something I read 30 years ago (source lost to time, credibility unknown) even claimed that at one time abortion was OK as long as you squirted Holy wWter into the womb first to baptize the fetus you were about to abort, and that elabprate equipment was devised to do this. Most likely an Urban Legend, but even so, it illustrates how off on a tangent things could get.)

    Remember, the RCC and EO have had twenty centuries to accrete various folk beliefs and folk religion around the actual (pre-Gospelly) Gospel. And with that many people over that much time, some of that folk accretion is going to get weird.

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  39. Bridget: I think it happened before the pandemic. It was in place by mid 2017.

    But the isolation of the pandemic ramped things up.
    As Gordon Dickson wrote in his novel Necromancer (backstory of his Childe Cycle), “Everyone now isolated… The forces of Unreason will grow.”

    Don’t want to load down this comment with links, but just Google “QAnon as alternate reality game” for the most blatant example of this. Isolated, alone, except for Social Media free-for-all (with AI algorithms that result in Echo Chamber effect…

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  40. Muff Potter: I cannot see myself ever going back to an angry, vindictive, down right mean God. Not now that I have really met Jesus.

    Muff, you have just opened a theological can of worms that consumed one helluva lot of Theologians’ time and energy from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance.

    “WELLLLCOMMMMMMME TO LIMMMMMMMMMBOOOOOOOO…”
    — George Carlin, “Class Clown”

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  41. from the OP:

    “The rather flip way of practicing communion by a couple of my former churches was something that used to bother me.
    In pre-Covid times, they had weekly dinners which were cooked and served, not by the women, but by the men.”

    Glad to see this. My sense is that these two, the Eucharist and communal meals, belong together. The first instance, “officiated” by Jesus, was in the context of a group Passover meal, and there seems to be a connection between Eucharist and group meals in Paul’s first letter to the Church at Corinth.

    And, of course, there is NT warrant for gathered believers to “eat together with glad and sincere hearts.”

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  42. Linn,

    My pastors avoid any sort of politics, electing to pray for all people, including those in office. I am so grateful. I don’t know why my pastors have avoided the pitfalls of politics. One day, I’ll ask them.

    I;m sorry your pastor has made this mistake. I am beginning to think that it is due to everyone feeling out of control due to COVID. So, they attempt to control something else. So far, my pastors have not taken that route and Idoubt they will given their personalities.

    Chaplain Mike who took over for Michael Spencer at the Internet Monk said that LCMS is loosening up. He is ELCA. My guess is that it matters which church one finds out there in the wilderness. I wish you well. It isn’t easy.

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  43. Ava Aaronson,

    Remember, I became a Christian in the deep, dark Boston area. Back then, we had to search to find other Christians. I was in groups with Catholics, Orthodox, Baptists, Methodist, etc. This experience taught me to find a good church, no matter the Christian denomination, etc. That attitude has served us well. Tha first night, sitting in this pretty stone church (built @2000), I was more open to joining a Lutheran church.

    I think I found a wonderful church. Even the founding pastors who occasionally fill in are. delightful. One of the students I work with told me the most elderly of the pastors emeritus’s was his favorite ever! I think it is the leadership that has produced this church. They are quite open which is evidenced by their acceptance of me. How does one tell one’s pastors, “Well, I expose churches who cover up sexual abuse? and an umber of people know who I am.?”

    God was so good to allow me to find this home.

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  44. dee: My friend, Anna from Sweden/Norway worked at getting me to like lutefisk. Nope…

    Did your friend, Nick from Scotland ever convince you to try haggis?

    (As a consultant, I occasionally traveled to our office in Scotland … employees there tried unsuccessfully to get me to sample that delicacy. I could never understand why they didn’t like biscuits and sausage gravy when they visited me)

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  45. Headless Unicorn Guy: And with that many people over that much time, some of that folk accretion is going to get weird.

    That is superabundantly the truth!

    Many Catholics do not understand many details of their own faith, and many non-Catholics understand even less (which is more understandable). It’s certainly an enormous body of history and literature.

    A key to much misunderstanding is that people aren’t clear on what writings have authority and which are just what some historical figure thought.

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  46. linda: Some are really pushing Christian Nationalism as the only way out of the mess our nation is in.

    That scares the seig heil out of me.

    Let us take a trip to Deutschland 1933, where Christians backed an Anointed One out of nowhere who would WIN the Culture War, Defending Traditional German Family Values (“Blood and Soil”) from the Communists and HOMOSEXUAL Decadence of Wiemar Berlin. (Never mind the side effects, he DID deliver.)

    “Rise of Evil” by Sabaton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q120sJeisY

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  47. Muff Potter: So who believes babies are not ‘saved’?

    https://reformedbaptistfellowship.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/letter-to-a-friend-about-matt-19-14-and-infant-salvation/

    “The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith…asserts only the salvation of ‘elect infants dying in infancy’, not all infants dying in infancy.”

    [Spurgeon of course struck out “elect” in his edition of the 1689 Confession, but ARBCA, Founders, etc. prefer the original wording: “elect infants”]

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  48. Dee–we are full on confessional, right by the hymnbook. We do the full liturgy. That has been the hard part switching synods for us–so many of the same words, but 20 years to a different tune makes it hard.

    As for lutefisk, my neighbor used to bring it to me with a plate of krumkake. She did not care how I disposed of the lutefisk:) Even dogs are known to hate it.

    But soup and sandwich suppers at church and tuna hotdish were popular. And seasonally, lefse.

    Mainly we ate BARS, the synodical official dessert I guess. And drank strong coffee by the gallon. Must have been a Norwegian thing, as most of the folks there were of that group.

    No matter how similar they look, never try to use lefse as tortillas. Or much of anything beyond house shingles in my book. But I would love some krumkake I did not have to make, or some date delights, or everything bars. The latter were my absolute fave and I never could wangle a recipe. Kolacky I will skip. And the saffron bread on Good Friday.

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  49. dee,

    Yes, leadership.

    Both you and Todd Wilhelm note repeatedly when leaders support or cover for or ignore predators in church circles. Most recently, White.

    Personally, I have looked for Common Sense from the $upporters in the pew$.

    However, catching some of this trial on PBS, it is interesting that when the leadership & experts all testify that procedures in place were not followed, at all, the rogue actor stands out as … rogue. Off. One very blatantly bad apple. None of his peers or superiors agree with his actions, and they say so with rationale.

    If church leaders did not have the predators’ backs, did not provide their cover, then it seems our churches would not be full of predators.

    Leadership is key.

    Your leadership fully embracing your family, knowing what you stand for and what you do, says a whole lot about your church. Squeaky clean & fully transparent. Inspiring.

    God bless.

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  50. Muff Potter:

    I hold to the tenets of The Apostle’s Creed as non-negotiable parameters and on that basis I call myself a Christian. The stuff beyond those tenets? I pick and choose as I see fit.

    Muff, your point about the Creed is indisputable. My comment was somewhat tongue in cheek, but who knows, maybe even my use of the word “somewhat” will land me in a fiery afterlife. Somehow though that just doesn’t sound like something a loving God would do to me, or anyone. I guess I’m on the Rob Bell detour through theology.

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  51. linda: RZ–my only complaint about my current synod is that we do not use the green book, setting 2. We are Lutheran but no longer ELCA. That setting will always be the “right” liturgy and “right” tunes to it to me, lol.

    I love setting 2!! I agree, the words & music fit so well. It has a flow that really works, and a certain joyousness that is unequaled. Back in the mid-70’s we used the guitar-based setting 4 as well in our church. There was a lot of grumbling from the older parishioners at first, but many came to appreciate it and enjoy the difference. By the end of the 70’s it began to feel a bit dated. It did not have the staying power of the 2nd setting, that is for sure!

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  52. I’ve always found the Lutheran churches I’ve been to friendly with a very “common sense” Christian outlook. One of my best friends who passed away recently was one of the most influential Christians in my life. We often discussed religion, the good, the bad and the ugly. As I drifted out of the faith, he never judged me as a ‘backslider’. Lol, I once said that I do the right thing not to curry favor from God but because it’s the right thing.
    He said “careful, Jack, you’re starting to sound like a Lutheran”. I always considered that high praise.
    I can see why that sort of faith could be appealing.

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  53. Jack,

    “Lol, I once said that I do the right thing not to curry favor from God but because it’s the right thing.”
    +++++++++++++++

    my agnostic and atheist friends and family do the same. as i see it, it doesn’t get more honest and integrous than that.

    in my view, they outshine all christians because they do the right thing at their own expense when no higher power is looking (so to speak) – simply because it is the right thing to do.

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  54. So true Max! But I did find where the priesthood of the believer and free grace without the rapture theology is hiding. Along with friendliness to science. What I find most appealing is what the church finds or believes to be truth is preached but without a whiff of manipulative appeal.

    Sort of “I will tell you the truth. If you believe it, great, if not, it is not up to me to somehow maneuver you into professing something when you are not really convinced.”

    There are for those not quite into Lutheranism also the Cumberland Presbyterians. They are whosoever will Presbies, sort of a cross between liturgical and Baptist without the rapture. I think you might like them. Free grace, whosoever will, evangelistic, apostle’s creed and Lord’s prayer, sometimes doxology and gloria patri but not always. At least that was my experience. Not quite everything you believe but close enough you might enjoy visiting them.

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  55. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dee, for telling your story. I hope you’re taking notes for your memoir—or autobiography—one day. You lead a most fascinating life—a life of ministering to countless hurting people—a life of ministering to those of us who seek to minister to others. To you and your family, a thousand blessings!

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  56. Max: Did your friend, Nick from Scotland ever convince you to try haggis?

    (As a consultant, I occasionally traveled to our office in Scotland … employees there tried unsuccessfully to get me to sample that delicacy. I could never understand why they didn’t like biscuits and sausage gravy when they visited me)

    You could try vegetarian haggis.

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  57. Now I’m going to tell a story on myself.

    I was 13 and my mother decided for me that I was going to get confirmed in a local Lutheran Church. It was LCMS, in fact. So I got taken down there every Wednesday and completely hated it for two reasons–1) I saw absolutely no good reason to memorize words from hymns and 2) the pastor (obviously) wanted us to go to church on Sunday. And while I was an early riser, nobody else in the house was, especially my parents. So no, I didn’t go to church either and I got to hear about it every Wednesday. Helloooo, 13 years old and no car keys.

    I almost forgot the last thing, the thing that made me said NO, no more. I liked to say, and I STILL say, almost 50 years later, “Hey.” Now I might vary that with “Hello” or “Howdy” but I say “Hey” a lot. This guy continually corrected me on this. Continually.

    I should also note that right about the same time this was going on, my parents were in the middle of serious marital problems, and my dad ended up moving out of the house for five months.

    It wasn’t long after dad moved out that I said NOPE on the confirmation classes. You might think that might have been an easy thing to do, but it wasn’t. My mother was (is) a full-blown paranoid schizophrenic and it was easy to flip her over the edge into a screaming tirade if I crossed her. My regular thing was to basically go along with what Mom wanted to avoid said screaming tirades. However, for whatever reason, I had fundamental disagreements (at least they seemed fundamental in my 13 YO mind) with that pastor and I told mom I wasn’t going any more. I still got yelled at because my siblings, seeing my example, decided they weren’t going to Wednesday afternoon church classes. (I guess it was supposed to be the church’s version of CCD, which was very much a thing back then.)

    Anyway, a couple of decades later I learned that this particular pastor was notorious within his area for his staunch conservatism. NOTORIOUS. I suspect that if he and I had not crossed swords over my refusal to memorize hymn lyrics and my use of the word “hey,” it would have eventually been something else. (Dating myself here.) Like the criminality of the then-current president of the United States, who was also mere months from resigning. I had a very strong opinion on all that mess for a 13 YO.

    One of my siblings later got confirmed in that church, again at the best of my mother, who called it “speedy confirmation for adults”. (My parents had, by that time, become devout attenders and contributors to the church.) The sibling went to all of the classes, went to church, got confirmed at Easter and the next Sunday was at the beach. The pastor expected sibling to be there for something (sibling had gotten roped into something immediately) and sibling was all NOPE, I’m hitting the beach. I got to talk to pastor for the first time in nine years that Sunday morning when pastor called up looking for sibling. Yeah, it was a bit tense.

    And that’s my story.

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  58. We went to a main line church on Sunday when they were having baby dedications.It was so funny as they had a special supplement to their order of service and we were totally lost.We sat when you were supposed to stand and stood when you were supposed to set.We cut out early but I might go back.Why,no one gave us on of those “Christian frowns” they made eye contact with us ,but not in a freaky love bombing way.Also they feed the hungry 1 day a week and have a social hour before service and after.Also they have a good reputation in the community, the test will be if they can stand my singing!! HA HA.

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  59. elastigirl: in my view, they outshine all christians because they do the right thing at their own expense when no higher power is looking (so to speak) – simply because it is the right thing to do.

    It depends on the motivation of the Christian. Are you good only to “please God”? Or is ‘goodness’ only linked to the rules and trappings of law?
    Or is the gospel an example of a greater good that serves as inspiration for your own free will? I think this is key to understanding how abuse can go on in religious settings like church camps. I already did my thought experiment. I don’t consider my self a “believer” so am already darned by most religious definitions. And yet I still feel better doing the right thing. Try not to lie and I don’t steal or cheat or take 11 items into the 10 item or less checkout line.
    Perhaps people need to get off the holy hamster wheel and focus less on heck and more on here.

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  60. elastigirl: in my view, they outshine all christians because they do the right thing at their own expense when no higher power is looking (so to speak) – simply because it is the right thing to do.

    There’s plenty of hypocrisy in religion, agreed. It doesn’t necessarily follow that religious people do good solely because otherwise they will displease a deity.

    Christianity is a distinctive faith with a 2000-year history, more like 4000 if one includes its Jewish roots, and more still if one accepts other ancient notions and stories woven in. Core beliefs, Scripture, prayers, and customs make Christianity unique despite its many variations. Most humans understand something about reconciliation; the parable of the Prodigal Son gives Christians a distinctive way to reflect on the need to forgive, embrace, and shed resentment.

    Other religions are so, so different from Christianity, even if humans generally have the same goal of not causing harm. We used to have friends who were Jains. Their notion of not causing harm included not eating carrots and other root vegetables, because harvesting them can harm small creatures in the soil. I could never be a Jain, but I do admire that sensitivity to the Earth.

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  61. Friend: Their notion of not causing harm included not eating carrots and other root vegetables, because harvesting them can harm small creatures in the soil.

    I wonder if they feel the same way about water treatment for safe drinking since it involves the killing of water-borne protozoans and parasite larvae?
    If so, they’re just as loopy-goofy as the most ardent fundagelical in Tennessee.

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  62. Friend,

    elastigirl: “in my view, they outshine all christians because they do the right thing at their own expense when no higher power is looking (so to speak) – simply because it is the right thing to do.”

    “It doesn’t necessarily follow that religious people do good solely because otherwise they will displease a deity.”
    ++++++++++++

    then what’s the point of the deity, as far as behavior goes?

    i’ve long been…(what’s the word) frustrated, disappointed, disillusioned as I’ve listened to christian rhetoric extolling the virtues of God’s ability to “change our nature”, the fruit of the Spirit, etc. and this being the exclusive domain of “card-carrying christians”

    they brag about it. it’s usually a humble brag. but it’s bragging. always.

    (in the same way that someone selling multi-level marketing products brag about what they’re selling. with good motives.)

    keeping with the selling idea, sometimes christian rhetoric is done to discredit everyone who is not a card-carrying christian. denigrating them by calling them “the world”, accompanied by assaults on their character. for how could they possibly be anything but some goblin-like creature.

    so my whole life i’ve heard these things. in my reading, i typically run across them most days.

    …while simultaneously observing people who are not christians exhibiting character and behavior choices that are of the highest integrity and ethical caliber.

    i think christian theology to some degree spouts from a drunken stupor that misses these patently obvious things with eyes wide shut.

    i’ve reevaluating everything for a number of years, a process that is accelerating.

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  63. Muff Potter,

    You’ve exceeded my knowledge of Jain beliefs, although I have read that some of them do filter water. Given the state of the environment, I won’t scoff at people who tread lightly on the Earth.

    In general I don’t know how loopy or goofy it is to follow strict dietary laws. Wouldn’t that depend on how punitive the religion is, how rigid, mired in guilt, unsustainable?

    I’ve raised native insects for, hmm, going on 20 years. They don’t benefit me in an obvious way (nope, no honeybees in my care). But good heavens, they bring me joy. I love helping them and knowing that I’m healing my tiny patch of the earthly Kingdom. To me this is Edenic.

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  64. elastigirl: then what’s the point of the deity, as far as behavior goes?

    I suspect that most Christians will point to Jesus and salvation. (Have at it, Max!)

    Since you and I seem to be Americans steeped in First Amendment rights, I’d add that faith and church membership are completely optional. God doesn’t automatically make people good, either. I do believe that a faithful life of prayer and study of Scripture will help to build the Christian’s conscience in a distinctive way. However, first we have to steer clear of abusive teachings and toxic congregations…

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  65. Friend,

    elastigirl: “then what’s the point of the deity, as far as behavior goes?”

    “I suspect that most Christians will point to Jesus and salvation. (Have at it, Max!)”
    —————————

    i observe people who haven’t gone in a Jesus/salvation direction have the highest integrity and kindness behavior. but i’m repeating myself.

    since the practical benefits of “Jesus” are available to everyone without going for a membership

    (just like the music ed membership i just cancelled because all the content is on youtube anyway),

    does “Jesus” amount to a ‘get out of hell free’ card (“free to me” at least)?

    something is really not jiving here.
    ———

    “I do believe that a faithful life of prayer and study of Scripture will help to build the Christian’s conscience in a distinctive way.”
    ++++++++++

    distinctive how?

    my muslim and buddhist friends are the finest human beings, each with a conscience which for them means lying, cheating, selfishness are beneath them (among other scuzzy character things).

    perhaps a christian life of prayer and scripture is distinctive, but I do not observe it as being ‘better’ or more effective.
    .
    .
    thank you for responding in this conversation, in general. i’m sort of flying right through the molten middle of one of my kilimanjaro-faith-crises.

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  66. elastigirl: perhaps a christian life of prayer and scripture is distinctive, but I do not observe it as being ‘better’ or more effective.

    Since I believe in free will, I think results are better only if people actually put in the effort. Fair warning, though, I have a lot of respect for other religions as well as for people who don’t follow a religion. I don’t believe that Christianity is the best or only true religion. One of my remaining Quaker beliefs comes from George Fox:

    “…be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come, that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them; then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

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  67. Friend,

    “I have a lot of respect for other religions as well as for people who don’t follow a religion. I don’t believe that Christianity is the best or only true religion.”
    ++++++++++++++

    thank you for sharing this.

    in my experience, this runs counter to the christian party line (at least the evangelical party line). how have you managed to remain in the christian church institution?

    (or are your toes curled backward like mine, but endure it anyway)

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  68. elastigirl: my muslim and buddhist friends are the finest human beings, each with a conscience which for them means lying, cheating, selfishness are beneath them (among other scuzzy character things).

    perhaps a christian life of prayer and scripture is distinctive, but I do not observe it as being ‘better’ or more effective.
    .
    .
    thank you for responding in this conversation, in general. i’m sort of flying right through the molten middle of one of my kilimanjaro-faith-crises.

    I’ve found that when you’re playing people Yahtzee and roll the dice, the percentages of jerks and fools winds up pretty much the same.

    I’ve known some fine Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus – and known some complete tools – as in just as bigoted or full of themselves. As an auditor I’ve found cheaters of all shapes and sizes. I’m careful not villainize or idealize anyone at this point.

    As for a faith crisis – I can’t say I know how you feel but I certainly can take an educated guess. I swung one way then another and then another. Read all the angry atheists, and the friendly atheists. Everything from Bart Ehrman and Richard Dawkins to NT Wright to the Koran (or Quran or q’ran) to the book of Mormon, and a variety of books, articles, documentaries ad nauseum.

    Read lots and keep an open mind. Eventually you will come to your own happy medium (or at least acceptance of the world as it is and not as someone tells you it should be)

    I consider myself “culturally christian” since that’s the culture I most identify with and was raised in but universalist in religion. Nobody has it right all the time.

    I’ve used the gospels as an example of how to live but discard a lot of the rest of the bible.

    Part of my failed bible study was to read the bible for a year, eventually daily readings became too much – I kind of lost interest when Noah cursed a nation because he got drunk and naked (500 years old no less!). Then the whole Abraham slave girl baby thing just did it for me. The old testament just doesn’t resonate….at all. I see why people ginsu the bible all the time, as a literal story – it’s quite horrible.

    Anyways, peace to you. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

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  69. elastigirl: how have you managed to remain in the christian church institution?

    My sainted grandmother said that I had faith as a tiny child. She was very strict but also ecumenical, taking me to her mainline church, to a Billy Graham Crusade, and to a convent, where she had friends among the nuns. The variety was wonderful to me. Later I went to school with Jewish children, lived next door to Muslims, got to know some Hindus, met the Jains, spent time in an Iron Curtain country, and even served as matchmaker to my boss the atheist.

    I truly do love many forms of worship and houses of worship—even my own! It’s mighty special to learn what makes people tick. No matter how many verses get tossed my way, I cannot believe that a merciful and loving God would condemn people for following the religion or culture into which they were born.

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  70. Friend: You’ve exceeded my knowledge of Jain beliefs, although I have read that some of them do filter water. Given the state of the environment, I won’t scoff at people who tread lightly on the Earth.

    That’s why I was careful to stipulate ‘if so’, whether it’s Jain or aging hippies, what you’ve described with carrots and other root-based veggies really is loopy-goofy.
    I stand on my comment.
    Nor do I scoff at environmentalism, here in Southern Cali the light pollution has gotten so bad that I can no longer make out many of the constellations I grew up with. It makes me both sad and angry at the same time.

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  71. Jack,

    “I’ve found that when you’re playing people Yahtzee and roll the dice, the percentages of jerks and fools winds up pretty much the same.

    “Read lots and keep an open mind. Eventually you will come to your own happy medium (or at least acceptance of the world as it is and not as someone tells you it should be)”

    “Nobody has it right all the time.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    yes, some true things, there.

    An open mind I have — i’m counting on a sasquatch and an alien whose bucket list has “see a human” in the number one spot, and that fate will bring us all together.

    yes, the world as it is (natural and spiritual) is what i’m after. I think faith is a component just like hydrogen is a component, and i think logic and common sense are boundaries of faith.

    no body has it right all the time. i find that comforting, for some reason.

    thanks for chiming in.

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  72. Friend,

    “…No matter how many verses get tossed my way, I cannot believe that a merciful and loving God would condemn people for following the religion or culture into which they were born.”
    ++++++++++++++++

    thank you — it’s great (really great) to know that there are ‘faith fellows’ who don’t necessarily buy into the party line.

    i feel so totally alienated. if my fellow christians don’t buy into all the party rhetoric, they sure keep it to themselves.

    maybe i’ll make a T-shirt: “Fellow Christians, if you don’t buy into all the christian rhetoric, say so. I feel too alone.”

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  73. Dee,

    Thanks for sharing this post. I wish you had done it sooner. I love everything you mentioned about your church. Please pray for me as I go visit a few Lutheran churches and see what they are about. I had wanted to visit before this but it never crossed my mind again, not sure why. Anyways maybe introducing myself to a church that keep some of these wonderful traditions going is what a lot of us in the wilderness need. You sound very happy in your church it makes me want to seek out one similar or just like yours. Thanks again for sharing this it was a great read and an encouragement.

    By the way update on Billy. He will be starting off with a few classes this summer and then dive full time in the Fall. He is so excited about starting his life and career into biomed. engineering. Also your readers might want to know that Billy’s employer absolutely loves him. His work ethic is stellar and they are giving him about 50 hours a week!!! Can you believe it? This young man is helping mom out for a little bit by contributing to the household and stashing away his money to cover any extra costs he will have in college and of course his transportation. His job is going so well that customers are placing google reviews calling him out by name that corporate is going to be contacting him. He gets job offers all the time from Houston Businessmen who come into where he works. They watch how he interacts with the customers, his coworkers and engages them that they want to hire him on the spot. He’s offered cash tips but instead he uses the tips to share with the other employees and tells customers when they want to give him a tip but don’t have cash he says ” a cash tip is great however if you give us a good google review and tell my managers that you had a good experience that will be worth more to me than a cash tip”. Hence the reason for the influx of google reviews. He is killing it with the customers and his managers. He said for the first time in working since he was 16 that he absolutely loves his job his coworkers and especially the managers who run the business very professional and treat employees great! They have earned Billy’s respect completely. He pays it forward by helping out other employees one in particular who was kicked out of his home at 18. This boy works two jobs, go’s to school, and is sleeping on friends couches. Billy has offered him gift cards given to him and has been giving some of his tip money to help him out especially since his car broke down. Billy mentioned that he wants to help in any way he can because he knows what it feels like when he was going through his difficult time and people here helped him through it. Billy’s old principal wants to have billy work along side him helping him talk with kids (teen boys) who are struggling. This principal helped get billy through some of his toughest years in H.S. and believe me billy wasn’t easy but he related to him and they just hit it off. Billy thinks the world of this principal. His principal shared with me a month ago that Billy graduating and turning out as well as he has considering the trauma he went through is the reason why he wants to continue to work with teen boys in his school that Billy is an example that they can overcome whatever they are going through. Anyway I thought all of you here who remember Billy would want to know how he has been doing. That neither of us have forgotten you. I still can’t believe how far he has come and I never thought that time would have healed some of these wounds. Billy struggles with his ptsd but the great news is it doesn’t rule his life or interfere with the goals he has for himself. Billy recognizes the necessity of talking about it when he needs to and asking for help when it gets overwhelming. He said he wants to use his passion with cars to reach out to kids like him and those who need someone in their lives to show them they matter. Keep in mind I think the world of my son and i’m beyond proud of him. He has his short falls sometimes but overall he always comes full circle. I love his character, his heart, and his ability to handle life struggles as they come. I hope it was ok to share this with all of you here. I don’t want to pull away from the post because it’s great.

    We think the world of Dee and her passion for her blog i’m so proud to know her.

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  74. Muff Potter: That’s why I was careful to stipulate ‘if so’, whether it’s Jain or aging hippies, what you’ve described with carrots and other root-based veggies really is loopy-goofy.
    I stand on my comment.
    Nor do I scoff at environmentalism, here in Southern Cali the light pollution has gotten so bad that I can no longer make out many of the constellations I grew up with. It makes me both sad and angry at the same time.

    This is where folks can paint themselves into a corner. They’ll set themselves an impossible goal like “I will never hurt a living thing”. Your body is under attack by all forms of fungus & bacteria. If your immune system didn’t kill them then you’re hooped. So you kill by simply existing.

    Like the expectations of some of the churches discussed here. If you suffer then God wills it or it’s ordained. Therefore abuse becomes the will of God and the abuser his instrument! The idea of just deity becomes perverted.

    I once visited tonopah California which is supposed to be the darkest place in North America – that you can reach by highway I guess.

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  75. elastigirl: An open mind I have — i’m counting on a sasquatch and an alien whose bucket list has “see a human” in the number one spot, and that fate will bring us all together.

    Lol. I’ve seen a ufo but no Sasquatch. I know where there’s been a lot of sightings in our province so who knows. My wife thinks they are “not like us” which is why they can’t be located (Patterson film notwithstanding) Some folks that bigfoot & UFO’s are connected – look up the Bridgewater triangle.

    Happy searching!

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  76. Jack: They’ll set themselves an impossible goal like “I will never hurt a living thing”.

    I regret bringing Jain beliefs into this discussion.

    Jains are being dismissed here as 1) kooks who 2) set impossible goals for themselves.

    One of the Jains I know is an oncologist. He is fully aware that he is killing cancer cells in order to save human lives.

    Before we make any more assumptions, here is one link about a religion that I accidentally set up for ridicule.

    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Jainism

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  77. Friend: I guess it’s still hard to hear tone of voice on the Internet.

    That’s one of the reasons it takes me so long to communicate anything (and not just on the Internet). I’m (almost) always fighting with words….words and / or phrases can be (mis)read, (mis)heard, etc., in so many different ways. Sometimes intentionally. Sometimes unintentionally.

    More than once, I have wanted to comment on this post and conversation (or the next post and conversation on baptism and palm Sunday)….I have wanted to add my own baptism experience, but, in order to remain safe, I cannot. What I will add, however, is that I am a firm believer in infant baptism.

    Friend: I regret bringing Jain beliefs into this discussion….Jains are being dismissed here as 1) kooks who 2) set impossible goals for themselves.

    I am so sorry, Friend (and I cannot even find adequate words to express my empathy with you).

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  78. elastigirl:
    elastigirl,

    “…flying right through the molten middle of one of my kilimanjaro-faith-crises.”
    ++++++++++

    there’s lots of seats in the cockpit.anyone can teleport in.

    elastigirl & friend: “…flying right through the molten middle of one of my kilimanjaro-faith-crises.”
    ++++++++++

    there’s lots of seats in the cockpit. anyone can teleport in.

    . Nice to meet some fellow travelers!

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  79. researcher,

    You are so kind. I hope everyone is doing fine today (I am, for what it’s worth).

    I hope you will consider adding your voice as often as you feel inclined. Yes, you do need to feel safe enough to do so. This is generally a supportive group, respectful of TWW norms, and aware that others might not agree.

    We talk about things here that we often cannot discuss with family and neighbors. At a time when so many societies are both polarized and isolated, Dee hosts a gathering of responsible viewpoints.

    A couple of years ago, surprised me to learn that some people on TWW thought infant baptism to be wrong or weird, rather than just different. Over time, the group has moved beyond each person’s starting position, and explored nuances of teaching and individual experiences and viewpoints.

    We might not change our practices, but we can understand.

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  80. Friend: Before we make any more assumptions, here is one link about a religion that I accidentally set up for ridicule.

    Any religion can set it’s up for hypocrisy. That’s why I think they’re all wrong. There may be nuggets of truth and learnings we can reflect on but we don’t need to buy the whole enchilada.

    Nothing against practicing Jains or practicing anyone else.

    Did not click the link as I have no desire to ridicule anyone but I refuse to idealize anyone either.

    We are all equally human.

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  81. Jack: Any religion can set it’s up for hypocrisy. That’s why I think they’re all wrong. There may be nuggets of truth and learnings we can reflect on but we don’t need to buy the whole enchilada.

    Thanks, and I pretty much agree. We need to steer clear of excess and fanaticism in all areas, not just religion. That takes a working knowledge, common sense, life experience, abstract and critical thinking, a willingness to change and to admit wrong, and other things that people are not naturally good at.

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  82. I was raised in a Lutheran denomination that, way back then, had room for liberals to moderates to conservatives. But I eventually left it as it became way to the “left” of what I could accept. I never was very interested in non-liturgical churches. So that pretty much puts me in the Lutheran-Anglican-Catholic range.

    I have tried LCMS churches on and off. The one stumbling block for me is Young Earth Creationism, and the LCMS has doubled down on emphasizing YEC. I agree with Luther’s statement that “God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” I just can’t go with a few proof texts and deny almost everything science has discovered about the natural world. But when I look at the ELCA, I have to say “no” also. It’s frustrating – I feel like the Lutheran Church left me in one way or another, and each side has taken up something from the culture wars that I can’t go along with.

    I like the Anglo-Catholic approach but there were a few issues with a local Anglican church (long story). I thought of Rome but I’m not quite there. I thought about the LCMS and just keeping my mouth shut if they hand out Ken Ham pamphlets, but I know I would not be happy with that. I really am a man without a country at this point. I would welcome any suggestions.

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  83. I was baptized lutheran as an infant, but church going ceased at age six due to parental divorce. Was never confirmed. As an adult, I reconnected with my Christian roots after years of self study to find out what I really believe. I decided on a believer’s baptism with some opposition from family members. Husband, a confirmed Lutheran, couldn’t understand why I wanted a believer’s baptism when I was already baptized an infant. I told him this was my way of confirming original baptism since never had the chance so he finally “got it”. Mother thought I was negating my original baptism and was offended even though she was the one who stopped taking me to church at age six. She had her reasons at the time being an overwhelmed single mom so I have no resentment toward her for this. She finally understood after I reassured her a believer’s baptism just confirmed what she started. That said and done, I had a non denominational believer’s baptism, but I don’t have hang ups about infant versus adult baptism as too legalistic for me. I just want to be Christian.

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  84. Jacob: I like the Anglo-Catholic approach but there were a few issues with a local Anglican church (long story). I thought of Rome but I’m not quite there. I thought about the LCMS and just keeping my mouth shut if they hand out Ken Ham pamphlets, but I know I would not be happy with that. I really am a man without a country at this point. I would welcome any suggestions.

    It comes down to what is the best fit for you. I would recommend trying as many different congregations as you can. Keep in mind you can attend any church without becoming a member. Maybe you could go to an LCMS as an adherent. You don’t have to buy into everything.
    Happy searching!

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