I was raised nominal Methodist but dropped out in college and became irreligious. I was Buddhist for several years. I took the vows of a bodhisattva and said the vows every day, as part of a lay oblate liturgy. Last year started becomming intellectually interested in Christianity, and I also realized intellectually I have big issues with some of Buddhist philosophy. And eventually I decided there was evidence for Jesus of Nazareth and alot of the claims of Christianity. I did identify with Jesus but I’m not sure in a way that other Christians necesarily do- I don’t want to go into the specifics of my personal spiritual experiences too much on that. I have been going to Methodist, and later Episcopalian and Anglican churches and I’m exploring a more broad-church or “catholic” type faith, and I’ve also visited several Orthodox churches (though its a farther drive). There aren’t alot of Roman Catholics near me. But after about a year or so of exploration, I have been seeing more and more issues with Christianity.
One thing I am not certaint about is how the theological stuff of Christianity fits with the Biblical narrative. Maybe I need to do more intellectual reading to try and piece stuff together. I have alot of people I know who are atheist and agnostic, and they find the Biblical God quite unappealing and even loathsome, especailly in the Old Testament. I know the standard apologetic anwers, but many of them just fall flat. IMO, there is no way to justify some of the things in the Old Testament, short of faith. These people I know, some of them aren’t evil or bad people, some of them have a deep sense of justice or concern, but they’ve chosen to reject the Christian image of God. One guy I know is an ex-Mormon who has found some peace in Buddhism’s meditation, but he’s disdainful of the religious aspects, whereas I found Buddhist rituals and piety spoke to my heart alot- he does not.
Christian worship and piety doesn’t always make sense to me. I am so used to just meditating and becomming calm and using that calmness to have a sense of openness or compassion towards other beings. Even if I feel bad or down, I could channel that sentiment towards solidarity rather than being bitter. I don’t understand exactly what Christian worship does. Sometimes I feel bewildered. Also, I had some experiences of something like “God” before, and after, but I’ve never gotten the sense that God is remotely anthropomorphic. I can’t describe exactly what God is like… I would say it’s more “impersonal” in some ways. I’m not used to Christian “God-talk”. “God’s will” is also baffling to me, since I’ve never heard a voice speak to me really and tell me what to do. In the past I always follow my heart, sometimes I just get flashes of intuition too… but never the sense that some James Earl Jones voice is booming down on me from on high. Plus alot of the Biblical narrative is just too bizarre- like much of the OT I talked about, with its thousands of rules and fixation on tribal identity and primitive/atavistic religion. I definitely can’t wrap my mind around Christian concepts of inerrancy and how the Bible can be “God’s word”.
Spiritual immaturity. I think alot of Christians are very spiritually immature in general. I’ve had alot of Christian friends online (on Second Life, I go to a congregation there, besides the ones I visit in RL) tell me they think I have alot of wisdom and humility, even though i also can have a forceful personality at times (I can be very blunt and to the point sometimes). OTOH, I have encountered alot of Christians out there who have simplistic ideas of spirituality and they seem to have issues dealing with people they disagree with. In fact this seems to be common among Christians. I’ve met some Orthodox, Catholics, and some more educated Protestants and the deeper intellectual stuff really appeals me to me more. I think the more high-church or tradition-heavy Christian groups have better spiritual formation. I also have considered Quakers, reading more about their history and practices.
To sum up, Christianity is not speaking to my heart so much. I miss my bodhisattva vows and sometimes I feel a deep sense of shame over not being a part of that anymore. Sometimes I feel Christianity is too narcissistic for me, it’s too focused on my own individual salvation, whereas the bodhisattva vows are about benevolence and solidarity/compassion. Anyawys, I look forward to hearing some thoughts or opinions on what I should do. I talked to a few lay leaders and a minister or two online. 2 suggested that I return to my Buddhist practice, one, an ordained British methodist minister, said it was OK if I had an atypical Christian experience, and not to give up too soon.