How does one "choose" a Belief System?

Jae

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Similar to @BetteTheRed, I come from an atheist father and a lapsed Christian mother. In my case Anglican rather than Catholic. My mom was the product of an Irish Protestant mother and a Jewish father.
I come from parents who were members of the UCCanada. My mom was the product of Presbyterian parents. My dad was the product of Roman Catholic parents.

It's interesting to me to reflect upon the current religious involvement of my family.

Mom - UCCanada/Baptist
Kae - Presbyterian
Jae - Baptist
Shae - Anglican
Suzannah - UCCanada
Dr. Rae - agnostic
Mae - non-denominational, evangelical megachurch
 

paradox3

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But P3, it's absolutely not about a choice, for you, is it?
Can you please explain further? I am not clear what you are getting at here & I am interested in understanding what exactly you are asking me.
 

paradox3

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I come from parents who were members of the UCCanada. My mom was the product of Presbyterian parents. My dad was the product of Roman Catholic parents.

It's interesting to me to reflect upon the current religious involvement of my family.

Mom - UCCanada/Baptist
Kae - Presbyterian
Jae - Baptist
Shae - Anglican
Suzannah - UCCanada
Dr. Rae - agnostic
Mae - non-denominational, evangelical megachurch
Yeah, a bit of mix but I bet you have lots in common with each other.
 
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BetteTheRed

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Can you please explain further? I am not clear what you are getting at here & I am interested in understanding what exactly you are asking me.
I see a choice about how you express your "beliefs", same as I see Mendalla's efforts to find a religious group that reflects his beliefs, and mine too; if there were an active UU congregation around here, I'd probably choose it as a spiritual home. I don't see a choice about BS.
 

Mendalla

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I come from parents who were members of the UCCanada. My mom was the product of Presbyterian parents. My dad was the product of Roman Catholic parents.

It's interesting to me to reflect upon the current religious involvement of my family.

Mom - UCCanada/Baptist
Kae - Presbyterian
Jae - Baptist
Shae - Anglican
Suzannah - UCCanada
Dr. Rae - agnostic
Mae - non-denominational, evangelical megachurch
Mine ended up pretty mixed, too, even though we were all raised UCCan. After Mom died, things shifted rapidly

Dad - Lutheran (ELCIC)
Me - UU, agnostic pantheist Epicurean by outlook
brother 1 - Missionary Alliance
brother 2 - unchurched and uncommitted and probably staying that way

Though Dad's conversion likely had more to do with his second and third marriages, both to Lutherans, than any real change in faith that I could see.
 
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BetteTheRed

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And wyrdly enough, in my family of origin, my father's atheism caused no stir. It was the fact that his family were C of E that was the problem.
 

Mendalla

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And wyrdly enough, in my family of origin, my father's atheism caused no stir. It was the fact that his family were C of E that was the problem.
My UU'ism could have been a serious source of friction if Mom had lived longer, but so would my brothers' moves. In the end, she was more concerned about family tradition than what we actually believed, I think. Though she was pretty pissed when she realized I no longer believed literally in the Christmas story, which was weird because she wasn't really a literalist in most regards. Again, I think it was the break with tradition more than the belief.
 

BetteTheRed

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I really only care that, if my kids are in my vicinity on Christmas Eve, or Easter morning, they show up with me. It's kinda a family thing; your payment for the egg/stocking/what have you... :p
 

Jae

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Suggests to me that it's God's choice...

"Then he opened to them wit, that they should understand scriptures." - Luke 24:45 (WYC).
 
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I would say it's not black and white. I didn't grow up in a religious home. We were culturally Christian, we had a bible on the bookshelf, but my parents were agnostic about belief. They let me go to various Sunday schools with friends, and told me I could choose myself when I was older. My out of province relatives were more religious than us. So, I had some exposure to Christianity.

I went to a Christian day camp, an evangelical one, with a friend one summer. There, they had the kids, on the last day of the camp, gather together and raise their hands and proclaim that we were taking Jesus into our hearts. Then there was applause and cake. I came home and told my mom, who got upset that they would do that to kids too young to understand (thing is, most kids already went to that church and their parents might've been there that day).

When my parents split up, my mom and I went either to that church or a similar one at a friend's invitation a few times - I vaguely remember - where my mom, a strong feminist at that point, but who was rebuilding her life and friendships - felt it was teaching misogynist ideas and we stopped going. She got into a bunch of self help seminar stuff that was like religion but that's another story - I think it did give her a BS, in both senses of the term.

I never forgot my experience though. God stuck with me - either in imagination or in reality, doesn't matter. Those lines are blurred with faith. I tried to not believe but it didn't work. There is a force, a Creator force, that has something to do with consciousness that I don't think we've scratched the surface of. Of course, that's my belief. And Christianity gives shape and form to it. And as a Way of being - Jesus makes sense. It isn't easy to live in a world that really, really, isn't kindly set up to follow Jesus - which helps me understand and feel connection with Jesus a bit better - but it helps to be part of a community committed to trying.

And, the amazing - at least I think so - thing is, now, 35+ years later, I am part of a community, many of whom used to attend that same church I went to that summer, and the one my mom and I went to - who are moving away from fundementalism and into a more "liberal" theology and grassroots, "emergent" way of doing church. It feels like home.
 
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My parents were raised Anglican/ Presbyterian/ United Church (my mom Presbyterian then United, my dad Anglican), my grandma was baptized Lutheran, became Anglican. Both of my parents left church, while in University, in the late 60's. They were married around that time in a United Church.
 
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Another coincidental twist (the more they happen the more one can't help but believe there's more to it)...my step dad, who joined my mom's, and my, life when I was 15, was raised Anglican. He probably saved our lives. His kids were baptized Anglican as infants but they disliked going to church. They lived, with his first wife, in the 70s, before we were acquainted, down the street from the same church I went to daycamp at that one summer - and the family started going there and my stepdad was adult-baptized by immersion, there. Though there may have been 100 different churches - that was a popular church in town, a new thing, in the 70s and 80s. His kids liked the exuberance. He didn't see any harm in it then, in his opinion - they were active in the community and hadn't gotten full into prosperity gospel. But, he eventually found it a bit too literalistic and left. One of his kids went the other direction into more fundamentalism. However, she's stepped back a bit, too. She's a good person, anyway. My stepdad has been the greatest Christian influence in my life even though he doesn't go to church on Sundays and isn't sure exactly what he believes, about God. In deed, he has been the best influence. He now volunteers at a Catholic soup kitchen. They are happy to have his service even though he is not Catholic.
 
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Pavlos Maros

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I see a choice about how you express your "beliefs", same as I see Mendalla's efforts to find a religious group that reflects his beliefs, and mine too; if there were an active UU congregation around here, I'd probably choose it as a spiritual home.
And that would equate to your belief system.
I don't see a choice about BS.
People aren't given a choice about believing in god, they were either born into it, (Indoctrinated.) Or they are pressured and coerced via peer and fear, (Inculcated).
 
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And that would equate to your belief system.
People aren't given a choice about believing in god, they were either born into it, (Indoctrinated.) Or they are pressured and coerced via peer and fear, (Inculcated).
Sometimes people go through a really rough time, that becomes some sort of existential crisis about the meaning of life, and they seek out faith and explore different belief systems themselves. It may be more rare but it happens.
 

paradox3

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I see a choice about how you express your "beliefs", same as I see Mendalla's efforts to find a religious group that reflects his beliefs, and mine too; if there were an active UU congregation around here, I'd probably choose it as a spiritual home. I don't see a choice about BS.
Ah, I see. You are differentiating between belief systems themselves and how we go about expressing those beliefs.

And you would say there is no choice involved in the former? BS arises from early exposure and our various life experiences? With little (if any) actual choice involved?

When it comes to expression of those beliefs we choose whether to take a solo path or join with a community?

There are other choices we make too. Do we hang out on a discussion forum like this & keep talking and reflecting on these things? How involved do we get in our church communities? Do we pursue various spiritual disciplines or not?

When I think about this I start to see a process unfolding. How we express our beliefs must influence how they evolve, don't you think? Maybe the question of choice is not a simple yes/ no dichotomy.
 

paradox3

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People aren't given a choice about believing in god, they were either born into it, (Indoctrinated.) Or they are pressured and coerced via peer and fear, (Inculcated).
Oh I don't think you can generalize like this. Some of us were exposed to faith communities as children and encouraged to make up our own minds. Truly.
 

paradox3

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Sometimes people go through a really rough time, that becomes some sort of existential crisis about the meaning of life, and they seek out faith and explore different belief systems themselves. It may be more rare but it happens.
Yes, it happens. Even without the existential crisis in some cases.
 

revjohn

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BetteTheRed said:
John, I just can't see the choice.
Which is fair and probably not that uncommon a phenomenon. Spiritual growth happens bit by bit not all at once. It is like that one day that we notice the waistband suddenly too tight on a favourite pair of pants. It didn't happen overnight, it has been happening beneath our notice.

BetteTheRed said:
I absolutely get the "not from scratch". I have walked on and off an ostensibly "Christian" path for more of my life than not.
And the off and on were never choices?

BetteTheRed said:
I came from atheists, and people who read a lot of books, for fun. Some sort of wyrd God-gene caused me to grow up as a Lutheran
Reading lots of book exposes you to lots of ideas. Some you gravitate towards and others you flee from. Choice is invovled in all of that. Not familiar with a wyrd-God gene that specifically infects individuals with Lutheranism. I suspect that it was less a wyrd-God gene and more of a regular God lure.

BetteTheRed said:
I am so culturally Christian that I can't divorce myself from that (Steinbeck, as much as anyone, with a soupcon of Montgomery's war horror plus a huge pile of Robertson Davies and Atwood).
Which would be the nurture aspect of faith. Intentional or not you were soaking in it. Not sure how pervasive Lutheranism was where you were. You identified it with what of God called out to you. You chose to respond.

BetteTheRed said:
I just don't see the choice. I see
BetteTheRed said:


Logic, properly employed, weighs options and makes decisions. It makes choices.

Yes, Canada was steeped in Christendom and most of our literature reflects Biblical themes. And yet, as wags will point out, there are any number of Christian denominations available to most of us. We choose which we feel fits us best. You didn't choose Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy and among Protestant Christian expressions there are the Quakers and Mennonites who may actually have a stronger social justice tradition than does the United Church of Canada albeit from a more traditionally Christian perspective.
 

paradox3

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Reading lots of book exposes you to lots of ideas. Some you gravitate towards and others you flee from. Choice is invovled in all of that. Not familiar with a wyrd-God gene that specifically infects individuals with Lutheranism. I suspect that it was less a wyrd-God gene and more of a regular God lure.
Oh yes, there is this, too. The working of God in the process we are discussing.
 
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