Elly: Questioning Christianity-of-Origin, Part 2

In yesterday's post I introduced you to Elly. In this second-half of her post, Elly gets into some specific questions.

The last section ended:

I feel judgment when I go to church with my family - judgment that I majored in Dance - a pagan interest for sure, judgment that I'm a vegetarian, that I practice yoga, that I'm not married yet, that I left the Midwest, and on and on. It's nothing I want anyone else to feel, and nothing I want to be a part of. Something attached to the name of Jesus should inspire love of the deepest, most joyful kind. I have hope that I'll be able to work out my faith and get to a point where I can more clearly define it, and also find like-minded people or groups as I move through my life.

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And now we continue...

* * *

So with that--here are a few of my many and random questions. And don't worry - I'm in therapy, so don't feel like you have to delve into the childhood thing :)

1 - What's the deal with Paul?
I am not, and never have been, much of a fan. I know the West got the Pauline version of Christianity, but I don't know how (Divinity, I think I was taught? God's plan?) or why, when I think back on the things I was told. It seems that Paul's teachings had a higher esteem thatn what Jesus said. He never even met the guy! (besides in his... vision... )

2 - Random, but intriguing nonetheless...

3 - Did Jesus spend some of his "mystery" years in India?
Would it change anything about Christianity if that was in the Bible? Other faiths and historical accounts refer to Jesus - is it invalid because it's not in the Bible, or could we learn more about him if we accepted the possibility of "extracurricular" texts?

4 - I'm reading "If God is Love: Rediscovering Grace in an Ungracious World..."
By Philip Gulley and James Mulholland. Universal grace... what... the... heck.

Definitely goes against everything I was brought up with, but I am enjoying the book, I think...

Okay... stopping now... I know you're busy, but even if there are some good links you could direct me to... I'd really appreciate it.

While a part of me is sad that I can't just accept the Christianity I was raised with (that would be easier, right?), I'm not just sweeping it under a rug or rejecting Jesus. I want Truth. I crave a connection to my creator--I'm human; therefore spiritual. I want to embody compassion, as Jesus did. I don't want to burn in hell. I also don't want to be Baptist. I want to know how to live, boldly, with some certainty if possible, with peace, with light.

Looking forward to hearing from you if you get a chance,


Ira said...

These are cogent questions, and probably familiar to many of us. They're certainly familiar to me.

And I suspect we all have different ways of handling those questions. I'm not sure my way of handling them would be attractive to Emily, but I can sympathize with the struggle.

Rhiannon Y Orizaga said...

advice from a historian:
About Jesus being a vegetarian or going to India, I'm gonna say it's veeeery doubtful. Apparently a lot of the stereotypes about Jesus (long hair, white robe) are common stereotypes about holy men in the ancient world. Your average holy man (?) like Apollonius of Tyana, Alexander of Abouneteichos, was said to have long hair, wear only white, be a vegetarian, go barefoot, heal by touching, prophesy, wander around, etc. The gospel accounts vary from this formula in that Jesus ate meat, drank alcohol, and wasn't incredibly handsome, which makes them seem MORE honest than some others. A lot of holy men were reported as having traveled widely, which almost always meant to India, because people in the Roamn Empire were vaguely aware of Buddhists and "gymnosophists" and associated the east with esoteric wisdom (kind of like we do). I would suggest, take everything with a big grain of salt & check who published the books, if it's a university press it's probably a reasonable thesis but if not I'd be skeptical.

Peter said...

Ooh, cool insights. Thanks Rhiannon!

elly said...

Thanks for the input, Rhiannon! I didn't actually read any of the books about Jesus in India--I'd just seen one while browsing at a bookstore and was surprised because I'd never heard that theory before. I don't know who published it--and doing a search just now revealed there are several books: http://books.google.com/books?q=Jesus+in+India&source=in&ei=oZpqS8rnFY2gkQXtmeCDBA&sa=X&oi=book_group&ct=title&cad=bottom-3results&resnum=11&ved=0CDMQsAMwCg

And about the vegetarian thing--it was an interesting article but I'm not hung up on knowing exactly what Jesus ate. However, we do know that he embodied compassion and always defended the ones who were considered worthless by their society. He also exemplified simple living. Based on these characteristics, I think it's safe to say that we are expected to eat with intention, to say the least. Our culture has taken food to the extreme--beyond what is beneficial for our bodies and the environment, which is sad. Here is a link to a blog that has a really long list of interesting links about food in our culture: http://postchristianblog.com/blog/signs-of-life-part-6-changing-food-as-we-know-it

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