Oh, right - I created a new blog. That's interesting. I should probably post in it. Um. I don't entirely know where to start, but here's my attempt anyway!
I've already been on a long spiritual journey, which I'll write about at some point. I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian church, until my parents left it (and my father became a Taoist). I then came and went from a couple of churches, up until university - when I got involved in the fairly-extreme Christian Union. It wasn't all bad, and I learnt a lot there - but among what I learnt was to condemn myself for who I am (gay, disabled and all that), to believe I was a very bad and sinful person who needed to feel terrible about everything I did, and that religion and spirituality of necessity had to be VERY HARD WORK. While I've moved on from some of these beliefs, some of them re-emerge when I don't really want them to.
After 'coming out' and realising that this branch of the church wasn't going to put up with me if I was shagging a woman, I started to move 'up the candle' (a slightly self-mocking term for moving into more ritualistic Christian traditions). I was confirmed in the Anglican church, and now attend churches that define as Anglo-Catholic - a very formal, ritualistic and often rather liberal branch of Anglicanism. I've found some wonderful things through these churches, from the veneration of Mary and the praying of the rosary to the pure joy of (relatively) ancient ritual. They've always welcomed me as an attached gay type (disability is more complex - we'll probably get to that). I feel that I have a deeper appreciation of my Christian faith thanks to this tradition. Which I am definitely not leaving.
However. I'm not spiritually fulfilled at the moment. I haven't been for quite a while, but these things tend to hit me all at once (I've got a condition that puts me on the autistic spectrum, so I'm really bad at noticing when I'm feeling or experiencing something). For a while I've been exploring more esoteric beliefs - on and off, of course, because my socialized internal voice that goes "Argh! It's a non-Christian spiritual belief!" tends to vary in volume. Influenced by my wonderful father and some other very good people, I've long been interested in crystals, meditation, non-traditionally-Christian forms of prayer, and some forms of alternative medicine (I generally think alt medicine should be peer-reviewed and subjected to double-blind testing, but I also believe that some types could operate outside of that framework - yes, I'm a confused little theologian) - among other things. The feminine Divine has particularly called me for a long time. I've read a lot of thealogy over the last few years, and explored Christian traditions around Mary, female saints, female Christian mystics, and the mysterious Sophia - who may or may not be a Judeo-Christian personification of the feminine Divine. I'm also interested in the gnostic gospels - although research shows that the 'they came first' theory is probably wrong, they do seem to reflect a way of 'doing' Christianity that is far more esoteric and mystical than most forms of the religion.
Where am I going next? I don't know. I'm fascinated by Christo-Paganism, which I've been reading a lot about. It calls me far more than Buddhism, so-called New Age practices, or Christian mysticism. This may be the next stage of my journey, or it may not be. I remain totally committed to God and to Christ, but I've long seen Christianity as relating to metaphors for the great Divine. How far I want to take the exploration of other metaphors, and whether or not these can truly be co-existent with my chosen spiritual metaphor, is more of a complex issue for me.
Things I want to write about here (and this list is mainly for me):
- Why I'm a Christian, what my Christian beliefs actually involve, and where they came from
- What I believe about belief (as a newly-developing sociologist of religion, and as a thinking amateur)
- What attracts me about other religions, particularly Paganism
- What I like and what I find difficult about the New Age movement and much of UK society's move towards an undefined spirituality
- What I like and dislike about secularism and atheism
- What practical and spiritual steps I want to take next