“More Like an Agnostic with Christian Leanings”

Here’s a very nice letter recently in. If all “Dear John” letters were like this one, no one would ever fear getting one.

Dear John,

I’ve been reading your blog now and then for some time now. I went to Catholic school as a kid (because of the available subjects, not due to family or personal beliefs), and about that time came out to some friends. The consequences were quite devastating for the most part, but some reacted well, and eventually I got over it and went on with my life.

I had always had doubts concerning religion; after the time of my coming out, I felt I was better off as an atheist. Fast forward a number of years, and I’ve moved with my family to another country, I’m studying at university … and BLAM: existential crisis. I was torn. I had met some American Christian friends some time before who were really important for me, but coming out to most of them was not an option.

Then there was this one guy. I could openly tell him what was going on, and he was so so helpful. He’s Christian, straight, and a philosopher, and he was so convincing in his arguments that I just felt like looking up the stuff online. I had already performed a few searches about homosexuality and the Bible, and only found the usual stuff and became disinterested. But after talking to him, I had new keywords, and when I looked it up again, I found your blog and Anita’s Sister Friends Together.

I would not define myself as a Christian: more like an agnostic person with Christian leanings. But the fact that I’m even considering it is thanks to all of you. I found my confidence again, and I got past all the obstacles that were pulling me down against all odds. I’d be lying if I said I don’t think there might have been divine intervention on it.

Thank you for changing minds and saying these things openly. It is so, so deeply appreciated, that you cannot even imagine it. You gave me hope again. I think there are many teenagers getting their hope from here too, so please do not get discouraged, please keep doing this, because I’m sure you are making a difference. I’m not out enough to do any open contributions yet, but maybe I will in the future.

Thanks again, John. Never met you but you sure changed my life.

P.S.: Please excuse my mistakes, English is not my mother tongue. BTW, we lack blogs like this in Spanish, would you mind if I translated some of your articles (giving you due credit of course)?

Dear Person Who Wrote Me This:

My goodness; what a totally sweet letter! (In case you don’t know, “my goodness” is an English phrase mostly used by little old ladies—which, apparently, I have become. Cool! I love hats!) On behalf of me and the people who leave the great comments on this blog, thank you, very much, for your kind and encouraging words.

Your English is wonderful, by the way. Fantastic job! How you’ve managed to cram two languages into your head is unfathomable. I can speak about twenty words of Spanish, and half of those are curse words. My old lady hat is off to you.

Speaking of bilingualocityness (that is not a word, by the way; I’m so bad at English I have to make up my own words: it’s really sad), I would be thrilled if you translated any sentence I wrote into Spanish, must less a whole blog post. If you ever do translate any post of mine into Spanish, send it to me, and I’ll totally publish it on my blog. I would love the chance to bore, annoy, and anger people in Spanish, too. What fun!

Hey, if you read me to any extent you already know I feel this way, but just to say it again: thinking that being gay should or could stop you from being a Christian is like thinking that being left-handed should or could stop you from riding a bicycle. The two have nothing to do with one another.

I just yesterday finished a book (yay!) comprising just about everything I’ve ever written on the relationship between homosexuals and Christianity, forty or so letters from gay Christians, and a final essay titled, “Taking God at His Word: The Bible and Homosexuality,” which I believe once and for all ruins the credibility of the idea that in the Bible we have proof that God desires gay people to stop being gay.

Anyway, the last sentence of my introduction to that book is: “It is my hope that this book will help to once and for all banish the manifestly absurd and deeply toxic notion that God cares one whit more about a person’s sexual orientation than he does about the color of their hair.”

You can be red-headed; you can be left-handed; you can be gay. And none of those things have anything to do, at all, with whatever relationship you might care to have with God or Christianity. Being gay might interfere with your relationship with some Christians, of course, but who cares? That’s their problem.

God is real; God’s Holy Spirit inside of you awaits your attention; life is good (or, at least, to my mind, a lot better, with God). Love to you. Thanks again for the letter.


[Update, sort of: over on my FB page, evil if reasonably clever fan Kara Kerstetter, apparently inspired by something I wrote above, shared with the world this insufferable picture of her devising:

I swear, I don’t know how some of you sleep at night.]

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  • charles

    pretty cool…..

  • Donna W.

    Nice letter! And what a great affirmation of the work you do! Looking forward to reading your book. I love being equipped for educated rebuttal to narrow minded, bigoted people who believe they know so much more than they actually do. Years ago I found a wonderful book called “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” and I bought several copies and gave them away. I think it’s out of print now, so I’m glad that I’ll have a new resource from you! Can’t wait to get my hands on it!

  • Excellent!

  • Amate y paz a ti!

    Mi Espanol no es bueno… estudio in me colegio (?) en Arizona, no practico mucho en Philly… es una lingua bella.

    Oy, why try? Donde esta el bano? Yeah, I remember that phrase. It’s what I get for not keeping up practicing – and for living a plac where half the advertising isn’t in Spanish anymore. I wished “love and peace” on our writer, then proceeded to talk about how bad my Spanish skills were in Spanish, but it’s still a lovely language.

    I once had someone offer to translate one of my stupid fan fictions into Spanish because she wanted people to read it. I found it quite an honor. Imagining a whole blog given that honor – wow!

  • I’d like to see your old lady hat collection, John. Maybe you could do a SFC encore – it could be a SFC fashion show with old lady hats. You know, for shits and giggles.

    Oh, and I think you should also publish a dictionary of your made-up words. I love made-up words.

    But seriously, nice post. I like.


  • gretchen


  • Dave Burrows

    I have met a lot of Unitarian and / or smorgasbord style believers who are in same sex relationships. But, are you a deeply committed Christian in a same sex relationship? Please help me understand how that works. I’m hungry to know.

  • Misty

    Donna, here’s a blog series you might be interested in reading [http://pilgrimpathways.wordpress.com/category/ethics/homosexuality/]. It’s one of the most comprehensive educational resources I’ve encountered online regarding homosexuality and the bible/church.

  • An “agnostic with Christian leanings”, now that’s a new one. I hope for the day the writer is a Christian leaning Christian and it does appear they may be heading that way, Praise the Lord for that.

  • The writer

    Thank you very much for your reply! I loved it, hats and all :). I think your biligualocity is better than you say and that mine could be improved as well. We’ll

    work on that! Seriously, what you do is very important, life altering, because you create hope. Thank you very much, John (and your family, because I know you put some time that could go into them by doing this).

    I will start working on the translation as soon as I’m done with homework for the week. Are there any articles that you would assign a higher priority to? Also, when I finish, do I send you the article via the same form I contacted you or would you rather have me send you an email?

    To the writer in Philly, no sé dónde está el baño! Lol, it’s hard to speak a language when you haven’t used it in some time, but I’m sure you can pick it up fast if you are set on that. I can provide you links to free content in Spanish if you’d like.

    Thank you to all those who commented as well, this site attracts a lot of wonderful people and that shows the readers that these views are shared by many. Your words help others.

    Amor y paz (love and peace)!

  • Donna W.

    Thanks, Misty. I’ll check it out.

  • Suprisingly, it works about the same as being a deeply committed Christian in an opposite sex relationship. Funny that…

  • Lymis

    The book you reference is still in print in a revised edition, available at Amazon, at least.

    And I can’t wait for John’s book, either.

  • whoops: you won’t find the original sharing of that Old Lady picture of me here on this wall anymore. Apparently in moving the pic from here to my blog I accidentally deleted it. Just as well!!!

  • accidentally? yeah…sure….uh huh….

  • Donna W.

    So glad to hear that! I’ll have to get a new one and see how it compares with John’s. I especially appreciated the detail they went into to explain some of the “clobber verses” that John talks about, but I haven’t read it in years, and things tend to fade from this old brain. It was a wonderful book, but somehow I think John’s will be more easily accessible, if you know what I mean. He’s such a wonderful writer.

  • yeah, I don’t know what happened. I totally accidentally hit a button and then hit a button and then read what it said and hit a button. I have no idea how it happened. Oh, well. The internet is weird like that.

  • Well, having made a snide remark, I must add that I love your blog and your FB posts. Thanks for what you do.

  • What Cindy said.

  • I’m hungry to know how a deeply committed Christian loves and is loved by God any differently than the smorgasbord style believers.

  • Dave Burrows

    I guess what’s surprising is that I’ve not had the opportunity to observe it. I am a 53 year old celibate gay man, and father of a son headed for the priesthood. In the past 11 years, I have been involved in an Anglican church where I am accepted as such. I just have yet to meet other gay folk who want more than anything to serve the Lord. I want to see his face, for the door to be opened. That hasn’t happened. It feels lonely.

  • thanks, gene. it’s always good to hear from you.

  • Val P.

    “Thinking that being gay should or could stop you from being a Christian is like thinking that being left-handed should or could stop you from riding a bicycle.”

    I would have to say that SOME left-handed people – like me – should and do use much care when doing coordinated things such as riding bicycles. I have broken four arms, one on a bicycle. and as the good Lord only gave me two arms, that is quite a lifetime accomplishment!

    That being said, I have several very dedicated and devoted Christian friends who happen to be gay, and I am thankful everyday for God blessing me with their friendships.

    It is good to find a place like this, where love and acceptance flows freely. Thank you John for all you do.

  • Dave Burrows

    I don’t think you get to pick a little Christianity, and a little Buddhism, with a side of your favorite Tao dressings, Christy. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me.” Discerning what God expects of us as Christians is quite another thing altogether. Is homosexual behavior outside of marriage a sin? Is homosexuality an abomination, or was that written from the perspective of those who lived then? And if so, where will that slippery slope take us?

  • Hola, original writer!

    Hmm. Well, how about translating this piece:


    That’d be awesome! Thank you!

    You can email it to me at john@johnshore.com

    nice. thanks!

  • I do. YOU believe that Jesus said that and that’s what is true, but just because that’s your truth doesn’t mean it’s everyone else’s. I think we shouldn’t be so prideful to believe that our personal truths and beliefs should be more important than our neighbor’s.

    Just saying.

  • Val P.

    Dave – my husband and I participate in the music dept. at a medium sized Episcopal church, where the choir director is gay, and his partner is a fine baritone. They have been together for over 20 years. We belong to a large Methodist church, and the gay couples have their pictures in the church directory. Just like everybody else. It’s not a big deal where we live. I don’t understand why it should be anywhere.

    I know it IS different elsewhere – and I sympathize. I will pray that one day everyone will be treated with dignity and respect.

  • Dave Burrows

    Yes, I believe that Jesus said that. Without a foundation, what have you? There is one and only one ultimate truth. Would you argue that point?

  • Dave Burrows

    I also wish it were as you experience it elsewhere. Even if homosexuality is a sin, and I’m not totally convinced it is, why is it any different from another? But my question remains; are you are seeker of God, and of his righteousness, whatever that may mean? Do you, as a gay couple, want to know God, and to put him first in your lives? Do you, like I do, want to see God’s face, and for that door to be opened? Since I was a child, I have knocked, then pounded, then waited in silence for that door to be opened, but it’s hinges have not given so much as a creek.

  • No, I wouldn’t. The trouble is we have given that Truth different names and are blinded by ego such that what our neighbor calls the same ultimate Truth as we do, we say, “No. You are wrong. God is like this. God has this name. And if you don’t experience God in the same way I do then you are wrong, and I am right.” But when we are able to stop and look with honest eyes, shed of our ego glasses, then we can see that the Ultimate Truth is the same, even though we use different words.

  • Dave, you are not alone. I used to beg for God’s presence, for God to make God’s self known. To make that bird fly away or land at just the right moment. To reveal a powerful passage of scripture when I opened the Bible and pointed. And it took over 30 years to discover that it doesn’t work that way.

    I’ve posted this multiple times on John’s page before. I personally never get tired of reading it. There’s a wonderful book called Leaving Church by Barbara Brown Taylor. She is a beautiful, gifted writer as well as an Episcopal priest. She too has struggled with her faith. She writes:

    “These are grim times, in which the God of our fondest dreams is nowhere to be found.

    But down in the darkness below those dreams — in the place where all our notions about God have come to naught — there is still reason to hope, because disillusionment is not so bad. Disillusionment is the loss of illusion — about ourselves, about the world, about God — and while it is almost always painful, it is not a bad thing to lose the lies we have mistaken for truth. Disillusioned, we come to understand that God does not conform to our expectations. We glimpse our own relative size in the universe and see that no human being can say who God should be or how God should act. We review our requirements of God and recognize them as our own fictions, our own frail shelters against the vast night sky. Disillusioned, we find out what is not true and are set free to seek what is — if we dare.”

    Not to spam John’s page with my blog, but I wrote about looking for God and finding, being open to what is quite recently right here: “Sol de Gloria” http://leap-of-fate.com/?p=2985

  • Lee D.

    As a left-handed, red-headed, lesbian, I, in fact, believe God may have provided me with a cadre of angels assigned to protect rare species. 🙂 In all seriousness, to the writer, I find your description as an agnostic with Christian leanings to be perfectly apt to describe myself as well. For being a non-native English speaker, you sure have a way with words! I’m here for the same reason, or some of the same reasons, as you–I was once someone who identified as Christian (I was ‘born again’ and all that)–but struggle so hard with trying to see why I’d ever want to be involved in organized religion of any kind again. Besides enjoying quiet Sunday mornings, I find it really challenging to think of ever putting myself in the position of relying on the church body for anything–much less contributing something of my own and having it disregarded or thrown away. Not sure I’m looking to be convinced, but I guess I am here because I hope some of the bad feelings about “Christians” will fade away.

  • Dave Burrows

    Truth, ultimate truth, isn’t about our perception of truth. It didn’t matter that people once thought the earth was flat, and the sun revolved around it. The ultimate truth is that the earth is almost a sphere, and revolves in an elliptical configuration around it.

    Neither does it matter that there are people who think that dinosaurs existed on the earth at the same time as humans, and that evolution didn’t / isn’t happening. The ultimate truth is that the dinosaurs died out long before the first humans evolved, and that evolution is fact.

    Even though we can’t know all ultimate truths, for example, how the earth was actually formed, there is one and only one ultimate truth about that creation.

    As to God, it doesn’t matter what you believe, what I believe, nor what your neighbor believes. God, if there is one, has one and only ultimate truth. Knowing that truth as best I’m able is my goal. If there is no God, then why waist our time discussing it further?

  • Christy basically said exactly what I was going to say. I’ll add to that, though:

    Faith is believing in what we do not know to be fact, what we cannot see. So why, when someone doesn’t believe the same way we do, do we act as if what we believe is right and what they believe is wrong when it’s faith? When we ourselves don’t know it to be true? If we knew it to be true 100%, it wouldn’t be faith.

    In regards to your original statement, I do believe we can pick and choose elements from different religions. I believe a religion is a way of engaging with and interacting with and expressing your faith in God. I personally believe that God is God, no matter what we call him. Whether it’s God, Jehovah, Allah… God is God.

    I’ll never forget a moment in my fourth grade Sunday School at First Baptist Church in my hometown. A fundamentalist, Southern Baptist Church. My sunday school teacher told me, and I quote, that “Jews are going to hell.” Even though that’s all I knew, that statement did not sit right with me, and I wondered as a kid what made us right and what made someone else wrong. After all, there were kids on the other side of the world, just like me, who had been raised in a devoutly religious home and raised to believe those truths. What was it that made our religion right, and theirs wrong?

    I am glad that I’ve come to the understanding that that isn’t how it has to be. That it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. That we live in a country where we can worship and believe how we choose, and how we feel led to worship and believe. But I’m going to be honest with you – the attitudes of people who believe that their belief system, and that the way they experience God is the only way to believe – that is the very reason I am currently struggling so much with religion and seeking to find what I believe, and to erase the scars that have been left by those people in my childhood.

  • A’isha Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Oh, John (Johnetta?) you’re lovely!

  • Who said there was no God?

    Though I will say this as I said it earlier today: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/2011/10/31/what-jesus-left-out-of-the-great-commandment/#comment-102260

  • Thanks, Dave, for perfectly illustrating my point. You believe that there is an ultimate truth. Others may not. That is your right to believe that. But just because it is your belief, your truth, doesn’t mean that it has to be everyone’s.

    I’ll say it again: when it comes to faith, you can’t prove that you’re right. If you could, it wouldn’t be faith. So the fact that you are saying that X is a fact, an absolute truth, goes against the very nature of what faith is.

  • Val P.

    Christy, that is wonderful. “We glimpse our own relative size in the universe and see that no human being can say who God should be or how God should act”. I think along those lines often, when there’s squabbling about whether or not gays can be Christians, or divorced people can be deacons, blah blah. I think about the size of the universe and wonder how on earth God who created the entire universe give a rat’s ass about whether or not I’ve been divorced twice and am married to husband #3? (that happens to be my own personal transgression. I happen to believe God loves me anyway.)

  • Val P.

    Rhys – beautiful. I too was raised in a fundamental church. As I became a teenager I was told conforming to the group at school was a sin. I was told I could not be in the band at school and be a Christian. (yes, they actually forbid their young people from participating in extra-curricular activites such as band and football.) When I rebelled I was told since I heard The Word and I disobeyed, I was as bad as the worse sinner who ever lived. I was as bad as Hitler because I wanted to be in the band. Really.

    I try to live and let live. I am a flawed human being, and God knows that better than anyone else does. And I know he loves me, because I am blessed.

  • Addendum: all the examples you gave are things that can scientifically be proven. Again, faith cannot – so those analogies are moot.

  • So wonderful, Val. I agree. Thank you.

  • God seemed to have a particular affinity for flawed people in the Hebrew scriptures. God kept using them as leaders over and over and over again….

  • Val, wow. The things that some people do in the name of God never cease to amaze me. I think all we can do is our best, and as you said, live and let live.

  • LSS

    but you have that already in Portuguese. many Spanish speakers can pretty much read Portuguese, and vice versa… well, it could be interesting to compare them, though.

    oh and by the way a good site for anybody who wants free Spanish lessons is http://studyspanish.com/

  • Dave Burrows

    I was hoping to find some empathy, someone who understood where I was coming from. It seems like you all just want me to think like you do which is what every one of you are preaching against.

    Since we all sin and fall short, I’m going to continue my own search. Peace to you all.

    Dave ☮

  • I never said I wanted you to think like me. In fact, you don’t even know what I believe about God, because that wasn’t the point. The only thing I asked was that you accept that your faith is your faith, and that because others might believe differently than you, it doesn’t make them wrong. My point is that it’s not about being right or wrong. That faith can’t be proven, so we shouldn’t try to force others to experience God the way we do.

    I’m sorry you didn’t understand my point, and wish you the best.

  • I am empathetic, Dave. Know that you are loved, just as you are by the One in whom you live and move and breathe. Be still, and deeply know this, be open to what is, and God will find you there. Blessings on your journey. ~ C

  • Dave Burrows

    I didn’t understand your point? See; that’s just what I mean. You asked “what was it that made our religion right, and theirs wrong?” I go back to that point about there being one ultimate truth; whether we can know it or not isn’t the point; how can there possibly be more than one ultimate truth?

  • Dave Burrows

    Thank you most kindly, Christy. Blessings on your journey, also.

  • I’m not saying there is more than one ultimate truth. I’m saying that we cannot know for sure what that is- that is why we have faith, and we choose to believe how we believe. But because it’s the unknown, I do not think it is fair to assert that you know what that ultimate truth is. If you did, it wouldn’t be faith. That is why we believe.

    I believe that the ultimate truth is love. I believe that God is love. That is what I believe. I also believe that it would be prideful and arrogant for me to say that Jesus is the only way and that if someone didn’t experience God that way or didn’t share that belief that they’d be wrong. Rather, if I did believe in Jesus as my savior, I would assert that as what I believe, but would not say that it is the ultimate truth and the only way, because I am human and it is faith.

    I agree with Christy- you are loved, as are we all. I am certainly not saying you have to share my beliefs. In fact, quite the opposite! I respect your beliefs greatly, and your right to have them.

  • Lee Marshall

    Wonderful post! I have now subscribed to your blog.

  • LSS

    if the one ultimate truth is so far beyond all the religions (by religion, i mean the human part, the way we try to understand things about God) then that would explain a lot.

  • LSS

    disorganized religion, however, has a lot going for it. seriously.

  • LSS

    Miguel de Unamuno famously said something along the lines of “if i don’t believe in *my* God, which is the real one, why would i believe in *yours*?!”

    just now, i was unsuccessfully attempting to find the exact quote, i came across this essay, over a century old, by Unamuno about his particular kind of “christian-leaning agnosticism”. and i want to share it with the Original Letter Writer, as it’s the spanish copy. http://www.ensayistas.org/antologia/XXE/unamuno/

    everybody that doesn’t read spanish could maybe run it through Google-translate if you cannot find the english version, which would probably be titled “my religion”. it’s so interesting to apply his thoughts in this essay to this and many discussions we have here.

  • LSS

    darn it… i meant to write that Unamuno said that to someone who was trying to convert him to another religion… if that wasn’t obvious.

  • I’m not sure what you mean, LSS. Could you rephrase? Sorry, a little exhausted tonight and wasn’t quite sure where you were going with this. 🙂

  • DR

    Challenging your point of view with conviction is what is happening here. You – like all of us – will select what serves you – what you believe, who/what the authority is that helps you shape those beliefs and the relationships that support all of the above. No one can. E convinced of something they aren’t wanting to make part of them.

  • LSS

    sorry to re-reply ….

    apparently it wasn’t turning up because it’s not an Unamuno quote, but rather a traditional quip, but anyway… “si no creo en mi Dios, que es el verdadero, como voy a creer en el tuyo?!”

    anyway i’m glad to have found that Unamuno essay, and i hope Original Letter Writer will find it useful.

  • LSS

    i don’t think it’s a new idea or anything, i just may have expressed it oddly… but, like, if there is ONE ultimate truth, one God. but the way we try to understand God’s messages, the human interpretations that we put (i’m having trouble saying that maybe some of this happened during the writing down, because i used to be a scriptural-inerrantist, if that’s a word) … all fall short. that *would* sort of explain why there are so many religions and why (in all of them?) we keep finding out human stuff that we had gotten wrong in the past.

  • Dave Burrows

    The ultimate truth might not be a matter of whose version of God, but that there is no God. The big bang, the expansion of the universe as science understands it, and evolution may be the ultimate truth.

  • Exactly! That’s really the point I was trying to make earlier. That really… we just can’t be sure. We are not all-knowing. BUT – I personally believe in God and think there is a God. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what that means for me and what my beliefs are, but I do believe in God.

  • Dave Burrows

    The only thing about which I’m certain is that ultimate truth has nothing to do with our perception of it. Ultimate truth simply is.

  • Dave Burrows

    And that’s where I believe it’s helpful to have a foundation for your theology.

  • Val P.

    Dave, to me regarding the big bang and expansion of the universe, as well as evolution, the ultimate truth could only be God. As I understand scientific explanation of the Big Bang, the whole universe was created in seconds from a blob of matter the size of a speck of dust. To me, that is only possible by the hand of God. And that explanation is as good as anybody else’s.

    To me, that’s why arguing about sexual orientation, or can divorced people be deacons, or whether a person is Baptized by dunking or sprinkling, or whether your choir should be accompanied by musical instruments or not – it’s all ridiculous. God made the universe! Out of nothing! We just waste a lot of time arguing over…nothing.

  • LSS

    in that essay i found earlier, M de U was saying something like that in the modern times what it means to believe in a God, is to WANT to believe in a God, to want there to be a God.

  • I would like to apologize for my snarky response to your first post. I jumped the gun and assumed you were just trying to push some buttons with your question. I understand all too well what it is like to spend years desperately trying to experience the presence of God as well as fitting myself into the neat little box of what I thought God wanted or perhaps even needed (yes I realize there is a great deal of pride tucked away in that) me to be. I was the poster child for what a good Christian is supposed to be for years. And yet, I always dealt with this lingering feeling deep inside that there was something just out of my reach. That if only I was just a little more committed, or able to deny myself just a little more, I might finally hit that breaking point where it would all come together and God would reveal himself in some truly spectacular way and then I could finally be of some real use to the kingdom.

    At this point in my life, I am a happily married lesbian Christian. (Happily married to a woman in case that was not clear, who is also a Christian and of course also a lesbian as that would be really awkward otherwise.) I am no longer trying to fit myself into the little boxes that I now realize are entirely man made and I do not believe are at all pleasing to God who did not choose to create us with a mould nor churns out his pottery on an assembly line. As I have finally accepted myself for who I was created to be, I feel confident that I have a more genuine relationship with God than I ever had in my years of constant striving to make myself more pleasing to God (which I now believe to be the heights of pride; no wonder it never really worked).

    I hope and pray that you find that place of rest in God where we cease from our own labour as the writer of Hebrews puts it in one of the many great paradoxes of scripture which I have come to identify with as of late. And I hope that you find someone that you can share the journey with because loneliness is another feeling I understand all too well and would not wish on anybody. Peace my brother.

  • You are not even CLOSE to giving up on us!

  • DR

    Dave, I find it odd that you make such unwavering declarations with no apology, yet choose to categorize others offering that same level of zeal to you as “everyone wanting me to think like you do”. Why the inconsistency?

  • Dave Burrows

    Thank you for your apology, though it was unnecessary; I didn’t take your other post as being snarky any more than I understood anyone’s post t be snarky. Thank you, too, for your candor. You do understand exactly where I am.

    I have read, and tried to understand “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. I need to read it again, I think. He had what I’m looking for. Interesting, though, that Mother Theresa never found that intimate, close relationship with God. She trusted, she obeyed, she prayed, but she didn’t feel it.

    Your words, and the sentiment they convey bring much comfort, even as I read them a third time. Thanks so much for having taken the time to share a little of yourself with me. May the peace of the Lord also be with you, my sister.

  • Allie

    It’s my belief that God doesn’t jump through hoops for anyone. You can’t make yourself feel God; he has to do that. Nothing you do or don’t do, pray or don’t pray, will force God to do anything. Presumably God had some reason for Mother Teresa’s sojourn in a spiritual desert. Who knows? The one thing I know for sure is it’s not my business. Nietzsche spent most of his life in intense physical pain, denying the very existence of God, then cracked completely, embraced a carthorse, and declared himself Christ crucified. What the heck was that all about?

    Jesus said it best, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you… you’re seeking, so you’re okay, even if you don’t necessarily feel like you’re okay at the present moment.

  • Allie

    Well… there are people who have experienced God directly. They may be liars or frauds or hallucinating. But it’s not just about any one person’s experiences. The reason we have a Bible at all is that people thought it was important to share what happened to them. And other people, people who never spoke to a burning bush, thought the first group of people might be saying something important.

    I believe in France because a whole bunch of people say there is such a place. I have never been there. I’ve never seen evidence for it that couldn’t have been faked. It’s incredibly unlikely that there is a world-wide conspiracy to pretend France exists, but it’s possible. The point is, we make decisions based on the testimony of others all the time. So… do the people who testify to the existence of God seem trustworthy to you? Does the Bible seem like something worth believing?

  • Donald Rappe

    i THINK i PREFER jOHANNA/ and I can;t help noticing what beauty the caps lock key has added to such an intelligent comment. Probably a sign from God.

  • Donald Rappe

    I believe there is one ultimate truth and as many different expressions of it as there are people. The final redactor of the 4’th Gospel seems to be very much a smorgasbord type of believer. He puts the words “I am the Way. the Truth … etc.” into the mouth of the divine figure of the Lord Jesus Christ he describes. Or, perhaps he leaves them there. You seem to have little clue what these words mean. Pay especial attention to chapter 1 which pretty much sets the context for the entire book. We learn both that Jesus is the Light that enlightens the whole world (a Zoroastrian idea) and also he is son of Joseph of Nazareth. (No mention of Mary.) At the time the redactor was writing he had all earlier can0nical Gospels available to him. One easy way to see this is to notice he goes out of his way to differ significantly with details offered in each of them to an extent which would have been impossible had he not had the works available. He makes quite clear that the Christ speaking in his book is the Universal Christ who comes to save all people, not just members of any specific religion. And it is in this context that all the words of Jesus are spoken.

  • Donald Rappe

    This is intended to reply to Dave.

  • I would agree.

  • …..That ultimate truth simply is. But I agree with DR too. A conversation means some give and take. We are all sharing our own perspectives.

  • Lee D.

    Tell me more!

  • Lee D.

    I think I should actually say I’m a Christian with agnostic leanings…

  • Thank you, Lee.

  • Thanks for this context and insight, Donald.

  • This is lovely, Cindy.

  • The journey is it. So often it is the question that enlightens more than the answer. When we are destination oriented we miss the journey.It is good to remember that not all who wander (or wonder) are lost. The wisdom so often comes in the traveling, not in the arriving. The Buddhist parable of the ox herder explains this nicely.

  • The writer

    I would say that I’m very much into that disorganized religion thing…:P Seriously, I never liked to label myself religiously because others take you as the whole package and immediately draw conclusions on what you are or what you should be, but their preconceptions should not influence my spiritual status, I guess.

  • The writer

    I doubted whether to chime in or not, but maybe what I experienced might be useful for you, Mr. Burrows. I’ve had to study many religions in the past, then I felt atheism was more of my thing (especially since I couldn’t reconcile religion and science, they seemed to me like mutually exclusive, particularly the existance of the soul), but after my crisis I revised all the science I took for granted and all religions I knew of again (read some of their sacred texts and so on) and as stated after finding John’s blog and Anita’s too, I changed my definition of myself. But I can tell you one thing for sure: all religions that I know of that survived the test of time, have 2 elements in common, even if they don’t always obviously reflect it: love and forgiveness. Without these two things, nothing works, no society, no religion, nothing.

    I won’t dare say I saw the face of God, but I will tell you that I stopped feeling like there was nothing. And that can happen to anyone. Before that happened I went through extremely distressing times, times so dark I am scared of ever reliving them again, but I am glad now that although I went through that, I am well now, and I emerged with some new knowledge. It has deeply changed me, yet I am the same I was before. My perception of things has changed. So well, you ask, how much can we trust our perceptions? I agree with you that there is a ultimate truth, but I think this truth is so, so enormous, it is possible that the human mind will never comprehend it. We don’t know that much about the human brain anyway, and that *is* inside our heads, so nevermind the ultimate nature of reality. Does this mean we are to stop looking? Absolutely not.

    Please don’t think I’m trying to impart wisdom, I’m not wise at all, just relating my experience. I hope it is useful for others. I wish you, above all, love and peace.

    Thank you everyone for your comments, I enjoyed the discussions very much.

  • The writer

    Thank you for referencing that essay. It’s funny that you should mention Unamuno, he’s influenced my life in many mysterious ways… I hadn’t read that essay before, but it very much reflects what is going through my head right now.

    I think I’m heading to Christianism, to address Brian W’s comment, but I want to do it in a responsible way, with authentic feeling and through careful analysis. I don’t want to ever hold an uninformed view on anything again, but as you can guess, this is hard to do all the time and it requires time to get informed too. All in due time, I think. The best for both of you.

  • The writer

    I forgot to say: red heads rock! (and I’m not one).


  • Donald Rappe

    Thanks for this.

  • Mindy

    Dave, keep talking. Here, I hope – or wherever. I get the point you are making. Please, whatever you do, read John’s newest book when it comes out. I have a feeling it help you immensely in seeing how one can be totally committed to Christianity AND be in a committed, gay relationship (per your earlier question). As for not getting to God but through Jesus, I have never had a problem with that. As a non-Christian, I have been a source of consternation for my much more conservative sister; she worries that I will not reap the same eternal rewards Christians are promised. That sense of propriety, if you will, is much of what turned me off of Christianity. But I see it differently now – I firmly believe that what Jesus was saying was that no one could know God, could feel and understand the love of God without living as Jesus taught – following his teachings of generosity, compassion and love. Overly simplified, I realize, but rather than get lost in the details, I believe God keeps His eye on the big picture, and wanting His human creations to love one another seems to me to be the gist of the message. Strive for that, and you’re good.

  • Melody

    No, JOHNETTA is funnier. 😛

  • LSS

    well i just know a lot of people that got disgusted with whatever part of organized religion (or in a lot of cases, it got unjustly disgusted with them) … but they still talk to God and stuff.

    it was really as simple as that.

    well, and also a lot of people have their own personal synchretisms of christianity with buddhism or other philosophies or even actual other religions. i know at least one EpiscoPagan.

  • LSS

    me alegro que te haya servido

    glad it was useful (^_^)

    y que te vaya bien en el viaje de la vida

    i hope it goes well for you on your road of life

  • Donald Rappe

    I agree with you, Love, that desire for God plays a role in finding Him for most of us. Are you named after Him, amiga?

  • Andrew

    My daughter crashed her bike into our side fence this afternoon and she is left handed. I wonder if the two are related. All three things survived., the fence, the bike and most importantly, the daughter.

    BTW – Another thing that is being discrimated against. Australians – we can’t get a John Shore blog on our kindle

  • no, it’s not.

  • Aingyl

    Agnostic, with Christian leanings? Awesome! I’d say that pretty much describes me, except I like my description better. Spiritual, leaning towards creative. Either way, I agree that being gay and being Christian has nothing to do with each other.