Skip to main content

An Eastern Question

By Swabby429 --

I was indoctrinated as a Methodist, later United Methodist as a youngster. I didn't have any real conflict with nor issues with the Methodist church dogma until well after my deconversion in the mid-1970s.
Holy Resurrection Orthodox ChurchImage by Kristin Brenemen via Flickr
Those disagreements were and are those of official church policy on the status of LGBTQ people within the church membership. I had not been traumatized by such policies, it was only that I opposed their opinions because of their interference with the gay liberation movement's objectives of equality of rights and respect for all humans. My main interest in is that of an interested observer so as to stay in touch with people who no longer consider themselves Christian because of whatever reason. As I mentioned above, I was not traumatized by Methodism. I was bored by Christianity and simply outgrew it because it simply seemed so banal.

Just prior to washing my hands of Methodism, I checked out, but did NOT convert to the RCC. I determined that the RCC presented a painful, oppressive option. I soon abandoned any interest in studying the catechism.

Soon afterwards, I decided to check out Eastern Orthodox Christianity because of it's allegedly more mystical and philosophical leanings. I found the theology to be a bit more intellectually and spiritually challenging and also enchanting. However, on closer inspection, I found the institutionalized practice of the Eastern Church to be on par with the Roman Church, if not even more rigid and retrograde. Hence, my opinion was formed that the two main branches of Christianity are quaint, archaic relics.

The search continued and I studied Judaism at the suggestion of some close college classmates. I rather enjoyed the camaraderie of the pals who were raised as Reform Jews. To me, the religion is very compassionate and accepting, not merely tolerant. However, I always felt like an outsider and I could not get the hang of the Jewish subculture. I like interacting with Jews but still feel very much like an outsider.

After a couple of years hiatus from mainstream organized religion, I dabbled in New Age beliefs and practices. I supplemented my income by drawing astrological charts and reading the Tarot. This was more fun than anything. While I had a deep intellectual, philosophical understanding of the hows and whys, I couldn't bring myself to abandon my budding skepticism. I must say that the New Age phase of my life was a huge boost to my skeptical attitudes. But I stayed with drawing up charts and readings, because I needed the cash to help pay tuition costs.

Leaving behind my youth and college years, I entered my broadcast/media career path and became nearly, fully secular. I did take a short detour into the Abrahamic religions with some study of the Quran (spelled Koran when I read it) and Islamic culture and history. I had an especially keen interest in the Ottoman Empire and read voraciously about it. But while I enjoyed the stories of opulence and adventure of the Sultans, I couldn't get over the rigidity and intolerant nature of Islam in practical application by its believers and leaders. To me, it seems like the human version of a couple of huge wasp nests. I want no part of it.

My nickname "Swabby" is my good-natured twist on the term "Swami" which is an alter-ego for my radio persona I used several years ago. The name "Swabby" has stuck with me as a nickname from my pals.)Still, I enjoy investigating religions and culture. I was drawn to Hindu practice by a brief foray back to the New Age. This time I wanted to get to the roots of meditation and I had a desire to investigate Moksha or Enlightenment. To this day I benefit greatly by the discipline of meditation, albeit no longer the Hindu version. While I cannot bring myself to believe in the various deities the way most Hindus believe in them, I do have an elementary respect for the concepts they represent. Also, I have a strong ethical disagreement with the traditional South Asian social division of humanity into castes.

This agreeable understanding of subtle Hindu philosophy, morphed into my taking refuge as a Soto Zen Buddhist. My new boyfriend, Takeo, in 1975 was a practitioner of the Soto school of Zen. As I fell in love with him, I became totally enraptured by Japanese culture and art. Later, his residency visa was revoked and Takeo had to move back to Osaka. Japanese immigration did not allow me to follow suit to live with him. Even so, I still maintain a healthy regard and respect for Soto Zen.

Over eleven years ago, I continued my investigation of Buddhism and made an acquaintance and befriended an Englishman who has an eclectic Buddhist practice. He is very pragmatic, atheist and adventurous in nature. We hit it off right away and are still "mates" today. A few years ago, we decided to have an Indian adventure/pilgrimage. By that time I had started to investigate the Gelug School of Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism. I befriended two Tibetan monks via snail mail and had established myself as their sponsor. During the Indian adventure, my Brit friend and I eventually made our visit to see our monks. We stayed at Sera Je Monastery in Karnataka State near Mysore. Our room was located just below the suite where His Holiness the Dalai Lama resides when he is not at his location in Dharamsala, India. His schedule often dictates that he teach advanced courses at Sera Je.

My current affiliation is still Tibetan and is flavored with the Vajrayana near equivalent of Zen which is called Dzogchen. I say this not to proselytize. (Buddhists are discouraged from doing that.) But to mention that this is my path and how I've taken my adventure and growth after I, long ago, left Methodism far behind. I don't have any faith nor belief in supernatural entities, but I do enjoy my yearning for inner growth and my desire to learn about various cultures, especially those of central and southern Asia.

My purpose in writing this thumbnail bio is to spur any discussion as to any experiences any of you might have had as a former member of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church. I'm very curious about this aspect in particular. Also, has anyone here taken up another spiritual and/or philosophical path?


Popular posts from this blog


By David Andrew Dugle ~ O ctober. Halloween. It's time to visit the haunted house I used to live in. When I was five my dad was able to build a big modern house. Moving in before it was complete, my younger brother and I were sleeping in a large unfinished area directly under the living room. It should have been too new to be a haunted house, but now and then I would wake up in the tiny, dark hours and see the blurry image of a face, or at least what I took to be a face, glowing, faintly yellow, high up on the wall near the ceiling. I'm not kidding! Most nights it didn’t appear at all. But when it did show itself, at first I thought it was a ghost and it scared me like nothing else I’d ever seen. But the face never did anything; unmoving, it just stayed in that one spot. Turning on the lights would make it disappear, making my fears difficult to explain, so I never told anyone. My Sunday School teachers had always told me to be good because God was just behind m

The Blame Game or Shit Happens

By Webmdave ~ A relative suffering from Type 1 diabetes was recently hospitalized for an emergency amputation. The physicians hoped to halt the spread of septic gangrene seeping from an incurable foot wound. Naturally, family and friends were very concerned. His wife was especially concerned. She bemoaned, “I just don’t want this (the advanced sepsis and the resultant amputation) to be my fault.” It may be that this couple didn’t fully comprehend the seriousness of the situation. It may be that their choice of treatment was less than ideal. Perhaps their home diabetes maintenance was inconsistent. Some Christians I know might say the culprit was a lack of spiritual faith. Others would credit it all to God’s mysterious will. Surely there is someone or something to blame. Someone to whom to ascribe credit. Isn’t there? A few days after the operation, I was talking to a man who had family members who had suffered similar diabetic experiences. Some of those also suffered ea

Reasons for my disbelief

By Rebekah ~ T here are many layers to the reasons for my disbelief, most of which I haven't even touched on here... When I think of Evangelical Christianity, two concepts come to mind: intense psychological traps, and the danger of glossing over and missing a true appreciation for the one life we know that we have. I am actually agnostic when it comes to a being who set creation in motion and remains separated from us in a different realm. If there is a deistic God, then he/she doesn't particularly care if I believe in them, so I won't force belief and instead I will focus on this one life that I know I have, with the people I can see and feel. But I do have a lot of experience with the ideas of God put forth by Evangelical Christianity, and am confident it isn't true. If it's the case god has indeed created both a physical and a heavenly spiritual realm, then why did God even need to create a physical realm? If the point of its existence is to evolve to pas

Are You an Atheist Success Story?

By Avangelism Project ~ F acts don’t spread. Stories do. It’s how (good) marketing works, it’s how elections (unfortunately) are won and lost, and it’s how (all) religion spreads. Proselytization isn’t accomplished with better arguments. It’s accomplished with better stories and it’s time we atheists catch up. It’s not like atheists don’t love a good story. Head over to the atheist reddit and take a look if you don’t believe me. We’re all over stories painting religion in a bad light. Nothing wrong with that, but we ignore the value of a story or a testimonial when we’re dealing with Christians. We can’t be so proud to argue the semantics of whether atheism is a belief or deconversion is actually proselytization. When we become more interested in defining our terms than in affecting people, we’ve relegated ourselves to irrelevance preferring to be smug in our minority, but semantically correct, nonbelief. Results Determine Reality The thing is when we opt to bury our

Christian TV presenter reads out Star Wars plot as story of salvation

An email prankster tricked the host of a Christian TV show into reading out the plots of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Star Wars in the belief they were stories of personal salvation. The unsuspecting host read out most of the opening rap to The Fresh Prince, a 1990s US sitcom starring Will Smith , apparently unaware that it was not a genuine testimony of faith. The prankster had slightly adapted the lyrics but the references to a misspent youth playing basketball in West Philadelphia would have been instantly familiar to most viewers. The lines read out by the DJ included: "One day a couple of guys who were up to no good starting making trouble in my living area. I ended up getting into a fight, which terrified my mother." The presenter on Genesis TV , a British Christian channel, eventually realised that he was being pranked and cut the story short – only to move on to another spoof email based on the plot of the Star Wars films. It began: &quo

Why I left the Canadian Reformed Church

By Chuck Eelhart ~ I was born into a believing family. The denomination is called Canadian Reformed Church . It is a Dutch Calvinistic Christian Church. My parents were Dutch immigrants to Canada in 1951. They had come from two slightly differing factions of the same Reformed faith in the Netherlands . Arriving unmarried in Canada they joined the slightly more conservative of the factions. It was a small group at first. Being far from Holland and strangers in a new country these young families found a strong bonding point in their church. Deutsch: Heidelberger Katechismus, Druck 1563 (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) I was born in 1955 the third of eventually 9 children. We lived in a small southern Ontario farming community of Fergus. Being young conservative and industrious the community of immigrants prospered. While they did mix and work in the community almost all of the social bonding was within the church group. Being of the first generation born here we had a foot in two