Hello, and Merry Meet!
Please be warned, this is going to be quite long!
I suppose with so many other members here, it would be a great place to get some wisdom . . . as well as giving others a chance to know a bit about me, since it would be helpful in accessing my situation. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.
I'm Cherokee by birth, a musician by occupation, a husband and father, and (please don't hang up on me yet!) a member of a baptist church. I am a student of the historical Jesus, as opposed to the one that was created by the earliest christians. And I dare say that modern christians, in our church at least, are practitioners of magick without realizing that's what it is they are doing. Jesus has become an archetype for the God, and the Holy Spirit is much like the Goddess . . . in some traditions even personified by either Mary of Magdala, or Mary the mother of Jesus. Although no circle is cast, individuals with special needs are joined by others in a "prayer circle" where (in our church) Jesus as the archetype of God and the Holy Spirit are invited to join in. The individual concerned will be annointed with oil, and positive energies are raised in the form of prayer. Let me say beyond a shadow of doubt that this works! The members of our church are mostly ignorant of (the root of my usage is "to ignore") aspects of science that disagree with their interpretation of the bible, which I know is very common. I know that there are progressive churches who understand how the traditions were born; and are tolerant of other faiths to the point of acknowledging other paths as equally valid. Those churches, however, are most certainly in the minority.
As a student of historical Jesus research, I have learned, mostly through the work of the Westar Institute and The Jesus Seminar, that the true teachings and many of the meanings of those teachings of Jesus are recoverable when viewed through the lense of first century Judea. An itinerate sage and satyrist, a non-observant Jew, and a practitioner of what was probably folk magick, rose to mythic preportions after he was killed, probably for speaking against the commercialization of the temple; the accepted center of his people's faith. When Rome (who assimilated everything) also assimilated christianity under Constantine, many ancient pagan traditions were merged with christianity, as long as they did not disagree with the edict that the holy church had become God's kingdom here on Earth. All other traditions were squashed, including many beautiful pre-Constantine christian traditions, and a reign of terror began. We all know the rest.
My church is in rural Appalachia. Our food pantry feeds hungry people by the hundreds every month, and I am proud to say that I am a supporter of the program. Nobody is pressured to come to church when they need help . . . they just get it. We also have a program to repair vehicles for those in the community who cannot afford it and need that vehicle for their families. We have a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that is a year long, and is totally free. I have taken part in that for almost three years, both as a participant, and as a volunteer musician in the praise band. The friends my family have made within this church are more like family than some of our own relations have been.
Now . . . I am filled with Cherokee traditions. They are, and have always been a part of my life. I was able as a young child to manifest dreams into reality using visualization, but didn't understand what it was that I was doing. I probably don't need to give any examples to you who already know what I am talking about. Seperated by all that water and countless aeons, Cherokees . . . like the Celts were casting circles, and calling quarters. Colors are associated with the cardinal points, and even the dress and culture was similar. Over the last few months I have come full circle. Thanks to some very good books and a very good wiccan friend . . . a friend that I have called brother for close to 30 years, I find myself so immersed in paganism as a belief system that I cannot escape, nor do I want to. It is truly where I have been all along, only I've had to hide what I knew was my true self.
This is very difficult for me. For while I feel a need to break with most of my church's traditions, I will never give up the core teachings of the sage from Gallilee. I am a scientific minded person, and I hold a B.S. (no jokes, please) in music. Yes, music is indeed a science. I was a prof. for 4 years at an acredited university, so when I say that I am a musician, don't think that I am deluded. I have taught music in this area for twenty years, as well as performed in many states and in Europe. I am a thinking person, and I am an evolutionist. I believe that any "miracles" that Jesus may have performed had to be in accordance with the laws of nature. That excludes alot of the biblical narrative that was created by those who had faith in him. I believe that the universe is much older than the 10,000 years my church believes it is, and expects me to feel the same.
So, I am in a quandry. While I have truly been enriched spiritually by these many paths, they have all led me here . . . Within wiccan traditions I find the culmination of all I have ever believed or felt comfortable with. There is Deity in a way I have always understood it. There is my native beliefs, without all of the political ramblings. There is acceptance of other paths. In short, I feel that this is most certainly where I need to be. Yet, breaking with my church is an obstacle which seems almost insurmountable.
Please send wisdom my way. I don't want to be in the broom-closet for the rest of my life.
Blessings, and blessed be!