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Choosing a Church

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Re: Orthodox Jewish

Drealm
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fschmidt wrote
J. Donner wrote
I guess it's impossible for one to become Jewish, then?
Not impossible, but not easy or encouraged.  If one accepts all Jewish belief and follows all Jewish law, then after several years of work one can become Jewish.  That doesn't work for us.
Yes I think I read somewhere that converts are allowed to Judaism but as a test of commitment they're actively discouraged at every step of learning.
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Re: Choosing a Church

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I posted my request to 2 other forums:

http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/comparative-religion/108360-atheist-seeking-church.html
http://www.islamicboard.com/introduce-yourself/134302666-atheist-seeking-conservative-community.html

Unsurprisingly, liberal atheists gave the worst responses.  But surprisingly, Muslims gave the most reasonable responses.  I will have to look into this more.
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Greek Orthodox

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
This was the best so far.  The service was very ritualistic with mostly chants and singing.  The songs were not modern, so the feeling was of being removed from the modern world, which I liked.  The words don't matter much and a lot of it was in Greek.  There was a short sermon, but this consisted of explanation of what is in the bible.  This is very different from the other churches where explanation and logic were conspicuously absent.  The service was also the shortest so far, only about an hour, which is tolerable.  Afterward, the members socialize in a back room, which is also great since the whole point for me is having my family become part of the community.  The people dressed conservatively, no piercings or tattoos.  My wife said that this church reminds her of how Catholicism was before it degenerated into its current liberal form.  My biggest complaint about this church is only that it is too small.

This church is a real option, so I feel optimistic now.  I will keep visiting churches before I pick.  This process has been very interesting because each church so far has been radically different from the others.  Visiting different churches is a lot like traveling, and I highly recommend it.
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Re: Greek Orthodox

fschmidt
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Re: Greek Orthodox

Drealm
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
fschmidt wrote
This was the best so far.  The service was very ritualistic with mostly chants and singing.  The songs were not modern, so the feeling was of being removed from the modern world, which I liked.  The words don't matter much and a lot of it was in Greek.  There was a short sermon, but this consisted of explanation of what is in the bible.  This is very different from the other churches where explanation and logic were conspicuously absent.  The service was also the shortest so far, only about an hour, which is tolerable.  Afterward, the members socialize in a back room, which is also great since the whole point for me is having my family become part of the community.  The people dressed conservatively, no piercings or tattoos.  My wife said that this church reminds her of how Catholicism was before it degenerated into its current liberal form.  My biggest complaint about this church is only that it is too small.

This church is a real option, so I feel optimistic now.  I will keep visiting churches before I pick.  This process has been very interesting because each church so far has been radically different from the others.  Visiting different churches is a lot like traveling, and I highly recommend it.
This is positive news. You seem to of found something you like. On a side note, did you find you were happier being around these people? Did you find attending such a service strengthened your moral code?
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Re: Greek Orthodox

fschmidt
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Drealm wrote
On a side note, did you find you were happier being around these people?
I think so, but it's too early to judge.  Most modern people irritate me quickly.  These people seemed traditional and didn't irritate me at all.  My wife, who is a better judge of people, liked these people.

Did you find attending such a service strengthened your moral code?
I'm not too worried about my moral code.  The question is what influence it will have on my family, and that will take time to judge.  And anyway, it will be a few weeks before I pick a religion.
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Unity Church

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
With the power of God, you go girl.  That wasn't exactly what was said, but was the message I got out of it.  This church wasn't on my list but my wife wanted to check it out because one of her friends recommended it.  And I'm glad I went because I could see just how far religion can fall.  This church was completely dominated by women.  All leadership positions were occupied by women.  Men only performed menial rolls and took orders from women.  The men looked like slaves, with a downcast subservient look.  The message was all about empowerment, how with God on your side, you can do anything you want.  There wasn't any humility expressed in this church.  The audience was mostly women and it was obvious that they all loved it.  Women love being told that they can do anything.  After the service, they all get together to eat and cluck like hens.  I waited for my wife in the car.
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Re: Unity Church

Scorpius
LOL.

I don't know. It sounds like lots of people are converting to Islam lately. Maybe it will take over the world. There's something to be said for humility, which lots of people lack these days. What is the stance of the mosque you went to regarding polygamy? Do the people seem monogamous? It seems they are more monogamous than average given your description. Something tells me there might be conflict down the road, though.

I'd almost agree with the people who say you need to start your own religion. L. Ron Hubbard did it, why can't fschmidt? Maybe you should to look into how Scientology brainwashes people, and use those techniques to "brainwash" people into being respectable and co-alpha.
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Re: Unity Church

fschmidt
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I can't start a religion because I have no charisma, and I have no direct line to God.  Even the most successful guys at starting religions, Moses, Christ, and Muhammad, based their movements on existing religions.  Moses based his religion on a one-God religion that existed in Egypt at the time.  Christ was just trying to reform Judaism, and later Paul changed the story to make it a new religion.  And Muhammad wanted to join Judaism but was rejected and was forced to create his own variant based on Judaism.

I haven't visited Islam yet but I hope to this Friday.
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Islam

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I called the Islamic Center of El Paso and they invited me to visit them to discuss Islam.  I went with my wife this evening and we met with someone there.  This is similar to what happened with Orthodox Judaism, where I was invited to meet the rabbi, and unlike Christianity where they just invite me to attend their service.  The point is that with Islam, they wanted to actually discuss my issues with me.

Islam and Judaism seem much closer to each other than either is to Christianity.  One obvious thing, which may just be coincidence, is that both the rabbi and the Islamic guy (not sure what his position is) seemed more intelligent than any Christian that I have dealt with.  Both were also very direct and interested in practical issues.

Islam takes morality much more seriously than any Christian church that I have seen.  And their views on women are certainly sound.  But the serious downside is that I don't think they will accept atheists.  I realized in the Islamic Center that tolerance and acceptance aren't the same thing.  Islam will tolerate atheists but will not accept them.  In other words, they aren't going to attack atheists (in the sense that atheists really do attack religion politically), but they think atheism is totally incompatible with Islam regardless of how many values an atheist may share with Islam.  So I don't think an atheist would ever be welcome in an Islamic community.  This is unfortunate because I can see that Islam is by far the strongest and soundest religion of the ones I have visited.  But I don't think it will work for us.  I would encourage other CoAlphas to visit your local Islamic Center and judge this question for yourself.

Christianity is weaker than Islam, but this also means that atheists can get by in a Christian community.  At this point, Greek Orthodox is still my first pick.  But Islam does deserve a second opinion, so I hope that another CoAlpha investigates Islam.
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Re: Islam

fschmidt
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This post was updated on .
My previous post was my immediate reaction to my meeting with one person at the Islamic Center.  I think now that that isn't enough to judge Islam.  I need to read the Quran to see if there is some basis there for atheists to be part of the Islamic community.  If I can construct an argument for this based on the Quran, then Islam could work.  So this is my next step.

I also added to my thread on the Islamic forum.
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Antiochian Orthodox

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
Very similar in style to the Greek Orthodox service, but somehow it felt like they were going through the motions with the meaning/feeling being lost.  I suspect this difference is simply related to these specific churches rather than to the branch of the religion.  The lesson here is that one may need to go to more than one church of a denomination to judge that denomination.
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Re: Greek Orthodox

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
The Greek Orthodox church is just too small for my needs, so I have to rule it out.  And related to this is the fact that this church seems to have no energy to promote itself. The opposite extreme is the Mormons who seem to have great energy in promoting themselves, and this is why Mormonism is growing while Orthodox Christianity is stagnant.  So I feel that I have to rule out Orthodox Christianity as an option.  Here is a good resource on the size and growth rate of Christian denominations:

http://www.ncccusa.org/news/100204yearbook2010.html
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Re: Mormon

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
Having visited more churches, I think I judged the Mormons too quickly.  So I took my kids to a Mormon event for kids.  My son liked it.  I spent the time waiting for my kids talking to Mormons and they seemed okay.  So I will investigate more.  Here are some negative comments from the nice-guy forum:

http://www.the-niceguy.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=47081
http://www.the-niceguy.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=47085
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Catholicism

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I visited a Catholic Church today just to compare.  This is religion for the masses.  The church was huge and full, and I attended one of the four services offered today.  The people were like sheep, or like zombies, doing as instructed with no spirit.  People wore all kinds of clothes, a random mix of conservative dress and low-life attire.  There was no sense of community.  It was pure ritual.  I think the main attraction is that it is effortless, very little is expected of the members and there is nothing to stimulate their senses.  It is like muzak or McDonald's, cheap soothing spirituality.  While the priest talked about Christ, women in tight jeans passed around the collection baskets.  The priest's talk was basically telling people that Catholicism is the true religion while all the Protestant churches have gone astray.  So the Catholic Church is still fighting the Reformation after 500 years.

I think the Catholic Church will continue to be successful and grow.  They are willing to compromise on whatever it takes to attract members and they will take anyone.  This is the church for the mindless masses.  It is slightly horrifying to see what zombies the masses are.  I certainly won't be going back to a Catholic Church.
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Re: Mormon

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I investigated some more.  Mormonism today seems fine from my superficial exposure to it.  But the source is Mormonism is quite bad.  The founder, Joseph Smith, sounds like a real scoundrel.  He plagiarized The Book of Mormon, was involved with financial fraud, had a critical journalist assassinated, and established marshal law in his town.  And of course he had about 30 wives, some of whom had been married to other men.  With such an origin, Mormonism must constantly work to cover up the past to appear legitimate.  Mormonism seems designed like a corporation organized to spread itself.  Members pay 10% of the income to the religion, so it is a good business.  I think Mormons would accept us as long as we pay our 10%, but the hypocrisy of this religion bothers me.  No one with any intelligence could take this religion seriously, so if you have an intelligent wife, this religion will fail to engage her.
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Re: Islam

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I read some of the Quran.  It is a highly intolerant book.  For example, 3:118 says:

"O you who have believed, do not take as intimates those other than yourselves, for they will not spare you [any] ruin. They wish you would have hardship. Hatred has already appeared from their mouths, and what their breasts conceal is greater. We have certainly made clear to you the signs, if you will use reason."

A single quote doesn't do the Quran justice.  It is an endless series of commands to submit to God.  It continually chastises those who don't.  "Islam" literally means "submission" and "Muslim" means "one who submits".  This is standard alpha/beta stuff.  Muhammad got to be alpha by channeling God.  This is how he broke up the Arab clans and united them under him and under Islam.  He took advantage of this to gain power and have many wives.  Islam had a productive period under the Abbasids in Persia, but my guess is that this was the result of Persian culture tempering Islam.  Pure Islam doesn't seem tolerant and what we see today in Islamic countries fits with the Quran.  The point of co-alpha is to cooperate instead of submitting to an alpha.  I find it hard to see how Islam could work for us.
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Re: Greek Orthodox

fschmidt
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
I ultimately changed my mind and chose the Greek Orthodox church for my family.  It is smaller than I would like, but many members come occasionally to church, so I shouldn't have judged the membership just from one visit.  The main drawback of Orthodox Christianity is the lack of vitality, but it is still by far my first choice from the churches that I visited.  I have been going to church with my family regularly for the last few weeks and I have been reading Bible.  It is working out so far.
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Re: Greek Orthodox

Visarett
Reading through what you've been going through with finding a church, I can empathize, and I am Christian. I've been to enough different churches to know the dilemma. A lot of talk on faith, but little to nothing on morals and ethical behavior. Congratulations on at least finding something that suits.
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Re: Unity Church

Humanity
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In reply to this post by fschmidt
fschmidt wrote
I can't start a religion because I have no charisma, and I have no direct line to God.  Even the most successful guys at starting religions, Moses, Christ, and Muhammad, based their movements on existing religions.  Moses based his religion on a one-God religion that existed in Egypt at the time.  Christ was just trying to reform Judaism, and later Paul changed the story to make it a new religion.  And Muhammad wanted to join Judaism but was rejected and was forced to create his own variant based on Judaism.

I haven't visited Islam yet but I hope to this Friday.
Just curious, but if one of us was charismatic enough, would you consider it a good idea to attempt forming a new religion for CoAlpha? Or do you think it could too easily go astray and devolve into a group that follows a charismatic alpha?

I think of cult leaders like Jim Jones, and he branched off of Christianity. Of course, he was charismatic enough to splinter off in the first place, so charisma is important I think, even without trying to start a new religion outright.
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