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My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts
Andrea Palpant Dilley as a child with her missionary family Kenya.
May 5th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: Returning to church, despite my doubts

Editor's note: Andrea Palpant Dilley is the author of “Faith and Other Flat Tires.”

By Andrea Palpant Dilley, Special to CNN

During my junior year in college, I took a butter knife from my mother’s kitchen  and scraped the Christian fish decal off the back bumper of the Plymouth hatchback I’d inherited from my older brother. Stripping off that sticker foreshadowed the day, a few years later, that I would walk out of church.

The reasons for my discontent were complicated. By most standards, I had a healthy childhood.  I grew up the daughter of Quaker missionaries in a rural Kenyan community that laid the foundation for my faith. I spent the rest of my childhood in the Pacific Northwest, raised in a stable Presbyterian church that gave me hymns and mission trips and potluck dinners.

I was surrounded by smart, conscientious Christians, the kind of people who read 19th century Russian novels and took meatloaf to firefighters when much of eastern Washington state went up in flames in the fall of 1991.

When I started into my skeptic phase, my Christian community gave me space to struggle. They listened to my doubts about faith. They took my questions seriously.

And yet when I turned 23 I left the church.

Listening to a sermon at my older brother’s church one Sunday, I stood up, leaned over to my father and said, “This is bulls**t.” I made my way to the end of the pew and marched out of the sanctuary. The sermon didn’t sit right with me. The pastor was preaching about Psalm 91, saying in so many words that a person just needed to pray and have faith in order to be protected from suffering.

More than just that sermon, I was sick of church. I was sick, too, of all the spiritual questions plaguing me: Why does the church seem so culturally insulated and dysfunctional? Why does God seem distant and uninvolved? And most of all, why does God allow suffering?

These questions didn’t come out of nowhere. I’d spent time in high school volunteering in refugee camps in Kenya and in college working with families on welfare in central Washington. I saw hungry babies. I walked into homes that were piled with garbage and dirty laundry.

In an orphanage in the slums of Nairobi, I held AIDS babies and worked with disabled kids who’d been left at the front gates of the orphanage by parents who couldn’t afford to feed them. I saw things that I couldn’t make sense of as a Christian.

Walking out of church was a way of saying “To hell with it; I’m done.”

For two years, I skipped church. My Bible gathered dust on the shelf. The local bars became my temples. I indulged in the cliché rebellions of a Christian girl, smoking cigarettes and drinking hard alcohol. I got involved with men twice my age without thinking twice about it.  I wanted a break from being “good.”

And then, strangely, I woke up one morning at age 25, climbed into my car, and drove downtown to attend a 10 a.m. church service. I won’t relate here the whole story of how I came back to the church. But if I had to follow the standard testimonial narrative for Christians, the script for my life story would go something like this:

Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.

Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.

Step 3: Be exposed to the enticements of secular life.

Step 4: Try drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam.

Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned enticements.

Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of secular enticements.

Step 7: Return to church with penitent heart.

Step 8: Reestablish faith, discover good living.

In reality, I left the church more because of my own internal discontent than the lure of so-called secular life. When I came back, I still carried that same discontent. I was confused, and still bothered by questions and doubts. I stayed in the back row and didn’t sing or pray. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to be there.

And yet I sat there, Sunday after Sunday, listening to the pastor and the organ pipes and trying to figure out what was going on in my dark, conflicted heart.

Although I never experienced that dramatic reconversion moment, I did come to peace with two slow-growing realizations.

First: My doubt belonged in church.

People who know my story ask what I would have changed about my spiritual journey. Nothing. I had to leave the church to find the church. And when I came back, the return wasn’t clean or conclusive. Since then, I’ve come to believe that my doubts belong inside the space of the sanctuary. My questions belong on the altar as my only offering to God.

With all its faults, I still associate the church with the pursuit of truth and justice, with community and shared humanity. It’s a place to ask the unanswerable questions and a place to be on sojourn. No other institution has given me what the church has: a space to search for God.

Second: My doubt is actually part of my faith.

In Mark 9:24, a man says to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief.” The Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor called this the foundation prayer of faith. I pray that prayer often and believe that God honors my honesty.

I also believe God honors my longing. The writer and theologian Frederick Buechner said “Faith is homesickness.” C.S. Lewis called it “Sehnsucht,” a longing for a far-off country. I feel that sense of unshakable yearning. It comes from the deepest part of my heart, a spiritual desire that’s strangely, mysteriously connected to my doubt.

Sitting in church every Sunday, my doubt is my desire – to touch the untouchable, to possess the presence of God.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrea Palpant Dilley.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (3,753 Responses)
  1. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I have to say that I'm flattered by the fake posts. It's truly gratifying that trolls are so enamored of me that they use my screen name to pay tribute.

    I wave my gladiolus at you, dear ones.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You're just a coward. Everyone should remember that the next time you throw your vacuous insults around.

      My work here is done (for now)

      May 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Me too. It's been fun. Tom Tom, can be fun even when it's insulting.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Ron

      Here, tomtom, I'm waving something at you. Can you feel the breeze?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. Your dick couldn't raise a breeze if it tried.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Ron

      My what? I was talking about a palm frond! You have a filthy mind. I bet you're not a very nice person.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  2. blake

    Don't want to throw cold water on getting involved with a good local church, but that is not the core issue. You need to return to Christ. Or perhaps get to know Him for the first time.

    May 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Jablonski

      why?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • mandarax

      Thanks for informing me of what I need.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Christ left 2000 years ago. He needs to come back to me. Remember he is god so he is not constrained by time an space.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  3. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    The absolute best blog I've ever seen. I love it, and you should too, comrades.

    http://thepeoplescube.com/

    May 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Matt

      I suspected you were a commie.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Kiss me, I'm Kenyan.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Matt

      Obama is a Kenyan communist too! Small world.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, cute. A troll.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • Scooby Snacks

      http://thepeoplescube.com/peoples-blog/dog-interrupted-obama-to-host-culinary-adventure-show-t8852.html#139931

      Scooby says "eat more chikin"

      May 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No shlt. 'Ya think?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Hey, Matt, was that a communist too! or communist tool? Either way you're right.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Dear troll sweetie – you're not very cute.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Tom, Tom. Come out to play-ayy. (bottles clack)

      May 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      TOM, TOM. Come out to PaLAY-AYY. (bottles clack again)

      May 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sorry, I'll have to pass. My bi-weekly yeast infection is flaring up.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little thing. You are pitiful.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, damn, girl. Is that why you're always in such a foul mood? Maybe if you got some of that weight off and your plump little thighs weren't always slapping against each other?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "You are pitiful." Really? That's it? After all the insults you throw around in here that's the best you've got?

      Spin again, sweetie.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, and I'm a girl too, so let's move past calling each other be-otches. My guess is you've got no game anyway, but it'll be fun watching you go for it.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why bother? I've obviously achieved my goal. I'm your nemesis.

      What else do I need to do? You're so bothered by my posts that you use my moniker to impersonate me! It's such an honor. I can't imagine that my presence is required. Why not go to bed and rest assured you morons will carry on and make fools of yourselves without my intervention?

      Really, do you think I give two sh!ts what you do?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So that's your goal? To be my nemesis? And here I thought your goal was to be an obnoxious tw at. You sure had me fooled.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  4. Ofcourse

    My question is, once you've decided to be churched despite your doubts, how do you choose a church to belong to? Within Christianity alone there are so many of them. Do you go with the one you were born into/raised in, or do you pick a new one? How do you decide among all the different doctrines and practices? Do all Christian sects agree that it doesn't matter which one of them you choose, or whether you choose any as long as you have faith? How sure are you that you've picked the right path when there are so many different religions out there–so many of which aren't even Christian to begin with? Do you just pick whatever makes you feel good or whichever one seems to be the largest in your community, or the one that seems most approved of by your family? At what point does concern for understanding truth enter into this picture at all?

    May 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, according to Chad, the differences are immaterial and vanishingly small.

      Guess you'd have to ask him, as he's deemed himself the authority on all such matters.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Ofcourse

      The gospel according to Chad. Well I think most Catholics would tell you how important it is to join them and receive their sacraments, while most Mormons would tell you how important it is to join them and receive theirs, while many Christians in general would come out of the woodwork to say they don't think Mormons really qualify as Christians, while Mormons will claim that they most certainly are Christians, even if many of their beliefs and practices differ from mainstream Christianity, while some fundamentalist will say you have to handle snakes and women have to wear dresses, etc. etc. It's good to know that Chad can be relied on to settle such questions of truth.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      There's a good reason there IS not "Gospel according to Chad".

      Chad's a dolt.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Find one that holds to the teachings of scripture. If they don't believe the Bible is God's Word you might as well go to a country club. God gave us His Word so we could know His character and will.

      2 Timothy 3:16
      All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

      May 6, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Well I was in that exact situation and realized if you can't reasonably decide any are more true than another. Than you end up looking at the foundation of the religion and realize it is no different than believing in voodoo.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Ofcourse

      Don't ALL Christian sects claim they believe in the Bible–not only that, but understand it better than all the others? For heaven's sake, even the Mormons and Catholics make that same claim!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      It comes down to this...,

      So what kind of teaching do you do with the beating on slaves is ok as long as they don't die right away part?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  5. Ivar

    Atheists: How will your funeral be like?

    May 6, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • kebos

      Pretty much like yours but without the delusional mumb- jumbo. So, in short, much better.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      If we choose to be buried like you then we will be hit in the face with the same shovel.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Short on voodoo...

      May 6, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • sybaris

      Why would the circu.mstance of the funeral matter?

      Therein lies the fault of your religious belief system.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Surfeit

      Personally, I don't care. My family can dig a hole in the back yard and chuck my corpse in it, and I'll be none the wiser. Because I'll be dead, you see.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't claim to be an atheist, but I couldn't care less what my funeral is like. I don't give a crap who gets my stuff and I don't care where my remains end up.

      That answer your stupid query?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  6. Matt

    Tolerant liberal – Tolerant. (As long as you agree with them.)

    May 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Tolerant if you have a valid argument. Otherwise, screw you. Therefore, dearie, screw you.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • Chad

      tolerant: Showing willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That would eliminate you, Chard.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  7. kebos

    There are no secular enticements, only enticements.They exist in the church community as much as outside of it. Just be a good human being regardless.

    May 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • northern light

      Trouble is Kebos they think they need a god to be good....they think the bible is the authority on moral standards and human behaviour.....they think JC set down the standards for us all to follow as if there had been no good people prior to JC.

      Cooperation in societies engenders good behaviour...those that misbehave are ostracised

      May 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  8. wdgmartin1

    grist said: I suspect that as many Christians used their religion to fight against slavery as those who used used their religion to fight in support of slavery. If we should not blame religion for supporting slavery, then we should also not praise religion for fighting slavery.

    Not True: The question would still exist "Which acts seem to be most consistent with the content of the belief system." In this case it would be abolition. To try to support western slavery from the bible is an exercise in word twisting and ignorance.

    May 6, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Matt

      While the Spanish explorers were enslaving people it was Christian Spanish monks who were the first people in recorded history to start speaking out against the evils of slavery. Sadly there are more slaves today in the world then ever.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Where in the bible does it say owning people is wrong?

      It doesn't....for a god that is focused on rules this is a large omission.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Matt

      A smart person who has read the gospels and Jesus's teachings of how to treat each other one with a brain could conclude Jesus wouldn't have supported people who whip other people and enslave them.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you think the majority of people living at the time had the level of intellectual sophistication to interpret the Biblical teachings in any way other than literally?

      You're such a friggin' idiot.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      @No truth... The Bible does say that a slave should free himself if possible. In some cultures people sell themselves into slavery to pay off their debts. As a matter of fact that pretty much sums up what our public school guidance counselors are telling our children to do: indebt yourselves to the tune of $40,0000 – $200,000 to the system so you can get a college education and be in debt the rest of your life. Actually, that is contrary to the teaching of scripture that states "owe no man anything except that you love one another."

      May 6, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Well Matt,

      All Jesus had to do was don't own people.Since he is god and all you would think he could have gotten that massage across without having to figure out what he meant......unless he really was not god.

      Ohhhhhh, now it all makes sense.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      It comes down to this,

      That is garbage. There are plenty of verses that say otherwise. It says how much you can beat a slave. It is obvious you are trying to Rationalize your cognitive dissonance.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • Matt

      No Truth – the jews were practically slaves under Roman rule. Why do you think Jesus preached about the Kingdom of God instead of speaking about fighting against their oppresors and creating a reblellion? It's not rocket science to understand Jesus's overall msg. It wasn't to start wars and rebellions.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • northern light

      "the bible is an exercise in word twisting and ignorance."

      Couldn't resit that series of words ...all you need to know about religion.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      No Truth... Are you talking about Old Testament verses? Christ came to give His life to free us. Don't get hung up on he slavery thing. Christ wants us to be free. He said, 'If you continue in my teaching you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." I wish you no ill. Just stating some truth I have found. Really.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      Matt,

      The Torah is full of rules for the JEWS to own slaves......

      May 6, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't Matt's posts convince you he's a "Human Calculator"? That he holds multiple degrees in SCIENCE?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • No Truth, Just Claims

      It comes down to this,

      The whole reason for Jesus IS the OLd Testament. You can't cut out and minimize what you don't like. Jesus said he was not there to change the law.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  9. Ron from New Jersey

    For once CNN posted a flawless Boni fire true Christian article. My hat goes off to you sister.

    In Christ,
    Ron

    May 6, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Hey man

      it's spelled "bona fide."
      you wouldn't know that since you're obviously uneducated, so know ya know!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • apostate

      "bona fide" you christian twit.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      With sticks and stones I'll break your bones for thos names they do insult me! :-( :-) :-(

      May 6, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Then go away.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
    • Dave

      Hey man-
      It's spelled "so now you know".
      You wouldn't know that since you're obviously uneducated, so now you know!

      May 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • Rgeneration

      I love how the spelling nazis get all worked up. Get over it kids....

      May 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  10. Ed

    Returning to the church would be easier if the church wasn't so focused on secular matters and deciding that selected secular behavior is sinful simply because it is out of the mainstream. How long is your beard? How short is your skirt? Did you eat fish on Friday? (God must have changed his mind on that one somewhere along the line.) It's hard to envision a god that sits up in the clouds with a big ledger book looking over your shoulder at how you dress, what you eat and how many times you stop to pray all day, sort of like Santa Claus with his naughty/nice list. It would also help if the different Christian sects decided to stop spitting at each other. I clearly remember the day in high school when the girl down the street who went to the Catholic school told me I was going to Hell because I went to the wrong church and public school. It would also be nice for them to decide that it's OK to have been born OK the first time around (how insulting to my mother to tell me I should be born again!)

    May 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      What if He is in matter itself, in the compressed dimensions? What if he could be anywhere and everywhere at the same time? What forces are working around us that we cannot percieve or detect?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, for the love of Pete. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, pinhead?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Ed et al,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Ephesians 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;

      May 6, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
  11. joe

    Nothing there. Just another simpleton looking for a crutch to help her simple mind understand the world.

    May 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Matt

      Liberals are tolerant as long as you agree with them!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Conservatives are tolerant as long as you agree with them.

      See how that works, Mattie?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It cracks me up that a "math wiz" and a "human calculator" who has bachelor's degrees in biology and physics, and a master's in something or other has nothing more to do on Sunday night than mast@rbate on a forum like this one. Really, dude, find something worthy of your intellectual prowess!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • Charles

      Well that's easy Joe. Keep everyone in nice little boxes, makes life easy and . . . simple. Who might be the simple one in this conversation Joe?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
  12. Matt

    I think speaking out against people who stick things in each other's butt holes is just solid practical sanitary advice.

    May 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Sorry but just gotta laugh at that – hilariously funny! Agree!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Hey man

      Yeah.........a real tour de force of stellar wit.............

      May 6, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A comment truly worthy of an intellectual giant. Way to go, Matt. Truly impressive use of your brain.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Must agree, but at the same time, it isn't funny. I wish they could know how easy it really is to change. I understand doubt and perversion lol! Everyone says that it doesn't hurt anyone, but I disagree. Children have to bear witness to their acts on TV and in public. They want to raise children, something their disposition naturally does not allow them? Will not be too long until we will be like Pompeii or S&,G. Do you Atheists want to live in that?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • sybaris

      Yeah matt, it's not like heterose.xuals never get infections or diseases from having se.x

      You people are so ignorant

      May 6, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • northern light

      "I think speaking out against people who stick things in each other's butt holes is just solid practical sanitary advice."

      And just how would you know Mattie what alternate life style people get "up" to in private.
      Hiding a little secret are we....?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  13. Clare

    Clare simply has not had success at all in her own belief system. Clare is too self centered, materialistic, selfish and self righteous- and may I add prejudice to the mix. I have success following the Way of my Christian God- things seem to turn out better for me and for others.
    If there is No God, than I simply die having lived better than my self.
    If there is a God, then I have lived better than myself, and have Eternal life.

    May 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • edwardo

      If there is No God, than I simply die having lived better than my self.

      You would have died, having sacrificed the only existence you're going to get. Joining a cult, and professing to follow something that doesn't even existence, is a huge waste of your only existence. It did not better you... it devoured you.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      And do tell us what that eternal life will be like?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Voice of Reason – Depends on if your eternal life is in hell or heaven.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @It comes down to this...

      Then do tell me about heaven since I already know what hell is.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • joe

      You're an atheist and don't even know it. For the same reasons you don't believe in all the other gods but yours I don't believe in yours.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      edwardo,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      Devouring one's being is a dogged silliness and does not become of anyone to simulate towards! Child's playfulness is sometimes demeaning!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      @Voice of R – I've experienced a bit of hell, also, and a glimpse of heaven. They are opposites. Heaven is far too amazing to put into words. Perhaps try to imagine everything wonderful with no hint of anything bad or discouraging just total bliss.
      I believe their are descriptions in the bible but you have to experience it to really know the extent of it's wonder.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Clare

      If I live better following a Christian God where my behavior and actions show, for example Temperance, Justice, Prudence, and Tolerance to my Neighbor. In following my own "way" and standard's of behavior–I did not– why should anyone object to this? If I believe that I am the universe and thus I create my own standards of the above, as I stated before- and this NEVER worked for me nor did it benefit my Neighbor- why the objection?

      Through my work and an entire lifetime of Chemistry and Molecular Biology, I have found that there is more to LIfe than population-ME!. I understand that this is not the belief shared by All of mankind.

      I am looking for the "one" who doesn't believe in what I have stated to say:

      First, in this Country you have the RIGHT to FREEDOM of BELIEF
      2nd, I cannot Believe what you believe-but I give you the RIGHT to Believe
      3rd if it makes your life better with more purpose and benefits us, being your neighbor, then why should I object to it
      4th I believe you are so wrong to believe in a God- but I can peacefully discuss this with you
      5th and part peaceful and respectful
      what is so wrong with this?

      For me Eternal Life is my Belief in One greater than I, and that is my Christian God- Father, Son , and Holy Spirit.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  14. sqeptiq

    I know many fine people who are christians; I know many fine people who are not christians. I do not believe that in either case their faith or lack of faith made them fine people. "I like your Christ; I do not like your christians. They are so unlike your Christ." -Mohandas Gandhi

    May 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Matt

      I wish more Hindus were like Gandhi.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      I've known quite a few Christians who, although they are not perfect like Christ, they are in the process of sanctification and much better people than they were before they took the step of faith. I have seen people change from drunken alcoholics, drug addicts, child abuses, thieves, liars, to broken, repentant saints. My Christ is amazing!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Gandhi may well have only met and seen those children as missionaries still yetb wet behind theirselves! It very well may be the missionfields should not be for the very young for they know not their own issues of Life as yet! Shouldn't the elders of Christianity be the ones to be missionaries? Why lay such work upon the weakened minds of still yet pubesencies to do mission fielded works?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      And I've seen people become bitter, hostile, judgmental lunatics when they had their religious "awakenings".

      May 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      johnfrichardson,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      They must be in need of meds,,,, kinda like what I take,,, Keeps me from believing I am the Lord! Ever since my 33rd year I became drawn to believing I was He and thru social bigotries He put my mind aside and became my will and in so doing I was put on many so many different types of meds till they found the righteous meds! Now 57, 34 years has passed since Christ took over my will, I know the whys but not the what-fors! I'll keep on plugging away to find the solace and peace of mind I am now alluring towards! God willing!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      God's oldest dreamer, please be coherent.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      PerceivedReality, It is for sure easier for the average person to part the Red Sea than it is for God's Oldest Dreamer to be coherent.

      But yes, G.O.D, at least some of these people truly did need meds. Others were just nasty, but not out of touch with reality to the point of critical dysfunction. And no, the people I know who found some sort of religion were not ALL crazy and/or nasty, but the blithe assumption that all such conversion experiences make people better is simply untrue.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
    • northern light

      @ it comes to this
      "I have seen people change from drunken alcoholics, drug addicts, child abuses, thieves, liars, to broken, repentant saints"

      In case you had not noticed all of the above exist in the thousands within the various religious faiths....in particular the third one that is represented in a abundance within the church.....puts a different twist on getting them while they are young.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
  15. wdgmartin1

    Phoenix224 says: christianity is hindering education and development in many countries around the world and we need to stop it.

    Really? That's strange . . . here is a test case: My daughter – She is raised in a Christian home. I have told her time and time again she has to make up her on mind on the faith issue. Time and time again telling her "I do not want you to say you 'believes' unless you come to that conclusion.' I will always love you – do not allow the fact of my faith to deter you – pursue the truth and be true (not a hypocrite)."

    Anyway, she is the highest scoring student on the SAT in a school of 3000. Excels in foreign language, chemistry, mathematics and literature is her love. Has earned over 1 year of college credit and she is only 16 (17 in November). Has been contacted by Harvard, Brown, Yale, Oxford, MIT, etc., etc., (this is going on literally non-stop, every mind-numbing day). She wants to become a doctor and go work in a developing country where doctors are scarce – says she does not care at all about the money but just really wants to help people. And she says that she wants to do this because of her faith . . .

    So, at least in her case, can you explain to me how Christianity is hindering education and development in many countries?

    May 6, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      You have been blessed with a wonderfilled daughter wdg,,,,,, In essence I do salute your vigor and thoughtfilled venue to let your daughter choose! Bravo and more!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      What would you do if she came to you and said; "Dad, I'm a lesbian and I don't believe in god." ?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Chad

      congratulations, sounds like a heck of a girl

      May 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Dreamer: thanks and all the best to you.

      Voice of Reason: I would think she is wrong, would talk to her about it and tell her the reasons why I think that way and then I would just have to leave it to her to choose her life and all of it's particulars. I would still have an amazing respect for her intellect and her strength to pour energy into stuff that matters instead of vapid nonsense. And would of course, love her all the same – nothing could ever change that.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Chad- you're not in S Florida (Broward) are you?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      I can respect your love for her and appreciate it but why do you think she would be wrong?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Chad

      @wdgmartin1 "Chad- you're not in S Florida (Broward) are you?"

      =>I'm light years from Fl :-)

      congrats again, you must be very proud

      May 6, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Chad – very proud, just can't believe she is my daughter! A lot stronger character and much smarter than I was at her age.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Chad

      Voice of Reason: I would think she is wrong, would talk to her about it and tell her the reasons why I think that way and then I would just have to leave it to her to choose her life and all of it's particulars. I would still have an amazing respect for her intellect and her strength to pour energy into stuff that matters instead of vapid nonsense. And would of course, love her all the same – nothing could ever change that."

      post of the year, well said!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Lol

      "here is a test case: My daughter – She is raised in a Christian home. I have told her time and time again she has to make up her on mind on the faith issue. Time and time again telling her "I do not want you to say you 'believes' unless you come to that conclusion.' I will always love you – do not allow the fact of my faith to deter you – pursue the truth and be true (not a hypocrite)."

      Anyway, she is the highest scoring student on the SAT in a school of 3000. Excels in foreign language, chemistry, mathematics and literature is her love. Has earned over 1 year of college credit and she is only 16 (17 in November). Has been contacted by Harvard, Brown, Yale, Oxford, MIT, etc., etc., (this is going on literally non-stop, every mind-numbing day). She wants to become a doctor and go work in a developing country where doctors are scarce – says she does not care at all about the money but just really wants to help people. And she says that she wants to do this because of her faith . . .

      So, at least in her case, can you explain to me how Christianity is hindering education and development in many countries?"
      .
      .

      Pssssst!
      Pssssst!
      hey, dude!.......we all know you're lying!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Voice of Reason: I would think her wrong because I believe there is a God and I don't believe lesbianism is a wise choice.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      You still haven't answered why do you think she would be wrong?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Lol: yeah, I'm lying about my daughter. Just made that up for the sake of an argument.

      Nope, sorry, I was telling the full bore truth!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Voice of reason: Can't go into all of the details of why – that's a book, so I gave you the generalities. That will suffice on a forum like this – you can draw the line between those dots.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      OK, you gave me the generalities; you believe in god and you don't think it's a wise choice. That's it? It doesn't take a book to answer a simple question of why you think ho*mose*xuality is wrong. Come on dude, spit it out!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You would "think she is wrong"? Why? Suppose she says she thinks YOU are wrong?

      What evidence do you have that she is "wrong" about the gender of the person to whom she's attracted? What's "wrong" about it? Why is her attraction "wrong" and yours "right"?

      Really, wdstupid, you're a simpleton. People can't choose the attractions they feel.

      What kind of retard are you?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Hey Tom, Tom
      She could look at her physiology and figure it out real quick, and I will say it, Obamanation.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      It is a choice, everyone chooses what they DO.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Get off the crack pipe, idiot. Your post is not close to intelligible.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      PR, you're a moron. No one chooses s3xual orientation.

      Why should anyone be denied the right to marry the person he/she loves?

      Did you choose to be attracted to your spouse? When?

      You're beyond stupid. Just off yourself, dear. It would be a huge benefit to society.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
    • northern light

      There are many in doctors without borders who do not push faith .....they simply wish to assist those in need and are not driven by a need to good deeds because of faith ....they are helping humanity because they have the skills to do so.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Tom,
      You are believing in a lie. Every person has control of the theatre of their mind, and everyone has control of the acts they commit with their body. I am witness to the power of the Holy Spirit. The HS changed me instantly from a long term (20y) difficulty I had. That is what free choice is all about. If you had a re-occuring desire to place a .357 mag revolver against your head and pull the trigger, would you ever DO it? Would you keep letting yourself think about it?

      May 6, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Tom,
      I am sorry for any offense you may have discerned, I wish for all people to have peace. I just cannot sit back while I watch people believe they do not have a choice about what they DO. They may feel strong desires but they do not have to ACT on them. I know about temptation, lust, and perversion and I KNOW it can be overcome, for me it was Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I hope truly hope that peace and victory are yours in ALL things no matter how you get them.

      May 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Oh, suck my hind ti t, you moron. Why should anyone be denied the right to marry a person he/she loves simply because your imaginary sky fairy doesn't approve? Your god ain't the ruler of this nation, you idiot. Get over it. This isn't a theocracy; it's a nation of rational law.

      Don't like it? Who cares? Get out and shut up.

      May 6, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Andrea Palpant Dilley-
    What a brave and beautifully written piece, thank you for writing it :)
    -Encouraged reader

    May 6, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      I thought so as well . . .

      May 6, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      How is it "brave?"

      May 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      It's brave because she admits who she was/is instead of just pretending to be what she thinks people would be happy with. She's not a poser. . .

      May 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
  17. wdgmartin1

    phoenix224 – Specific, concrete evidence please?

    May 6, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  18. wdgmartin1

    It's really not just a viewpoint – it's history. If it's wrong put it in writing – answer the question "Who were the great abolitionists?"

    In other words, don't act like people who have religious faith are all knuckle-dragging idiots who make no contribution to the world. History doesn't bear that out.

    May 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      For Voice of Reason

      May 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      wdgmartin1,,,,,,, aksed VoR a question regarding the "abolitionists"! Because history wasn't my fortay, I may be wrong but,,, Weren't they a group of people who fought for slavery to be ended once and for all time here in the U.S?A.?

      May 6, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • wdgmartin1

      Abolitionists: yes we had them in the US but they were first in Europe (especially England).

      May 6, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  19. Michael R.

    drugs and cigarettes and Pearl Jam = secular enticements.

    Give me a break. seems to me all she wanted was an exuse to be a "bad girl"

    her list should of looked like this:

    Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.
    Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.
    Step 3: Be exposed to other people living in "sin".
    Step 4: felt guilty for drinking and smoking and pearl jam.
    Step 5: Leave the church because of aforementioned guilt.
    Step 6: Experience epiphany; realize vapidness of stupid youth choices.
    Step 7: Return to church
    Step 8: Reestablish faith, discover good living

    May 6, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Lulz

      or,
      Step 1: Grow up in a Christian church.
      Step 2: Go off to college away from said church.
      Step 3: Screw all her professors, contract herpes
      Step 4: Return to church
      Step 5: Write shallow book; plug it on CNN blog

      May 6, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
  20. wdgmartin1

    Tony: A group of Greek came up with democracy. That couldn't possibly have come from a top-down Church hierarchy.

    True. But the democracy they came up with was nothing like ours. Their world was consumed by slavery and inequality. Question: In history, who were the great abolitionists? Who really fought sacrificially to end slavery?

    I know some will point out the "sins" of so called Christians in slavery – and it is true many were wrapped in ignorance in this regard. Nevertheless, because some could not see the truth concerning equality for all men (and it's implications) that does not negate the fact that the great abolitionists were Christians and they fought for freedom for others because of their belief that men are CREATED equal, have inherent dignity and are worthy of respect. Further, they derived this belief from their reading of the Bible.

    May 6, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      What a lame, lame, lame viewpoint.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
    • phoenix224

      You have to realize that we can disprove all forms of christianity very easily and theat is the real issue here. Not how christians have acted in the past but that christianity is hindering education and development in many countries around the world and we need to stop it. That is the entire issue with church faith ect. and that is all that matters.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • PerceivedReality

      Phoenix I call BS on that. If anything, Christians help education by building schools through missionaries.

      May 6, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
    • It comes down to this...

      Voice of Reason
      What a lame, lame, lame viewpoint.

      Ummm... What an infinitely lame post! Lol

      May 6, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      wdgmartin1,,,,,,,,,,,, ,

      I do believe your Word of Truth!

      May 6, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
    • grist

      I suspect that as many Christians used their religion to fight against slavery as those who used used their religion to fight in support of slavery. If we should not blame religion for supporting slavery, then we should also not praise religion for fighting slavery.

      May 6, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.