Re: Can we talk about this theosophy stuff?
Oct 27, 1994 04:18 PM
by Arthur Patterson
On Thu, 27 Oct 1994, Todd Robert Maas wrote:
> I don't know you but I am curious about why you deconverted from the
> Christian faith. Give me your story then we can talk. I am very
> interested and I think we can accomplish things. My name is Todd
> address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Todd & Other on Theosophy Listserv,
Here is a very abbreviated version of my story of the past few
years. It gives you a bit of a clue about me. I hope it helps.
I am really looking forward to hearing about theosophy and its
emphasis. If anyone could connect some of the things I have been
through from the Theosophical vantage point that might be a good
place to begin. Thanks in Advance.
I thought it would be clarifying if I were to write a bit of a
personal introduction to myself, for those I have only recently
met on the Net or on compuserve. When people speak about things
that matter to them it is easy to misinterpret due to a lack of
background. In a way, this intro is to confess my weak spots as
well as to reveal some of the strengths I may have to offer a
Recently I have been through some huge changes in my life. I
have experienced a kind of "deconversion" experience; from being
a minister in an exclusive faith system called evangelicalism.
Here is a bit of the story of how I moved from that position. I
am not interested in judgemental responses but would be open,
either through e-mail or posting, to discuss the psychodynamic
that lead to my change of faith.
I have was an ordained pastor in an evangelical denomination
called the Mennonite Brethren for the past seventeen years. As
time went on my theology changed from a literal faith in the
Bible to an experience-based understanding, which still
appreciates the authority of God's revelation in the experiences
of his people as recorded in the Bible, but adds to that an
interfaith, or as Matthew Fox puts it a deep ecumenism, as well.
I planted a church that promoted an attitude to the inner life
and the world that was significantly out of step with our
denominational emphasis. We experimented with many forms of
being church and were influenced by: dream interpretation, tarot,
Progoff Journaling, the Ennaegramm, as well as liturgical
renewal, dance, and a critical appreciation of Scripture.
Foremost of the influences on this group, and in my thinking, was
the work of C.G. Jung.
The sort of people that came to our church, which was then called
Cornerstone, were seekers, sometimes refugees, from
fundamentalism. Over the years, many of these people who were
bitter toward religious pietistic experience gained afresh a new
appreciation of the Mystery of God and the Soul. We grew,
developed workshops, and taught critical thought in an accessible
way for lay people. In the denomination, I was personally held
in suspicion and many felt that I had intimidated the more
conservative elements through introducing what some thought to be
a radical liberalism. Nevertheless, the Mennonite Brethren also
appreciated the fact that our church tackled questions that the
institutional church left unturned such as homosexuality,
dialogue with other religions, the place of the church in
confronting mental illness. In short, for many years, we were
respected and held in suspicion at the same time.
The denomination withdrew or stripped me of my ordination without
personal discussion or interaction. The community regathered
herself and I still am continuing with my teaching, writing and
counselling. As you can imagine, I struggle with this fearing
that being outside of the accountability structure we will indeed
degenerate into a "cult". But Watershed has built into itself
some self critique and freedom which we are hoping will not allow
any individual to dominate another. We also acknowledge that
this is not the only place were a person can grow and it is not
necessarily the right place for everyone.
My "defrocking", the shadow over my career, in the end turned out
to be my liberation. Through its disgrace I have received the
grace to be truthful. In the Christian Scriptures this is called
spiritual boldness. The early Christian movement learned
boldness as it disassociated itself from the need to please the
religious collective. In the end, I thank God for the gold of
the shadow found in a renewal of honesty and boldness.
Currently I am personally exploring a number of paths in order to
find a spiritual orientation. These include: Neo-Paganism
(Druidism); Anthroposophy, Theosophy, Celtic Studies, Tarot
Traditions, Gurdjieff, and esoteric Christianity. My wife, Bev
Patterson, and myself have developed a line of Solstice greeting
cards that utilize the images from the tarot. I also teach tarot
courses and edit a newsletter called Tarot Traditions. Tarot is
for us a path of growth not a path of divination or fortune-
telling. I have published two articles this year. One on
Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol, which is published in the
Dec.94 Dicken's Quarterly, and another - recently published
article, on the traumatic events of childhood in Sept\Oct. 94,
New Frontier magazine called "Catch Us If You Can".
I am starting to feel like I am filling out a job application but
as I said I wanted to show you were I am coming from in case as I
assume your path is very different from mine. Happy cyber-
talking! Now to the discussions.
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