Who are we? Introductions here!

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Who are we? Introductions here!

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Feb 10, 2007, 2:35pm

I guess this is a day for me to scratch my brain and wonder about the world around me...Who are we? And why are we here?

I see we have some new members, hello! And I have been looking at some pretty impressive, and widely varying libraries! Wow.

So I was wondering about the collective 'us.' Please, introduce yourself. Tell us why you joined World Religions and what interests you about the topic. (Okay, the easier question might be what /doesn't/ interest you...lol...but we have to start somewhere!) Do you have any religious affiliations? Does any particular tradition or line of study captivate your heart or mind (or both)? Are you a scholar, if so what's your expertise?

Tell us a little about who you are.

Feb 10, 2007, 3:01pm

OK -
My name is Mackan Andersson, Standup comedian, writer (with one published book, so far. "Popular theology". About Humor and christian faith) and student of theology, with a special heart for church history, from the early church to Celtic expressions of christianity, in particular (although I have some shelf-meters of books on martyrdom, aswell).

Coming from an atheistic family, I became a christian in my teens, after having been an active Zen-buddhist for some years.

Have a special interest in the relationship between christianity and western occultism.

And read the Quran last year, as I took some classes on Islam, to try to understand more, and persume less.

3Mithalogica First Message
Mar 7, 2007, 11:22am


I'm a religious studies major with a Jewish studies minor. Also doing an accelerated BA/MA, with Honors, so I'm kinda crazy some days.

My main interests are early Christianity as a political force, Judaic mysticism and Kabalah, and applying the work of Michel Foucault to anything and everything. I also have done work in Fundamentalism, Medievalism, and the work of George Orwell with regard to ideas of language, truth and power.

I have just started cataloging, so look for my list to grow when I have time to enter more of my books.

Mar 10, 2007, 9:10am


I have a BA in Anthropology & I'm a prospective religious studies MA/PhD sudent. My passion is Mythology. Other focuses include how ancient religions that were practiced in close proximity to each other affected each other's development and how those influences are evident in today's religions, and the study of women's places in religion, whether as dieties or believers.

In terms of specific religious traditions, the pre-Christian religions of the Middle East & Mediterranean, Hinduism, Native American religions, and Sufism are those I am most interested in.

My own religious background is Lutheran. When I was 12 though, I became extremely attracted to Hinduism. My teen years were marked by an affinity for Buddhism, specifically Zen, as well as a deepening appreciation of Native American spirituality, a subject I had been drawn to ever since I had read Black Elk Speaks in grade school. In college I began studying early goddess worship and was struck first by the apparent lack of the sacred feminine within protestant Christianity, and then by how closely Christian myths parrallel pagan goddess cycle myths, simply with the Goddess obscured. Most recently I have been reading up on Islam, specifically Sufism, as I mentioned above. I attend an Episcopal church & still define myself as a Christian (and a Lutheran), but other religious traditions still speak to me & I think that there are many paths to God.

As for my library here, like raven moon I've barely begun cataloging my books, so don't judge by the present dearth you may see :-)

Jun 26, 2007, 7:05am

I have dual South African and Ghanaian citizenship and live in Accra, Ghana.
Chapter 32 in my novel Ama, a Story of the Atlantic Slave Trade is a fictional speculation on the origins of Candomble. That chapter is available on-line through a link at

Apr 29, 2008, 4:18pm

Hi everyone,

I just found this group, though I wish I found it months ago. This coming fall I will be studying religion at UMASS Boston.

My chosen path is an eccletic Witch, but my religious interests are biblical history/archaeology, all world religions, religious history, goddess cults, the list goes on and on. And I am sure it will get even longer once I start my academic study and am open to an even wider world of the topics.

I have no idea yet what my main focus in my religion studies will be, but I'll probably end up being a life long student as I am eager to suck in all the information I can.

I've noticed there are some other religious studies students here, I'd love to chat!

May 3, 2008, 2:17pm

Hi! I'm Jonathan, a high school senior. I'm attending community college to finish high school and have been interested in this subject for a good while. I'm very excited for next quarter because I'm signing up for an anthropology of religion class and introductory psychology (because one of my other main interests is the connection between religion and psychology).

Jun 23, 2008, 11:15am

Reuben. I am a librarian and I teach. Have an MA in Religious Studies. I'm interested in critical (not destructive) theories about religion. Why are people religious? How do they understand the basic religious concepts and communicate across relgious boundaries? One of these days I'm going to actually finish William James, Varieties..., this past winter I read Stark's, Discovery of God. Enjoyed Naipaul's Among the Believers, and Beyond Belief, and read Esposito's the Straight Path twice this year. I'm a Christian.

Edited: Sep 3, 2008, 5:28pm

My name is Frank, I'm a college student working on a Religious Studies major, planning to go on to get my DD and join the Unitarian Universalist ministry. My personal religious beliefs are kind of hard to explain. My search began when I was five, and survived an E-Coli infection from a hamburger at Jack-in-the-Box, followed two years later by a burst appendix, which was caught a week after it popped, and resulted in a two week stay in the hospital after throwing up neon green in the middle of the night. The appendix was weird because it had moved down away from my vital organs, and was walled off from the rest of my body. Looking back on these events in high-school convinced me that God or someone higher must exist, and they must want me here for something.

I began studying Wicca, but gave it up after a year or two of discovering that it not only didn't do anything for me, but most practitioners new nothing about what their religion actually taught, instead focusing on practicing pop ritual magic. I only ever met one person who knew who Gerald Gardner, the guy who founded the religion in the '50's was.

After that I began digging into Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. Two years before going off to college I met a man who introduced me to the Ancient Wisdom, the idea that all religions are based on the same teachings, and that there are a group of Ascended Masters, including Jesus, Buddha, and many others most do not know about, who watch over the human race and its spiritual progress. Although I have never joined their member roles, I became interested in the Theosophical movement at the same time, and have recently started attending a Unitarian Universalist church. While my Spiritual beliefs remain with the Ancient Wisdom school, my religious beliefs have evolved into a cross between Christianity and Buddhism, so the UUs are a pretty good match for me.

My interests change from year to year, other than studying the Ancient Wisdom, Buddhism, and Christianity. I've been studying Mormonism a bit lately, what with everything thats going on with the FLDS and other groups, and the whole thing comes off as kind of laughable to me.

I read anything and everything about all religions. I guess my interests are similar to rsairs. I'm trying to understand why people are religious, how they understand basic religious concepts and communicate across relgious boundaries. I disagree with those who say that religion is a stand in for psychology. If it is, why is it still around? I also think its foolish to believe its a form of control. While there is an aspect of control to organized religion, I don't think thats a key part of it anymore. There is something going on, there is some truth that all religions are trying to get to, yet none have reached it, because they have all become corrupted after their prophet died, and I'm trying to understand what it is.

Jul 20, 2008, 10:14am

My name is Allan Mussehl. I'm a Unitarian (UU) living in Wisconsin. I'm a retired University Professor/Administrator who still teaches Theatre in London once a year. My primary academic credentials are in Film History and Theory. I've a passion for mythology and folklore and comparative religion. (I consider them to be pretty much "all in the same".) I've read pretty extensively in many esoteric areas, thus the scope of my library. I got interested in many of these topics through graduate courses in Rhetoric many years ago. Classical Rhetoric IS the study of belief (of one kind or another). I'm very interested in exploring the roots of belief -- most of which stem, in my opinion, from Shamanic or enthenogenic roots. Anyone out there into Terence McKenna or the book "Road to Eleusis"?

Edited: Sep 5, 2008, 7:02pm

It would take a long time and a lot of space to introduce myself in a discussion about religion; unfortunately, I have time now to say only a little. My experience with and ideas about religion have made me an eccentric in--and an unwilling irritant to-- every group of human beings of which I have ever been a member. From childhood, on account of the Christian doctrine that I was taught from the age of about 7, I was certain that I was going to eternal torture in literal, fiery Hell. I continued to believe that doctrine well into adulthood. It would take some extended discussion to account for the persistence of that terror in my mind for so many years. One major reason for that persistence is that I understood that eternal Hell is a genuine tenet of authentic Christianity, despite the ubiquitous obscurantism and denial that modern "Christians" continually employ to disguise and disclaim the extreme cruelty and capriciousness of the god they claim to worship. In any event, when the issue in question is eternal torture, nothing else can be of remotely comparable concern to a person; thus, religion has consumed the greater part of my thoughts and energy for most of my life, and mostly in an exceedingly horrible manner.

It was not until my first year of university that I was exposed to any ideas that effectively called the abhorrent doctrines of my childhood into question. Thus, education in critical subjects like philosophy became supremely important to me. It was the only means that might lay the specter of a divinely imposed eternal torture that I could do nothing to avert. Soon, however, I came to value learning for its own sake, and have continued to do so to the present day. It is about the only thing that motivates me. My intellectual and emotional development over the last twenty-some years would take considerable time and thought to relate. I can say, though, that I am no longer consumed by thoughts of eternal torture, and am finally convinced that, happily, Christianity is false. I am not writing any of this out of bitterness or with anger. I now spend little or no time or thought in regretting my experience, although I did so until fairly recently. I am simply answering the introductory questions honestly and openly.

I still study religion, but rather as part of my general learning, just as I study secular philosophy, history, literature, and other intellectual subjects. It is a fascinating and still vitally important subject. My own convictions about religion have been hard-won by both experience and study, and I am, in the main, quite settled in them. On the other hand, I am not quite decided about certain important questions that, while not necessarily religious, are usually closely connected with religion and almost always arise in discussions about it. I would surely benefit from the ideas and experiences of other members concerning these topics. In any case, I expect to gain insights and, I hope, edification, from the discussions that will take place here, and I hope that some of what I will say will be helpful to others.

You can learn a little about my interests by viewing my LT profile and library. I welcome your questions or comments.

To answer some of the questions in Message #1 explicitly:

"Do you have any religious affiliations?"

"Does any particular tradition or line of study captivate your heart or mind (or both)?"
Well, Christianity held me captive for most of my life, as I have said, but I'm not sure I'd say that it captivated me. It now remains of considerable interest to me, but as one of my subjects of study rather than the inscrutable secret of my eternal doom. In keeping with my Classical orientation and related preference for chronological order, I am especially interested in religions of the ancient Mediterranean region. I intend soon to begin learning about living world religions, beginning with their primary sources.

"Are you a scholar, if so what's your expertise?"

I have a M.A. in Classics (Greek and Latin), but I would be reluctant to call myself a scholar (in the event that a M.A. degree would automatically qualify me as a nominee for that designation).

Edited: Sep 9, 2008, 12:53pm


I'm a student of Anthropology and Religious Studies. My research focuses on the uses of culture and religion in culturally sustainable development within developing nations. This basically means that I really love working with people, learning about their lives and their beliefs, and finding local/indigenous ways to solve problems. This ranges from finding religiously appropriate ways to talk about AIDS and sexual health all the way to helping establish local economies that are environmentally sustainable as well as cultrally viable.

I guess I would describe myself as an ecumenical pluralist, which is less a declaration of faith, really, than a marker of my hopeful view of religion. I read equal parts Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and indigenous religious works. Anthropologists define religion as a set of beliefs through which people seek to understand their world, the natural and the supernatural. I just need to know what it is that they see.

Sep 5, 2008, 10:36pm


I'm glad someone has put a new post here. I hope others will follow suit; I was disappointed when this first thread ended when it had barely begun.

You see that my post is the last one before the group dissolved. I guess it somehow drove everyone off.

Sep 5, 2008, 11:39pm

I kind of randomly found this thread. I am actually a cradle Episcopalian, but have been interested in other religions for some time. While in Detroit and Indianapolis (late 80's and 90's), I was involved in Interfaith work/gatherings. Now that I live on Long Island, this is much less.

In Detroit, I was member of the lay trialogue group within the Greate Detroit Interfaith Roundtable of Christian, Muslims and Jews. I did a spiel on Christianity 101 for the group; and then I did a look at Yugoslavia in 1992. I started my research while Serbia had military incursions into Croatia, but things hadn't gotten bad in Bosnia-Hercegovina, but by the date of the talk ....

In Indianapolis I was part of Interfatih Indianapolis, a more of a social gathering group that did various types of efforts. This group kind of had equal numbers of Catholics, Protestants, Unitarians, Muslims, Jews, and Bahais. Not many Buddhists or Hindus were in Indy quite at that time -- it's probably different today. Protestants were not only Methodists and Episcopalians, but included Christian Brethren and Quakers. All-in-all, an interesting mixture.

Sep 5, 2008, 11:39pm

Not at all -- I found your post very interesting, criels, and parts of it mirror my own journey. It's a pity the group isn't more active. Welcome to you, and also to atlargeintheworld. :)

Sep 6, 2008, 4:27pm

It seems to me that we have plenty to discuss among ourselves. I see topics in what you (plural) have already written that I'd like to discuss.

Edited: Aug 9, 2009, 2:15pm

I've not joined this group before as I'm more interested in the lived experience of faith than in the historic side (cf the group description), but I've now posted a couple of times so I think it behooves me to join and to introduce myself.

I'm John, originally from UK but I've spent the last 30-odd years living and working in Africa, mainly Sudan but also Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. I've worked with churches in a variety of fields, including mission, education and humanitarian aid, and for the last ten years or so in justice, peace and human rights.

In Sudan I've experienced two extremes of Islam: its use as the political ideology of an oppressive Islamist military dictatorship, and the open and hospitable Islam of the ordinary Sudanese Muslims, mainly connected with Sufi turuq. Over the years I've also interacted with traditional African religion, Buddhism, Native Americans, Sikhs and more. I'm a Catholic, and will remain one as that's where my roots and my culture lie, but my spirituality has been informed by interaction with all of these. I hate labels, but I believe I would be considered a "progressive" or "liberal" Christian, although I also have a great respect for tradition and roots (which are often not as "traditional" as the people who appropriate that label believe).

I wouldn't call myself an academic but I do have an MA in Spirituality from a progressive US Catholic university. I have been involved in inter-faith dialogue from time to time, and my job involves writing a fair bit of political analysis about Sudan and the Horn of Africa, where religion is intrinsic to politics (and pretty much everything else).

I'm not very interested in religious debates - I prefer conversations where we all respect and learn from each other.

Aug 9, 2009, 3:31pm

Guess I will get on this bandwagon too!

My field is Interdisciplinary Humanities, and I have a MA in this and degrees in Psychology, Literature, Buddhist Studies, and am working on a post-grad certificate in Religious Studies.

Broad, broad, broad is the name of my game... I teach for university in Communications, Religion, Literary Criticism, and Analytical writing in the Humanties, and all of my courses are interdisciplinary. Train animals, play fiddle music, LOVE shapenote singing, leader of a 60 member plus ladies outdoor adventure group (very active), and could classify myself a lay Theravadin practitioner (Buddhism).

Very much enjoy exploring ideas and being exposed to various perspectives. Appreciate open, respectful discussion where everyone can feel welcome. Reasonable debate fine!

Aug 9, 2009, 7:44pm

This is amazing: two people posting in this forum in one day. As you can see from the posting history, not much activity occurs here, although some people have tried to generate some; I had given up the cause. Let's seize the day!

Aug 10, 2009, 10:56pm

I think there are people who are afraid of interfaith dialogue and sharing, as they might lose their faith. I think the opposite is true, as you can understand your own faith better when you think how your faith comes across to friends who are part of another faith, and how their conversation might clarify or bring to light your own faith experience.

I can remember listening to young adult Muslims talking enthusiastically about their hajj. I began to think about my own experiences of pilgrimage, not as well defined as theirs, but certainly poignant in my own life. I remembered visiting Trinity College Chapel Cambridge with my mother. I was feeling touristy, but she said why don't we just sit and be quiet. We did for a while, and an organ tuner came in and tuned the organ, and then he, tiring of the tuning, played some beautiful Bach. By then, I knew my mother had a kind of intuitive spirituality, which beforehand I might have been dismissive of, but now had more respect for.

Aug 11, 2009, 1:14am

That's a lovely story of the visit to Trinity Chapel and the organ experience. Being open and able to embrace an experience or another's ideas can bring unexpected richness.


Edited: Aug 11, 2009, 1:19pm

As I've been yapping away in some of the other threads I suppose I ought to be polite and introduce myself as well, which apparently I hadn't done before.

I'm 38, female, Caucasian, live in the Pacific Northwest but originally from the Midwest. I can probably best be described as an agnostic atheist. I was raised Protestant Christian -- I was baptized Lutheran as an infant, then attended a First Christian church (with occasional forays to friends' Presbyterian youth group) and, later, a Calvinist Baptist one (my parents remain Calvinist to the present day).

I find religions and their beliefs and traditions fascinating -- and, at times, repugnant; and at times, admirable. I think that in today's globalized world, it's wise to know at least a little something about what other people believe and why they believe it (even if you don't share that belief yourself).

I've enjoyed studying Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Baha'i Faith, Sikhism, Christianity, Paganism, vodun, and others. I'm only an armchair scholar, though, and have no formal degrees in any of these. It might be interesting to go back to university and make a formal study of comparative religions someday, but that is not in the cards at the moment.

Jul 10, 2011, 7:23pm

Greetings! No one has introduced him- or herself in some time, so I might as well interrupt the silence.

I'm JB - 23, male, of predominantly German heritage. I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was raised in a religious quasi-vacuum but always had a fascination with Greek mythology. I think I may well have heard of Zeus before I heard about Jesus! I converted to Christianity around the age of ten or eleven - my memory of the date is quite hazy - and slowly proceeded to begin the study of religion. I now hold a BA in religion and philosophy and am in the process of obtaining an MDiv. I identify first and foremost as an ecumenically minded Evangelical Christian with certain Orthodox sympathies and a definite loyalty to a broadly Chalcedonian theology. Within Christianity, my main interests these days are Trinitarian theology, church history, and Christian philosophical theology. I've also enjoyed the study of a variety of other religious traditions, both Christian and non-Christian, but have generally found the Abrahamic religions to hold the most fascination. These days, aside from my own tradition, I've been getting the most enjoyment out of studying Mormonism. I also have done some study, though not enough for my tastes, of the colonial-era religious movement that founded my hometown. I have a special fascination for reading what might be termed 'apologetic literature' from a multitude of positions on the religious spectrum, including atheistic stances. Not being certain what else to say at the moment, I'll leave it at that.

Jan 24, 2012, 7:44pm

Hi! I'm Steve (ooh, I love trite salutations). What an eclectic group!

I am a devout follower of St. Christopher (Hitchins) and St. Dawkins, but am fascinated by world religions.

Jul 6, 2012, 10:57pm

I'm Travis. I'm a religious studies student and am involved in an extended individual program involving studying and practicing the rituals and practices of various world religions.

Edited: Jul 7, 2012, 3:35pm

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jul 7, 2012, 12:00am


Jul 7, 2012, 2:01am

>26 lawecon: Well, I read it whenever there is a new post on it.

Jul 7, 2012, 10:18am

re. #26 ... wouldn't it be more fun to have the telekinetics raise our hands?


Jul 7, 2012, 12:55pm

I'm still around, also.

Edited: Jul 7, 2012, 3:36pm

O.K., then, well I'll spend a few minutes posting about background.

I am a 62 year old lawyer practicing principally in the areas of commercial litigation and Chapter 11. I use to be (in the mid-70s to mid-80s) a college professor teaching odd topics in Economics like general equilibrium theory, history of economic thought, and economic methodology (a branch of philosophy of science). I have a Ph.D. in Economics, a B.A. in Economics and Philosophy and the standard American practitioner degree in law (J.D.).

Around age 15 I abandoned Christianity (mainline American Methodist variety) in favor of deism/atheism/agnosticism (a position that if there is a G-d he is nonpersonal and largely irrelevant to individual choices). About a decade ago I became a Jew. (Conservative with the usual ambiguities that means today.)

Before and after conversion I have engaged in rather extensive informal studies in Judaism, Christianity and Islam that have involved a number of classes and random readings spawned by those classes. Some, but not all, of those readings are shown in my library on Librarything. Conversely, some of the things shown in my library I have not read or have not read with the care that one should read a scholarly book.

I would today consider myself to be a mainstream Jew, but as Judaism is not a creedal faith that probably means things different than a Christian or Muslim might imagine.

Jul 10, 2012, 9:16am

lawecon - your story is very interesting. I have a friend who is Methodist and considering converting. What brought you to Judaism?

Edited: Jul 10, 2012, 10:18am


I started reading what you know as the "Old Testament" and asked among Jews what they thought it meant. What they thought it meant had almost no relationship to what I had been taught in my Christian days, or, for that matter, in my atheist days.

Beyond that, Judaism fits very well with conclusions I had reached in my studies of Philosophy, Economics and Political Theory decades ago. You see, Judaism is not a "religion," as you may think of "religion." It is not a series of dogmatic BELIEFS. There are very very few beliefs that are essential to be a Jew. Rather, Judaism it is a series of rules about modes of action - somewhat like rule utilitarianism. It is also a community, what loosely might be called "a tribe" (if you understand a tribe as an association of people with similar modes of life and not as a genetic group). Jews maintain their modes of action in a pragmatic way, but ultimate do not allow infringements beyond a certain point. Principled pragmatism, if you will.

All of that fits very well with my world understanding and my psychological makeup.

The assertions about G-d becoming man and the G-d/man then saving the rest of mankind from imagined evils that apparently do not exist to start with, through sacrifices that are not sacrifices, and that have no relevance to the purported dangers faced by mankind, seem to me to be less coherent and less meaningful than the primitive Greek views about Zeus and his covey of other gods. Hence, I am still very much a Christian atheist.