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Even as I write this I am hesitant to make this post. However, it has been on my mind for a few years now. Religion is such a volatile subject and I hope this won't stir up a hornets nest but rather this will be a calm, respectful discussion. My family was Presbyterian. I was brought up going to Sunday school from the start. When I was around 10 yr old I asked that instead of Sunday school, could I go with mom to "the big room" with her. Even then I was looking for answers. The deal in my family was you had to go to church through the 8th grade but after that it was your choice to continuing going or not. I was not satisfied with what I was hearing so I stopped. When I was in college I took several religion classes as electives; History of Religion, World Religions, etc. Though not entirely sure what I was looking for, I knew I still hadnt found any answers. I developed my own religion of sorts - prayed daily, tried to be a good person - even wore a cross around my neck - not particularly in reference of Jesus but more of a daily commitment to be a giving, kind, generous person. I even went a couple of years watching "church on TV" - that's how I viewed it. I became a big fan of Joyce Meyer - who I still think is awesome. I would say as far as religion goes I am maybe a tiny bit more knowledge than your average American. Then in 2008 my dad got sick - never really made a complete recovery and began his descent into a steady decline - his CHF which began pretty passively really started to get a hold on him. Dads last 1 1/2 years were pretty awful for him physically although his mind was still good up until his final few weeks. I adored my father. While my childhood was pretty awful largely due to my mother - and my parents dysfunction relationship with each other - once I hit my 20's I was able to get past it in regards to my dad. My father was my best friend for the last 30 years of his life. We talked on the phone daily and were as close as any father/daughter can be. My father was always there for me - as well as my disabled son (who is named after his grandpa) he was there for my mother and my brothers too - although neither brother could get past our childhood and was never close to daddy. As far as I'm concerned this was my brothers loss and they never saw my dad for the amazing man he was. This hurt my father - he had tried for so long to make it up to my brothers - for the crappy childhood - and my heart broke for my dad. In the last month I prayed for God to take my father - i couldn't stand to see him suffering and I knew that it was what my father wanted - to end his suffering, to end being the weak helpless person he had become / he hated it. When my dad passed he was in a strange place and alone - it's a long story but in short my mother had him taken to a hospice center behind my back - on the one day in over two months that I couldn't go over to spend the day with him - I will never forgive her for this. My father vehemently did not want to go anywhere like that - he wanted to be at home and I had hired help for 18 hours a day and was in the process of making it 24 hours a day when mom had him moved. Mom did none of the care taking of dad. Okay - so my crisis of faith: why does it have to be like it is for so many of our loved ones as they age? It's painful both mentally and physically. They are robbed of their dignity, their independence, their minds, on and on in the most degrading ways possible. Where is Gods loving mercy? What is it we are meant to learn that has to be taught in the most heinous way possible? While I didn't really expect daddy to contact me from the other side I guess I did expect to feel his presence in some way - as close as we were. There is a thread going now - it's quite beautiful really - of story after story of long passed friends and relatives appearing to gently and lovingly help our loved ones "go home". Some even think Jesus himself is showing up. I'm not meaning to discount thoses stories - but could it be people are telling themselves this is what happens as a way of comforting themselves and their passing loved ones? This whole bit of being reunited - doesn't it make it easier on everyone to believe it's true? But what if when your dead - your just dead, gone? I just feel my dad is gone - forever gone. I've heard it said that faith is believing in something when there is no proof. I feel like I have lost faith. The whole "God works in mysterious ways. God has a plan" just doesn't do it for me any longer. What plan could possibly mean a good man - a man who took care of everyone in his life had to suffer in the most painful and degrading ways imaginable? I guess some of the Sunday school fire and brimstone lessons have stuck - I practically find myself looking over my shoulder for a lightening bolt as I write this. But beyond that?

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cwillie, sorry I am just now seeing your question in response to my comment on Jan 3. For me, the seeking was about 4 months, but there was 1 month of intense seeking before I was able to see in the spiritual realm. Those months were so painful and long, but 2 years later I still have faith. Nothing can take that assurance away from me. I believe it's in the book of Matthew (in the Beatitudes) where Jesus said, "Blessed is the pure in heart for they shall see God". I am a living testimony of that promise.
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The Lord, (Lord God Almighty, who is Jesus) is going to fight for me.
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I also remember a few things the apostle Paul had to say about things. Basically, it went like this. If the dead are not raised we are to be pitted and we might as well eat and drink for tomorrow we may die. That sums up the outlook of many. However, I believe in the resurrection and do not consider earth to be my permanent residence for I have a spiritual heavenly citizenship that is eternal. One day, I will be absent from this earthly body, but present with the Lord. When the Lord returns, I look forward to having a resurrection body like Christ's that will never die, get sick, have problems, etc.
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Well I strongly believe in God and heaven and feel sorry for those of you who don't. If I thought that this was all there was I probably would of offed myself long ago.

Yes, those of you who don't believe are probably thinking oh Gershun if there is a God why do you want to off yourself. Well I don't blame God for my problems. In fact its during those times in my life where I am really being attentive to God that things go well for me. I just tend to fall off the bandwagon at times.

Theres an old saying "If you don't feel close to God, its not him who has moved"
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My Mum reckons she is going to heaven and I definitely don't want to be there either - sorry guys - me being flippant as I don't believe in either
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I remember reading Jesus saying that hell was created for the devil and his fallen angels. I don't want to spend eternity with them. They make and have made my life on earth hard enough as is.
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RM, if I get there first I'll save you a seat.........
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ramiller - I've been doing a lot of thinking as well. When I started this discussion I was worried that I'd get preached to by hard core bible thumpers. I mean it takes a special, dedicated, sacrificing type of individual to do what we do, amen? Given that, I thought the population here would lean towards the religiously zealous. I truly was surprised with the number of responses that either had doubts and/or didn't follow traditional religions. But it makes sense what you said - that because we see the suffering so up close, so personal and on such a regular basis that there are maybe more of the religiously ambiguous here. Sendme2help asked if I felt I have been helped by this discussion - and while I think it's too soon to really say - at this point I'd have to say yes and no. No, in that I don't feel any closer to real answers on the how's and why's - but the yes creeps in here in that I don't think I'm ever going to have any answers but I feel okay with that. But the main yes comes from knowing so many are similar with their own questions and doubts - that so many obviously smart, kind, generous individuals are okay with going their own non-traditional ways. This in itself has reopened my heart and mind to the possibilities. That - and knowing if I go to hell I'm going to have some excellent company.
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Jim Carey would be my leadong man. His movies are the best for the questionable soul in a crises. They are funny, but also carry a message about human nature in a positive light. I too have questioned my faith in the past, but I never questioned my belief in god. Life and the Universe are just to wonderous to just be an existence.
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Do I hear an "amen"!
Actually that's the premise of the film Defending Your Life. They take a look back at a specific number of days in your life - shown in a small courtroom like setting, showing the days on a screen like a movie. Then you are "assessed" on how your dealt with fear. Living a life without fear is the criteria for being able to move on. Seriously - it you haven't seen it, you should. It's really very funny but deep and insightful at the same time. Generally I don't care for Albert Brooks but he's very good in this. It also has Meryl Streep, Rip Torn, Lee Remick and Buck Henry. To give you an idea - and a tiny spoiler - during time off from their trails which are held in Judgement City, the main characters go to The Pavillion of Past Lives for fun. Shirley MacLaine is the host appearing on tape - too funny.
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I must throw my pic in for best leading man. Tommy Lee is so so....well you know. When he wears his blue jeans and sports coat, oh my what a look. And Kevin Bacon is the ultimate good looking bad boy. My hubby finds movies with my two favorite leading men and tapes them for me. He's great that way! Rainmom I hope you are feeling better after seeing from this thread that you are not alone when it comes to doubts. I've been thinking alot about this since you posted and I have come upon the notion that we as caregivers unlike most people have such an up front and personal view of suffering and dying. We live with it in our face sometimes for years when we care for a LO. This very personal view can make us question why, I know it does me sometimes. I dont have the answers right now, I thought I did but not anymore, so I just live a good life one I can be proud of and hope the things I do will make life happier for those I touch. Thanks again for starting this thread.
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I think I'd rather be there than have to watch that film. Oi.
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See you there assandache, nice to know I will know someone when i get there!
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I think when you get to heaven you will be shown a film of all the mistakes you made when alive and in my case the cloud I am standing on will open like a trap door and I will fall to "Hell"....
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JessieBelle there is a seriously exciting screenplay waiting for that combination somewhere!

Could I also give Joaquin Phoenix a vote of thanks for making his agent, who must have fought it tooth and nail, let him take the role of Commodus in Gladiator. He was so good - good as in terrifyingly vicious, that is. Now that Rainmom mentions his upbringing I wonder what he was channelling???
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No, AKD, I'd moved on to excessively beautiful men who at the same time have more than one dimension. Actually I was thinking of George Clooney, but Leonardo di Caprio (sp? Isn't that ridiculous - can't remember how to spell his surname - contagious dementia again…) would be another - what the poor lad must have gone through waiting for people to get past his youthful looks and notice that in fact he can act, and how. It isn't just a typecasting problem - or not for men, anyway - Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt are the same character whatever film they're in, but hey who cares?
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Actually there is a tie-in to crisis of faith and Joaquin Phoenix! He and his siblings were raised, for a time, by their parents in some kind of religious cult called Children of God in Venezuela. It is believe that the children were used in a practice called "Flirty Fishing" as a way of attracting new members. So there you go - full circle moment! This is kinda like a religious version of "Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon", lol!
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The way threads go when they get longer is they either turn into flames or become conversational. I guess we could throw flames back and forth, as long as no one gets mad. But I'm kind of superstitious of lightning, Nicolas Cage, and Joaquin Phoenix. Imagine the three all together. DooWeeeOooooo
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And yes, just goes to show one in what odd directions a topic like "crisis of faith" can go.
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I *love* Tommy Lee Jones. Anyone seen "In The Valley Of Elah"? Fabulous performance. Excellent in "No Country For Old Men" too. Underrated I think.
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Joaquin Phoenix -- don't know about sexy-ugly, but he's kind of creepy, don't you think?
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Oh come on CM! Now I will be wide awake wondering to whom you are referring. We are still talking about sexy-ugly, right?
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Tommy Lee Jones, would be my category nomination for that. Actually there's a fair few of them when you stop to think about it. Much harder to pull off is sexy and credible, and I'm not going to state the obvious successful example for fear he's done something to offend everyone too!
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Crisis of Faith and Nicholas Cage. Which of these things go together? Hmmm.......
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I think it depends on the film - Nicolas Cage - not God...well, maybe God too. I liked Nic in City of Angels, 8mm -which is a creepy film but Nic is a good guy and his performance in Leaving Las Vegas is first class. But yeah - he boarders on creepy. Another film - Kissing Jessica Stein, has a scene where they talk about guys who are "sexy-ugly". They list Harvey Keitel as an example - agreed? I think Cage falls into that category or maybe "creepy-sexy"? What were we talking about...?
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Did anyone ever see "Lord of War"? He was quite good in that. I'm wary of any Nic Cage film tho, because Gershon is quite right -- he can be quite creepy.
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Eddie,

you are a cool guy. As to the Nick Cage issue, I like the old Nicholas Cage before he got so commercial.
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Windy,

My tombstone, if I were to be buried, would read "HEAVEN DOESN'T WANT ME, H*LL'S AFRAID I'LL TAKE OVER."

But that's not going to happen. I'm neither going to be buried nor cremated. I'll be recycled.

Already donated my organs and everything else for science to play with. Funerals are too expensive, and my family in Brazil isn't going to put up with all that drama.
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I agree with Jessie. I think Nicholas Cage is a creep.
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Wash your mouth out, JessieBelle! I love Nicholas Cage. Though I must admit I'd love to know who came up with the idea that he should be an all-action hero type. But he was fabulous in The Weather Man - I think he is a genuinely talented actor.
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